Iran: Is The Constitution Worth Its Paper?
The continued incarceration of two trade union leaders show that not even lip service is being paid to
Below is an article written by Peter Tatchall and published by The Guardian:
Today [6 March 2008] is Free Osanloo Action Day, which will be marked by protests worldwide to demand the release of the imprisoned Iranian trade union leaders, Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi.
Independent trade unions are banned in
Osanloo and Salehi are not the only victims. In the last three weeks, several workers have been fined and flogged in the city of
Today's protest outside the Iranian Embassy in
Similar protests are taking place in more than 40 countries worldwide, involving hundreds of thousands of trade union members.
Both Osanloo and Salehi have suffered sustained persecution by the Iranian authorities for campaigning peacefully and lawfully for workers' rights. They have been beaten, denied medical treatment and imprisoned because of their legitimate activities as trade union organisers.
Mansour Osanlu was jailed on 10 July 2007 and Mahmoud Salehi began his sentence on 9 April 2007.
Amnesty International has declared the men to be prisoners of conscience.
The trade union campaign group, LabourStart, is urging people worldwide to write to the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, to urge their release. You can sign the LabourStart petition here:
Mansour Osanloo is the head of the
Mansour Osanloo's union is not recognised by the Iranian authorities. It has been subject to repeated harassment. In January 2006, around 1,000 members were arrested for going on strike to demand union recognition and Osanloo's release from an earlier period of detention.
Mahmoud Salehi is spokesman for the Organisational Committee to Establish Trade Unions, a former President of the Saqez Bakery Workers' Association and co-founder of the Coordinating Committee to Form Workers' Organisations.
He was arrested after a peaceful demonstration to celebrate May Day 2004 but subsequently released on bail. In 2005 he was sentenced to five years imprisonment and three years internal exile. At his trial his union activities and meetings with foreign unions were cited as evidence against him. His conviction was then overturned but after a retrial he was sentenced on 11 November 2006 to four years' imprisonment for "conspiring to commit crimes against national security", later reduced to one year's imprisonment and a three-year suspended sentence. He was jailed again in April last year .
It is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 22 (1) 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
Similar guarantees are provided under International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.
Sadly, these are meaningless, ineffectual paper commitments by
A recent report by Human Rights Watch documents the intensifying repression against trade union and other civil society activists.
Mirroring the way much of the world showed solidarity with the anti-apartheid struggle in
What next? How about international solidarity with