Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bus drivers demand release of union leader

Iran Press News: Translation by Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzzi.
According to reports from regime-run news agency, FARS, on Monday night, January 2nd, Tehran's mayor, Mohammad-Bagher Qalibaf appeared at the bus drivers meeting held at 1000-person capacity auditorium of the Azadi sports complex. At the beginning of the meeting the drivers proceeded to boo and jeer at Mustafa Nourian, the executive director of the bus drivers company who under pressure, on Sunday, tendered his resignation to the board of directors of said corporation. During the meeting, that lasted two hours the bus drivers hollered: "Mansour Osanlou (director of the bus drivers union) must be released from prison immediately." There were also dozens of placards that read slogans such as: "Formation of workers unions is the absolute right of workers." READ MORE

The Osanlou family were also present and had the chance to hold a discussion with Qalibaf regarding the immediate and unconditional release of Osanlou from prison, however due to the swarming of the security forces around Qalibaf, none of the reporters were able to obtain information on the details of the conversation.

During his speech, Qalibaf said that the bus drivers must make sure not to put the issues of their strike ahead of the peoples needs and promised to "continue investigating" the problems that the bus drivers face. Qalibaf stated that he is not only in charge of the transit division but that he is also answerable to the average citizen and that the bus drivers must patient with him so that he can properly resolve the issues at hand.

Prior to the meeting, the public relations department of mayors office had guaranteed reporters at least a 20 minute press conference with Qalibaf, however not a single reporter was able to get into the glass conservatory where Qalibaf was being interviewed by the regime-run TV. Only 2 out of the 15 reporters and photographers who were invited [and of course were employed by the regimes own news agencies] were able to ultimately interview the mayor. When leaving the premises, Qalibaf was confronted with an irate group of reporters and photographers who had waited for 40 minutes in the freezing cold, outside the glass conservatory. In response to the protests of the press, the director of the public relations of the mayor’s office made the excuse that the chaos was not their fault but that the directors of the stadium refused to cooperate with them.