Iran: Global call for release of two Trade Unionists

Amnesty International today (9 August) joined in solidarity with approximately 168 million trade unionists globally to call for the immediate and unconditional release of two Iranian trade union activists currently being held in Iran. The global Day of Action is organised by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

Mansour Ossanlu, head of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, and Mahmoud Salehi, former head of the Saqez Bakers’ Union, are trade union leaders who have been detained on vaguely worded charges intended to stop their efforts to create strong trade unions that can defend workers against discriminatory laws and practices.

Some 168 million people worldwide – from Panama to Austria – will participate in a Global Day of Action to secure the release of Mansour and Mahmoud.

In the UK, Amnesty International activists will join with members of the ITF and other unions in a protest vigil outside the Iranian Embassy.

Amnesty International UK’s Trade Union Campaigns Manager, Shane Enright said:

“It’s so important that we speak out on behalf of these two men. Mansour Ossanlu and Mahmoud Salehi have been attacked because they dared to speak out against the repressive and discriminatory laws that affect so many workers in Iran.”

Mahmoud Salehi – who has been imprisoned since 9 April – is seriously ill and is allegedly not receiving the specialist medical treatment that he requires.

Mansour Ossanlu, who had been released in December, was again detained on 10 July. He had spent eight months in detention between December 2005 and August 2006, and a further month between November and December 2006 in connection with his activities as head of the bus workers union (Sherkat-e Vahed), and was facing trial.

Amnesty International considers both men to be prisoners of conscience and is urging its supporters to write letters calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the two men.

Just before his arrest in July, Mansour Ossanlu visited the UK where he met with representatives from trade unions and human rights organisations. Mr Ossanlu said:

"All the protest letters from Amnesty and the trade unions made us know that we were not alone. When I was in prison and heard of all the support my spirits rose. In this struggle it is very valuable to get so much support from so many thousands of miles away.

“This campaigning has also disclosed the repression and made sure that the authorities know that they are being watched by the outside world."

Upon his return, Mr Ossanlu was taken back into custody.

Shane Enright continued:

“Millions of people around the world are so outraged by this unfair imprisonment that they are taking part in this Global Day of Action, and I would encourage as many people here in the UK to support this call.

“Whether you’re able to come to the vigil today or simply to take action via our website at www.amnesty.org.uk/tradeunions it would really make a difference.”

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