Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of this resolution condemning the persecution of labor rights advocates in Iran.
During the past 2 years, the already brutal regime in Tehran has increased its repression of its own citizens, cracking down on religious and ethnic minorities, human rights and pro democracy activists, even university students, and now the labor movement.
Like many supposedly revolutionary governments, this regime has been particularly harsh to workers and their representatives who have dared to protest the injustices that pervade the present system in Iran.
On April 9 this year, Iranian agents arrested Mahmoud Salehi, the founder of an independent bakery workers association. And then on three separate occasions since 2005, this same Iranian regime has arrested and imprisoned Mansour Osanloo, the president of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, an independent labor association of transportation workers.
Most recently then, on July 10, 2007, reports indicate that plainclothes Iranian agents kidnapped, assaulted and imprisoned Mr. Osanloo.
When transport workers have attempted to strike in order to protest their lack of rights and the arrest of their representatives, the Iranian regime has beaten them and compelled them to return to work. Iran's deplorable behavior violates its own legal obligations under its own Constitution.
Article 26 of the Iranian Constitution permits, and I quote, ``the formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations,'' and Iran's labor law recognizes that ``it is prohibited to force a person to perform work against their will.'' So much for following their Constitution.
Mr. Speaker, while Iranian thug-in-chief Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke freely at the United Nations last week, labor representatives Mahmoud Salehi and Mansour Osanloo, both of whom suffer from medical conditions and medical problems, languished in Iran's infamous prisons without access to any medical attention. This current situation is intolerable.
The Iranian regime must stop its persecution of its own workers and systematic human rights abuses, release all the imprisoned labor representatives and fulfill its obligations in ensuring the right of Iranians to work freely and to organize freely.
I want to thank Mr. Kirk of Illinois and Mr. Andrews of New Jersey for introducing this resolution, and also labor unions in the United States for bringing this issue to the forefront.
This resolution condemns the Iranian regime for the arrest and imprisonment of Iranian labor leaders and demands their release. It also sends a simple but yet powerful message. As the people of Iran struggle to live freely and exercise their basic human rights, Congress and the United States stands with those people.
I urge my colleagues to adopt this legislation.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH