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Iran: Four labour leaders summoned to court

Iran: Four labour leaders summoned to court

Brussels, 14th July 2004 (ICFTU Online): The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has urged the Government of Iran to drop charges against four labour leaders who have been summoned to court for allegedly collaborating with the banned leftist political organisation "Komala", based in Iran's Kurdistan. Mahmoud Salehi, Jalal Hosseini, Borhan Divangar and Mohammad Abdipoor are to appear in court on 24 August 2004.

The four were among seven labour leaders and activists released after heavy international pressure, led by the ICFTU, following their unlawful arrest on 1st May 2004 (Labour Day). Around 50 workers were arrested while celebrating Labour Day in the city of Saqez (Kurdistan province). Most were quickly released, but the seven, including Messrs. Salehi, Hosseini, Divangar and Abdipoor, all well-known labour leaders, were only released on bail on 12 May.

They were initially arrested for illegal assembly, but at the time of their release no known charges had been brought against them. The ICFTU suspects that the current charges are directly linked to their labour rights activism and in particular their attempt to celebrate Labour Day on 1 May.

The ICFTU is especially worried that the labour leaders' prosecution could be linked to their contacts with the ICFTU mission in late April, only two days before their arrest, as this mission had been closely monitored by the Iranian security service.

In its letter to the Iranian President Seyed Mohammed Khatami the ICFTU urges him to take immediate measures to ensure that charges are dropped and calls upon him to launch an independent investigation into the repression of the Labour Day celebration. The ICFTU has also submitted the details of these latest developments to the ILO as additional information to its existing complaint against Iran for violation of the freedom of association.

The existing complaint against Iran at the ILO concerns the killing of four striking workers in the city of Shahr-e-Babak, the unlawful arrest of 50 workers on Labour Day and government interference to prevent workers from organising and enjoying other workers' rights at the Iran Khodro auto company. The ICFTU represents 151 million workers through its 233 affiliated national trade union centres in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:

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