Mr. Mansour Osanloo & Mr. Mahmoud Salehi

Re: Mr. Mansour Osanloo & Mr. Mahmoud Salehi, Detained in Evin Prison (Tehran) and Central Prison of Sanandaj City, respectively, Islamic Republic of Iran

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran

From: Tina Parbhakar

Date: 2007-07-16

LRWC has received new information from the International Trade Union Confederation

on both Mr. Mansour Osanloo (ãäÕæÑ ÇÓÇäáæ) and Mr. Mahmoud Salehi (ãÍãÏæ ÕÇáÍی), who are each being held by Iranian authorities arbitrarily.

Mr. Osanloo, President of the Syndicate of Workers in Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (ÓäÏíßÇی ˜ÇÑ?ÑÇä ÔÑßÊ æÇÍÏ) was abducted and severely beaten on July 10, 2007, and is now being held in Evin Prison.

Mr. Salehi, spokesperson for the Organization Committee to Establish Trade Unions and former president of the Saqez Bakery Workers’ Union who has been detained since April 9, 2007, whose medical condition is now considered life-threatening.

LRWC will continue to monitor the conditions and status of Mr.Osanloo and Mr. Salehi, and notes with alarm the continued suppression of Iranian labour leaders and groups.

This is our first time writing to you with regards to both Mr. Osanloo and Mr. Salehi.

Mr. Osanloo created the above-mentioned Syndicate of Workers in 2004 alongside 14 fellow workers as a result of the demise of “Islamic Councils.” However, mullahs who headed these Councils often enjoyed high salaries and perks and were not receptive to workers concerns. Mr. Osanloo states that “All we are asking for is for Iranian workers to be treated as free human beings, not as slaves.” He was allowed to attend conferences in London and Brussels this June. However, if this was an attempt by the Tehran authorities to tempt him to stay in exile, it did not suffice. With the unveiling of a new draft labour code under which Iranian workers would be deprived of the ability to formation of unions, minimum wage, and compensation for dismissal, it is hard to expect Mr. Osanloo or Iranian workers legitimate grievances to vanish soon.

Mr. Salehi, meanwhile, is a veteran anti-war labour activist with a track record of defending fellow workers in Kurdistan province. He has repeatedly spoken out against the US military intervention in the region and in a letter from prison writes that “They have sentenced me only because of my efforts to celebrate international workers’ day.” While facing 3 years of trials since May 2004, Mr. Salehi has written numerous articles on workers’ rights and systemic barriers that lead to low wages, poor job security, lack of unemployment insurance and inadequate social security benefits. He has been interviewed frequently by various independent radios and websites. He has supported the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company and strived for Mr. Osanloo’s freedom while he was in jail. Mr. Salehi is undoubtedly one of the most well-known labour activists in Iran, with growing international support, today.

We know that on July 10, 2007, Mr. Osanloo was abducted by unidentified assailants as he was leaving a public bus near his home around 7pm. According to witnesses he was severely beaten by the men and taken away in a metallic grey Peugeot car, known as being associated with the Iranian Security Forces. This is only the most recent arbitrary arrest of Mr. Osanloo. On November 19, 2006, Mr. Osanloo was arrested alongside Mr. Ebrahim Madadi by policemen in plain clothes. They refused to show police cards or an arrest warrant and forced Mr. Osanloo into their car, placing him in detention in section 209 of the Evin Prison. Mr. Osanloo was released on December 19, 2006 after his family and friends paid 150 million Toman (125,000 Euros / 165,000 USD) bail related to his incommunicado detention for 8 months from December 19, 2005 to August 9, 2006, which had again been conducted without any specific charges or reasons. He was first jailed in 2005 for labour action, after suffering knife wounds from an armed attack by 300 men associated with Iranian authorities on him, his colleagues and their families.

We also know that Mr. Salehi has been detained since April 9, 2007 and is currently seriously ill, suffering from a kidney stone in his one remaining kidney and in need of dialysis treatment, with additional heart and intestinal problems. His family and lawyer have been trying to either secure his temporary release on medical grounds or transfer to Saqez prison so that his specialist physician would be able to see him, however these requests have been denied by Sanandaj prison authorities. In addition, his right to see his lawyer and have family visits has been limited since July 17, 2007 when, after being examined under heavy security at the Tohid Hospital, he was sent to Central Prison of Sanandaj city, ward 7, cell number 3.

Recognize now that your government’s actions towards these intelligent and courageous labour leaders are against both international and Iranian law. Organizing Workers’ Day celebrations can under no condition be seen as a crime which justifies imprisonment, as these are internationally recognized fundamental rights found in the ILO (of which Iran is a member) Conventions 87 and 98. Furthermore, this is in contravention of the Iranian Constitution, Article 27, which states, “Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.” The argument that the Ummah (ÃãÉ) is a single community, bound by unquestionable divine laws, does not change the fact that in the Iranian Constitution, Article 2 Clause 2c the Islamic Republic is based on a belief of negating “all forms of oppression, both the infliction of and the submission to it, and of dominance, both its imposition and its acceptance.” A united community can better be achieved when all voices are heard, than when some voices are systematically silenced.

The subsequent treatment of both men is in contravention of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Section 1, which states, “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.” Articles 7, 14(1), 21 and 22 are also being contravened by the unjustified cruel treatment, unfair hearings, and disbanding of peaceful assemblies mentioned above.

Lawyers’ Rights Watch of Canada joins with families of Mr. Osanloo and Mr. Salehi and other international groups to demand that each receive an immediate and unconditional release. For Mr. Osanloo this could be either from prison authorities who oversee Evin prison or the Ministry of Intelligence, who monitor and supervise ward 209. For Mr. Salehi, he must be granted all necessary medical treatment, including those treatments that may only be available outside the prison where he is currently held, and be guaranteed to receive visits and communicate with lawyers and family, at the minimum.

Although the situation has progressively worsened for labour leaders, who seek to discuss their grievances with authorities and be treated equally, we still urge you to provide a response, as would be respectfully expected from your office. Canada is a country of strong unions itself, but their growth has helped our country in the long-run and the families that live here have been able to enjoy the fruits of their labour. We hope your administration will be inclusive of the large number of workers in Iran, as they helped move the country towards the 1979 revolution and continue to sustain the day-to-day operations of your country today.

Write to LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax to advise of us of the actions taken by your government to ensure that both Mr. Osanloo and Mr. Salehi are in all circumstances physically and psychologically safe, not subject to arbitrary detention and/or charges and not harassed for their work defending labourers and struggling for their quality of life. Furthermore, provide details of how you will ensure a respect for international human rights standards and instruments ratified by Iran. We will be writing to you again if we do not hear from you within two weeks of the date of this letter.