British trade union delegation conducts successful fact-finding mission to Iraqi Kurdistan

A British trade union fact-finding delegation composed of the Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary of Unison (Britian’s largest union) and Nick Crook UNISON International Officer, Professor Mary Davis of Natfhe (the University & College Lecturers’ Union), Brian Joyce and Dave Green of the Fire Brigades Union and John Lloyd (a member of the National Union of Journalists and a writer on the Financial Times) has recently completed a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan. The delegation was accompanied by Abdullah Muhsin (IFTU) who acted as their guide and translator.
The delegation met with trade unionists in all Iraqi Kurdistan three provinces (Dohuk, Arbil and Sulymania). They also met with a delegation from the IFTU led by IFTU first Vice President, Hadi Ali and with delegations from the IFTU branches in Mosul and Kirkuk.
The delegation was able to meet politicians, media representatives and the Teachers Unions in both Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraq.
The delegation also paid homage to the grave of Masoud Al-Barzani, the national hero of the Kurdish people where Keith Sonnet delivered a televised speech.
The delegation will issue a full report soon.
26 March 2005

Iraqi electricity workers march through the streets of Baghdad against terror.

The preparatory committee of the Electricity Workers Union, an IFTU affiliate, organized a protest on Thursday 24 March 2005 against terror.
Hundreds of protesters supported by many more Iraqis gathered at al-Wazeria district in Baghdad and marched towards the Ministry of Electricity shouting “No, no to terrorism!” Once protesters reached the Electricity Ministry, they delivered a petition calling on the authority to provide security and safety for workers while carrying out their duties and to take serious steps to safeguard the wealth of the nation from criminal acts and sabotage.
IFTU executive committee
24 March 2005

General Union of Students in the Iraqi Republic (GUSIR) – Basra branch on the attack on Basra University students

Statement issued by the General Union of Students in the Iraqi Republic (GUSIR) – Basra branch
About the attack on Basra University students
For a Free Student Life .. For a Better Future!
To the student masses .. and our people in Basra governorate
After sharing with our people the joy of elections, and looking forward to laying the foundations of democracy in the new Iraq, students at Basra University got proper permission for a picnic, which is one of our basic freedoms as students. But we were shocked when armed groups stormed through Al-Andulus Park and launched an attack on students, tearing the clothes of female students, stealing gold jewellery, mobile telephones and recording equipment. This act of aggression was a blatant violation of the basic principles of Islam as well as human rights. The attackers also made unfounded accusations that are totally false.
We look forward to your support for our continuing strike until our demand is met that the perpetrators are properly punished in accordance with the norms of a state based on law. We stress the need for abolishing “the Committees for University Security and Protection”, which are run by forces that are hostile to progress. We also demand that the offices of political parties be removed from the colleges.
We all aspire to a democratic Iraq that would have nothing to do with Saddam’s regime and in no way resemble the movement of Taliban.

Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation – External relations Committee, Solidarity with Basra University Students

Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation – External relations Committee
Solidarity with Basra University Students
Condemning the Vicious Attack
Reports received from Iraq, especially press reports and statements of student organizations based in Basra, have provided details of the vicious attack on a group of students of the Engineering College in Basra University while out on a normal picnic in a local park on 15 March 2005.
An armed group, claiming to be implementing Islamic law, carried out the attack in a barbaric manner, violating basic human rights and freedoms. Students, including female students, were brutally beaten up, with personal belongings such as gold jewellery, mobile telephones and recording equipment being stolen; an act which contravenes even the most basic principles of Islam.
In a telephone interview with an Iraqi satellite TV station, Sheikh Asaad Al-Basri, a cleric who is the local representative of the group behind the attack, openly admitted responsibility for this vicious act. He attempted to justify it as being “God commandment” and in accordance with a religious edict.
While strongly condemning these blatant violations of human rights, we consider this attack a form of laying seeds threatening Iraq’ future democratic schemes. We declare our full solidarity with the victims of the attack .. with all Iraqi youth and students, as they relentlessly strive for a better future of a new Iraq.
We appeal to all friendly youth and student organizations to declare their solidarity with the Iraqi youth and students, against any violation of their basic right to social and cultural activity, to express their opinions freely and to participate in political life.
Let us act to put an end to any oppression and to attempts to use religion as cover for usurping the rights achieved by Iraqi people through their own sacrifices and struggle.
Let us unite genuine efforts for a democratic Iraq, and to safeguard the rights of youth and students, and the basic freedoms of citizens.
17 March 2005

Students strike in Basra as one student dies following attack by religious extremists

Several iraqi bloggers report that students from Basrah and Shatt Al-Arab universities in Basra City have been on all-out strike for the last three days as a reaction to the attack on 15 March by religious hardliners and Mahdi Army militiamen on students organising a field trip or a picnic at Al-Andalus park in the Al Makhal area of Basra.
The Kuwaiti arabic newspaper Al-Qabas also reported that hooded men assaulted the students with rubber cables and truncheons which resulted in severe injuries to an Armenian Christian girl, Zihoor Ashour who lost one eye because of being beaten on her head very hard with a thick stick of wood. Another student (a boy) who came to her rescue after militiamen had torn off her clothes and were beating her was shot in the head and died subsequently from his injuries.
One Iraqi email correspondent writes: “It was a tragedy. The students of all colleges are in what you can say a revolution because of this. They made many demonstrations against Al-Mahdi army and Al-Sadr demanding to remove their offices from the universities and also a group of the students went to Sayid Al-Sistani to make him talk to Al-Sadr and advise him to be sensible in his actions.”
Students say that their belongings, such as mobile phones, cameras, stereo players and loudspeakers, were stolen or smashed to pieces by the militiamen. Girl students not wearing headscarves, most of them Christian, were severely beaten and at least 20 students were kidnapped, taken to Sadr’s office in Al-Tuwaisa for ‘interrogation’ and were only released late at night.
Students also say the police and British soldiers were nearby but did not intervene.
A Sheikh As’ad Al-Basri, one of Sadr’s aides in Basrah, stated that the ‘believers’ of the Mahdi Army did what they did in an act of ‘divine intervention’ in order to punish the students for their ‘immoral and outrageous behaviour’ during the ‘holy month of Muharram, while the blood of Imam Hussein is yet to dry.’ He added that he had sent the ‘group of believers’ to observe and photograph the students, and on witnessing them playing loud music, ‘the kind they play in bars and discos’, and openly talking to female students, the ‘believers had to straighten things out’.
Thousands of students have been demonstrating in front of the Basrah Governorate building in Asharr for the last three days, shouting ‘No to political Islam’, ‘No to the new tyranny’ and ‘No to Sadr’. The police (who are loyal to Da’wa in Basrah) reportedly attacked the students in order to disperse the demonstrations.
One iraqi blogger writes: “The Governor of Basrah appeared on Fayhaa TV on Sunday 20 March claiming that problems with Sadr’s office had been resolved peacefully. The Governor (who is a member of Da’wa) apparently met with representatives from Sadr’s office under the mediation of Shia Islamic parties in Basrah (Da’wa, SCIRI, Fadheela, Thar Allah) and it appears that Sadr’s aides agreed to ‘punish the guilty parties under a special religious court that would convene for this purpose’ and to compensate the students and to return all stolen items to the students. The Governor claimed to have met with the family of another Christian girl who was badly injured, ‘generously’ offering her free treatment in any country she chooses.
“No mention of the rule of law here. No involvement of Basrah’s civil courts at all. The whole incident was mopped up in a tribal-religious meeting, but this time at the Governorate level. The guilty parties were sinisterly assigned the job of punishing themselves. A great lesson in democracy. But then, no one was punished for the executions and torture at religious courts in Najaf the last time anyway.
“What is even worse, the official statement from Sadr’s office in Basrah. It asks for the names of the students that were ‘allegedly mistreated’ in order to compensate them. And listen to this; ‘Sadr’s office in Basrah offers to provide the universities of Basrah with groups to protect the students in their future field trips.’ This following Sheikh As’ad Al-Basri’s fiery statements that the students had ‘disobeyed his orders, and the stick was for those who disobeyed,’ alasa limen asa. He also alleged that the students had shouted ‘No to Islam’ in their demonstrations this week, insolently adding that the students should be punished for their ‘blasphemy’.
“The Governor literally appointed Sadr’s office as judge, witness and law-enforcer. We might even say that the Sadrists were in fact rewarded for their vile act…
“The students of Basra have made their demands clear; bringing the Sadrist militiamen to a public trial in the presence of representatives from Basrah’s student groups, banning Islamist armed groups from entering campus or running Islamist student groups, and the dissolution of the infamous ‘Security Committee’ which operates in most of Basra’s colleges, and which is reminiscient of the Ba’ath’s ‘University Security’ but taking a Shi’ite Islamic appearance instead of a fascist nationalistic one.
“Student groups from Baghdad, Arbil and Suleimaniya have sent statements of support to Basra. Incidentally, four students were injured in Suleimaniya during demonstrations that have been taking place for the second week in row against the privatisation of educational institutions in the Kurdish region.
“Still no condemnation from the the Hawza, when the attack against the students was done in its name.”

Students march against outrage by religious hardliners in Basra

Students march against outrage by religious hardliners in Basra
On 15 March in Basra, a group of students (both male and female) from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Basra organised a day trip to one of Basra’s Parks in the Al Makhal area of the city.
Once in the park, the students were attacked by a mob of Islamist hardliners who told the students that such gatherings of young men and women are “an un-Islamic practice”. The mob severely beat the students and shaved off one of the woman student’s hair as a punishment in a practice eerily reminiscent of the atrocities carried out against women in neighbouring countries. 15 students were taken to hospital as a result of the brutal attack where they are still recovering.
The incident happened while local police were looking on. 12 police cars were reportedly at the scene while the attack was taking place.
This brutal outrage must be condemned as an attack upon the Iraqi people’s civil liberties. Such repression should and must not be allowed to happen in a democratic Iraq.
0n 16 March as a reaction to the unprovoked attacked thousands of students (both male and female) from Basra’s University marched in protest and in defiance of the attackers.
Students from all faculties of Basra University took part in the demonstration yesterday, condemning the attack. They carried banners with the slogan “No to Terrorism”.
The Students and civil society organizations in Basra are calling on the local and national authorities to bring to justice the culprits.
Some of the students who were taken to hospitals were in a serious condition.

Unemployment Pay set in Iraq

The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs conceded recently a new national rate of unemployment pay. The Ministry has set the new rate at 130 000 Iraqi Dinars per month for all those registered with the Ministry’s official employment centres.
The IFTU has met with officials from the Ministry and has consistently demanded that clear and transparent systems are implemented by the Ministry for claiming and receiving unemployment pay and that a national standard rate is published.
The IFTU continues to campaign for jobs for Iraqi workers and to raise the rate of unemployment pay.

130 الف دينار مخصصات شهرية مقطوعة للعاطلين

130 الف دينار مخصصات شهرية مقطوعة للعاطلين
قررت وزارة العمل والشؤون الاجتماعية صرف مخصصات شهرية مقطوعة مقدارها (130) الف دينار للعاطلين عن العمل المسجلين في مكاتب التشغيل التابعة لها ولحين توفر فرصة العمل المناسبة لهم من قبل الوزارة. وقالت السيدة ليلى عبد اللطيف محمد وزيرة العمل والشؤون انه تم وضع خطة جديدة للحد من ظاهرة تفشي البطالة وذلك بتشغيل اكبر عدد ممكن من العاطلين مشيرة أن الخطة تتضمن تشغيل (627)الف منهم بعد ادخالهم دورات مهنية وتطويرية لاكسابهم المهارات الفنية والحرفية.
مبينة ان الوزارة قامت بتشغيل اكثر من (224) الف عاطل كما منحت (311) عاطلاً فرصة الحصول على رواتب تساوي ما يتقاضون في القطاع الخاص مدة ستة اشهر.واضافت ان الوزارة تسعى إلى حصر تشغيل العاطلين بمركز الوزارة بعد انتشار عدة مكاتب اهلية للتشغيل وهي وهمية وغير مجازة قانونياً وتقوم باستغلال المواطنين وتمارس عمليات النصب والاحتيال عليهم مؤكدة ضرورة ان يكون هناك قانون واجراءات صارمة تضع حداً لتأسيس وممارسات هذه المكاتب.من جانب آخر..باشرت الوزارة بالتعاون مع اجهزة وزارة الداخلية بحملة لجمع المتسولين المنتشرين في شوارع وساحات بغداد والمحافظات وايوائهم في دور الرعاية الاجتماعية التابعة لها.وذكر مصدر في الوزارة ان الحملة ستستمر بعد ان بلغ اعداد المتسولين نسباً كبيرة لا تعكس حالة العراق الجديد. وتوفير سبل الرعاية الاجتماعية والصحية وفرص العمل للجميع . مشيراً إلى ان بعض المتسولين اتخذ ذلك مهنة له مما يتطلب وضع اجراءات فاعلة للحد من تلك الظاهرة الشاذة..يشار إلى ان الوزارة قد انجزت تشييد احدى بنايات مجمع رعاية الايتام والمسنين في منطقة الاعظمية والمخصصة لايواء المسنين فاقدي الرعاية الأسرية وقد شمل المبنى الجديد الذي يسع 150 مستفيداً على اجنحة للرعاية الصحية والاجتماعية وتأمين الحياة الكريمة.وكانت الوزارة قد قدرت تكاليف انشاء ابنية المجمع بنحو سبعة مليارات و(500) مليون دينار.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) reports on recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan

Brian Joyce, a member of the National Executive Commitee of the Fire Brigades Union provides an account of a recent trade union visit to Iraqi Kurdistan by his union to oversee delivery of 1250 sets of fire kit sent by the FBU. The FBU has been at the forefront of practical solidarity with the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).

Continue reading Fire Brigades Union (FBU) reports on recent visit to Iraqi Kurdistan

Campaign for Peace and Democracy: Opponents of the occupation condemn attacks on Iraqi trade unionists

US Labor Against the War are publicising the following Appeal Statement launched following the brutal murder of Hadi Saleh (IFTU International Secretary) in Baghdad earlier this year.
Campaign for Peace and Democracy Statement Condemning Attacks on Iraqi Trade Unionists
Circulation began January 23, 2005. Please sign on.
Please join Stanley Aronowitz, Medea Benjamin, Norman Birnbaum, Eileen Boris, Carl Bromley, Noam Chomsky, Joshua Cohen, Marc Cooper, Richard Deats, Daniel Ellsberg, Carlos Espinosa, Gertrude Ezorsky, Barry Finger, Barbara Garson, Jill Godmilow, Linda Gordon, Gary Groth, Mina Hamilton, Thomas Harrison, Doug Henwood, Michael Hirsch, Adam Hochschild, Allen Hunter, Doug Ireland, Joanne Landy, Assaf Kfoury, Hany Khalil, Jesse Lemisch, John Leonard, Sue Leonard, Mark LeVine, Nelson Lichtenstein, Betty Reid Mandell, Marvin Mandell, David McReynolds, Timothy Mitchell, David Newby, Molly Nolan, David Oakford, Mike Parker, Glenn Perusek, Frances Fox Piven, Katha Pollitt, Nancy Romer, Ruth Rosen, Matthew Rothschild, Jennifer Scarlott, Jay Schaffner, Jason Schulman, Lynne Schwartz, Stephen Shalom, Sunil Sharma, Adam Shatz, Alan Sokal, Chris Toensing, Howard Wallace, Juanita Webster, Immanuel Wallerstein, Lois Weiner, Naomi Weisstein, Reginald Wilson, John Womack, Jr., Kent Worcester, and others in signing this statement.
CPD’s past statements have been widely publicized, and with your help we will also aim to publicize this statement as broadly as possible.
Thank you,
Joanne Landy, Thomas Harrison, Jennifer Scarlott, Co-Directors, CPD
“We, who opposed the U.S.-led war on Iraq and who call for an immediate end to the occupation of that country, are appalled by the torture and assassination in Baghdad on January 4, 2005 of Hadi Salih, International Officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU). There are also disturbing reports of intimidation, death threats and murders targeting other IFTU members, trade unionists in general, and political activists.”
“We utterly condemn the assassination of Hadi Salih. We call upon all sides in the conflict in Iraq to respect the rights of non-combatants as required by international law and to recognize the rights of workers to organize freely, without threat or harm, in trade unions of their own choosing in accordance with International Labor Organization (ILO) standards.”
“We believe that the physical targeting of trade unionists is in no way politically or morally acceptable, even though we disagree strongly with the IFTU’s support of UN Resolution 1546, which supports the U.S. military presence in Iraq. This resolution has been used by the Bush Administration to justify keeping U.S. troops in the country.”
“We also oppose the victory of those elements of the resistance whose agenda is to impose a repressive, authoritarian regime on the Iraqi people, whether that regime is Baathist or theocratic-fundamentalist. We do not know whether such authoritarian elements have gained decisive control over the resistance to the U.S. forces and their Iraqi and international allies. We do know, however, that the continuing occupation of Iraq, which grows more brutal with every passing day, only strengthens these elements, increases their influence over the resistance and makes their ultimate victory more likely.”
“We further oppose the occupation because it is part and parcel of an imperial U.S. foreign policy that shores up undemocratic regimes like those of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, gives one-sided support to Israel against the Palestinians, and promotes unjust, inequitable economic policies throughout the world. Not only in Iraq but throughout the Middle East and globally U.S. foreign and military policy either directly or indirectly subverts freedom and democracy.”
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