Friday, March 13, 2009


Union movement urges intervention over escalating repression in Iran

12 March 2009

The global trade union movement is pressing the International Labour Organization (ILO) for action in response to a growing tide of oppression against trade unionists in Iran.

Representatives of the ITF, Education International, the International Union of Food Workers and the International Trade Union Confederation made the appeal in a letter to the ILO’s director-general, Juan Somavia, on 9 March. In it they expressed concern over “an escalating pattern of arrests and intimidation of trade unionists in Iran”. They had “reason to fear for the physical and the psychological wellbeing and even the lives of the latest victims of state repression.” That was why they believed the ILO’s intervention was necessary.

The group referred to the latest wave of repression against the Haft Tapeh union, which represents some 5000 sugar cane plantation workers. Five of the union’s elected members had been charged with acting against national security following a strike over unpaid wages and were awaiting a verdict. Three others including the union’s president, Ali Nejati, had also been arrested. All except Nejati had been released.

The unionists also highlighted how teacher, Farzad Kamangar, currently in Evin Prison had received the death penalty and expressed alarm over reports that two executive board members of the Tehran bus workers’ union, the Vahed Syndicate, had last month been summoned by the secret police. They reminded Somavia that the union’s president, Mansour Osanloo and vice-president Ebrahim Madadi were both still in prison.

New incidences of harassment of other labour and human rights activists were regularly being reported, they said.

They urged the ILO to intervene to secure the release of Ali Nejati, Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi and others. They also asked the organization to impress on the Iranian authorities that Kamangar’s case should be revisited and that any plans for an execution should be called off. It should, in addition, demand that charges against the Haft Tapeh workers be dropped and full legal guarantees ensured.

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