Australian unions are joining an international day of action today to draw attention to the repressive conditions facing trade union members in Iran and are calling on the Iranian Government to release the kidnapped Iranian union leader Mr Mansour Osanloo.

Unionists will deliver letters of protest to the Iranian Ambassador in Canberra today concerning the kidnapping on 10 July and detention of Mr Mansour Osanloo, President of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Drivers Union (Vahed) and the ongoing detention of other trade unionists & human rights activists in Iran.

ACTU President, Sharan Burrow met Mr Osanloo at an international trade union meeting in Brussels on June 21 this year, just two weeks before he was kidnapped and detained.

“Mr Osanloo spoke with great passion and conviction about the desire of Iranian workers to have the right to join trade unions and to organize collectively. He clearly knew the risks to his own life for taking this stance but was determined to do so,” said Ms Burrow.

Despite fears for his safety, Mr Osanloo returned to Iran after the Brussels union meeting, and less than 2 weeks later, on July 10 he was kidnapped by what appears to be Iranian security forces. He was abducted from a bus at about 7pm, as he was returning home and severely beaten by unidentified assailants. Only on 12 July was his family informed that Mr. Osanloo was being held in Evin prison.

Unions have written to the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to complain about the treatment of unionists and to call for the release of Mr Osanloo.

“Given the history of harassment against Mr. Osanloo by Iranian authorities, the ACTU strongly suspects that his trade union activities are the reason behind his arrest — if so, this is a clear breach of international human rights,” said Ms Burrow.

Unions ACT Secretary Kim Sattler said, “We are very concerned about Mr Osanloo’s welfare and believe that he has been attacked due to his trade union involvement. We call for Mr Osanloo’s immediate release from detention and for the Iranian Government to end the use of violence against workers involved in trade union activities.”

Trade unionists will be joined by members of the Iranian community at a protest to be held today at the Iranian Embassy — 12.30 – 1.30pm, Thursday August 9, 25 Culgoa Circuit, O’Malley, Canberra.