Detainees should be immediately released

(1 May 2009) Security and police forces violently attacked Iranian workers as they gathered in Laleh Park in Tehran to observe International Workers’ Day on May 1st, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported. The demonstration had been called by ten independent labor organizations. According to information received by the Campaign more than 100 persons were arrested, and citizens not participating in the attempted May Day observance were among those beaten.

“These brutal and deplorable attacks are emblematic of the Iranian government’s utter contempt for workers and for the state’s international obligations to protect worker’s rights,” stated Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign.

An eyewitness to the events in Tehran told the Campaign that she saw five police vans full of arrested people. She described the attack as follows:

“It was about 5 pm. Many people were in the Park. Usually on Fridays the park is crowded. Many people were walking around the fountain where the gathering was supposed to be held at 6pm. Without warning, two vans parked and plain-clothes agents came out of them and started to arrest people. Suddenly, I heard the call, “Long live the labor movement!” Two more vans came, and agents attacked and arrested people. As people resisted, they were beaten with batons and punched and kicked. The attack took 15 minutes after which people walked away because the park was full of security agents who would arrest anyone near the fountain.”

One of the detainees reported by cell phone from the police station in Vesal that more than 100 persons had been arrested.

Citizens detained in the incident have been transferred to different police stations and detention centers. According to the Iran Free Trade Union website, some of the well-known labor activists detained include Jafar Azimzadeh, Shahpour Ehsanirad, Maryam Mohseni and Behrouz Khabazzadeh. Other sources and eyewitnesses reported that seven members of the Association to Defend Child Workers are among detainees.

According to the Iran Free Trade Union website, another May Day gathering was scheduled to take place at 5pm in Sanandaj in Amirieh, the main square. On the morning of May 1st, five labor rights activists were summoned to the Intelligence Office in Sanandaj and arrested in an attempt to prevent the gathering: Sedigh Karimi, Sharif Saedpanah, Majid Mohammadi, Seyed Khaled Hosseini and Zhyan Sobhani. As activists formed a group in the square, plain-clothes agents and police forces tried to collect their placards, meeting resistance from the demonstrators. The crowed started to chant, “Long live workers” and “Political prisoners should be released.” They were attacked and severely beaten by the security forces, and at least 10 were arrested. Ghayegh Key Khosravi is also among the detainees.

Other assaults on labor activists have taken place in Kurdistan in recent days. On 29 April, Karim Fateh, Ali (Omar) Minaie, and Hadi Tanoumand, members of the Coordinating Committee to Help to Establish Workers Organizations, were summoned to the Intelligence Department of the police station in Bukan. On the same day, Zhiyan Sobhani and Kourosh Bakhshandeh, members of the Committee, and Amaj Nikdel (14) were summoned to police station number 12 in Sanandaj. Sobhani, Bakhshandeh and Nikdel were previously arrested and released in Sanandaj on 17 April when they went to visit Ghaleb Hosseini, a prisoner sentenced for his May Day activists last year.

On 27 April, Yousef Bokhrabad and Vahed Resideh were questioned about May Day observances in the Intelligence Office in Mahabad. On the same day, Hassan Rasoulnejad and Ahmad Eski Baghdadi were summoned and questioned in Bukan. All these 4 workers activists are members of the Coordinating Committee to Help to Establish Workers Organizations.

The International Campaign for Human Rights is Iran appeals for the immediate release of labor activists detained as they sought to peacefully demonstrate their commitment to fair labor practices. The Campaign also notes the urgent need to release and drop charges against unfairly incarcerated Iranian labor activists, including Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Maddadi, Farzad Kamangar and Ghaleb Hosseini.