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Iran: Radio Farda -- Wife Of Jailed Union Leader Hopes International Support Will Secure His Release

(RFE/RL) August 14, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian union leader Mansur Osanlu has been in jail since July 10, when he was detained by plainclothes agents. Even before his arrest, the head of the Tehran bus drivers union had been under increased government pressure stemming from his labor activities. On August 9, protesters gathered outside Iran's embassies in several countries to call for his release, along with another detained labor leader. Osanlu's wife, Parvaneh Osanlu, told Radio Farda correspondent Roozbeh Bolhari this week that she hopes international support helps ensure her husband's release.

Radio Farda: Can you tell us about your husband's private life?

Parvaneh Osanlu: He was born in 1959 in Tehran and has three brothers and one sister. He has been working for Tehran's bus company for 25 years, 12 of them as a bus driver. After 12 years, Mansur was transferred to the administrative department of the Tehran bus company because he was suffering from back pain.

Mansur has a high-school degree and studied physics at university for three years. But his financial situation forced him to quit his [university] studies and take up two shifts a day to be able to make ends meet.

Radio Farda's story in its original Persian

From his early days as an employee of the Tehran bus company, Mansur got involved with workers' issues and began informing his colleagues of their rights and of labor laws. Because of these activities, the bus company kept transferring Mansur to different locations. But this only allowed him to meet many different workers.

Mansur has two sons: Sahesh, 22, who has a university degree in graphic design but is currently unemployed; and Pooyesh, 17, who received his high-school diploma in computer design.

In 2004, Mansur helped organize the Bus Drivers Union Congress that relaunched the [Syndicate Workers of the Tehran Bus Company] activities. [He ] was beaten and put in jail. But he continued his actions in the face of increasing difficulties.

Radio Farda: What impact have your husband's union activities had on his family life?

Osanlu: We're a very close family. During the past three years, Mansur has been very involved with syndicate activities. This has hurt our financial situation. But Mansour speaks the truth; and because I am convinced of this, I will stick by him and tolerate all the hardship.

Radio Farda: What do you think about the international community's support for [your husband], and what do you hope it will achieve?

Osanlu: I hope the international community's support will continue and that it will eventually help secure [Osanlu's] release from prison. And I hope Iranian officials will realize that his activities aren't political. He is only helping workers understand and exercise their rights according to Iranian and international labor law. I hope he will one day be able to see the results of his work. Already, his activities have helped improve bus drivers' conditions. For example, bus drivers' salaries have been raised by $180. In addition, they now receive coupons, milk, and cakes on a regular basis, as well as two sets of clothing per year. That's why all bus drivers like Mansur and his union colleagues.

Radio Farda: Some Iranian officials have accused Osanlu of being a political activist who has received funds from the United States amounting to $100,000. Is that true?

Osanlu: That is a complete lie. [Mansur Osanlu] doesn't even own a house. If he were after money, he would have sold himself a long time ago. These lies are spread because of his union activities.

Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima

Radio Farda's Parnaz Azima