World trade unions call: Release trade union leaders from captivity in Iran

1st May 2016

Press Release

For Immediate Use

Solidarity organisation, the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR), has been overwhelmed by the response to its May Day call to release trade unionists unjustly imprisoned in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


The appeal highlights the cases of trade unionist teachers Ismail Abdi and Mahmoud Beheshti, and Jafar Azimzadeh, the president of independent union of workers in Iran, currently on hunger strike, as well as 36 independent journalists, including leading figures in the media, who have been incarcerated on spurious charges.


CODIR points out that in January 2016 the Iranian government signed an agreement to observe international conventions and IAEA rules on the development and use nuclear technology.  However, the government of Hassan Rouhani has failed to take measures to ease pressure on trade union activists and human rights campaigners in the country.  On the contrary, all evidence points to the fact that the Iranian regime is not showing any signs of moving in the direction of enacting crucial ILO conventions 87 and 98.


The list of signatories to the appeal embraces organisations representing nearly one hundred millions workers across the world and is designed to demonstrate to the Iranian government the strength of opposition to its trade union and human rights abuses.


Supporters of the appeal include IndustriALL global union, the European TUC, the International Federation of Journalists and the Union of Secondary Teachers of Ontario, Canada and the International Centre for Trade Union Rights.


Trade unions in the UK are represented by UNITE, UNISON, NUT, NASUWT, UCU, RMT and FBU with other signatories possible in the coming days.


CODIR, which has campaigned for over 30 years to highlight trade union and human rights abuses in Iran, has expressed delight at the level of solidarity shown by the response to the appeal.


CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the significance of the international community continuing to support the campaign for trade union rights in Iran.


“The international trade union movement could not have sent a clearer message of solidarity to those languishing in Iran’s prisons.  The eyes of the world are upon the regime.  The detention of these trade unionists reflects the fate of many fighting for freedom inside Iran,” said Mr Ahmadi, “thousands of trade unionists and political activists are  detained without charge or for alleged ‘crimes’ which cannot be justified on any basis according to the laws of natural justice.”


The appeal calls upon the Iranian government to:


  1. Implement all relevant ILO conventions, especially 87 and 98, guaranteeing the rights of workers to belong to the trade union of their choice and be active within it;
  2. Release immediately all trade union leaders and activists from detention;
  3. Refrain from charging trade union activists, who have not committed any crime, under the draconian penal code;
  4. Allow the trial of all trade union activists and leaders to be conducted in accordance with internationally recognised norms, including access to defence lawyers and the presence of international observers from the relevant international trade union rights organisations;


Human rights have not been on the agenda with the Iranian regime in the discussions around its nuclear programme, which resulted in sanctions being lifted recently.  CODIR has expressed concern that this may be taken as carte blanche by the regime to act as it pleases on the domestic front, as long as it fulfils its international obligations.


“CODIR will continue its campaigning for trade union and democratic rights in Iran,” continued Jamshid Ahmadi.  “We welcome the lifting of sanctions and reduction of tensions between Iran and the rest of the world and in particular the US and the EU.  However this should not be at the expense of liberty for Iranian trade unionists, democrats and peace activists.”


As CODIR has emphasised previously, human rights violations are part of a coordinated policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to maximise pressure upon human rights and trades union activists, their colleagues and family members, in order to pressurise the opposition movement in Iran.





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