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August 19, 2010

Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,

In this email you will see a sobering summary of the ongoing repression of trade unionists in Iran. We are indebted to Iran Labor Report for this information.

In peace and solidarity,

Joanne               Tom
Joanne Landy      Thomas Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy

P.S. Thanks to all of you who responded to our appeal yesterday for support of the Pakistani labor flood relief effort. If you didn't indicate any earmarks on the PayPal form, just send us an email at the above e-dress if you wish to have your donation directed to Pakistan.

Union Activists in Iran – Repression Continues

The massive crackdown on the independent labor activists continues in Iran. Several leaders and activists in the union movement remain in jails while others have been subject to summons and terminations from their jobs. A sketch of the repression of the independent union activism in today’s Iran follows.

Mansour OsalooMansour Osaloo, the legendary leader of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate, was taken to court on August 1 and tried under the pretext of having connections with the illegal opposition groups. The trial lasting an hour and ten minutes commenced at 9:00 a.m. at the branch one revolutionaly court in the city of Karaj. At the trial, Osaloo did not have his lawyers present and they were also uninformed about the court session.

While the Iranian Labor Minister had given a promise of release of Osaloo to ILO, the Vahed Union leader remains in jail and new cases filed against him. At the said court session, Osaloo was sentenced to a new one year term. He is currently serving a five year term in Karaj Gohardasht prison. His attorneys will file a petition against the ruling within the twenty day period allowed.

Ebrahim Maddadi, the deputy head of the Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate also remains in jail. Maddadi is serving a 3.5 year sentence along with Osaloo.

Reza Shahabi, the secretary treasurer of the Syndicate, in a brief phone conversation with his family informed them of an additional two month extension of his incarceration. Reza Shahabi was abducted on June 12 by the intelligence ministry operatives and taken to the solitary confinement in the Ward 209 of the Evin prison. He has been denied any family visits since and has only had a few brief monitored phone conversations with his family.

Saeed Torabian, the director of public relations at the syndicate, who was freed on a large bail on July 19, has been facing various pressures since his release. Saeed Torabian spent from June 9 to July 19 in prisons due to his illegal detention by the intelligence ministry officials in Iran.

On August 17, Homayoun Jaberi, an activist with the Vahed Syndicate received a one year suspended term following his arrest at the 2009 May Day celebration event in Park Laleh Tehran.

On July 22, Gholamreza Gholamhosseini, an activist with the Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate, was suspended and his wages and benefits were also put on hold. The 44 year old Gholamhosseini was arrested following the Vahed bus workers strike in 2005 and spent several weeks in prison. He was suspended for four years before being reinstated six months ago. He is married with three children.
Gholamhosseini is among many Vahed labor activists who have been facing the wrath of the regime because of their union activism. Several labor activists with the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers Syndicate also await their reinstatement following expulsions due to their union activities.

The crackdown on the Vahed union activists is not confined to just their intimidation. The families of these activists have also been under target. While the abduction and torture of Osaloo’s daughter in law has been reported, several other Vahed union activist families have been under heavy economic pressures.

The Free Assembly of Iranian Workers reports that Sadigh Karimi, a member of the board of directors, and Foad Keikhosravi, an activist member of the union have been summoned to appaear once again at the branch one revolutionary court in the city of Sanandaj on September 22. The two activists appeared on July 20 at that court.

Seven labor activists with the Coordinating Committee to Facilitate Creation of Workers Organizations in Iran, Fattah SoleimaniHossein PirotiSamad AhmadpourRahman TanhaRahman Ebrahimzadeh, Isa Ebrahimzadeh, and Abbas Hashempour were found not guilty of charges in a court hearing by the branch one of the Urumiyeh revolutionary court on August 16. They were arrested on February 29 and spent twelve days in prison.

The Coordinating Committee also has reported on the trials of two labor activists, Vafa Ghaderi and Sadigh Sobhani in the city of Sanandaj. Additionally, Khosrow Boukani, an activist in the city of Naghadeh, has been sentenced to a two year sentence and Kaveh Golmohammadi in Kamyaran has started serving his term in the city of Sanandaj.

Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the board of directors of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association, was sentenced to six years in prison and five years denial of activities on August 3. He has been sentenced to one year in prison for “propaganda against the system” and five years for “assembly and attempt to distrub the national security”. His court session was held on July 14. Bodaghi has been in jail since September 2009. His sentence is being appealed by his attorney.

Ali Akbar Baghani and Mahmoud Beheshti Langarudi, the general secretary and the spokesperson of the Teachers Association were released earlier on July following 63 days of incarceration. Mokhtar Assadi, Mohammad BagheriEsmael Abdi, and Hashem Khastar are other teacher unionists who remain in prisons. Abdolreza Ghanbari a teacher unionist is jailed with the death penalty pronounced against him. This is extremely alarming since the earlier execution of Farzad Kamangar on May 9.

Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Mehdi Farahi Shandiz, members of the Pursueing Committee for the Formation of Free Workers Organizations in Iran, remain held incommunicado. Mehdi Farahi Shandiz has been in jail since June 1, 2010. He is one of the labor activists arrested during the May Day ceremonies of 2009 in Tehran. Paying a visit to the branch 8 of the revolutionary court to collect his personal belongings, he was met with “inhumane treatment” which led to his protest. He was then taken to the notorious Kahrizak prison in south of Tehran under baseless accusations of disturbing the peace.

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