Friday, March 07, 2008


Unions in worldwide protests over detention of Iranian labour leaders

6 March 2008

Trade unionists and human rights activists in towns and cities across the world are today voicing their opposition to the continued imprisonment of Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi. The two Iranian trade union leaders, respectively representing Tehran bus workers and bakery workers, have been in prison for several months.

Protesters are participating in an ITF campaign day, backed by the trade union movement and Amnesty International. Actions included: protests outside the Iranian embassy and the Houses of Parliament in London, UK, and the delivery of letters of protest to the Iranian embassy in Tokyo and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as a solidarity rally in the Japanese capital and the distribution of some 45,000 leaflets at 35 locations across the country.

In Ethiopia, unions screened the ITF’s film about the Iranian bus workers’ union, “Freedom will come”, and distributed a special issue newsletter amongst workers and the diplomatic authorities. Meanwhile in Indonesia, more than 200 trade unionists participated in a rally in front of the Iranian embassy in Jakarta, during which a letter of protest was delivered to the Chief of Security. In the Ukraine unions staged a picket in front of the Iranian embassy and the building of the Council of Ministers in Kiev; they also attempted to deliver a letter of protest at the embassy but officials refused to accept it.

Since the protests began, the British and Australian governments have released statements backing the day of action. In his statement, British Foreign Office Minister Dr Kim Howells said: ”We call on the government of Iran to release immediately Mansour Ossanlou and Mahmoud Salehi. They have been imprisoned for several months for their involvement in peaceful activities in support of workers’ rights in Iran. This is a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression and association.”

Stephen Smith, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, outlined the government’s commitment to core international labour standards and said: "The Australian government will continue to call upon the Iranian government to respect and uphold human rights.”

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