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Iran : piu' di 700 lavoratori arrestati durante la repressione di una manifestazione, donne e bambini picchiati

In Iran è in corso uno sciopero degli autisti di bus di Teheran per ottener migliori condizioni di lavoro; il governo iraniano ha risposto arrestando i rappresentanti sindacali e circa 700 lavoratori;
riportiamo un resoconto dello sciopero, l'intervista al dodicenne figlio di un manifestante arrestato che è stato colpito e picchiato dalla polizia , come molte mogli e figli dei manifestanti e una lettera di protesta da inviare al presidente iraniano
1 febbraio 2006

Defend striking bus workers of Tehran!

Up to 700 workers arrested

Bahram Soroush

Hundreds of striking bus workers of the state-owned
Vahed bus company are still in detention in Tehran
today, 30th January, following the vicious attack by
thousands of members of the security forces on their
strike last Saturday.

The exact number of the detainees is still unknown.
Anywhere from 500 to 700 workers may have been
arrested - according to union officials speaking on
foreign-based radio stations. Further arrests have
been reported today, with pressure being put on the
detained workers to sign pledges to give up their
fight or risk losing their jobs. In a statement issued
today, the bus workers' union has called for a
stoppage on 3rd February.

The arrests started on Friday 27th January, the eve of
the strike, during police raids on the homes of the
strikers and union leaders. The management of the
company and the Islamic Council (handmade
organisations of the regime in the workplaces) worked
hand in hand with the security forces to help identify
the workers and assist in the arrests.

On Saturday, as the workers arrived at the picket
lines, they were rounded up. Many were verbally
abused, threatened and beaten up to force them to
drive the buses. Those who refused were taken away.
Some buses had been moved the night before, and
replacement drivers had been enlisted from among the
military and mercenary Baseej militia.

'Indescribable brutality'

Union officials said the brutality of the security
forces was indescribable. The wives and children of
some union executive members were also arrested. They
were taken out of bed and beaten up during raids on
Friday night. The beatings continued in detention.
2-year-old daughter of Yaghoub Salimi, substitute
member of the union's executive board, was injured on
her face in the attack, when she was thrown into a
waiting patrol van. Her 12-year-old elder sister,
Mahdiye, described the ordeal in detail in an
interview yesterday with a radio station abroad.

She said they raided their home while they were
asleep, pulled away the blankets and started hitting
them with their "hands and feet". They used their
boots to kick their mother "around the heart" and Mrs
Razavi too was badly beaten up. They tried to spray
her sister in the face. Her mother still bears the
bruises from the beatings she received.

Yaghoub Salimi gave a last interview to a radio
station shortly before turning himself in. This was
the condition for the release of his wife and
children, who were being used as hostages.

The majority of the detainees are now in the high
security Evin Prison, along with seven members of the
union's executive, including the leader of the union
Mansoor Ossanlou. This prison is notorious for being
the centre for the jailing, torture and execution of
thousands of political prisoners.

'Even greater resolve and unity'

In a letter to world labour and progressive
organisations, issued on Saturday, the union said that
in the light of what the Islamic Republic regime had
done, they had no option but to continue their fight
with even greater resolve and unity. It thanked
international labour and progressive organisations for
their solidarity so far and appealed for continued
support:

"We ask you our colleagues and fellow workers
throughout the world . to condemn this action of the
Iranian state. We trust that you will call for the
immediate and unconditional release of all the
detainees, for the recognition of our union and for
the meeting of our demands. We expect that you will
condemn the assault on our strike and demand the
prosecution and punishment of all those who stormed
workers' picket lines.. We have a hard and long battle
ahead of us and urge you to continue your support".

The Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) has called
for a powerful and immediate response to the bus
workers' appeal by all possible means.

A hard and long battle

The strike has had the overwhelming backing of the
17,000 employees of the state-owned company, who have
been battling the management and authorities since
last year. Their demands include a decent pay
increase, introduction of collectively negotiated
agreements and recognition of their union. Since the
arrest of the leaders of the union, the bus workers
have been fighting for their release too. The head of
the union, Ossanlou, has been in jail for over five
weeks.

The present protest was triggered when on 22nd
December a dozen members of the Syndicate of Workers
of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat e Vahed)
were arrested in armed police raids on their homes.
The arrests led to a powerful strike on Sunday 25
December, widely supported by the people of the
capital. Further arrests were made during the strike
itself. In all, around 40 workers were detained.
However, the workers succeeded in securing the release
of all but Ossanlou.

The fight for the release of Ossanlou and all the
original demands continued. In the meantime the
workers were subjected to all kinds of harassment ­
from unpaid salaries and frozen bank accounts to
direct threats made to individual activists by the
Intelligence Ministry. Negotiations with the Mayor,
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, produced no results; all the
demands remained unmet. Ghalibaf asked for 15 days by
which time to respond. The deadline passed without any
action.

On 7th January the bus workers held a day of action by
putting up a poster on their screens with the words
'Mansoor Ossanlou must be released' and drove their
buses with their lights on all day.

Meanwhile, concerns grew about Mansoor Ossanlou's
health, in particular the condition of one of his
eyes, as he was due to be operated on before being
arrested. He sustained the damage to his eye during a
vicious attack in May 2005 on a meeting of the bus
workers' union by vigilante thugs of the
Government-set up and run "Islamic Councils of Labour"
and "Workers' House". Dissolution of these mercenary
organisations has been a key demand of the workers
throughout.

As the workers called for an all-out strike on
Saturday 28th January, six more members of the union's
executive were summoned, questioned and then arrested.
The government issued further threats and prepared to
crush the strike.

A fight for all workers in Iran

The brave bus workers of Tehran are leading a fight
that concerns all the workers in Iran. Their demands ­
the right to organise freely and independently of the
state, dissolution of the hated Islamic Councils,
introduction of collective bargaining and a
substantial increase in the minimum wage (to US$600) ­
are the demands of all Iranian workers. The bus
workers have put these demands high up on the banner
of the whole labour movement in Iran. Despite coming
under such a vicious and overwhelming attack, the
strike has already shaken up the regime. Indeed the
sheer scale of the Islamic regime's reaction was an
indication, not of its power and stability, but,
rather, of its fear and vulnerability. The bus
workers' struggle is the prelude to more decisive
battles to come.

All the detained workers must be immediately freed.
The Islamic Republic must be condemned for this
outrageous attack. Islamic councils ­ as anti-labour
government-set up and run bodies in the workplaces -
must be thrown out of the International Labour
Organisation (ILO). The bus workers' union (Syndicate)
must be recognised. All the workers' demands must be
met.

Support the Tehran bus workers! Send you protest
letters to Ahmadinejad, the President of the Islamic
Republic of Iran at dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir . A
Tehran Bus Workers' Strike Fund has also been set up
in aid of the bus workers and their families. Please
make urgently-needed donations (see the announcement
in this issue).

Please forward copies of protest letters and notify us
of any donations to the International Labour
Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of
Iran, Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar
(shahla_daneshfar@yahoo.com) and Public Relations:
Bahram Soroush (b.soroush@ukonline.co.uk) so that they
may be brought to the attention of the workers and
people of Iran. All donations will be individually
acknowledged.

* Support Tehran Bus Workers' Strike Fund

The bus workers' all-out strike in Tehran, Iran, on
Saturday 28th January was viciously attacked by the
Iranian regime's security forces. Hundreds of workers
have been arrested. In a letter issued on the same
day, the bus workers' union appeals to labour and
progressive organisations of the world for support. A
strike fund has now been set up in aid of the bus
workers and their families. Please make
urgently-needed donations to any of the following bank
accounts and notify us at the same. All contributions
will be individually acknowledged. More bank accounts
are to be announced soon. Please contact the
International Labour Solidarity Committee of the
Worker-communist Party of Iran for further
information.

* Even children are not spared!

Interview with Mahdiye Salimi, the 12 year old
daughter of union member who was beaten and arrested

As reported in WPI Briefing, up to 700 workers of the
Syndicate of Workers and Employees of Tehran and
Suburbs Vahed Bus Company have been arrested.
Moreover, the wives and children of some executive
members have also been arrested. They were taken out
of bed and beaten up during raids on Friday 27 January
night. The beatings continued in detention. Substitute
member of the union's executive board, Yaghoub
Salimi's 2-year-old daughter was injured on her face
in the attack, when she was thrown into a waiting
patrol van. Her 12-year-old elder sister, Mahdiye,
described the ordeal in detail in an interview with a
radio station abroad. Below you will find a
translation of the full transcript of radio "Avaye
Ashena" (familiar voice) interview with 12 year old
Mahdiye Salimi:

Reporter: Hello.

Mahdiye: Hello. How are you?

Reporter: Thank you. I hope you are alright. Please
tell us what happened.

Mahdiye: We were asleep. They rang the doorbell of our
home. They called out: Mrs. Salami, come to door for
one moment" They were in such a hurry that they didn't
even allow my mom to dress properly. As soon as my mom
opened the door, they poured into our home. I was
asleep along with Mrs. Zia's daughter. They pulled the
blankets from our bodies and started to hit us with
their "feet and hands" and told us to get into the
van. Mrs. Razavi wanted to get some clothes for her
daughter and they started to hit her badly. They even
kicked my mom's heart with their boots and my mom had
an enormous ache in her heart. She still has some
wounds on her body. They hit her with a baton and
didn't listen to my mother's appeals. They even wanted
to spray something in my [2 year old] sister's mouth.

Then they took us to detention. Where we went was not
hygienic at all and it was so cold. We asked for
blankets. They said "we don't have any". "We are just
doing our duty". They hit us so much. We asked for
lunch. They brought us the leftovers of their own
lunch which was nasty chicken skin mixed with some
kind of sauce.

Reporter: Why did they keep hitting you and your mom?

Mahdiye: She wanted to get on the van but first wanted
to take my sister to the bathroom. As soon as she
started to go, they grabbed my sister from behind and
pushed her into the van. My sister hit her head when
she was thrown into the van and they also kept hitting
my mom.

Reporter: Did they do all of this in the street? Did
your neighbours see all this?

Mahdiye: Yes they did. All the neighbours came out and
were watching what was going on. When they raided our
home, there was at least 70-80 of them while we were
only 3 women and 5 children. They rushed to the roof
so no one could escape. They even went to our
neighbours' homes and even arrested our neighbours'
guests.

Reporter: What did they want?

Mahdiye: They wanted to know where my dad is. We
didn't know that. We didn't have any news of my dad's
whereabouts.

Reporter: Where is your mom right now?

Mahdiye: Yesterday they told us that she will be
released soon. They wanted to bring her to the
Ministry of Intelligence. Somebody said they might
take her to Evin Prison but then they said she would
be taken to the fourth base of the Ministry of
Intelligence.

Reporter: how old are you?

Mahdiye: I am 12.

Reporter: Did they hit you?

Mahdiye: Yes they did. They hit all of us. Even a
child from year 1. They made all the children cry.

Reporter: can I ask your name?

Mahdiye: I am Mahdiye Salimi.

Reporter: Why do you think they are doing this? Has
your father done something wrong?

Mahdiye: Nothing. My father has done nothing wrong. He
just has asked for his rights. The rights that they
didn't give him. For example for every 200 tomans of
his wage, they have taken 100 for themselves.

Reporter: Are you going to the prison with your father
again?

Mahdiye: Yes.

Reporter: Are you anxious?

Mahdiye: Of course I am. How can I not be? When they
took my mother they didn't even let us to be with her
for a moment. They even didn't let us hug her.

Reporter: I heard that your [two year old] sister was
also wounded. Is that true?

Mahdiye: Yes. When they pushed her into the van, her
lips hit metal and was badly hurt.

Reporter: Did they continue hitting your mom there?

Mahdiye: Yes they did. They hit her even there.

Reporter: Is your school closed?

Mahdiye: No it is not. It was supposed to be closed
because of heavy snowfall but they announced that it
was open.

Reporter: So you missed school too?

Mahdiye: Yes. I missed my classes.

Reporter: How many children were there?

Mahdiye: There were 5. Mrs, Zia's daughter from year 3
(10 years old). Mrs. Razavi's daughter from year 1(7
years old). And one from year 9 (15 years) and myself
(I am 12 year old and from year 6) and my own sister
who is 2 and a half.

Reporter: And how many women? Do you remember how many
you were in total?

Mahdiye: There were 3 women.

Reporter: Are you the only children who were released?

Mahdiye: No all the children were released but our
mothers (my mother and Mrs. Zia) have not been
released yet.

Reporter: What do you want from people who are
listening to you? What is your wish?

Mahdiye: I want them to defend us. Do something so my
mother will be released soon. Now our mother is in
detention and there is nobody to take care of us.

The above was translated by Arash Sorx for WPI
Briefing.

* Ossanlou must be immediately released

Hamid Taqvaee's letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan

12 January 2006

Dear Mr Annan,

As you may be aware, Mansoor Ossanlou, the head of the
Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs United Bus
Company (Sherkat e Vahed), was arrested by the Islamic
Republic of Iran's authorities on 22 December 2005 and
is still in detention.

There are grave concerns about Mr Ossanlou's health;
he has a heart condition and suffers from a serious
eye problem. Mr Ossanlou has not committed any crime
except voicing workers' basic demands. Up to now the
Islamic regime in Iran has failed to give any reason
for his arrest and detention. He has even been denied
the right to a lawyer. Apparently, Ossanlou's only
crime is to be a labour activist. This is a clear
example of the violation of the most basic rights of
people under the Islamic Republic.

So far, Amnesty International, the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and many
labour organisations in Britain, Germany, France,
Scandinavia, Austria, Australia, Canada and United
States have protested against this action of the
Islamic Republic and called for Ossanlou's release.

I ask you to strongly condemn the detention of Mr
Ossanlou and use all within your powers to ensure the
Islamic Republic releases him immediately and
unconditionally.

I look forward to your response in this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

Hamid Taqvaee

Secretary

Worker-communist Party of Iran

Cc. Ms. Louise Arbour, High Commissioner, Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights

* Sample letter of protest

dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

I/My Organisation am/is outraged to learn of the
Islamic Republic of Iran's brutal attack on Tehran bus
workers and the arrest of hundreds of workers,
including executive committee members of the Syndicate
of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat
e Vahed) as well as some of their wives and children.
I/We demand the immediate and unconditional release of
all those detained. Moreover, the bus workers' union
(Syndicate) must be recognised and the legitimate
demands of the workers met.

Signed

Name, organisation, if any, city

Cc. International Labour Solidarity Committee of the
Worker-communist Party of Iran, Co-ordinator: Shahla
Daneshfar (shahla_daneshfar@yahoo.com) and Public
Relations: Bahram Soroush (b.soroush@ukonline.co.uk)

* Condemn the attack on our strike

Syndicate of Workers and Employees of Tehran and
Suburbs Vahed Bus Company

The following is an appeal by the striking bus workers
of Tehran to world labour and progressive
organisations for a massive international support,
following the brutal attack today on their strike by
the Iranian regime's security forces. The workers are
demanding the immediate and unconditional release of
all their detained colleagues, recognition of their
union (syndicate), introduction of collectively
negotiated agreements and prosecution of all those
behind today's vicious attack on their assemblies and
picket lines. The International Labour Solidarity
Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran calls
for the strongest possible international protest at
this outrageous attack and resolute support of the
brave bus workers of Tehran and their syndicate. The
bus workers of Tehran should not be left alone in this
critical hour of their battle. Please make a powerful
and immediate response to this appeal by whatever
means you deem appropriate. Keep us informed of all
your interventions and support actions so that they
may be brought to the attention of the workers and
people of Iran through our radio and TV stations and
other communication channels.

To workers, all trade unions and progressive
organisations of the world

Condemn the attack on our strike

On behalf of the 17,000 workers and employees of
Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, we would like to
inform you, the labour organisations of the world and
all those who are distressed by the violation of the
most evident rights of people, that today, 28th
January, our all-out strike met the unprecedented
assault of the security forces of the Islamic
Republic.

They raided our homes from the night before; they even
took our young kids to prison. They arrested a large
number of people - the exact figure for which we still
don't have, but certainly over several hundred. They
forced some of our colleagues to drive the buses, by
beating them up and threatening them. They enlisted
the help of drivers from the armed forces, and set
upon us thousands of police and security officers ­
both uniformed and plain clothed ­ in order to smash
our strike. This is the situation we are in.

What was the strike for? It was for the release of Mr
Ossanlou and the other leaders of the Syndicate,
thrown into jail for no reason at all by bullying. It
was for the introduction of collective bargaining, for
the recognition of the union, for a pay increase, and
so on. Can you believe it that for such demands they
would launch such a brutal and massive war on us bus
workers?

This is what the Islamic Republic did, and we have no
choice but to continue our struggle with even greater
resolve and unity. We ask you our colleagues and
fellow workers throughout the world, you who can have
your own unions and organisations, to condemn this
action of the Iranian state. We trust that you will
call for the immediate and unconditional release of
all the detainees, for the recognition of our union
and for the meeting of our demands. We expect that
you will condemn the assault on our strike and demand
the prosecution and punishment of all those who
stormed workers' picket lines.

We hereby thank all those trade unions and
organisations who have supported our struggles. We
have a hard and long battle ahead of us and urge you
to continue your support.

Regards,

Syndicate of Workers and Employees of Tehran and
Suburbs Vahed Bus Company

January 28, 2006

For more information contact:

International Labour Solidarity Committee of the
Worker-communist Party of Iran, Co-ordinator: Shahla
Daneshfar (shahla_daneshfar@yahoo.com),

Public Relations: Bahram Soroush
(b.soroush@ukonline.co.uk), www.kargaran.org.

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