Iran: Amnesty demands immediate medical treatment for detained union leader facing loss of sight

Amnesty International today urged the Iranian authorities to provide immediate medical treatment for jailed trade union leader Mansour Ossanlu, who has been told he will go blind unless action is taken immediately.

Ossanlu sustained the injuries to his eyes after a confrontation with government security forces in May 2005. His condition has deteriorated in recent months, and this week he was told by doctors at Evin Prison in Tehran, where he is being held, that if he does not receive appropriate treatment within the next two few weeks he risks losing his sight.

The news was relayed to Amnesty International from Ossanlu’s wife, Parvaneh, who met her husband on a visit to the prison on Monday.

The authorities have a history of delaying or denying medical treatment to prisoners of conscience. A high-level delegation from the International Trade Union Federation (ITF) had been due to meet Ossanlu last week. They were denied access to him, but were given assurances that it was because he had been transferred to a medical centre to receive treatment for his eyes – treatment the ITF later learnt he did not receive.

Shane Enright, Amnesty UK’s Trade Union Campaigns manager, said: “The Iranian authorities’ assurances to Mansour Ossanly’s wife and colleagues have been shown to be untrue such callous behaviour disregards the most basic level of humanity and respect for human dignity.

“It is deplorable that Iranian judicial and prison authorities have repeatedly used the delay or outright denial of medial care as a means to weaken political prisoners.

“Amnesty International, together with the global trade union movement, calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ossanlu, and in the interim to meet their responsibilities for prisoners’ well-being by providing appropriate medical treatment.”

Other Trade Union concerns in Iran
· According to the Iranian Teachers’ Association, dozens of the hundreds of teachers arrested during peaceful demonstrations earlier in 2007 have been sentenced to dismissal or exile. At least two have received suspended prison sentences: Mohammad Reza Rezai-Gorkani and Rasul Badaqi received two-year and three-year suspended sentences respectively. Their lawyer, Hushang Purbabai, told ISNA on 9 October that both were convicted of acting against national security.
· A strike by workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Plant in Khuzestan Province, who had reportedly received no wages or benefits for over three months, was forcibly broken up by security forces on 3 October. The workers had staged a series of around 15 strikes over more than a year. In August, they had written an open letter to the International Labour Organisation, announcing their determination to continue strike action if their demands, which include the right to participate in the election of their own representatives, were not met. There are unconfirmed reports that at least two workers, Ramazan Alipour and Fereydoun Nikofar, were arrested after being summoned to an Intelligence Ministry facility.
· According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Organisation, five Kurdish workers’ activists have reportedly been sentenced to three months imprisonment and 40 lashes for ‘disturbing public security’. The sentences were suspended for 3 years, during which time they have reportedly been banned from meeting ‘prominent’ political and social figures. They had reportedly been detained for several days earlier in the year during a demonstration protesting at the arrest of another workers’ rights activist, Mahmoud Salehi in April 2007, who also suffers ill health in prison in Sanandaj, Kurdistan, and is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

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