Protests against the regime make a difference for Iranian union activists

International issues Union protests having taken place in Iran during the spring have been countered by aggression by the regime. LO Sweden and the Swedish Transport Workers' Union have repeatedly protested against and condemned the summary executions, imprisonments and harassment that take place in Iran.

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Repeated protests

LO Sweden and the Swedish Transport Workers' Union have repeatedly protested against and condemned the summary executions, imprisonments and harassment that take place in Iran. Many professional groups are affected by the regime's oppression: bus drivers, miners, teachers, nurses, journalists and lawyers. Trade union activists in these groups fighting for the creation of free and independent trade union organisations have been particularly affected.

Violent treatment of trade union activists

Leif Isaksson is international secretary at the LO.

- The union protests in the last spring were treated violently and aggressively in Iran. It is clear that the Iranian regime does not respect fundamental human rights and ILO core conventions. LO and the Transport Workers' Union want to draw attention to the situation of the following trade union activists who have recently been imprisoned in different ways.

Imprisoned union activists

Mahmod Salehi, the founder of the bakery workers' union in Iran, was arrested just before the 1st o May, but released on bail after 32 days in jail. His health condition was critical at that time, as he had not been able to get dialysis help for his kidney problems and the prison could not take responsibility for his life.

Behnam Ebrahimzade, whose situation The Transport Workers’ Union and LO reported on previously this year, is still imprisoned. He is in the Rajai Shahr prison, in ward 2, known as "the Koran section", where the prisoners are forced to obey to a strictly religious set of rules, which include studies of the Koran and prayers five times a day. Behnam has not been allowed to have any contacts with his family and his son, ill in cancer, or received any treatment for his torture injuries. After a conflict with the prison management, Behnam has been assaulted and transferred to solitary confinement. There is no information on his current health status.

Jafar Azimzadeh, President of the board of the Iranian Free Union of Workers, and Shahpoor Ehsani Rad, member, have been charged with instigation of rebellion and crime against public order because of their union activities. Jafar Azimzadeh has been sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment and it is unknown what will happen to Shapoor Ehsani Rad.

Ebrahim Madadi and Davod Razavi from the Tehran Bus Drivers’ Union were released on bail after 22 days in detention.

Furthermore, estimatedly ten more union activists are currently in confinement in different prisons in Iran, because they mobilised workers for the 1st of May.

Our efforts do make a difference

Saied Tagavi is project leader for the project Trade Union platform for Iran, which is run by the Swedish Transport Workers' Union and LO.

- LO Sweden and the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union follow with great concern the Iranian regime’s aggressive persecution of dissidents and the conduct of the Iranian legal authorities as regards prosecution and summary trials. The number of executions has increased dramatically since the installation of Rohani as president in 2013, quite contrary to the promises made.

- We however also want to tell about the positive results of our efforts. International trade union protests and other campaigns have reportedly played an important role for the release of Reza Shahabi and other union activists. International support has been of decisive importance for getting medical rehabilitation in hospital for Reza Shahabi.

LO's and the Transport Workers’ Union's demands

LO and the Transport Workers' Union demand a stop to all executions and release of all trade union and political prisoners. There must also be a stop to the brutal treatment of dissenters and respect for human rights must be ensured. Furthermore, an international truth commission should be set up, tasked with examining the situation of trade union and political prisoners in Iran and investigating the deaths that have occurred in the prisons.