Solidarity with Iranian workers
Iranian bus worker unionist in danger
14 February 2011
As Iranian people demonstrate for freedom on the streets of Iran's major cities, the TUC is joining Amnesty International to protest about the situation facing Iranian bus workers' leader Mansour Osanloo, who is now in hospital with heart problems, shackled hand and foot to his bed. We are calling for his freedom and for his health.
Amnesty International and the TUC want people to take action to demand that the Iranian regime:
- immediately and unconditionally release Mansour Ossanloo;
- pending his release, ensure that Mansour Ossanloo has immediate access to his lawyers, family and medical treatment;
- allow Sherkat-e Vahed, Mansour's union, to continue in their legal activities without further harassment;
- free all others jailed for legitimate trade union activities; and
- ensure that Iran respects the workers and union rights which it has pledged to uphold.
Mansour Osanloo, the Iranian trade union leader unjustly imprisoned for the last four years, has been taken to an outside hospital after suffering chest pains this weekend that could have been caused by a heart attack.
Some time on Sunday he was transferred from Rajai Shahr Prison to a hospital where he is reportedly shackled to his bed by metal cuffs on hands and feet. Over preceding days contact with his family has been restricted and access to the open air has been limited. Amnesty International is 'deeply concerned about his health and the continuing poor conditions he is experiencing in prison.' He had been repeatedly denied medical leave from Rajai Shahr Prison, contrary to recommendations of the prison doctor.
In July 2007 Mansour Osanloo, now aged 50, president of the ITF-affiliated Vahed Syndicate (Tehran Bus Workers' Union) was dragged from a Tehran bus by men who only later were identified as Iranian security forces. Three months later he was sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of 'acting against national security' and 'propaganda against the state'; in 2010 another year was added to his sentence. In reality his only 'crime' has been to help found a genuinely democratic trade union for his fellow bus drivers.
Mansour Osanloo's bus workers' union in Tehran is affiliated to the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).
ITF general secretary David Cockroft stated: 'Frankly, I believe that if he hadn't had his life threatened, been beaten, arrested, re-arrested and held for years in awful Iranian prisons, he would today be a well man.'
'His maltreatment is part of a campaign to crush his voice and that of his trade union, the Vahed Syndicate. The blame for it lies with the government of Iran, a government that is today letting loose its so-called security forces against protesters in cities across the country.'
He concluded: 'Hasn't that government learnt from the experience of its neighbours: that no one is too powerful to be held to account, and that injustice - such as has been meted out to Mansour Osanloo - cannot be sustained indefinitely?'
Union rights in Iran
Mansour Osanloo is just one of the many trade unionists imprisoned and harassed in Iran. Details of the situation facing Iran's independent trade unions is on the Justice for Iranian Workers website.
And the Iranian entry in the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) annual report on trade union rights around the world is on the ITUC website.
Issued: 14 February, 2011