RMT campaigns for jailed Iranian union leader

The RMT transport union has joined forces with British MPs and trade unionists around the globe to campaign for the release of imprisoned Iranian transport workers'  union leader Reza Shahabi.

Reza Shahabi is the Treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) whose leadership has been targeted for a wave of arrests and detentions without trial in recent years. Reza Shahabi and another colleague Saeed Torabian, who was arrested on 9 June but subsequently released, were suspended from work, without pay, for four years following strikes by bus workers in Tehran in 2005. They were reinstated after a  court investigation.

Shahabi was arrested on 12 June 2010. When he arrived at work he was summoned to the headquarters of the  bus  company, where he was arrested by security officials. They took him to his house, which they searched, and confiscated his computer. Shahabi is reported to have been transferred to section 209, the intelligence section of Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

RMT Parliamentary Convenor John McDonnell has tabled  an Early Day Motion on Reza Shahabi's arrest and imprisonment in the torture section of Evin prison in Tehran. The EDM is drawing cross-party support.  It says 

"That this House deplores the arrest without charge by the Iranian authorities of Reza Shahabi, Treasurer of the Tehran Bus Workers Union, on 12 June 2010; is dismayed by this arrest which is the latest in a series of instances of the persecution of trade unionists in Iran; is deeply concerned that Reza Shahabi is being held in section 209 of the Evin prison which is notorious as a torture centre; is further concerned that he has been held in solitary confinement without any contact from family or friends for two months; notes that Amnesty International believes Reza Shahabi is very likely to be a prisoner of conscience and is being held solely on account of his trade union activities; believes the continued detention of Reza Shahabi places Iran in contravention of its agreement to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and calls on the Iranian government to release immediately Reza Shahabi and for the UK Government to do all within its power to assist in his release."

MPs have also tabled questions to the Foreign Secretary urging  British government intervention on Reza's case.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

"It is important that the Iranian Government understand that the international trade union movement are aware of their actions and that we will continue to mobilise high-profile campaigns in support of Reza Shahabi and others facing similar oppression as a result of their union activities."

29 July 2010

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