The recent arrests of labour and Kurdish activists have once again drawn attention to the fact that the Iranian regime is determined to re-establish the old balance of forces - when it always had the upper hand when dealing with workers and labour activists, women, national minorities, journalists, teachers and the vast majority of the working people of Iran.
The political prisoners, whatever the nature of their activity against the regime or political beliefs, are suffering conditions that are worse than those in the Shah's torture chambers. Each time that they are briefly released, they witness a deterioration in the working and living conditions of workers, women, national minorities and the youth than when they were sent to jail! This only compels them to continue the struggle against the inequality, injustices, corruption and brutality that have upheld the rule of this blood-soaked regime for 30 years and are an inseparable part of its strategy for continuing its ignominious life in the pursuit of privatisation, massive redundancies, casualisation of labour, cutting subsidies and raising taxes.
Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network will be highlighting the cases of Mansour Osanloo, Farzad Kamangar, Mohsen Hakimi and Zeynab Jalaliyan to start a campaign for the release of all political prisoners in Iran.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
Free all political prisoners in Iran!
Mansour Osanloo is the leader of the Steering Committee of the Trade Union of the Vahed Bus Company of Tehran and Suburbs. This union was founded in 1968 but was banned by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980s. Following the union’s re-launch, on 9 May 2005 the members of the Steering Committee were attacked by around 300 agents of the state-backed Labour House and the Islamic Labour Councils. Osanloo sustained a number of serious injuries as a result of the attack.
In December 2005 Osanloo and a number of other Steering Committee members were arrested before the Vahed union was to go on strike. After seven months in jail - often in solitary confinement - he was released on a bail of $155,000(!) in August 2006. During his imprisonment his workmates organised a strike for his and other Vahed drivers’ release.
Three months later, on 19 November 2006, he was arrested by plain-clothes agents while buying a newspaper. In December he was again released on bail.
A few weeks after attending the conference of the International Transport Federation in London he was arrested again in July 2007, on charges of distributing a leaflet against the Islamic system.
In October 2007 Osanloo was condemned to five years’ imprisonment for “propaganda against the regime” and “actions against national security”! This sentence was upheld by the court of appeal. Mansour Osanloo is currently in Evin Prison.
For more information about Mansour Osanloo and the bus drivers’ struggles see the special page.
Farzad Kamangar is a 33-year-old Kurdish teacher who has been sentenced to death.
Kamangar is a teacher at the Kamyaran Work and Science Technical School and writes for the cultural-educational Royan monthly, which is owned by the Kamyaran Education Office. He is also a journalist, a civil society activist in Kamyaran (in southern Iranian Kurdistan). He has also been active in the teachers’ trade union, the Easak [Dear] Environmental Association in Kamyaran.
He was sentenced to death for alleged membership of the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK). PJAK is believed by many to the Iranian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). According to his lawyer, however, on 25 February 2008 the Revolutionary Court of the Iranian regime passed Kamangar’s death sentence with the prosecution producing “absolutely zero evidence” to support its case! The closed-door court hearing lasted less than five minutes “with the judge issuing his sentence without any explanation and then promptly leaving the room.”
The Iranian regime’s security forces detained Kamangar in July 2006, shortly after he arrived in Tehran from Kamyaran together with two Kurdish human rights activists. Since his arrest the authorities have held him in various prisons in Kermanshah, Sanandaj, and Tehran. In a letter written in Sanandaj prison in October 2007, Kamangar gave details about his torture and his family and lawyer have seen clear signs of this when visiting him. He has been admitted to the prison infirmary twice because of the effects of torture.
On 11 July 2008 the Iranian regime’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence passed against Farzad Kamangar and a week later, on 19 July 2008, around 300 Kurdish teachers protested against his death sentence. At the gathering in Sanandaj, in Iranian Kurdistan, the teachers read out a manifesto in defence of Farzad Kamangar, calling his death sentence unjust and demanding that the authorities revoke it and release him immediately. Over 135 of the teachers signed a petition declaring that Kamangar is a law-abiding citizen.
Recently Kamangar sent a letter to the head of the Iranian regime’s judiciary asking that, following his execution, his organs be donated to children who may need transplants. Farzad Kamangar is currently in Evin Prison.
For more information about Farzad Kamangar and the teachers’ struggles see the special page.
Mohsen Hakimi is a translator, a member of the Iranian Writers’ Association and a long-standing labour activist. His translations include Six Existentialist Thinkers, Philosophers of Peace and War and Georg Lukacs’s The Young Hegel among other philosophy books.
Together with six other labour activists he was arrested in Saghez (Iranian Kurdistan) on 1 May 2004 - just before a May Day rally was to take place. In November 2005 he was given a two year suspended sentence for his part in organising the rally. This sentencing followed an international campaign in defence of the Saghez Seven which helped reduce or drop most of the serious charges.
Hakimi was re-arrested in 22 December 2008 and is now in Evin Prison. His arrest was part of series of arrests of labour activists around Christmas.
Zeynab Jalaliyan, a Kurdish female political activist, has been sentenced to death for membership of a Kurdish opposition organisation. The 27-year-old Ms. Jalaliyan is a lawyer and lives in Maku, in Azerbaijan province (north-western Iran).
According to Ms. Jalaliyan's family, she was arrested eight months ago in the city of Kermanshah (in Iranian Kurdistan), and was transferred to the Intelligence Ministry’s detention centre. There has been no news about her situation or state of health since her arrest eight months ago.
Ms. Jalaliyan was found to be a mohareb (enemy of God) after a trial held behind closed doors and lasting just a few minutes.
Zeynab Jalaliyan’s death sentence raises the number of Kurdish activists sentenced to death in Iran during the past two years to 13.
Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network
18 February 2009