Wednesday, February 08, 2006


RegimeChangeIran is reporting that on Monday night, Hasan Mohammadi, an activist member of the Tehran bus drivers union was arrested.

His crime?

Publicising the Iranian government's ruthless actions against his fellow union members to the international media. From Iran Press News, translated by Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzzi:
Based on published reports, Hasan Mohammadi, an activist member of the Bus drivers union was arrested at midnight on Monday, February 6th. The Islamic regimes security forces stormed Mohammadis' mothers house via the roof and breaking the door down arrested Mohammadi. The house was then surrounded by dozens of security forces for hours. Since December 22nd when the Tehran bus driver’s union members were arrested, Mohammadi had spent all his time contacting international media to report on the plight of his fellow union members.

The latest reports show that the Assembly of Provisions of the Province, which is in charge of investigating the working conditions of more than 200 protesting activist workers, has not as of yet taken any action to evaluate the bus drivers’ concerns. As a result the hundreds of bus drivers who are on strike and are now even being incarcerated in Evin Prison for protesting, have gone on hunger strike. Many of the incarcerated workers are being held in ward 240 of said prison and are under interrogation and severe torture while others have been transferred to ward 209 of the criminal Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
I must admit I've been slack and should have posted on this before, but LabourStart are running a campaign to pressure the Iranian regime to release the imprisoned strikers:
Beginning on Friday, 27 January, security forces in Iran began arresting hundreds of striking bus workers in Teheran, including the leadership of the union. Workers are also being intimidated into signing pledges to give up strike and protest actions or risk being fired. The management of the company and the company's Islamic Council worked hand in hand with the security forces to help identify the workers and assist in the arrests. Union officials said the brutality of the security forces was indescribable. The wives and children of some union executive members were also arrested, but later released. They were taken out of bed and beaten up during raids on Friday night. The beatings continued in detention.

On Saturday, as the workers arrived at the picket lines, they were rounded up. Many were verbally abused, threatened and beaten up to force them to drive the buses. Those who refused were taken away. The majority of the detainees are now in the high security Evin Prison, which is notorious for the torture and execution of thousands of political prisoners.

In arresting these workers, the Iranian government is in violation of ILO core conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and deserves to be condemned by the entire world. Please add your name to the thousands who are sending a loud and clear message to President Ahmadinejad -- free the jailed workers now!
You can read more about the background to this flagrant abuse of workers' rights here and join the campaign by sending a letter to a certain Mr Ahmadinejad here.

Sure, letters to a conspiracy theory-ridden madman aren't going to change the world on their own. But they're part of a broader strategy. A strategy that involves helping get information via the internet to Iranian dissidents, not only about the world news and politics that the current regime deems too impalatable for common consumption, but also messages of support.

Currently dissidents are playing online cat-and-mouse with the Iranian authorities: no sooner does one objectionable website get blocked or shut down than another pops up in its place. This tactic has resulted in Iranian bloggers making Farsi the second most common blogging language.

With the US having spent only a measly $4million on pro-democracy programs for Iran, well publicised web-based initiatives, even if they provide only minimal assistance to active Iranian dissidents, may convince our governments that they really ought to be doing (and spending) more to foment democratic change in Iran.

Webgardian is reporting that roughly 60 blogs are backing the strikers and to show their support are putting the bus syndicate's logo on their blogs. Add another one to that list.


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