Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Union Leaders, Human Right Defenders’ Statement of Support for Mansour Ossanlou and Iran’s Workers

We as workers, trade union members, human rights advocates and empathetic individuals are increasingly concerned about the human rights abuses that many Iranian workers have been and are being subjected to as we write. We are aware that many have lost their lives, others are currently in prison, many are sick and are not allowed access to medical care while several more are not allowed to independently organize workers unions to plead their cases or advocate for decent working conditions in Iran.

This is particularly disheartening given Iran’s role in establishment of International Labor Organization (ILO) and its active membership in the organization. According to ILO, workers in each country are entitled to the following rights:

  • Freedom of association and right to organize,
  • Right to collective bargaining,
  • Abolition of forced labor,
  • Abolition of child labor,
  • Prohibition of employment and occupation related to discrimination, and
  • Standards regulating wages and conditions of work and work place.

Unfortunately the overwhelming cases of abuse, death, torture, intimidation and harassment of workers show that Iran has clearly neglected to heed the basic tenets of ILO and has chosen to ignore the Iranian workers whose only crime is their desire to work under decent and reasonable conditions and to raise their families with dignity.

Iran is one of the oldest member states of the ILO, having joined when it was founded in 1919. Iran’s first independent trade unions were founded more than a century ago. But today, Iranian workers and teachers are denied many protections of workers’ rights, as defined by ILO. They are deprived of fundamental rights both under Iranian labor law and in practice. They are unable to form independent trade unions and/or to demand their most basic rights, such as demands for their unpaid wages, sometimes for periods as long as 36 months. The government routinely arrests and prosecutes workers demanding their rights. Security forces often attack peaceful gatherings by workers, harass their families, and even kill them, as happened during a gathering by copper miners in Shahr Babak, near the city of Kerman, in 2004.

Union leaders, Mansour Ossanlou, Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Mahmoud Salehi, a bakery worker from the city of Saqez are imprisoned and Majid Hamidi, a well-known activist for workers rights who has been target of an assassination attempt, is hospitalized. Eleven other workers, flogged in February 2008, were fined and imprisoned for the crime of participating in a peaceful gathering to commemorate International Labor Day. Although Iran’s constitution (articles 26 and 27) recognizes freedom of association and assembly, Iran’s labor law explicitly contradicts these legal obligations.

Another manifestation of the workers movement is secondary and primary school teachers’ attempts to organize and collectively bargain. In March 2007, thousands of teachers held several protests in front of the Parliament, demanding attention to their grievances including prevalent discrimination against them as compared to other state employees and low wages forcing them below the poverty line. In response to this attempt to gain the attention of members of parliament, security forces violently attacked them. Since then, the leading organizers have been prosecuted in unfair trials and sentenced to as long as five years in prison. The government has harshly punished many of teachers involved by firing them, forcing them into early retirement, cutting wages, or suspending them. The teachers’ only independent publication, Ghalam Moalem [Teacher’s Pen], was attacked and ransacked by security agents, and its reporters and managing editor have been put on trial. The Interior Ministry has declared all teachers associations illegal and is actively preventing their meetings from being held.

Workers public protests are routinely met with violent repression by security forces. A notable example is the plight of the workers of Rasht Electric, the largest manufacturer of electrical and electronics products in the Middle East. For over three years, the workers at Rasht Electric have been seeking respect for their basic rights through peaceful gatherings and protests, to no avail. Other large-scale workers protests include those at Haft Tapeh Complex in Ahvaz, and the textile workers in Kurdistan. In all these cases, security forces have violently broken up workers’ gatherings.

The above examples of intimidation, harassment, violence and denial of workers rights to peaceful association and demands for better working condition moves us to remind the Iranian government that Workers Rights are Human Rights, which must be respected.

We, the undersigned human rights defenders, leaders of Labor Unions, Amnesty International Wisconsin, Amnesty International USA, and United4Iran urge the Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Labor Councils, and the IRI Labor Ministry to comply with the ILO Labor Laws and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the United Nations to adhere to the tenets of the International Labor Organization in allowing legal protections  and rights to organize and  collective bargaining for all workers of Iran.

We also urge that all detained and imprisoned workers be released and those needing medical care be allowed access to health care facilities immediately.

Statement Signatories
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Ms. Dolores Huerta, Co-founder with Cesar Chavez & First VP Emeritus, United Farm Workers of America
Mr. Jim Cavanaugh, President, South Central Wisconsin Federation of Labor
Dr. Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
Dr. Azam Niroomand-Rad, Co-President, Amnesty International USA, #139, Madison, Wisconsin
Ms. Angie Hougas, Board Member, Amnesty International USA, Madison, Wisconsin
Ms. Elise Auerbach, Iran & Jordan Country Specialist, Amnesty International USA
Ms. Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director,

Veröffentlicht am 3. Mai 2011 in Aktionen, Blogs, Medien, Politik und mit , , , , , getaggt. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink. Kommentare deaktiviert für Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Union Leaders, Human Right Defenders’ Statement of Support for Mansour Ossanlou and Iran’s Workers.

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