Thursday, January 12, 2006

AI Calls for the Release of Bus Drivers Leader

Amnesty International has called for the release of Mansour Osanloo, the Head of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), yet sadly I am still unaware of any UK Left-wing groups showing the "international workers solidarity" they always claim. It seems the Left in UK has lost the plot completely.

Guantanamo terror suspects and other Muslim fundamentalists seem to receive more attention from the UK Left than the Iranian bus drivers who simply want to have their own independent union.

Text of AI statement on Osanloo:

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/002/2006 09 January 2006
UA 08/06 Arbitrary arrest/possible prisoner of conscience/medical concern

IRAN Mansour Ossanlu (m), Head of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed)

Mansour Ossanlu, the Head of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) has been detained since 22 December 2005 in Section 209 of Evin Prison in the capital, Tehran. He may be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of his peaceful trade union activities. He is said to be suffering from a serious eye complaint, and could lose his sight if he does not receive immediate medical treatment.

Mansour Ossanlu was among 12 officials from the Union who were reportedly arrested by police at their homes on 22 December 2005, apparently in connection with their peaceful trade union activities. Four of the 12 were released shortly afterwards. On 25 December, members of the Union were arrested while staging a bus strike in Tehran, demanding the release of their colleagues. On 26 December, all those who had been detained were released, with the exception of Mansour Ossanlu and six other members of the Union's Executive Board. These six were released two days later, leaving only Mansour Ossanlu in detention. Mansour Ossanlu has not been granted access to a lawyer, and reports suggest that he may be facing charges including contact with Iranian opposition groups abroad and instigating armed revolt against the authorities.

On 31 December, reports indicated that seven Union members including Mansour Hayat Ghaybi (or Ghaybati); Ebrahim Madadi; Reza Tarazi, Gholamreza Mirza’i; Abbas Najand Kouhi and Ali Zad Hossein had been summoned to appear before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran the following day on charges including public order offences. However, following protests by Union members outside the court on 1 January, the seven were reportedly told that their trial had been postponed.

On 7 January 2006, Bus Company workers staged another strike, during which five drivers were reportedly detained. All were later reportedly released.


The Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company is said to have been founded in 1979 and resumed activities in 2004 after a 25-year ban. It is still not legally recognised.

Iran is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 22 (1) of which states: Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests. Article 26 of Iran’s Constitution states: The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations … is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic republic. No one may be prevented from participating in the aforementioned groups, or be compelled to participate in them

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