Saturday, October 30, 2010

Iranian workers also have rights!

NOT content with keeping leading Iranian trades unionists in prison long after their release was promised, the Iranian government and its agents are reported to be using threats and violence against their families.

Mansour Osanloo is the jailed leader of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate, whose release was anticipated months ago. In recent weeks, Osanloo's daughter, Zoya Samadi, has been telephoned several times with death threats. On one occasion, the callers told her: “You got a first-hand experience the last time. This time you can be sure you won’t survive,” referring to her earlier abduction and torture at their hands which resulted in her miscarriage.

Earlier, Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that Intelligence Ministry agents had showed up on Zoya’s door step ostensibly to deliver court summons. Failing to find her and her husband, they turned on the neighbours instead creating a major intimidating scene at the neighbourhood.

Both Zoya and Osanloo’s wife, Parvaneh, have been summoned by the court. Rights activists say the intention is to intimidate and exert pressure on Osanloo himself.

Separately, on October 11, Intelligence Ministry operatives arrived at the home of Gholamreza Gholamhosseini, a Vahed labor activist, around 9:00 a.m. in order to arrest him. As the agents were not able to locate Bro. Ghlamhosseini at the house, they took his 15 year old son, Amir, and held him in captivity until 8 p.m. the same day. he was released after several family members rushed to the police station. But this wasn’t before Amir had been subjected to hard interrogation for several hours.

Earlier, Gholamhosseini’s wife had been told that Amir’s release was conditional on obtaining information on her husband’s whereabouts. The operatives also took many personal belongings of Gholamhosseini away after a thorough search of the house. Witnesses say the agents produced no court warrants and were extremely rude and violent. The operation was led by “chief interrogator Mohebi”, who happens to be a prominent torturer and Intelligence Minister official at the Revolutionary Guards ward of the notorious Gohardasht prison.

Gholamreza Gholamhosseini is one of the Vahed bus workers syndicate activists who was arrested during the 2005 strike. He was arrested and held for several weeks. He was subsequently released and fired from his job at Vahed bus company for four years. He was eventually allowed back to work 8 months ago following a court ruling but was fired again three months ago.

Gholamhosseini is currently on the run from Intelligence Ministry. He is wanted for attempting to organize a strike at Vahed bus company. Long periods of torture and interrogation awaits him if he is captured. Last month, Heydar Moslehi, the Minister of Intelligence, said in a press conference that “anyone engaged in economic acts of sabotage (meaning organizing strikes) will be dealt with severely.”

The International Transport Workers federation(ITF), has condemned the continuing imprisonment of members of the Vahed Syndicate. ITF Inland Transport Secretary Mac Urata said: “The injustice continues. There had been some hopes that the union’s treasurer, Reza Shahabi, might be released today, but they look like they will come to nothing - just like the regime’s empty promises to release Mansour Osanloo. We invite the Iranian government to prove us wrong and show that they can still do the decent thing and release these innocent workers.”

He continued: “We are reliably informed that Reza Shahabi is being heavily interrogated, despite reported health issues, and being denied legal advice and contact with his deeply worried family. His family have paid 60 million Toman (USD 60,000) in bail, but his release is still nowhere in sight.”

Reza Shahabi was arrested on 12 June this year without any charges being specified by the authorities. In August the ITF’s 42nd Congress in Mexico City unanimously adopted an emergency resolution to demand his and Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi’s immediate release.

  • Yesterday, was the annual general meeting of the Stop the War Coalition(STWC) in Britain. In the past, the STWC has not had a good record on Iran. When a group of Iranian refugee comrades walked from Birmingham to London to join the Coalition's national rally they were told they could not have a speaker on the platform because they were opponents of the Iranian government. (in contrast, CND, part of the Coalition, hosted a speaker from the Iranian embassy)

    • Although leading STWC figures denied knowledge of this decision, the Coalition has twice refused the request to affiliate from Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI), which has a policy of opposing imperialist sanctions and war threats to Iran, but supporting the struggle of Iranian workers and democratic forces. The arguments from Stop the War's Andrew Murray seem to vary - that HOPI was 'opposed to everything the Coalition stood for' (which set people wondering just what the Coalition really stood for - not least people who belonged to both organisations), that Stop the War could not "take a position on the nature of the Iranian regime" (as though it was facing a resolution on this), and finally, that an individual belonging to HOPI made some disrespectful remarks about the STWC leadership -at a conference that was nothing to do with HOPI. Evidently Murray and the rest must do their research. But is it relevant?

      Since the massive unrest on the streets in Iran, both the Socialist Workers Party -which had a leading part in the Stop the War Coalition - and the Communist Party of Britain, of which both Andrew Murray and CND's Kate Hudson are members - have taken their distance from the Iranian government. Writing in the Morning Star, John Haylett said in August that notwithstanding its relations with other governments and movements standing up to US bullying, Ahmadinejad's regime is not anti-imperialist. Referring to the big democracy struggles which broke last year on to Iranian streets, he concludes:"Solidarity cannot be withheld by trade unionists and other progressives in Britain simply because US imperialism opportunistically criticises Iran for practices it excuses or ignores in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

      Nor should revulsion against the vile punishments and repression visited on Iranians be misused to justify imperialist intervention, as the B52 liberals did with regard to Iraq.As Tudeh Party of Iran general secretary Ali Khavari, the leader of the country's banned communists, makes clear, "Regime change from outside, such as occurred in Iraq, is neither possible nor acceptable by any means in Iran. Any foreign force that attempts such a dangerous provocation will burn its fingers, set the whole region on fire and seriously endanger world peace."

      This year HOPI approached the Stop the War Coalition leadership for discussion, hoping to clear up any misunderstandings, even if there remain differences. Still they were rebuffed.

      Meanwhile, the SWP has had its own little difficulties. It has waved goodby to both Stop the War national convenor Lindsey German and her partner John Rees, STWC national organiser.

      Yesterday's conference had a resolution before it to accept HOPI, and a nomination for Yassamine Mather of Iranian Workers Left Unity to join the leadership.
      Unfortunately I could not attend the conference yesterday. It probably would not have made much difference if I had, as neither of the affiliates which I might have represented had submitted the paperwork in time. Things are bit more formal than in previous years.

      I'm still waiting to hear how it went. Unfortunately, with the shock and awe induced by the ConDem government's class war policies, a lot of people I know were busy out campaigning this weekend, and couldn't make it. Even the organisers seem to have decided the conference would be smaller. But we should not forget that when things are going badly at home, both the Tories and the Tehran government may decide it's a good time for war.

      And Iranian workers also have rights.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home