Iran- Increase in arbitrary arrests of labour activists

·       Reza Shahabi still held incommunicado

·       Osanloo sentenced to one more year prison

·       Members of the Coordinating Committee targeted/jailed

·       RMT campaigns for release of Iranian trade union leader, Reza Shahabi 

·       Report on leaflet distribution about Reza Shahabi’s arrest in Tehran

·       Is Reza Shahabi being forgotten? By a group of workers and labour activists in Iran

·       CUPW: Free Sakineh!

·       Demonstration outside Iranian embassy in Paris

·       Sample Protest letter (Please use to send messages to IRI authorities)

 Reza Shahabi still held incommunicado

 Reza Shahabi, the Vahed Syndicate’s Treasurer, was arrested on June 12, 2010 and is still imprisoned incommunicado. In a statement issued by Vahed Syndicate, serious concerns have been raised about Reza Shahabi’s health and safety. The statement says: “Reza Shahabi, a member of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), was arrested and imprisoned on June 12, 2010,  and was only allowed to speak to his wife and children by telephone three times for the first month of his detention. In the telephone conversations with the family, he indicated that he suffered from neck and back injuries. Since then nobody has gained any information about his situation. His family have approached the Public Prosecutor and the Court of First Instance several times. Also, his solicitor has contacted the Public Prosecutor’s office, but has not received any news about Reza’s circumstances. Uncertainty about his situation has made his family anxious about his well-being. The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), which was established to defend workers’ basic rights, condemns the arrest and the denial of information about its member and demands his immediate and unconditional release. ”

Numerous campaigns in recent days have been launched in Iran and abroad for the release of Reza Shahabi who is a highly respected labour activist and one of the key leaders of Vahed Syndicate for the past few years. (See below for recent campaigns in support of Reza Shahabi and other jailed workers)

Osanloo sentenced to one more year prison

August 11, 2010- Mansour Osanloo, president of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (a public transit company owned by Tehran Municipal government with about 17000 employees) has been sentenced this week to one year imprisonment by the City of Karaj Islamic Revolutionary Court for “propaganda against the system”.  Mr. Osanloo has been subject to increasing harassment in recent months and was put on trial recently at Karaj Revolutionary court. Osanloo had also been charged with “connection with the opponents of the system”. He has gone through all this in recent months while he has been in prison for the past three years. According to a statement issued by Vahed Syndicate on August 10, 2010, Mr. Osanloo’s lawyers will appeal this new sentence against him within the next 20 days.

Members of the Coordinating Committee targeted

 

August 11, 2010- According to a statement issues by the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations on August 9, 2010, two labour activists and members of this committee, Vafa Ghaderi and Sediq Sobhani, were put on trial at the City of Sanandaj Court. They are charged with “acting against national security” by means of participating in a picnic in support of jailed workers on December 4, 2009. During this event, 12 other labour activists were arrested and beaten. Vafa Ghaderi and Sediq Sobhani were subsequently released on a heavy bail of 100 million toman (almost $100,000). They are now awaiting the verdict.  

In addition, seven other labour activists and members of the “Coordinating Committee” in City of Oshnovieh, named Fatah Soleymani, Isah Ebrahimzadeh, Abbas Hashempour, Hossein Pirouti, Rahman Ebrahimzadeh, Samad Ahadpour and Rahman Tanha were tried on August 1, 2010 at the Oromieh Islamic Revolutionary Court. They are charged with membership in an opposition political group by way of membership in the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organization. The “Coordinating Committee” is a well-known independent labour organization and these allegations are totally baseless and all the above mentioned activists have completely rejected allegations against them. The Coordinating Committee has been trying to register itself as an independent labour organization with the Ministry of Labour but government authorities have refused to accept their application.  Moreover, Mr. Kaveh Gol Mohammadi, another member of the Coordinating Committee, was transferred to Sanandaj’s Central prison on July 31, 2010 to serve his four month jail sentence for his membership with this labour organization.

 

RMT campaigns for release of Iranian trade union leader, Reza Shahabi

TRANSPORT UNION RMT has joined forces with British MP’s and trade unionists around the globe to campaign for the release of imprisoned Iranian transport workers union leader Reza Shahabi. 

Reza Shahabi is the Treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) whose leadership has been targeted for a wave of arrests and detentions without trial in recent years.  Reza Shahabi and another colleague Saeed Torabian who was arrested on 9 June but subsequently released, were suspended from work, without pay, for four years following strikes by bus workers in Tehran in 2005.  They were reinstated after a Court investigation. 

Shahabi was arrested on 12 June 2010.  When he arrived at work he was summoned to the headquarters of the Bus Company, where he was arrested by security officials.  They took him to his house, which they searched, and confiscated his computer.  Shahabi is reported to have been transferred to section 209, the intelligence section of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

RMT Parliamentary Convener John McDonnell has tabled Early Day Motion 633 on Reza Shahabi’s arrest and imprisonment in the torture section of Evin prison in Tehran.  The EDM is drawing cross-party support.

“That this House deplores the arrest without charge by the Iranian authorities of Reza Shahabi, Treasurer of the Tehran Bus Workers Union, on 12 June 2010; is dismayed by this arrest which is the latest in a series of instances of the persecution of trade unionists in Iran; is deeply concerned that Reza Shahabi is being held in section 209 of the Evin prison which is notorious as a torture centre; is further concerned that he has been held in solitary confinement without any contact from family or friends for two months; notes that Amnesty International believes Reza Shahabi is very likely to be a prisoner of conscience and is being held solely on account of his trade union activities; believes the continued detention of Reza Shahabi places Iran in contravention of its agreement to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and calls on the Iranian government to release immediately Reza Shahabi and for the UK Government to do all within its power to assist in his release.”

 MP’s have also tabled questions to the Foreign Secretary urging UK Government intervention on Reza’s case.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“It is important that the Iranian Government understand that the international trade union movement are aware of their actions and that we will continue to mobilize high-profile campaigns in support of Reza Shahabi and others facing similar oppression as a result of their union activities.”

ENDS

Further information:

Geoff Martin  

07831 465 103  or   0207 255 9146

 

Report on leaflet distribution about Reza Shahabi’s arrest in Tehran

 

After 43 days of Reza Shahabi’s arrest,- he’s a worker of Vahed Bus Co. of Tehran, today Tuesday 12th of Mordad, a huge amount of leaflets,- authored by “ A Group of Workers and Labour Activists in Iran,”-, were distributed.

This statement which condemns Reza Shahabi’s arrest emphasizes workers’ initiatives to release him and other incarcerated workers from captivity, while continuing workers’ struggle to achieve their demands, was produced on a two-sided single sheet and distributed amongst the bus drivers throughout Tehran.

In this action which took about six hours, the areas covered were: B.R.T. line of Azadi-Tehran Pars (at two points), B.R.T. line of Azadi-Khaavaraan (at three points), bus stops and the administrative building of Vahed Bus Co. of Tehran (Reza’s work site and where he was kidnapped from) and Freedom Square.

This action was carried out by teams of workers, and except in one instance, all drivers received the leaflets, and more than 70% of them welcomed support work on behalf of Reza Shahabi. Towards the conclusion of this action, around Freedom Square (where express buses # 1 and 2 start their route) many workers expressed support for this action, and mentioned how Reza Shahabi had been active defending workers’ rights.

The distribution group while demanding an immediate and unconditional release of Shahabi and all other jailed workers, considers its responsibility to undertake all types of support actions for all incarcerated workers including Reza Shahabi. We shall steadfastly continue to support our militant workers and their families facing pressures, intimidation and incarceration, and not leave them alone.

 

Distribution group of statement condemning Reza Shahabi’s arrest

 

Is Reza Shahabi being forgotten?

 

It’s been a long while since Reza Shahabi has had any contact with his family. The last time they met, -inside the ludicrous Ward 209 of Evin prison-, he had complained about severe neck and back pains.

Prior to being kidnapped in broad day light from Vahed Bus Co. headquarters by the mercenaries of Capital,- he was lured to a meeting in that location by Vahed Bus Co.’s. Security to “discuss” his employment status-, Reza was on sick leave, recovering from grave physical discomfort.

While on sick leave he was tricked into reporting back, and subsequently abducted as soon as he showed up. Since then he’s been incarcerated in the notorious Ward 209 of Evin prison, a ward directly associated with and supervised by the Intelligence Ministry.

Reza’s spouse and his attorney have repeatedly gone to the court located within Evin prison, but haven’t received any information whatsoever about Reza’s condition in prison or the charges against him.

Reza Shahabi is a member of the Bus Drivers’ Syndicate’s Board of Directors, but much more significant than being a leading member of his organization, he belongs to that breed of workers that in the past few years have fought indefatigably for bus drivers’ rights, day in and day out.

Reza is guilty! His crime is being a human!

Reza is guilty! His crime is that he has strived to defend workers’ right and their minimal demands!

Reza is guilty! Because he refused to be humiliated!

Reza is guilty! Because in addition to providing a minimal comfortable life for his own children, he wants other workers’ children as well to also enjoy the same minimal benefits of a humane life!

One who endeavours to defend workers’ rights is not tolerated by the Capitalists and their government.

Iranian Capitalism like any other Capitalist governments utilizes police, the security apparatuses, incarceration and the court system to crush workers.

From Capitalists’ point of view Reza is guilty!

We had mentioned the ridiculous ward 209 of Evin prison before. We all know how many noble human beings have been brutalized, tortured and executed in this ward and inside Evin prison and other prisons throughout Iran, during the reigns of both Monarchy and Islamic Republic.

But aren’t all these futile attempts of Capitalists just preposterous? Do they imagine workers and labour-activists to simply go silent once they’re incarcerated? Such foolish thoughts are null and absurd.

Reza is only one of the tens of thousands of workers who are determined to fight for their rights and demands. Workers such as Reza are numerous, this path will be continued.

It’s worth noting that media, newspapers and news sites go into full gear reporting the slightest incident concerning their allies, but when it comes to us workers and labour activists, we are treated with almost total silence.

Reza Shahabi during his activism as a workers advocate has repeatedly defended rights of tens and tens of workers and has been instrumental in preventing expulsion, intimidation and unjust treatment of hundreds and hundreds of workers.

Reza had been suspended from work for 4 years due to his activism, but during this time he never gave up fighting for workers’ rights.

He’s amongst those who believe workers should attend to each other’s needs during hardship, and if a worker’s family due to her/his activities is facing financial difficulties, other workers shall provide support for them.

Reza Shahabi and many other workers strongly believe that workers shall not be financially dependent on any institution, government agency or organization. Workers must continue their struggle only and only through support of their own fellow workers.

It’s probably die to this fact that all sham workers’ institutions, and flashy anti-worker media outlets and pro-capital “human rights’ organizations have chosen to treat incarceration of workers like Reza with total silence.

But Reza Shahabi and workers like him, who have set their heart on achieving workers’ and toilers’ rights are not forgotten.

Capitalist media’s silence on Reza and other workers is an indication of the honourable and indisputably genuine nature of workers’ activism.

We the workers, and all workers’ organizations and all those concerned and interested in the labour movement, shall utilize all our efforts to free Reza and all other workers, immediately and without any conditions. Because other than us ourselves, no one will assist us!

Reza Shahabi and all other jailed workers shall be freed. Suppression will not stop us. Sharper and more united than before we shall continue our struggle

A group of workers and labour activists in Iran.

89/5/12

·       CUPW: Free Sakineh!

 

Demonstration outside Iranian embassy in Paris

 

Activists of the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran in Paris organized a rally outside Iranian embassy in Paris on August 9, 2010 to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Reza Shahabi and other labour activists recently arrested and prosecuted in different parts of Iran.

The IASWI calls on all concerned labour and social activists and organizations around the world to continue pressuring the Iranian government to free all jailed labour activists and political prisoners and demand an end to violation of workers’ and human rights.

 

Sample Protest Letter (Updated August 11, 2010):

Free Tehran bus workers’ leaders now

Free all jailed workers now 

I (we) am (are) writing this to demand an immediate and unconditional freedom of all imprisoned representatives and members of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company and the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations and other independent labour activists in Iran.

As of this time, three leaders and elected representatives of Vahed Syndicate are in prison:. Mansour Osanloo, Syndicate’s president of the board of director (serving five year jail sentence since 2007, Ebrahim Madadi, Vice-President (serving 3.5 year jail sentence since late 2007); and Reza Shahabi, Treasurer (arrested on June 12, 2010).

In addition, I (we) have been informed that Mansour Osanloo has been sentenced to one year imprisonment by the City of Karaj Islamic Revolutionary Court on August 10, 2010 for “propaganda against the system”.  Mr. Osanloo has been subject to increasing harassment in recent months and was put on trial recently at Karaj Revolutionary court. He has gone through all this while he has been jailed for the past three years.

Mr. Saeed Torabian, Public Relations director of the Syndicate, was arrested and detained on June 9, 2010 and released on heavy bail on July 20, 2010. Mr. Torabian is charged with “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the system”.  Reza Shahabi has been held incommunicado in the Evin prison and his family are extremely concerned about his condition.

Moreover, many member of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organization in different cities have been targeted and persecuted by authorities and are facing charges and jail sentences.  There are many other independent labour activists in prisons and/or persecuted. Behnam Alizadeh and Mehdi Farahi Shandiz are jailed labour activist arrested on respectively on June 12, 2010 in Tehran and transferred to Evin prison and on June 8, 2010 and transferred to the deadly Kahrizak prison. Mr. Kaveh Gol Mohammadi, a member of the Coordinating Committee, have been transferred to Sanandaj’s Central prison on July 31, 2010 to serve his four month sentence for his membership with this labour organization.

I (we) demand immediate and unconditional freedom of Osanloo, Madadi and Shahabi, Alizadeh, Farahi Shandiz, Gol Mohammadi and others. I (we) condemn this new round of attack against Tehran bus workers’ union and the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organizations and the continuous gross attacks on human and workers’ rights in Iran. I (we) demand the immediate and unconditional freedom of all labour activists and political prisoners and call on the government to respect the right to organize, assemble and freedom of association and expression.  

Name:

Organization:

Position:

Send Copy of your Protest Letters to:

info@leader.ir, info@judiciary.ir, dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir; iran@un.int; ijpr@iranjudiciary.org, info@dadiran.ir, office@justice.ir, support@irimlsa.ir; ilo@ilo.org; cabinet@ilo.org; eastgulf@amnesty.org

CC: info@workers-iran.org

_______________________________________

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

info@workers-iran.org  

www.etehadbinalmelali.com

http://www.workers-iran.org

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