Thursday, January 06, 2005

Iraqi Trade Union Leader Murdered by "Resistance"

The Scotsman reports

The murder of a senior union official in Iraq was condemned today by trade unionists representing workers across the world, including Britain.

Hadi Salih, international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, was killed last night at his home in Baghdad.

Mr Salih visited the UK last year and had met many trade union leaders from this country.

He took part in a conference last month organised by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which was attended by British union leaders.

David Cockroft, general secretary of the London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation, said: “A month ago at the ICFTU congress Hadi Salih was telling us of his hopes to build a democratic union that would, in his words ‘bring together all Iraqis no matter what their background, ethnicity or religion’.

“This was a man who was imprisoned, sentenced to death and driven into exile by Saddam Hussein.

“Yet he returned to Iraq to try and help its people build democratic institutions that would protect their rights as citizens and workers.

“He was the kind of person that Iraq needs now and in the future. His murderers have done that country no favours. They deserve only contempt.”
US Labor Against the War issued this statement

Hadi Salih, International Officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, was a courageous union activist. His assassination in Baghdad yesterday is a crime against Iraq's working people and its labor movement. The cowardly manner of his killing - he was shot in his bed - is intended to send a message to Iraq's workers and trade unionists - that their efforts to participate in any peaceful process of political change will be met with death. We stand in solidarity with the IFTU in rejecting this brutal intimidation.

Hadi Salih was killed because of his commitment and dedication to making Iraq a democratic and progressive country, building a society in which its people can lead safe and secure lives, with full employment at a decent standard of living. US Labor Against the War shares his vision of a peaceful and progressive Iraq, and sends its condolences to his family and fellow workers.

The ultimate source of violence in Iraq is the US occupation. The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions calls for the end of the occupation and the US war. Salih's murder does not bring this end one step closer. Instead, it seeks to terrorize Iraq's labor movement, and other parts of its civil society, to keep them from seeking any peaceful means of gaining political power in the interest of its working people.

In the past three months, IFTU members and rank-and-file workers have been murdered and kidnapped as they tried to carry out normal union activity, or simply do their jobs. On November 3, four railroad workers were killed, and their bodies mutilated. On December 25, two other train drivers were kidnapped, and five other workers beaten. On the night of December 26, the building of the Transport and Communications Workers in central Baghdad was shelled. Together with the assassination of Hadi Salih, these horrifying crimes are making Iraq as dangerous a place for union activists as Colombia.

The murderers of Hadi Salih and other Iraqi workers and unionists must be brought to justice. Iraq must become a safe and secure society in which people can exercise their rights as workers and unionists without fearing death and terror. The rights and security of Iraqi unionists are must be ensured and respected. This must include the full right to belong to a union and bargain with employers, the dismantling of the old Saddam-era laws banning unions in the public sector, and an end to the attempt to privatize Iraq's workplaces in the interests of transnational corporations.

The occupation must end, and the security of Iraq's unions and workers guaranteed. Bring the troops home now!

Hadi Salih, presente!

Harry Barnes, MP, on the Labor Friends of Iraq website:
"The terrible news that Hadi Salih, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), was murdered at his home in Baghdad last night is a tragedy for his family and friends. A great working class leader, who I was privileged to meet when I chaired a briefing at the Commons last year, has been murdered by fascist Saddam loyalists. The best tribute we can pay to this decent and honourable man is to redouble all efforts to support the IFTU and civil society in Iraq. His murder should force everyone to recognise that the so-called resistance is no friend of the labour movement and that there should be no truck with it whatsoever. All left-wingers should now urgently give active solidarity to the IFTU who have lost a leader who suffered under Saddam and lost his life in trying to build a decent society in Iraq."

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