Once in a while there is good news to share on the political prisoner front, and this is one of those times.
Mansour Osanloo, a bus driver and president of the Vahed Syndicate which represents bus drivers in Tehran, was freed on bail by the Iranian government today after four years of imprisonment.
According to the International Transport Workers Federation: “From its beginnings in 2005 the ITF-affiliated union was subjected to heavy repression, including repeated attacks and arrests. Mansour Osanloo was heavily targeted. As well as being beaten up and having his tongue slit he was imprisoned in 2005 and 2006. Then in 2007, just one month after visiting the London head office of the ITF and meeting trade unionists in Brussels, he was arrested. Three months later he was sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of ‘acting against national security’ and ‘propaganda against the state’; in 2010 another year was added to his sentence. In reality his only offence was to help found a genuinely democratic trade union.” For more on his case, visit Justice for Iranian Workers.
Regrettably, Mansour Osanloo is not the only trade unionist imprisoned in Iran. Many others, such as Farzad Kamangar (murdered by the Iranian government in 2010) have not been so fortunate. As Amnesty International reported May 20, 2011, arbitrary arrests, torture and executions continue to be routine.
While expressions of international solidarity are not always successful in gaining the release of political prisoners, international silence almost guarantees a bad outcome.
Doing your part to support prisoners of conscience has never been easier. Two of my favourite organizations in this regard are LabourStart and Amnesty International-Canada. There are many others. Find one that fits your preferences and lend a hand. You may help save a life.