Iranian government u-turns on trade unionists' freedom

Iranian trade unionist Ebrahim Madadi was re-arrested today. The Tehran bus workers' union leader had been freed only last Thursday, a move welcomed by the international trade union movement. It is always difficult to explain the motivation of a regime like Iran's: sometimes the lives of ordinary people are disrupted simply by factional in-fighting in the regime, sometimes there is a clear intent to criminalise dissent, or disrupt he freedoms of association and speech that Iranian unions stand for.

ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said :”this is yet another crass and cynical move by the authorities to distract attention from the serious violations of trade union rights in Iran immediately prior to the ILO Regional Asia Pacific Conference which just concluded in Kyoto”.

And ITF General Secretary David Cockroft added: “We don’t yet know if this arrest is a bureacratic error or an attempt to punish Ebrahim – but either way it’s an unacceptable infringement on his rights and liberty. Like the continuing imprisonment of the increasingly ill Reza Shahabi it is an injustice that is crying out to be righted."

Trade union human rights campaigners are now worried that further arrests will follow in the next few days. And we are always worried that the regime will use the Christmas period, when it thinks trade unionists are not watching, to commit more abuses.

Owen Tudor

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