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Release of persecuted Iranian trade unionist welcomed

Brussels, 19 December 2006 (
ITUC Online): The ITUC and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) today welcomed the release of detained Iranian trade unionist Mansour Osanloo, while deploring the fact that he had to post additional bail to ensure his release. Osanloo was already on bail of 150 million Toman (US$ 165,000), stemming from his previous detention by the authorities from 22 December 2005 to 9 August 2006.

Mansour Osanloo

“We are pleased that Mansour Osanloo is now out of detention, but the additional bail condition, and the fact that leaders and members of his union continue to face systematic repression and harassment, are of deep concern”, said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

Osanloo, who is President of the ITF-affiliated Trade Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (“Vahed Union”), was arrested on November 19th, only months after being released on bail following a long campaign of intimidation by Iranian police and state security agents that has seen him and colleagues brutally arrested and meetings violently broken up. His release followed public protests by Vahed Union members and an international campaign led by the ITF and the ICFTU (now ITUC), that involved protests to Iran, demonstrations outside embassies and a formal complaint to the ILO (see tehranbuses).

gathering by Iranian bus drivers (file photo)

He and 9 other Vahed union leaders had been detained on an earlier occasion, on their way to an ILO seminar in Tabriz on November 8. A beating during his last arrest led to an aggravation of an existing eye injury, and in detention he was again threatened and subjected to blackmail in order to stop his union activities. Osanloo refused however to bow to the threats.

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said “progress has been made but more needs to be done. The persecution of this man has to stop. Fundamental trade union rights have to be respected in Iran and we await similar positive news concerning Mansour Osanloo’s trade union colleagues, some of whom have been sacked and all of whom have been denied the right to be represented by the union of their choice. For some weeks, the Iranian Labour Ministry had promised that Osanloo would be released, however worldwide pressure was needed to bring it about. The Government of Iran has to face up to its responsibilities without the need for continued pressure from others.”

Founded on November 1 2006, the ITUC represents 168 million workers in 153 countries and territories and has 304 national affiliates.

International Solidarity Campaign Leads to Release of Iranian Bus Drivers' Union President
Source: Solidarity Center

Mansour Osanloo, president of the 17,000-member Sherkat-e-Vahed bus drivers union in Tehran, was freed December 19 on heavy bail after spending one month in the infamous Evin prison. His release — the second in four months — followed a global solidarity campaign by the Solidarity Center; the AFL-CIO; the International Transport Federation (ITF), with which Vahed is affiliated; the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); and numerous other unions, human rights organizations, and individual activists.

Before releasing Osanloo, authorities asked him to resign his union presidency, but he refused to do so. Vahed Vice President Ebrahim Madadi issued a statement on behalf of Osanloo, his family, and the members of Vahed, thanking the ITUC, the ITF, and their affiliates for their solidarity. He added that he looks forward to expanding Vahed's relationships so that the ILO Conventions will be implemented in Iran.

Despite this joyful development, members of the Vahed syndicate continue to be harassed and scrutinized. Just last month, for example, 12 Vahed union executive board members on their way to Tabriz for an ILO workshop were arrested and held at the police station for more than five hours until ILO officials secured their release. Osanloo had initially been arrested from January to August 2006 for labor organizing activity and was freed on exorbitant bail after a concerted effort from the international labor community. On November 19, 2006, he was brutally kidnapped by Iranian security and intelligence plainclothes agents, who returned him to prison on ill-defined charges.

Read more about the Vahed strike
Background and chronology

... Payvand News - 12/20/06 ... --

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