International unions condemn arrests in Iran

25th Febuary 2016

Press Release

For Immediate Use

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has this week protested against a new wave of arrests by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which further undermine its human rights record, just as international sanctions against the theocratic state are set to be lifted.  The statement follows the one by the powerful International Transport Federation (ITF).


Members of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, who have faced repeated persecution by the authorities because of their trade union activities, have once again found themselves in the frontline.


Davoud Razavi has been sentenced to 5 years in prison.  Razavi was tried on 13th January, charged with “activities against national security and disturbing public peace and order by participating in an illegal gathering”.  Union Vice Chairman, Ebrahim Madadi, was tried on 22nd January on similar charges.


On 8th February, 28 workers at Khatoon Abad Copper Mine were arrested.  Although these workers have recently been released on bail, the arrests add to the air of intimidation and persecution which the Iranian government has created for trade unionists in the country.


The ITUC statement condemning the recent wave of arrests highlights the cases of Davoud Razavi and Ebrahim Madadi, in particular, and urges the Iranian government to free all imprisoned workers and labour activists promptly.


Solidarity organisation the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR), which has campaigned for over 30 years to highlight human rights abuses in Iran, has stated that there is still much work to do on the human rights agenda.


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


“The detention of thousands of trade unionists and political activists remains a reality of life in Iran under the theocratic regime.  They are often detained without charge or for alleged ‘crimes’ which cannot be justified on any basis according to the laws of natural justice.  Trade union rights are a basic human right and international pressure upon the Iranian government is vital if we are to achieve the release of those unjustly imprisoned.”


Recent arrests also include a further wave of teacher trade unionists, including Esmail Abdi, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA-Tehran). Last week Abdi was sentenced to six years in prison for charges including “gathering and colluding with intent to harm public order” and “propaganda against the system”, standard Iranian security service euphemisms for trade union activity.


In addition, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, who was temporarily released following his hunger strike in December 2015, was denied an extension of his furlough and forced to return to Evin prison on 14th January.  Other imprisoned teachers include Rasoul Bodaghi, Ali Akbar Baghani, Alireza Hashemi and Abolreza Ghanbari, all incarcerated for carrying out trade union work.


The lifting of international sanctions against Iran follows the recent report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), indicating Iran’s compliance with the IAEA inspection regime in relation to its domestic nuclear energy programme.


However, CODIR has suggested that if Iran is willing to negotiate with world powers and make concessions such as freeing foreign prisoners, it should make similar concessions in the domestic arena.  This would mean freeing political prisoners, trade unionist prisoners, women’s rights campaigners and the Green Movement leaders (Mousavi, Rahnavard, Karrubi) who have been under the house arrest since 2009, in order to reduce domestic tensions.


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.  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.


Elections to the Iranian Parliament, held this week, saw the regime exclude huge numbers of candidates seeking to stand on a reformist platform, underlining once again the lack of scope for even the mildest criticism of the regime.


“CODIR will continue its campaigning for human and democratic rights in Iran and it is here that we focus our attention,” 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 human rights campaigners, 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 trades union activists, their colleagues and family members in order to silence them and pressurise the trade union movement in Iran.





Note for Editors

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Further information for Editors

CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights.  It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

CODIR has worked closely with the trade union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran’s prisons. A number of major trade unions including UNISON, NUT, RMT, FBU and others are affiliated to CODIR.

CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.

In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.


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