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World support for Osanloo release
5 March 2008
Hundreds of thousands of people will take to the streets in over 41 countries tomorrow (6 March) to demand the release of imprisoned Iranian trade unionist Mansour Onsanloo.
Supporters will protest at Iranian Embassies and Consulates; lobby diplomats and governments; leaflet, demonstrate and rally. The mass of protests worldwide are all in support of Mansour Osanloo, 48, the elected leader of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, a trade union founded three years ago. Even though the organisation is free, democratic and legal it has been violently attacked by Iranian security forces. As a result of his work Osanloo has been beaten, arrested and had his tongue sliced as a warning against speaking out. He is now being held in Evin Prison in Tehran, where he is in danger of losing his sight in one eye due to a previous beating.
David Cockroft, General Secretary of global union the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation), which has spearheaded the fight for Osanloo, added: “Today workers across the world stand alongside their Iranian counterparts, whose request is a reasonable one – the basic right to belong to a union. The Iranian government’s brutal attempts to stifle that call are just making it heard more loudly and more widely.”
He continued: “For three years we and our colleagues in the trade union movement have fought to defend Mansour and his colleagues from the vicious and sustained attacks that have culminated with his imprisonment on trumped up charges of endangering national security. Today’s worldwide action day allows us to shout out that enough is enough, and it is time to set this innocent man free.”
The ITF and ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) are committed to securing the release of Mansour Osanloo, who has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, which is supporting the campaign. See www.freeosanloo.org for further information about Osanloo and his union’s struggle. A short film about him can be seen at www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/osanloo-film.cfm The following actions will be taking place on 6 March 2008 as part of the campaign to free him, with more being confirmed all the time. Updates on these can be seen at www.freeosanloo.org
Affiliates of NZCTU, led by ITF unions, will hold a rally outside the Iranian Embassy on 6 March. Letters signed by the head of each ITF affiliated union in New Zealand will be submitted to the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and copies sent to the leaders of all New Zealand political parties, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, media, press and other interested groups.
Press release on New Zealand events:
New Zealand transport workers will be demonstrating outside the Iranian Embassy, 151 Te Anua Road, Hataitai, Wellington at 12 noon, Thursday 6 March 2008. The protest is part of an international day of action by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) for the freedom of Iranian unionist and bus driver Mansour Osanloo.
ITF New Zealand convenor Wayne Butson says the protest is important given New Zealand's trading links with Iran which would have an impact. He says Mansour Osanloo is currently detained in the notorious Evin prison in Teheran.
The bus driver helped to create 'Sherkat-e Vahed' an independent trade union, representing 17,000 bus workers in Iran's capital city, Tehran. Osanloo and his fellow workers led protests that increased bus workers' pay by fifty dollars a month, persuaded employers to provide work clothes, and got casual workers signed to two-year contracts. They argued for forty-dollar childcare allowances to be paid to women workers.((Mr Butson says Osanloo has been threatened, attacked and now imprisoned for five years for fighting for basic workers rights.
Article 26 of the Iranian constitution recognises the right of all citizens of the Islamic republic to participate in party politics, Union organisations and other types of associations. It is on this constitutional basis that Osanloo and others decided to revive their Union to defend the rights of the workers of Tehran's public transport system.
The Iranian Government is acting in defiance to the country's constitution, says Mr Butson. "There are reports that workers who have refused to resign from the Union have not been paid overtime and have not had their years of service recognised."
New Zealand unions affiliated to the ITF include the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, the Maritime Union of New Zealand, the Aviation and Marine Engineers Association, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, the National Distribution Union, and the New Zealand Merchant Service Guild. Other Council of Trade Union affiliated unions are supporting the action as well.
Solidarity actions, including demonstrations, will also be held at Iranian embassies, in cities, railway stations and at border crossings in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and Turkey. Other countries are planning activities.
For further information contact ITF New Zealand convenor Wayne Butson on 04 4736693 or 0274962461
or Maritime Union of New Zealand communications officer Victor Billot on 021482219.
A rally in support of Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi will be held at Hyde Park in Sydney at 12:30 on 6 March. The activity is led by the ACTU, MUA, RTBU and ASU and is supported by a number of Australian affiliates. Representatives from IUF and Amnesty International are expected to attend the event. The issue has been raised at the ACTU International Committee where it received full support and flyers have been distributed to all affiliates. The ACTU will contact the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister to make a comment on behalf of the Australian Federal Government.
ITF inspectors in the ports of Bunbury and Gladstone are visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
Members of ITF affiliated unions will visit the Iranian Embassy. Rail unions will be distributing leaflets at stations nationwide.
The Korean Transport Unions’ Federation (KTF) plans to mobilise a large delegation to visit the Iranian Embassy on 6 March and organise a rally in the central station in Seoul, which will be joined by representatives from Amnesty Korea. A letter has been sent to the Iranian Ambassador requesting a meeting. The Federation will work together with the national labour centre FKTU and also plans to contact local groups in the Iranian community in Seoul. The Federation has prepared materials and will contact local and national media.
The ITF inspector in the port of Incheon is visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
The ITF inspector in the port of Kaohsiung is visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
HKCTU is planning a protest action at the Embassy. Unionists from the bus union will deliver leaflets at one of the major terminals.
Led by the seafarers union, KPI, 500 participants from the ITF affiliates in the road transport, railway and aviation sectors are expected to attend activities on 6 March. Between 09:00-11:00 a rally will be held in front of the Iranian Embassy. At 11:00-11:30, the rally will move to the Indonesian Presidential Palace. At 13:00 a press conference will be held in the KPI Head Office.
ITF affiliates will visit the Iranian Embassy to deliver a protest letter. In the afternoon, the unions will organise a Railway Action Day exhibition at the Hua Lumpang station in Bangkok, which will include information about the situation in Iran and the global campaign in solidarity with workers in Iran.
A delegation from AIRF will visit the Iranian Embassy in New Delhi on 6 March to present a memorandum demanding Osanloo’s immediate release.
The Paradip Port Workers will hold a General Meeting in the union’s training hall at Nishmani Bhawan in Paradip Port on 4 March to discuss the campaign. A public meeting will be held in front of the bus stand in Paradip Port on 6 March. A letter in support of trade unionists in Iran will be sent to the Iranian Government.
The Transport & Dock Workers’ Union will distribute leaflets and display campaign posters in order to raise public awareness about the campaign. A public meeting will also be held. The union also hopes to hold a demonstration at the Iranian consulate and submit a memorandum demanding medical treatment for and the release of Mansour Osanloo.
The Tuticorin Port Mariners & General Staff Union will hold a press meeting on 6 March in order to publicise the Action Day in Tamil Nadu and will also hold meetings with other unions about the campaign.
The ITF inspector in the port of Cochin is visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
The Pakistan Transport Workers’ Federation will organise a rally from the Federation office to the Press Club Lahore on 6 March.
Iraqi transport unions participating in ITF education seminars held in Amman have pledged to support the campaign by visiting the Iranian council in Basra, Southern Iraq. The unions, together with the oil workers, will distribute the campaign stickers in both Arabic and Farsi.
Members of the Iraqi dockers’ union from Basra and the petrochemical workers' union from Basra and Kurdistan resolve to support the Action Day at its ITF-ICEM meeting in Amman by sending protest letters to the Iranian government.
Transport workers’ unions in the West Bank will organise a mass demonstration to express their solidarity with the Iranian workers (no diplomatic mission is located in Palestine).
The ITF unions will send a message to their members explaining the Free Osanloo campaign and will send a letter of protest to the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
An Embassy visit is confirmed by Jordanian unions and campaign stickers have been distributed widely.
The Fédération Nationale des Transports will visit the Iranian Embassy in Tunis to deliver the message of protest.
Transport unions affiliated to the ITF will visit the Iranian Embassy in Casablanca and deliver a message of protest. They are widely distributing the campaign stickers to their members.
*Activities in Yemen and Kuwait are also in the process of finalisation.
The Transport & Communications Workers' Trade Unions Industrial Federation launched its campaign activities on 6 February. The union will send a protest letter to several international bodies in order to demand the release of Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi and is calling upon the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to play a role in lobbying the diplomatic communities. A protest letter signed by all affiliated unions will be sent to the Iranian Embassy in Ethiopia. Information about the campaign including a union newsletter will be circulated to members. On 8 March, International Women’s Day, the union will ask its women members to sign the union’s petition and protest letter.
SATAWU confirms that 100 shop stewards will participate in a demonstration in Pretoria where a rally will be held in front of the Iranian Embassy. Between 200 and 300 workers are expected to participate. A memorandum will be submitted to the Iranian Embassy authorities. On 7 March, a solidarity march involving representatives from COSATU, social movements and political organisations will be held in Pretoria on the issues of democracy and free and fair elections in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. The situation in Iran will also be highlighted.
FENATRAMP.G will organise activities on 6 March to highlight anti-union actions in Iran. A solidarity march will take place.
On 6 March, HAVA-IS is planning a protest action in front of the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul. Campaign materials in Turkish will be distributed and an electronic petition will be launched in conjunction.
Leaders of transport unions, together with the ITF representative, will visit the Iranian Embassy in Moscow to deliver their message of protest.
The train drivers' union will organise a picket in front of the Iranian Embassy in Kiev.
Federatia Sindicala Transloc will participate in the Action Day on 6 March under the slogan “I Wear the Badge”. The union plans to bring together at least 100 unionists in front of the Iranian Embassy and to offer the “Free Osanloo” badges to all local transport drivers whose buses pass the Embassy. A letter of protest will also be sent to the Iranian authorities.
The VDSzSz rail union is planning awareness activities by publicising information about the campaign on its webpage and asking members to sign the online petition.
The Lithuanian Transport Workers‘ Federation will be raising public awareness about the situation in Iran. An appeal has been sent to the Lithuanian trade union confederations, to the Parliament and to the government. A picket is planned at the Lithuanian government on 6 March. Information about the campaign will be distributed.
The Estonian Seafarers' Independent Union will resolve to support the Iranian Campaign at its annual conference on 6 March.
The ITF inspector in the port of Muuga is visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
The transport workers' union will deliver the ITF/ITUC/Amnesty message to the Iranian Embassy in Stockholm.
Transport workers’ unions will organise a demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in Oslo on 6 March from 14:00. All ITF affiliates in Norway will participate in this event.
A joint press conference is planned by Gewerkschaft VIDA in the national Parliament, together with representatives from the Human Rights Committee. The ITF “Free Osanloo” film will be shown in the entrance hall of Parliament before the press conference. The union will contact representatives from local Iranian groups in the community to attend the activities.
TRANSNET is planning information activities throughout the country. Articles about the campaign will be published in its union magazine and the union will send protest letters to the Iranian Embassy.
Ver.di confirms that a group of unionists will hold a protest rally in front of the Iranian Embassy in Berlin on 6 March. The union will also send protest letters to the government in Iran and will send a solidarity letter to the Tehran Bus Workers’ Union in Iran.
The ITF inspector in the port of Nordenham has sent the ITF message to an Iranian vessel due to visit the port.
The ITUC’s Geneva office, together with the representatives of BWI, IUF, IMF and PSI will visit the Iranian Mission.
FILT-CGIL, FIT-CISL and UILTRASPORTI are working together on activities at the border points of Ventimiglia (France), Modane (France), Domodossola (Switzerland), Chiasso (Switzerland), Brennero (Austria) and Villa Opicina (Slovenia) where meetings will be held between unions on both sides of the border.
The ITF inspector in the port of Genoa is visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
The FNV Mondiaal and FNV Bondgenoten will be visiting the Iranian Embassy in The Hague on 6 March. More activities are planned in Amsterdam in the afternoon.
FNV are awarding a human rights prize to Mansour Osanloo, as described below in their press release:
FNV trade union rights prize for jailed union leader in Iran
The Iranian trade union leader Mansour Osanloo (48) is to be awarded the FNV 2008 union rights prize. This prize is awarded every two years to someone who campaigns for the observance of trade union rights under difficult circumstances and at personal risk. Osanloo is president of the independent union of bus drivers of Tehran and Suburbs (Sherkat-e Vehad) and has now been in prison for seven months. At the time of his arrest, he was severely assaulted. Eventually, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for organising trade union actions to demand better working conditions for the bus drivers.
The international trade unions are staging a global action day on Thursday 6 March to campaign for the release of Osanloo. In the Netherlands, FNV president Agnes Jongerius will symbolically present the trade union prize to Henk van de Kolk (FNV Bondgenoten) in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen. Ultimately, the intention is to award the prize to Osanloo himself in the Evin prison in Tehran. This is to take place later this year.
Osanloo is not the only person in Iran to be prosecuted for exercising his trade union rights. There are more trade union leaders being held in detention there. In the past few months there have been protests by metro and sugar factory and by workers in the educational and automobile sectors.
Contact for more details: Andriëtte Nommensen, Tel. +31 20 5816538, email: email@example.com
The ITF “Free Osanloo” film will be shown at Luxembourg station as part of activities organised by FNCTTFEL for the ITF International Railway Workers’ Action Day.
The ETF and the ITUC, together with members of the Belgian unions, GUFs and Amnesty will hold a demonstration in front of the Iranian Embassy in Brussels on 6 March at 11:00. The ITF “Free Osanloo” film will be shown at 10:00 at the ETF Head Office.
ITF inspectors in the port of Antwerp are visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
BTB is calling on its members to sign a petition and to send protest letters to the Iranian Embassy. The union has published an article in its union magazine about the campaign and distributed the “Free Osanloo” badges to its members.
CGSP has also published an article about the Action Day in its union magazine.
CGT Cheminots and FO Cheminots will organise press conferences at five border points around France to highlight the Free Osanloo campaign and the importance of union freedom around the world and in particular in Iran. The five border points are: Hendaye (Spain), Cerbère (Spain), Modane (Italy), Luxembourg (together with colleagues from Luxembourg and Germany) and Calais (together with colleagues from the UK)..
CGT Transports will send letters to Members of Parliament (Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Transport) and also distribute campaign leaflets on the Action Day.
The ITF inspector in the port of Le Havre is visiting Iranian ships to deliver the ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
CC.OO and UGT will distribute leaflets to workers and passengers at train stations and on buses throughout Spain. Workers will wear the badge on 6 March. At the planned border activity in Irun-Hendaye together with colleagues from Portugal and France, a solidarity message will be read.
ELA-Hainbat is also planning to distribute information on 6 March.
Cabin crew union SNPVAC will send a protest letter to the Iranian Government.
ASLEF, GMB, RMT, TSSA, UNISON and UNITE, together with the ITF, TUC and Amnesty International will organise a one-day event in London. A bus decorated with campaign messages will travel from Parliament to the Iranian Embassy where a rally will be held between 12:30-13:30. Union visitors from Colombia and Indonesia are expected to join the programme.
The ITF unions will also distribute thousands of leaflets at railway stations and city centres throughout the country including in Aberdeen, Leeds, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff and London.
T&G Section of Unite in Bradford (8/9-8 Branch) will be leafleting at the West Bowling Mosque this Friday, 7 March to raise awareness of the local Muslim community on workers' rights in Iran. They have done so several times already and the general reception has been very positive.
The ITF inspector in the port of Felixstowe is visiting Iranian ships to deliver ITF’s protest message to the Iranian Government.
The Canadian Labor Congress is planning a rally at Queens Park (at College and University) in Toronto between 17:00 and 19:30 on 6 March to promote basic human rights and trade union rights in Iran.
The Teamsters Canada has reported that a letter is being circulated in Parliament for MPs and Senators to sign, calling on the Canadian Government to intervene and get the Iranian union leaders out of jail.
The ITF National Coordinating Committee in Mexico has an appointment with the Iranian Ambassador on 6 March to discuss the international campaign and workers’ rights issues in Iran.
Unions in Belgium, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, Turkey, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Mali, South Africa, Zambia, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia and Thailand are planning activities including leaflet distribution, border actions, meetings, panel discussions, marches and rallies to mark the ITF International Railway Workers’ Action Day on 6 March.
For more information contact ITF press officer, Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.
International Transport Workers' Federation - ITF:
ITF House, 49 - 60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7403 2733
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7375 7871
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