Monday, February 14, 2011

Fears for busworkers' union leader in Iran

FEARS are being expressed for the life of Iranian bus workers' leader Mansour Osanloo, who is reportedly shackled by cuffs on his wrists and ankles to a hospital bed after suffering a heart attack in prison.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said earlier today that it had received reports that Osanloo had been taken to hospital from Rajai Shahr prison after suffering chest pains.

"Over preceding days contact with his family has been restricted and access to the open air has been limited. We are deeply concerned about his health. He had been repeatedly denied medical leave from Rajai Shahr Prison, contrary to recommendations of the prison doctor".

Osanloo, aged 50, is president of the ITF-affiliated Sherkat e Vehad, or Vahed Syndicate, a union of bus drivers in Tehran and surrounding areas. In July 2007 he was dragged from a Tehran bus by men later identified as Iranian security forces. Three months later he was sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of ‘acting against national security’ and ‘propaganda against the state’; in 2010 another year was added to his sentence.

"In reality", the ITF says, "his only ‘crime’ has been to help found a genuinely democratic trade union for his fellow bus drivers". Several other officers of the bus union have been arrested and are still held in prison.

In August 2008, Mansour was transferred to Rejai Shahr prison, west of Tehran, where he was placed among prisoners who have been convicted of crimes such as murder, rather than among political prisoners. He was threatened and attacked in prison by another prisoner, a former policeman believed to be an informer.

He has been denied permission to leave the prison for treatment for pre-existing medical problems, and new ones gained through the denial of access to treatment.
Despite the recommendation by the Coroner, and Medical Examiner, in both 2008 and 2009 that Mansour be treated outside the prison, the authorities continue to refuse to allow him to leave for treatment.

ITF general secretary David Cockroft stated: “Frankly, I believe that if he hadn’t had his life threatened, been beaten, arrested, re-arrested and held for years in awful Iranian prisons, he would today be a well man.”

“His maltreatment is part of a campaign to crush his voice and that of his trade union, the Vahed Syndicate. The blame for it lies with the government of Iran, a government that is today letting loose its so-called security forces against protesters in cities across the country.”

He concluded: “Hasn’t that government learnt from the experience of its neighbours: that no one is too powerful to be held to account, and that injustice – such as has been meted out to Mansour Osanloo – cannot be sustained indefinitely?”

Amnesty International has expressed concern for Mansour Osanloo, and is urging supporters to write to the Iranian authorities. For more information and the letter you can send see:


Iran protest crackdown condemned

Posted: 14 February 2011

Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian authorities for breaking up an apparently peaceful march held in Tehran in support of Egyptian and Tunisian protests. Protests were also reportedly held in other cities across Iran, such as Esfahan, Shiraz and Kermanshah.

Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest by the authorities ahead of the protests on Monday.

Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said:

“Iranians have a right to gather to peacefully express their support for the people of Egypt and Tunisia.

“While the authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order, this should be no excuse to ban and disperse protests by those who choose to exercise that right.

“This crackdown is the latest in a series of moves by the authorities aimed at blocking the work of activists and stifling dissent.”

The march comes amid a wave of pre-emptive arrests of political and other activists over the past several days.

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