workers-rights2International Labor Organization Should Take Action about the Repression of Workers in Iran

(8 May 2009)  The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called for the release of all labor activists and six members of the One Million Signatures Campaign still in detention after their violent arrest on 1 May as they gathered to peacefully celebrate the International Workers’ Day, and called on the International Labor Organization (ILO) to condemn the arrests.

“The brutal and illegal treatment of workers in Iran seeking respect for their rights deserves to be protested by the ILO and members of the international community,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.

“The repression of labor activists in Iran is shameful, but so is the indifference of the international community, especially its members who pride themselves on supporting workers rights,” he added.

The Campaign specifically recommended that the Secretary General of the ILO take the case to the organization’s Expert Committee and publicly affirm that the May Day detentions, as well as Iran’s more general refusal to honor labor rights, are unacceptable, especially given Iran’s ratification of six ILO Conventions.

As previously reported, more than 100 people were arrested in Laleh Park in Tehran on 1 May. They included members of trade unions, journalists, women’s and children’s rights activists and others active on behalf of civil society. The Campaign has received reports that as many as 200 people were arrested, 19 of whom were women who were transferred to Vozara Detention Center. The names of 66 detained persons have been published by some labor organizations.

On 2 May, 25 men were released on third party guarantees, as well as two women. All remaining detainees were sent to ward 240 of Evin Prison where, according to those who were released, the detainees suffered ill-treatment.

According to the Iran Free Trade Union’s website, some of the detainees, including Jafar Azimzadeh, Shahpour Ehsani, and Bahram (Issa) Abedini, were asked to post very heavy bails of approximately 500 million Rials ($50,000).  Families of the detained women have been denied the right to visit them, reportedly on the orders of Judge Haddad, and the detained women have been barred from calling their families. None of the detained men have been allowed to contact their families.

Among the detained are five members of the One Million Signatures Campaign, including Nikzad Zanganeh, Amir Yaghoubali, Kaveh Mozafari, Pouria Poushtareh and Taha Valizadeh. Intelligence forces also arrested Jelveh Javaheri, Kaveh Mozafari’s spouse and a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, during a search of their home at around midnight on 1 May, without presenting any warrant. She had not been present during the demonstration.  Intelligence officers have taken the keys to the house and are not permitting entry by anyone else, arousing fears that false evidence may be planted there. The homes of arrested activists Kaveh Mozafari and Amir Yaghobali were also searched.

According to the website of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers Organizations, nineteen members of the Consumer Cooperative “Felezkar va Mechanic” [Metalworkers and Mechanics] were also arrested while they gathered on 1 May in Tehran. After two days, when the home of one of the members of the cooperative was searched by Intelligence forces who confiscated his personal belongings, their families were informed that they were being held in Evin Prison. Subsequent requests for information have been denied. Six workers arrested in Sanandaj on the morning of 1 May were released on 2 May on 260 million Rials ($26,000) bail each.

Since 2 May, the families of detainees have gathered in front of the detention centers and the Revolutionary Court requesting unconditional release of their relatives, and protested against heavy bail demands. Families have also sent protest letters to the head of Iran’s Judiciary and the Prosecutor’s Office, but have received no responses.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained surrounding May Day events. The Campaign urges the Judiciary to investigate the attack on demonstrators and bring those responsible for the arrests of activists to justice.

The Campaign continues to be concerned about the situations of trade union activists Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Maddadi and Farzad Kamangar who are still in prison for their activities and urges for the ILO to publicly call for their release.