Free Iran's 800 Jailed Union Activists

Support the Tehran bus workers strike.

Defend the right of Iranian workers to form labour unions.

Protest: Friday 10 February, 12 noon to 2pm, ILO offices, London.

London - 6 February 2006

"We support the striking Tehran bus workers and call for the release of the 800 trade unionists jailed in Iran," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage!.

"Over 1,000 workers were arrested in late January. Although 200 have been released following protests by their families outside the National Assembly building, 800 remain behind bars," said Mr Tatchell.

"The mass arrest of union activists is the latest wave of repression by Iran's hardline, fundamentalist President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"OutRage! backs the struggle for democracy and human rights in Iran, including the freedom struggle of Iranian gays, women, students and trade unionists

"The right to sexual self-determination and the right to strike and protest are part of the same battle for universal human rights. Whether it is the hanging of two gay teenagers last July or the mass arrests of trade unionists in January, an injustice to one is an injustice to all.

"While opposing any western attempt to impose regime change on Iran, we support the Iranian people's struggle to overthrow the clerical dictatorship.

"We urge our friends and supporters to show solidarity with the striking bus workers in Tehran, who are spearheading the labour movement's heroic resistance to the tyranny of the Ayatollahs.

"Join the solidarity protest this Friday, 10 February, in London," said Mr Tatchell.

See below the testimonies from the families of the striking and jailed bus workers.

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Support the Tehran bus workers strike

Stop the repression of Iranian trade unions

Free the jailed labour activists

Workers of Iran need your support!

Iranian government out of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)

JOIN US

When: Friday 10 February, 12 noon to 2:00pm

Where: ILO, 21-24 Millbank Tower, London, SWP

Nearest tube station: Westminster (bus 77A, 88) & Pimlico, Victoria (bus 507)

Organised by the Worker-Communist Party of Iran - UK Organisation, with the support of left-wing, pro-democracy and human rights activists in the UK

Condemn the Islamic regime of Iran for attacking workers

Demand the immediate release of arrested workers

Call for the exclusion of the Islamic Republic and its Islamic councils from the ILO

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Tehran Bus Workers' Protest - Update 14, Friday 3 February 2006

The following is the letter (translated) from the families of the arrested bus workers, who held a protest rally on Wednesday, 1st February, outside the National Assembly (Majles). A second rally has been called for 10am this Saturday (4 February), when the families will be joined by bus workers at the end of their night shift. Also, as previously announced, the bus workers are due to take part in an all-out stoppage today, Friday (3 February).

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To Amnesty International, all human rights organisations, all labour organisations and all conscientious people of the world

Our children want their fathers. Support them. Do it today.

You are certainly aware of Tehran's bus workers' strike on Saturday 28 January and how it was crushed. You have certainly heard that more than 500 of our husbands are in jail for wanting their rights, for going on strike, for building a union to defend their rights. You have certainly heard that they even took away and beat up the workers' kids. We expect that you will support us, if you haven't done so already; and if you have supported us, to do so even more vigorously so that those in charge feel even greater pressure and release our husbands immediately.

Our husbands have not committed a crime. They say they cannot live with wages three times below the official poverty line and are asking higher pay. Those have committed a crime who beat up our children and threw them in jail; those who do not recognise the slightest rights for us.

Our husbands say we have to organise so as to put an end to dispersion and fight unitedly against the poverty and deprivation that has been imposed on us.

Our husbands say we need a collective agreement to be able to stand up to employers and the state collectively, to sign contracts collectively, enter negotiations and take strike action collectively, and discuss long hours and work hazards collectively.

Our husbands rightly took strike action because none of their demands had been met. They decided to strike to win the release of Mr Mansoor Ossanlou who is in prison and gravely ill. May be in your country you have such rights. We don't.

Our husbands have been in prison for several days. They were badly beaten up when they were being arrested. The wife and two daughters of Yaghoub Salimi, an activist of our union, were beaten up. You can imagine what they have probably done to our husbands in prison. They are not allowing any visits and the bus company has stopped our wages. Our children want their fathers. We expect the whole world to stand up in our support and put pressure on the authorities to immediately release our husbands so that they may come back to work. Your pressure is important. Please put in all your efforts right now for the sake of humanity, justice and the struggle against injustice, oppression and unfairness.

1 February 2006

Signatures:

Gholamreza Mirzaee, member of the Management Board, Public Relations Officer and Spokesperson for the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran Vahed Bus Company

A number of partners of the arrested workers of Tehran Vahed Bus Company

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The following is the transcript of a radio interview with 12-year-old Mahdiye Salimi, daughter of arrested union activist Yaghoub Salimi. It first appeared in WPI Briefing 188-9, 30 January 2006, which we are reproducing here. Translation by Arash Sorx.

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Even children are not spared!

Interview with Mahdiye Salimi, the 12 year old daughter of union member who was beaten and arrested

As reported in WPI Briefing, up to 700 workers of the Syndicate of Workers and Employees of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company have been arrested. Moreover, the wives and children of some executive members have also been arrested. They were taken out of bed and beaten up during raids on Friday 27 January night. The beatings continued in detention. Substitute member of the union's executive board, Yaghoub Salimi's 2-year-old daughter was injured on her face in the attack, when she was thrown into a waiting patrol van. Her 12-year-old elder sister, Mahdiye, described the ordeal in detail in an interview with a radio station abroad. Below you will find a translation of the full transcript of radio "Avaye Ashena" (familiar voice) interview with 12 year old Mahdiye Salimi:

Reporter: Hello.

Mahdiye: Hello. How are you?

Reporter: Thank you. I hope you are alright. Please tell us what happened.

Mahdiye: We were asleep. They rang the doorbell of our home. They called out: Mrs. Salami, come to door for one moment" They were in such a hurry that they didn't even allow my mom to dress properly. As soon as my mom opened the door, they poured into our home. I was asleep along with Mrs. Zia's daughter. They pulled the blankets from our bodies and started to hit us with their "feet and hands" and told us to get into the van. Mrs. Razavi wanted to get some clothes for her daughter and they started to hit her badly. They even kicked my mom's heart with their boots and my mom had an enormous ache in her heart. She still has some wounds on her body. They hit her with a baton and didn't listen to my mother's appeals. They even wanted to spray something in my [2 year old] sister's mouth.

Then they took us to detention. Where we went was not hygienic at all and it was so cold. We asked for blankets. They said "we don't have any". "We are just doing our duty". They hit us so much. We asked for lunch. They brought us the leftovers of their own lunch which was nasty chicken skin mixed with some kind of sauce.

Reporter: Why did they keep hitting you and your mom?

Mahdiye: She wanted to get on the van but first wanted to take my sister to the bathroom. As soon as she started to go, they grabbed my sister from behind and pushed her into the van. My sister hit her head when she was thrown into the van and they also kept hitting my mom.

Reporter: Did they do all of this in the street? Did your neighbours see all this?

Mahdiye: Yes they did. All the neighbours came out and were watching what was going on. When they raided our home, there was at least 70-80 of them while we were only 3 women and 5 children. They rushed to the roof so no one could escape. They even went to our neighbours' homes and even arrested our neighbours' guests.

Reporter: What did they want?

Mahdiye: They wanted to know where my dad is. We didn't know that. We didn't have any news of my dad's whereabouts.

Reporter: Where is your mom right now?

Mahdiye: Yesterday they told us that she will be released soon. They wanted to bring her to the Ministry of Intelligence. Somebody said they might take her to Evin Prison but then they said she would be taken to the fourth base of the Ministry of Intelligence.

Reporter: how old are you?

Mahdiye: I am 12.

Reporter: Did they hit you?

Mahdiye: Yes they did. They hit all of us. Even a child from year 1. They made all the children cry.

Reporter: can I ask your name?

Mahdiye: I am Mahdiye Salimi.

Reporter: Why do you think they are doing this? Has your father done something wrong?

Mahdiye: Nothing. My father has done nothing wrong. He just has asked for his rights. The rights that they didn't give him. For example for every 200 tomans of his wage, they have taken 100 for themselves.

Reporter: Are you going to the prison with your father again?

Mahdiye: Yes.

Reporter: Are you anxious?

Mahdiye: Of course I am. How can I not be? When they took my mother they didn't even let us to be with her for a moment. They even didn't let us hug her.

Reporter: I heard that your [two year old] sister was also wounded. Is that true?

Mahdiye: Yes. When they pushed her into the van, her lips hit metal and was badly hurt.

Reporter: Did they continue hitting your mom there?

Mahdiye: Yes they did. They hit her even there.

Reporter: Is your school closed?

Mahdiye: No it is not. It was supposed to be closed because of heavy snowfall but they announced that it was open.

Reporter: So you missed school too?

Mahdiye: Yes. I missed my classes.

Reporter: How many children were there?

Mahdiye: There were 5. Mrs, Zia's daughter from year 3 (10 years old). Mrs. Razavi's daughter from year 1(7 years old). And one from year 9 (15 years) and myself (I am 12 year old and from year 6) and my own sister who is 2 and a half.

Reporter: And how many women? Do you remember how many you were in total?

Mahdiye: There were 3 women.

Reporter: Are you the only children who were released?

Mahdiye: No all the children were released but our mothers (my mother and Mrs. Zia) have not been released yet.

Reporter: What do you want from people who are listening to you? What is your wish?

Mahdiye: I want them to defend us. Do something so my mother will be released soon. Now our mother is in detention and there is nobody to take care of us.

The above was translated by Arash Sorx for WPI Briefing.

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International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran

Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar

Public Relations: Bahram Soroush

www.wpiran.org. www.kargaran.org www.newchannel.tv

Shiva Mahbobi

Address: BCM Box 1919

London WC1N 3XX

Website: www.wpiran.org

http://www.petertatchell.net/international/iran/iranbusdrivers.htm
Published: 06/02/2006