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Int. observers must have access to labour trial

International observers must have access to labour trial, says ICFTU

Brussels, 14 September 2004 (ICFTU Online): The international trade union movement is renewing its calls on the Iranian authorities to grant entry to international observers for the trial of 7 Iranian labour activists.

Mahmoud Salehi, Mohammad Abdipour, Esmaeel Khodkam, Mohsen Hakimi, Hadi Tanoumand, Jalal Hosseini and Borhan Divangar are due to appear before court on 23rd September 2004 on various charges including "organising the First of May event" when the 7 were arrested following peaceful celebrations to mark May Day.

"Establishing an illegal workers' council", "attempting to hold an illegal gathering" and "preparing a cost of living index for a family of 5 in Iran" are also charges which the 7 labour activists face. Furthermore, the 7 are accused of fraternising with a banned political organisation 'Komala' - the very basis of this charge has been called into question by the ICFTU.

"The charges constitute a flagrant breach of Iran's international obligations as a member of the International Labour Organisation" said Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the world's largest trade union organisation, the ICFTU. "Iran has voluntarily accepted to respect a number of fundamental workers' rights guaranteed by the ILO, such as the right to freedom of association, which covers the right of all workers to establish and join organisations of their own choosing for the protection of their interests. All of the above-mentioned charges, in fact, contradict these fundamental principles".

"The attendance of international observers is an important step towards ensuring the fair judicial process of the labour leaders and therefore granting their entry is in the interest of the Iranian authorities. Undoubtedly this trial has raised serious concerns within the international labour movement about the respect for human rights and trade union rights in Iran, not least since any prosecution would be for activities which are considered legitimate across the world".

Previous attempts to secure visas for ICFTU international observers to the trial have unfortunately been unsuccessful. In fact, the ICFTU's earlier appeal to the Iranian authorities for the guaranteed access of international observers remains unanswered.

In its letter to the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Seyed Kamal Kharazi, the ICFTU said that it was of the firm belief that "the Iranian judiciary will not wish to expose the country to a formal condemnation by the ILO's supervisory mechanisms" and called on the authorities to guarantee the entry of Mr M. Landgren of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO); Mr. Raji Sourani of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights; Ms. C. Brighi of the Italian Trade Union Confederation (CISL) and Mr. J. Kuczkiewicz of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).

The ICFTU represents 148 million workers in 234 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. The ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

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