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Hundreds Arrested in Fierce Iran May Day Crackdown

Posted to the IUF website 06-May-2009

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In preparation for May Day 2009, a number of independent Iranian unions and labour rights organizations came together in a May Day Organizing Committee to plan a public rally in Laleh Park, Tehran. The Committee included, among other organizations, the Haft Tapeh Sugar Workers' Union, whose leaders were recently sentenced to one year prison terms, and the Tehran and Suburbs' Vahed Bus Company Workers' Union, whose leaders Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi, are currently serving five-and three and a half-year sentences.

Days before the rally, the security forces worked overtime to prevent it from taking place, issuing court summonses, making threatening phone calls and placing workers and activists under surveillance. Hours before the 5:00 rally was scheduled to start, police and plainclothes intelligence officials turned out in force. Company security guards, including security from Vahed, were also there to identify and report workers from their companies. Despite the massive police presence, over 2,000 demonstrators turned up, and were violently attacked and beaten. In all over 200 people were arrested, including workers and labour activists and representatives from women's and student organizations.

The IUF, ITUC, Education International (EI) and ITF had jointly highlighted and warned of the Iranian government's customary repressive response to public attempts to celebrate May Day. The union internationals have now written to condemn the arrests of the Haft Tapeh and trade union leaders and activists and demand their release, including the May 4 arrest of Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the Tehran Teachers' Association (TTA). The TTA had invited teachers to gather in front of the Ministry of Education in Tehran and in front of local Education Departments in the provinces. Security forces violently dispersed the demonstrators in Teheran and in the provinces.

Repression continues unabated against the Haft Tapeh leaders, currently free on bail but under surveillance. Ali Nejati has been fired from his job at Haft Tapeh and all the unions' executive members are under constant pressure to resign.

Act Now - CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Ali Nejati and the other Haft Tapeh union leaders. Freedom for all imprisoned Iranian trade unionists!