Iran bus unionist released from solitary confinement

Esther Busser, assistant director, ITUC Geneva office, addresses a rally of activists calling for human and trade union rights in Iran

International Transport Workers’ Federation

A protest letter from the ITF and action by affiliates has been linked to the release of bus workers’ leader Mansour Osanloo from solitary confinement.

Earlier this week, the ITF learnt that Osanloo, president of the ITF-affiliated Tehran Bus Workers’ Union, had been moved into solitary confinement at Rajai Shar prison. Osanloo has spent almost three years in detention for his trade union activities.

His transfer prompted a strongly-worded protest letter from the ITF’s general secretary David Cockroft to Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as protests from affiliated unions, including the seafarers’ union, Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia. Following these protests, Osanloo was transferred to the general section of the prison within a couple of days.

The Iranian government’s recent attempt to clampdown on Osanloo coincided with the universal periodic review of the United Nations (UN), which, every four years, looks into human rights in each of the 192 member states. Its working group met in Geneva, Switzerland from 8-19 February. On 15 February, it considered the situation in Iran.

During the course of the review, Iranian trade unionists – including representatives from the Tehran Bus Workers’ Union – submitted a statement urging the UN to take on board a list of claims to improve labour rights across the country.

In September 2009, the International Trade Union Confederation and global unions, including the ITF, submitted details of Iran’s violations of workers’ fundamental rights to the review. These included information on the repression of the Tehran Bus Workers’ Union and of the continued imprisonment of Mansour Osanloo and union vice-president Ebrahim Madadi.

ITF inland transport section secretary, Mac Urata who attended the UN session said: “We are relieved that Osanloo is out of solitary confinement thanks to our swift protest. However, he was never supposed to have been there in the first place. Whatever the promises of the Iranian authorities at the UN, they ring hollow as long as genuine trade unionists remain in prison on trumped up charges.”


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