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Iran: 7 workers still held for celebrating May Day

Iran: 7 workers still held for celebrating May Day

Brussels, Four days after their unlawful arrest, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) today stepped up its demands for the release of 7 workers arrested during peaceful celebrations to mark May Day in Iran. As a result of this troubling course of events, the ICFTU has submitted additional information to its existing complaint against Iran to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). As the world's largest trade union organisation, the ICFTU has also requested for the ILO to intervene on behalf of the detained workers and help secure their release.

Following a peaceful rally in the city of Saqez, police arrested Mahmoud Salehi, a well-known labour leader from the Trade Association of Saqez Bakers who had been arrested and imprisoned for 10 months in 2001, two local labour leaders Jalal Hosseini and Mohammad Abdipoor, and Mohsen Hakimi, a well-known member of the Iranian Writers' Association, as well as three other workers.

At the time of his arrest, Mahmoud Salehi was severely assaulted by security forces. The labour leader's wife, Najibeh Salehzadeh, and his son were also assaulted when security forces raided their home and confiscated Salehi's computer and documents.

Imprisoned in Sanandaj, the 7 workers have now gone on hunger strike to protest against their unlawful detention. The detainees argue that if there are no charges against them then they should be released without bail, set at 200,000,000.00 Tomans (approximately USD $250,000). In a letter to the Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami (, the ICFTU urged the Iranian authorities to ensure the unconditional release of the detained and to launch an independent investigation into the repression of the workers' legitimate right to celebrate May Day.

The ICFTU is particularly concerned by the detentions since 2 days prior to the arrests, Salehi and Hakimi met with an ICFTU team on mission in Iran. The mission had been closely monitored by security services and the ICFTU believes that the search of Mr. Salehi's house and confiscation of his computer were directly related to his contact with the ICFTU.

"The international trade union movement is not prepared to sit and watch authorities in Iran repress workers' attempts to express their fundamental workers' rights. We will continue to work at international level to ensure that rights are upheld in Iran. The case of 7 workers arrested when trying to exercise their right to celebrate May Day adds to the long catalogue of flagrant abuses of workers' rights in Iran," said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ICFTU.

Further information submitted to the ILO concerns instances of government interference to prevent workers organising at the Iran Khodro auto company, employing over 34,000 people, instances of forced overtime and cases of workers who have been fired when protesting about the non-payment of wages. In February 2004, the ICFTU filed a complaint an ILO freedom of association complaint against Iran following the killing of four striking workers in the city of Shahr-e Babak.

The ICFTU represents over 151 million workers in 233 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:

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