Two Trade Union Members Arrested for Peaceful Activity, at Risk of Torture in Iran

June 16, 2010

Authorities have arrested two leading members of a trade union in Iran that is not recognized by Iranian authorities. Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are currently detained at unknown locations, where they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. It is speculated that these two men’s arrests are connected to the June 12th anniversary of the disputed 2009 presidential election. Both men were arrested, while authorities searched their homes and confiscated their computers and cell phones.

Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are both members of the The Union (or Syndicate) of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed), which was banned after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The union activities resumed in 2004, although the union itself is not legally recognized.

Despite the fact that the union is not recognized by Iranian authorities, the arrests of Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are unlawful. Iran is a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political, Article 22 (1) of which states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests,” and to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 8 of which guarantees the “right of everyone to form trade unions and join the trade union of his choice”.

An enforced disappearance facilitates the use of torture and other ill-treatment, and Amnesty International is concerned about the conditions of these two men. Saeed Torabian and Reza Shahabi are believed to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their peaceful trade union activities.

Amnesty International is calling on Iranian authorities to disclose the whereabouts of the trade union members and to release them immediately, and demand that they are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment while in custody.

Other members of the Union’s board, like Mansour Ossanlu, the head of the Tehran and Suburbs Company bus drivers union, considered a prisoner of conscience and a priority case for AIUSA’s Individuals at Risk campaign, is serving a five-year prison sentence and he is in poor health and has suffered from medical neglect in prison over the past three years. Mansour Ossanlu is currently in Evin prison in Iran.

Take action now! on behalf of Mansour Ossonlu, Saeed Torabian, Reza Shahabi, and other trade union workers in Iran. Demand that the Iranian government would protect its own citizens by actually upholding the international covenants and laws which they claim to abide by, instead of arresting hundreds of trade union workers for their peaceful activity.

Courtney A. Myhrum, Individuals at Risk Campaign, contributed to this blog post. This posting is part of our Urgent Action Series.

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