November 29, 2006—Less than four months after his release on exorbitant bail, Mansour Osanloo, president of the 17,000-member Sherkat-e Vahed bus drivers’ union in Iran, was violently detained and rearrested.
On November 19, Osanloo and union Vice President Ebrahim Madadi were on their way to the Tehran Department of Labor when plain-clothes security agents approached and informed Osanloo that he was under arrest, refusing to identify themselves. When Osanloo demanded to see a warrant, the agents beat and punched him, and one discharged a gun into the air. Osanloo was forced into a waiting van and transported immediately to Evin prison. The arrest came less than four months after Osanloo’s release from the prison, where he had spent seven months behind bars. Osanloo and Madadi were attempting to launch an inquiry into the status of 50 Vahed members who have not been allowed to return to work for nearly a year after planning a strike.
Osanloo and members of the Vahed executive committee were arrested during a union meeting on December 22, 2005. On January 28, 2006, police brutally cracked down on a planned strike called to protest Osanloo’s detention, using tear gas, batons, and threats to shoot the strikers. Some 1,300 drivers were arrested, and as many as 30 had to be hospitalized.
On February 15, thousands of worker and human rights activists worldwide, including Solidarity Center staff and partners, joined an International Day of Action on Iran to demand Osanloo’s release and respect for Iranian bus drivers’ worker rights. On May 1, International Labor Day, the Vahed union joined the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), whose 624 affiliates represent 4.5 million transport workers in 142 countries. On August 9, only days after the ITF and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (now the International Trade Union Confederation, or ITUC) filed a joint complaint to the International Labor Organization (ILO), Osanloo was released.
As in his previous arrest, Osanloo has not been charged with a crime. Authorities have turned away family and attorneys who have tried to visit him. At the time of his arrest, Osanloo was recovering from eye surgery, and his eye was heavily bandaged. In a letter to the ILO representative in Asia, Osanloo’s son Sahesh expressed extreme concern over his father’s well-being.
Osanloo’s only “crime” has been to participate in union activities and to educate Iranian workers about their fundamental rights. Throughout the last year, Osanloo and other Vahed union workers have been scrutinized and harassed repeatedly. In October, a dozen Vahed union executive board members who traveled to Tabriz to attend an ILO workshop were arrested and held for more than five hours before ILO officials secured their release.
Act now to demand Osanloo’s immediate and unconditional release and urge the Iranian government to drop all charges against all Vahed workers.
Read the November 20 letter from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in English and in Farsi
Background and chronology
Read the Washington Post article about the February 15 Day of Action