Urgent appeal in support of arrested workers and students in Iran

Over the weekend hundreds of striking workers and students who had turned out in support of the workers of the Vahed bus company were arrested in Iran. We need to raise a protest as widely as possible to make sure all are released and charges are dropped. Please take part in this campaign and raise it in your local labour movement.

Yesterday we reported on the events that took place over the weekend in Iran. The workers of the Vahed bus company had come out on strike demanding the release of one of their leaders, Mansour Ossanlou and the signing a collective contract. On Saturday, January 28 a large group of student, labour and other activists turned out at various depots in support of the bus drivers.

The regime came down very heavily on the workers and students, arresting hundreds. Some have been released but others remain in prison. None have had their charges dropped. We are dealing with a very brutal regime here and our brothers and sisters in Iran who are struggling for their rights are in serious danger. The best defence is to spread the word as far and wide as possible and to bombard the regime with protest letters.

Send off letters now! Raise this in your union branch, workplace, party branch. Get your union leaders, your MPs to add their voice to this protest. Some of those who have been released still face charges and are under heavy surveillance. Demand the release of all those who have been arrested and that all charges be dropped as well.

Here we are providing a model letter for you to sign and email to the Iranian authorities. Also send copies to the addresses provided.

Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran

xx January 2006

Dear Mr President

I write to bring to your attention to the violent outcome of a peaceful strike in Tehran on Saturday 28January. The strike by the workers of the Vahed Bus Company of Tehran and Suburbs was with the following basic demands:

  • For the release of Mr Ossanlou and their other leaders,

  • signing a collective contract,

  • union recognition,

  • for better pay and conditions.

Instead of granting these demands the authorities in Tehran have further escalated the cycle of violence that began in May 2005 - when 'Labour House' and 'Islamic Labour Council' members were allowed to attack the Vahed activists trying to set up an independent trade union. During this attack, which was led by the Secretary of the 'Islamic Labour Council', an attempt was made to cut out the tongue of Mr Ossanlou (the leader of the union). Many of the trade union activists were injured and their office was ransacked by these government-sanctioned 'labour' officials.

This time the attack on the union began in the workers' homes! On the night before the strike the security forces attacked their homes and even took some of their wives and young children into custody. On the day riot police, factory security, uniformed and plain-clothes officers were used to beat and intimidate drivers back to work. Hundreds of arrests were made, including students from various universities in Tehran who had gone to Area 6 to support the workers.

I hope that you can bring the authority of your office to put pressure on the relevant police and security bodies to release all arrested workers, their families, students and other supporters. I believe that they should be released immediately and unconditionally. I trust that you can also assist in dropping all charges against all workers and students.

I look forward to hearing about your positive intervention in this regard in the international media.

Yours sincerely,


Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran.
Fax: 98-21-648.06.65
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

Please send a copy of your protest letters to:

Mr Guy Ryder
General Secretary
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
5 Boulevard du Roi Albert II, Bte 1
1210 Brussels
Fax: +32 (0)2 201 5815
E-mail: turights@icftu.org

Mr Juan Somavia
International Labour Organization (ILO)
International Labour Office
4, route des Morillons
CH-1211 Geneva 22
Email: ilo@ilo.org

Iranian Workers' Solidarity Network
London WC1N 3XX.
Email: iranwsn@yahoo.co.uk

See also: