Iran: unionists arrested in new wave of repression

From the International Transport Workers’ Federation, Dec. 28:

Trade unionists and human rights activists are sending a strong warning signal to the international community following the detention of trade unionists by the Iranian secret police over the holiday period.

The latest arrest occurred yesterday, 27 December when the Ebrahim Madadi, Vice President of the ITF-affiliated Tehran Bus Workers Union (Vahed Syndicate), was taken into a police custody from the North Tehran Branch of the Employment Office by plain-clothes security personnel. Madadi is believed to be in a police station tonight and was due to appear before the judge this morning, 28th December. Meanwhile, two Executive Board members of the union have also been verbally summoned by the secret police.

Madadi’s arrest brought the total of trade unionists arrested over the past two weeks to three. Yesterday the ITF released and disseminated a protest statement, demanding that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately release the three trades unionists as well as bus union leader Mansour Osanloo and education worker Farzad Kamangar.

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft commented: “This is not the first time that the Iranian authorities have taken unjustified actions against legitimate trade unions during the winter holiday season. In 2005, the entire leadership of Vahed Syndicate was arrested en masse during the last week of December. Undoubtedly, the Iranian government is well-aware of the persistent international pressure against their breach of the ILO Conventions on freedom of association and the right to negotiate collectively which is why they choose this time of the year to oppress the independent workers’ movement”.

Cockroft further warned that Osanloo has not been given adequate medical treatment during the past two months and his condition is deteriorating. Osanloo has undergone three eye operations over the past 15 months, as he is suffering from cataracts. His doctors’ view is that he needs to be released from prison to recuperate. The authorities have ignored this message.

In protesting these arrests, the British national centre, TUC, is demanding a meeting with the Iranian Ambassador to the UK to discuss the mounting number of “cases of abuse of trade unionists’ human rights”.

Ebrahim Madadi was previously arrested on the International Action Day, 9 August 2007, during worldwide protest actions against Osanloo’s abduction. In October Madadi was given a three and a half year sentence but was released from prison two months later. In June 2008, the court ordered the Tehran Bus Company to reinstate him as an employee.

See our last posts on Iran’s civil opposition and the labor struggle.

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