Mansour Ossanlu's Temporary Freedom in Iran

On Thursday June 2, Mansour Ossanlu’s wife stated that he had been granted a four-day medical leave for medical treatment. Amnesty International is unaware of the exact conditions of his release, but some reports suggest that he has been released on bail.

Mansour Ossanlu’s release is only temporary and while it’s welcome that the Iranian authorities have finally recognized his urgent need for rest and medical treatment – itself largely due to the appalling prison conditions in which he has been held – the basic injustice of his detention remains.

Mansour is the leader of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company. He is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for “acts against national security”. The charges stem from his peaceful work to obtain better conditions for workers in Iran and to end discriminatory laws and practices that curtail workers’ rights.

Mansour Ossanlu – and all others still held in Iran for their peaceful trade union activities – should be released permanently and unconditionally.

Does Knowing Your Rights Make You Insane?

Andrei Bondarenko

© Vinnytsya Human Rights Group

Andrei Bondarenko, a trade union activist, was ordered to undergo a forced psychiatric examination by a court in Vinnytsya, south west Ukraine. He is in hiding and fears that he will be subjected to psychiatric treatment  because of his legitimate trade union and human rights activities. Andrei has never been treated or diagnosed with a mental illness, and has undergone three psychiatric examinations to prove his sanity. Nevertheless, a court granted the order for an examination after prosecutors argued that Andrei Bondarenko has an “excessive awareness of his own and others’ rights and [an] uncontrollable readiness to defend these rights in unrealistic ways.”

Through Andrei’s work as a trade unionist and a human rights activist, he has butted heads with powerful local leaders. Many of those leaders have a financial interest in repressing the very workers that Andrei campaigns for. He has not hesitated to expose the irresponsible and inadequate behavior of officials, and in August 2010 he registered an NGO called Movement for a Corruption Free Vinnytsya Region Prosecutor’s Office.

Since 2007, the Vinnytsya Prosecutor’s Office has pushed for a forced psychiatric examination of Andrei four times. Each time the request has been refused by the court because of his certification of mental health from various psychiatrists. However, on 29 October of this year, a judge ordered Andrei to submit to a psychiatric examination in a closed court session where Andrei was not present and his lawyer was kicked out of the courtroom.

Knowing one’s own rights and advocating on behalf of others is perhaps the sanest thing one could do, but Andrei could be forced to undergo possibly dangerous psychiatric treatment for doing exactly that.

Prove your sanity and take action on behalf of Andrei now!

Claire Lesikar, Campaign for Individuals at Risk, contributed to this post.

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

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.

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Write-a-Thon Series: Mansour Ossanlu

This posting is part of our Write-a-Thon Cases Series. For more information visit www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon/

Mansour Ossanlu

Mansour Ossanlu

Trade Unionist Mansour Ossanlu, age 49, is the leader of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Syndica Sherkat-e Vahed). He has been peacefully working to obtain better conditions for workers in Iran and to end discriminatory laws and practices that curtail workers’ rights in Iran. He is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for “acts against national security” and “propaganda against the system.” He had been previously arrested and detained several times for his peaceful labor activism and severely beaten in custody, causing damage to his retinas. He is currently serving his term in a prison for violent criminals and has been mistreated by staff and other inmates. He suffers from several severe health problems, but has not received necessary medical treatment.

Mansour Ossanlu is one of Amnesty International’s 10 priority cases who you can help free by participating in our Global Write-a-thon running from December 5-13. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience who is being detained on vaguely worded charges in order to halt his efforts to build strong trades unions capable of defending the human rights of workers.

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