House debates

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Statements by Members

Iran: Human Rights

9:30 am

Photo of Michael DanbyMichael Danby (Melbourne Ports, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the issue of flagrant human rights abuse in Iran. The abduction and brutal beating, again, of Tehran’s Sherkate Vahed bus drivers union leader, Mansour Osanloo, on the evening of 10 July this year is yet another chapter in the growing catalogue of human rights abuses in that country. While there is some disagreement over the extent to which workers’ rights should drive the policy of the government of the day in our country, it goes without saying that all of us in this place support freedom of association—I am sure even members of the government support the right to join trade unions—and, above all, freedom from all forms of persecution. Article 23, section 4, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides:

Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 2 provides that these rights are universal and exist regardless of nationality or jurisdiction. Iran’s membership of the International Labour Organisation also binds it to respect the rights of workers to organise, free from fear of prosecution. That the most recent attack on the most basic rights of Mansour Osanloo was carried out following surveillance of him by individuals understood to be members of Iran’s security forces is particularly concerning, of similar concern is that there appears to be no certainty as to whether his abduction was the work of security forces. There was a complete lack of transparency and even procedural fairness in failing to inform him, his family, his friends or colleagues of his fate.

In November last year it is believed that the state-sponsored militia, the Basij—the SR of the Tehran regime—stifled political dissent again in that country and were responsible for Osanloo’s earlier abduction and imprisonment. The most recent incident bears the hallmarks of the same kind of underhanded attack—a completely illegal attack, against the declaration of human rights, the rights of freedom of association and Iran’s membership of the ILO. This case of human rights abuse is par for the course with the Iranian regime under its President Ahmadinejad.

Thursday, 9 August marks the anniversary of Mansour Osanloo’s release from prison following several months behind bars after his members refused to collect passengers’ fares as a result of price rises in Iran. ACTU officials and members of affiliated unions will undertake a national day of action tomorrow, with protests outside the Embassy of Iran. Union officials will also seek an audience with the Iranian ambassador to lodge a written protest against Mr Osanloo’s unjust and baseless imprisonment, and I wish them every success in working towards securing his release and freedom from further prosecution. This is not just a case of one trade union leader; this man is the leader of the democratic opposition to a very fearful regime in Iran. (Time expired)