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Iranian Labor Activists' Prison Sentences Upheld

Union leaders Mansur Osanlu (left) and Ebrahim Madadi (file photo) ( October 30, 2007 -- An appellate court in Tehran has confirmed a five-year jail sentence against jailed union leader Mansur Osanlu on security charges, Radio Farda reported.

The court also upheld a two-year prison sentence against another senior member of Osanlu's union, Ebrahim Madadi, for acting against Iran's national security.

Osanlu, the head of the Syndicate Workers of the Tehran Bus Company, has been incarcerated at Tehran's Evin prison since mid-July, when he pulled from a bus, beaten, and abducted. Madadi was detained along with four other union members in August after they visited Osanlu's home.

Hassan Nayeb Hashem, a Vienna-based member of the Society To Defend Human Rights In Iran, condemned the sentences against both Osanlu and Madadi as regrettable, and called the tactics used against Osanlu in particular a miscarriage of justice.

Hashem said the sentence does not correspond to Osanlu's actions. "Osanlu was detained illegally after he distributed leaflets in which he called for the syndicate's rights to be safeguarded and also for higher wages for workers. He was kidnapped and arrested, he was beaten up. The actions against him are against international laws" regarding human rights, Hashem said.

Osanlu's lawyer, Parviz Khorshid, told Iran's ISNA news agency that his client has been transferred to the general ward of Evin prison to begin serving his sentence.

The charges against Osanlu reportedly include "propaganda against the system and acting against national security."

Rights groups, the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation, and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) have called for both men's release. An ITF spokesman in London, Sam Dawson, today condemned the sentence against Osanlu as "outrageous and utterly deplorable."

Osanlu had been jailed and threatened in the past in connection with his union activities. His latest arrest came shortly after his return from an international labor gathering in London.

In interviews with Radio Farda, Osanlu's wife and colleagues and rights activists have called the charges against Osanlu baseless.

Activists, Intellectuals, Students

Iranian dissidents and human rights activists say the government has markedly increased its pressure on labor activists, intellectuals, students, and others in the past year.

The apparent crackdown has prompted several student protests in recent weeks, including a demonstration against President Mahmud Ahmadinejad when he spoke at Amir Kabir University earlier this month.

In the latest protest, several students were detained today at Alameh Tabatabai University as demonstrators shouted slogans against Ahmadinejad and called for the release of fellow students who have been imprisoned. Protesters held banners that read "Ahmadinejad, Release Our Colleague" or "Freedom Is Our Absolute Right." Reports of the number of participants ranged from 50 to several hundred.

Student activists told Radio Farda that the students also protested against government pressure on Iranian universities.

Three students from Tehran's Amir Kabir University -- Ehsan Mansuri, Majid Tavakoli, and Ahmad Ghasaban -- were given jail sentences earlier this month of up to three years on charges of printing anti-Islamic images in four student newspapers.

The students have called the charges "fabricated" and said they are the victims of a government crackdown on student activists at universities.

One student at today's event, Rashid Esmaili, told Radio Farda that the protest took place under tight security measures and that about seven students were detained by security agents and plainclothes police. Other students have said that 20 people were detained.

"Students from other universities who had come to Alameh -- students from Sharif, Polytechnic, Khajeh, and Azad -- faced closed doors. The doors had been closed by security forces, but students broke the doors down and entered the campus so that for the third time in recent weeks the shouts of 'Death to the Dictator' could be heard in Iran's universities," Esmaili said.

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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