Mansour Ossanlou, President of the Syndicate of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, has been arrested and detained several times over the last two years for his involvement in peaceful industrial action by the bus union. We, along with the EU, have serious concerns about Iran’s commitment to uphold its international obligations with regard to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right to form or join trade unions. We have therefore been monitoring Mr. Ossanlou’s situation closely. We were extremely concerned at his forcible detention by unidentified assailants on 10 July. It has since been confirmed that he is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran and is being investigated for alleged distribution of propaganda against the regime. We understand that neither his family nor his lawyers have had full access to visit him in prison.
On 16 July I called in the Iranian ambassador to London to discuss human rights issues. I raised specific concerns about the treatment of Mr. Ossanlou, and urged Iran to ensure that he is treated well and in accordance with his rights. I highlighted that we consider his arrest to be a direct breach of Iran’s commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In meetings with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 21 July and 1 September, the EU presidency also condemned Mr. Ossanlou’s violent arrest and detention for peaceful actions in support of civil rights.