Monday, March 23, 2009

The following story and appeal is from the international union federation, the IUF.
Union President Under Arrest, Whereabouts Unknown as Iran's Government Steps up Repression of Independent Sugar Union - Act Now!:
The March 8 arrest of the Haft Tapeh sugar workers' union President Ali Nejati marks a further escalation in government repression against the independent union . Nejati is one of the 5 union leaders who were arrested in December 2008 and charged with "endangering national security" and "anti-government propaganda". They still await sentencing from the trial which ended on February 17, Haft Tapeh Executive Board member Rahim Beshag and 6 other union officers were arrested and detained between February 22 and March 3, 2009, but all were subsequently released on bail by March 7. Four of them were tried with Ali Nejati on February 17 and 23, on similar charges.
Nejati's home was raided by Ministry of Intelligence Officers on February 28 and union materials confiscated. Since his arrest, family members have not been able to contact or visit him and his whereabouts are unknown.
The government stepped up its attacks on the union following a low turnout for the February 24 election to the Haft Tapeh "Islamic Labour Council" ordered by the Ministry of labour. Independent unions are proscribed in Iran, and defending workers' employment conditions does not fall within the remit of the Islamic Labour Councils, whose tasks are defined in Iranian law as essentially religious in addition to "defending the achievements of the Islamic Revolution."
Escalating repression against the Haft Tapeh workers has been accompanied by reports of new harassment against other independent trade union and labour rights activists, presumably to create a climate of fear in advance of May Day and the presidential elections scheduled for June 12. International pressure is urgently needed to press the government to free all the Haft Tapeh leaders. CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Ali Nejati and the other Haft Tapeh union leaders.
You can also send a message to the Iranian embassy or diplomatic representation in your country - or pay them a visit! A complete list of embassies/consulates is available here, and you can generally find e-mail addresses by searching the internet for the individual representation in your country.
Please see "CLICK HERE" above to send the following letter to Iranian governmental and judicial authorities.
To His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei - Leader of the Islamic Republic
To Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi - Head of the Judiciary
To the Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Institutions in Geneva
To Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
Dear Sirs
I am deeply concerned that five leaders of the trade union of workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Company in Shush were charged on 20 December 2008 with acting against national security as a result of their trade union activity. The five men are: Ali Nejati, Feridoun Nikoufard, Mohammed Heydari Mehr, Ghorban Alipour and Jalil Ahmadi. I believe that these charges are groundless, and that the defendants are on trial for attempting to exercise their basic human rights. I am also shocked to learn that 7 other Haft Tapeh leaders were arrested between February 22 and March 3, that Union President Ali Nejati was arrested on March 8, and that his current whereabouts are unknown even to his family. I believe that these trade union officers are innocent and that all charges must be dropped immediately and unconditionally.

I support the ongoing international campaign by trade unions and human rights activists to promote and defend workers’ rights in Iran and will closely follow developments in this campaign.
Yours sincerely

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