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Int. Observers Call To Attend Iranian Trial

"Grant international observers entry", says ICFTU to Iranian authorities ahead of trial

Brussels, 18th August 2004 (ICFTU Online): In the run- up to the court appearance of four Iranian labour leaders, accused of collaborating with the banned political organisation 'Komala', the international trade union movement stepped up its calls for the trial to be attended by international observers.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions' (ICFTU) three observers - Mattias Landgren (lawyer for the ICFTU affiliate, LO-Sweden), Louise Brundwill (lawyer and member of the Swedish section of "Lawyers without Borders") and Mr. Raji Sourani (Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza) are still yet to be granted visas to observe the trial.

Previous attempts to secure entry visas indicate that the Iranian embassies approached by the observers are awaiting orders from Tehran before issuing the entry documents.

The ICFTU is appealing to the Iranian authorities to guarantee the entry of the observers to ensure the fair judicial process of the labour leaders. "International observers are essential in this case, not least because the very charges of fraternising with 'Komala' are questionable.

This is a case of high sensitivity - the issue of respect for trade union rights and human rights in Iran will come under the microscope in the trial of the four labour activists," said the ICFTU. "It is in the interests of justice and of the Iranian authorities that international observers are allowed into the country, and crucially, that they be permitted to attend the case's proceedings".

MM. Mahmoud Salehi, Jalal Hosseini, Borhan Divangar and Mohammad Abdipoor were arrested earlier this year for the "crime" of celebrating Labour Day (1st May 2004). With the four due to appear in court on 24th August 2004, the ICFTU has expressed serious doubts ahead of the trial date as to the veracity of the charges made against them.

"All of the charged are independent labour activists and do not have links with political parties" it said in an earlier letter to the Iranian President Khatami.

As the world's largest trade union organisation, the ICFTU is concerned that the defendants are in fact being prosecuted simply for their support for labour rights and for exercising fundamental human rights and trade union rights including the right to freedom of expression and assembly. The ICFTU is also troubled by the timing of the initial arrests on 1st May 2004, occurring just two days after the labour activists had met with the ICFTU mission on 29th April 2004, a meeting which was closely monitored by the Iranian security service.

ICFTU letter to the Iranian authorities: http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991220480

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