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Public Statements

Condemning the Persecution of Labor Rights Advocates in Iran

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution. I would like to thank the cochairman of the Iran Working Group, my good friend, Mr. Kirk, for his efforts and the staff's efforts. And I would associate myself with the remarks that Mark made about the staff members who worked so hard on this.

I'd like to thank our subcommittee chairman, Mr. Sherman, and ranking members on the other side for their help.

A prison must be a terribly lonely and solitary place. And I think there is no more lonely and solitary place on the face of the Earth than an Iranian prison, because in an Iranian prison you live in a place where there is no due process, there is no right to be heard, there is no sunlight, there is no chance to address your grievances.

Mr. Speaker, as we meet today, two men, Mahmoud Salehi and Mansour Osanloo sit in that solitary confinement. Their crime is speaking up for the members of the group for which they work. Their offense is trying to organize and represent the men and women next to whom they work. This is taken universally as a human right, the right to speak up for better working conditions, for fairness in the workplace. It is a right that Iran recognizes as a signatory to the International Labor Organization, and Iran is bound to follow the core principles of the ILO. Clearly, Iran is not doing so as we meet today.

For more than 6 months, Mr. Salehi has been confined in a prison. For more than 3 months, Mr. Osanloo has been confined in a prison.

It is my hope that this resolution today will have the Members of this House, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, joining the voices of labor leaders around the world as expressed on August 9 saying to the Government of Iran that this imprisonment is unjustified. This is an egregious abuse of human rights. These men should be released. Their medical needs should be tended to, and justification should be given for the unlawful and inhuman incarceration of these individuals.

This is a larger question than the political relationship between the United States and Iran. It is a larger question than labor law and the right to organize. This is a fundamental question of human rights. Innocent, infirm people should not be held against their will with no rights and no right to address their grievances. Surely, Mr. Speaker, this House can and should join together today to rise up in opposition to this inhuman practice.

I would urge a ``yes'' vote.


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