Osanloo is Out! Now Free the Rest!
IRANIAN busworkers' leader Mansour Osanloo has been freed from jail, almost four years after his arrest and imprisonment. Mansour, a bus driver and president of the Vahed Syndicate representing bus drivers in Tehran, had been the target of violence while in prison and suffered ill health. He was taken back to prison on May 21 after having been in hospital because of his heart condition.
His release now is conditional of his "good behaviour" and payment of a bond.
The Iranian trade unionist's freedom had been demanded by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and by my own union Unite, which made him an honorary member.
"This is a great day for Mansour and his family – and for his fellow Vahed union members and those of us in the international trade union movement who are honoured to call him a friend, " said ITF general secretary David Cockroft. "It’s doubly welcome given the deterioration in his health during his time behind bars. He is free because trade unionists worldwide demanded justice.”
He continued: “That bail has been set falls short of the full pardon we all wanted, and which the Iranian government promised, but for now we can just take a moment to savour his richly deserved return to his family.”
“But – and sadly even on a day as good as this one there has to be a but – there are other innocents in jail in Iran for the same ‘crime’ of wanting to join a trade union. They include Mansour’s colleagues, Reza Shahabi and Ebrahim Madadi. For all of them, and us, the fight is not over. As much as we welcome the Iranian government’s move and its finally listening to reason, we know we must renew our insistence that those other prisoners are set free and the threat of re-arrest lifted from Mansour, and then commit the ITF, our member unions and friends in the trade union and human rights movements to campaigning on their behalf.”
The Vahed Syndicate said they would like to thank everyone who has fought for Brother Osanloo's release. From its beginnings in 2005 the ITF-affiliated union was subjected to heavy repression, including repeated attacks and arrests. Mansour Osanloo was heavily targeted. As well as being beaten up and having his tongue slit he was imprisoned in 2005 and 2006. Then in 2007, just one month after visiting the London head office of the ITF and meeting trade unionists in Brussels, he was arrested. 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 his only offence was to help found a genuinely democratic trade union.
For more details, including a film, press releases and history, please see www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/freeosanloo.cfm
Osanloo's release was also welcomed by Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI), which has started a bulletin on workers' struggles in Iran.
HOPI is campaigning for the release of trade unionists, student activists and other political prisoners, including cultural figures like film-maker Jafar Panahi.