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May Day Repression in Iran: Protest Arrest of Bakers' Leader, Other Worker Rights Activists

Posted to the IUF website 06-May-2004

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Seven independent labour rights activists remain in detention in Iran following the arrest on May 1 of workers gathering in the city of Saqez to celebrate May Day. Some 40-50 peaceful demonstrators, of whom 7 remain in police detention, were arrested when government security forces broke up their march. Among those still in custody are Mahmoud Salehi, leader of the local bakers' organization which is independent of the government and its captive "Islamic Labour Councils". Salehi was previously arrested in November 2000 and served 10 months in prison. Also arrested and still in detention are Mohsen Hakimi, a member of the Saqez bakers' organization and the Iranian Writers' Association; local labour activist Jalal Hoseini; Mohammad Abdipoor; Borhan Divangard; Hadi Tanumand; and Esmail Khodkam.

Two days before their arrest, Salehi and Hakimi had met with an ICFTU mission investigating violations of trade union rights in Iran. According to information supplied by the ICFTU, Salehi was badly beaten in detention, and his wife and son were beaten by security forces at their home following his arrest. The arrested labour activists have been transferred to a prison in Sannadaj, and their families asked to post the equivalent of USD 250,000 in bail.

These arrests are part of a long history of vicious repression of democratic and worker rights advocates in Iran. International pressure has in the past helped secure the release of imprisoned activists. The IUF, together with the ICFTU, is calling for messages to the Iranian authorities to help secure the release of these victims of state repression. Your voice can make a difference.

Sample Message to the President of Iran


To: Mr. Seyed Mohammad Khatami
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98 21 648 0665
E-mail: khatami@president.ir

Mr. President:

We wish to register our strong protest at the arrest of some 50 people on May 1 in Saqez, seven of whom are still in detention. The only offense of those arrested and detained is their attempt to celebrate, in common with workers around the world, the first of May, International Labour Day. Among those still in police detention are Mr. Mahmoud Salehi, Mr. Mohsen Hakimi, Mr.Jalal Hoseini, Mr. Mohammad Abdipoor, Borhan Divangard, Hadi Tanumand, and Esmail Khodkam. We also understand that Mr. Salehi was badly beaten following his arrest, and that government security forces beat his wife and son at their home.

We call upon you to secure the immediate and unconditional release of these seven worker rights advocates who are guilty only of attempting to exercise internationally recognized fundamental human rights. Public opinion abroad will hold your government responsible for the physical and psychological well-being of these Iranian citizens.

Sincerely

Kindly send copies of any message you might send to the IUF secretariat: iuf@iuf.org

We thank you in advance for your solidarity and support.