David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), speaks out in defense of political prisoners in Iran in support of the Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI) campaign, “Be Her Voice! Be His Voice!”
Mission Free Iran welcomes this important statement in support of political prisoners in Iran. Mr. Cockroft is a unionist and the leader of a respected international union. It should be noted that unions are not political bodies focused on making fundamental political changes to existing political structures and processes. Transcript appears below the video.
The ITF supports very strongly the campaign for the release of political prisoners in Iran. We would like to see all political prisoners in Iran released, but we are particularly concerned about the growing number of trade union leaders in Iran who been put in jail, prosecuted, harassed, simply because they are trade union leaders looking after their members.
One trade union leader who we are particularly concerned about, and who I count as a personal friend, is Mansour Osanlou, who came to Europe 4 years ago, and came and participated in an ITF road transport meeting, because he is the chair of the ITF affiliate Vahed Bus Workers Trade Union of Tehran. He then came with me to Brussels, where I introduced him to all of the leaders of the global trade union movement, and he then went home, back to Tehran, and it’s clear that the government was not expecting him to return home, because they waited for 3 weeks, and then kidnapped him from a bus and threw him in jail, and he has been in jail ever since.
Mansour Osanlou is one of the symbolic leaders of the Iranian trade union movement, but unfortunately he is not the only one who is in jail. We are supporting – strongly campaigning with all of our colleagues around the world, with the entire trade union movement -for his release, but also for the release of Saeed Torabian, Ebrahim Wadati, Gholam Reza, Gholam Hosseini, and all those union leaders from the Vahed Union, from the Haft Tappeh Sugar Workers Union, from all of the trade unions, because our message to president Ahmadinejad, to all the people who lead the regime in Tehran, is quite simple: trade unions are not there to overthrow governments. Trade unions are there to represent workers. They do not pose any threat to the Islamic system of life, you need to work with trade union leaders like Mansour Osanlou to ensure that you develop in a strong and effective democratic way, and that is I think important for all Islamic countries and particularly for Iran. We need to see all political prisoners in Iran released quickly as soon as possible.