A response to a widely-circulated letter by Iraqi exile leftist Sami Ramadani about the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, and the text of the original letter.
Sami Ramadani, an Iraqi leftist living in Britain, has written a partial defence [below] of the shouting-down at the European Social Forum (ESF) of Subhi al Mashadani, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).
Interview by the French working-class-solidarity campaign Solidarité Irak with Salim Karim, a member of the Communist Union of Iraq. (French original, and English translation by AWL).
English translation of the interview:
Solidarité Irak: When was your organisation established?
In 1998, our organisation was created by several comrades, of which some had broken from the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq, while others were communist militants.
SI: How do you politically define your organisation?
Statement to announce the founding of the "Leftist Worker-communist Party of Iraq"
The Lancet, a respected British medical journal, reports that the US and coalition forces (but mainly the US Air Force) has killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians since the fall of Saddam on April 9, 2003.
Comment from the US academic Juan Cole: Previous estimates for civilian deaths since the beginning of the war ranged up to 16,000, with the number of Iraqi troops killed during the war itself put at about 6,000.
Emergency Demonstration Against the Looming Attacks on Iraq's Cities. Sunday 7 November. And download petition against the attacks.
Demonstration: meet 2pm, Parliament Square, Sunday 7 November.
Come and make your protest in your own way!
By Martin Thomas
The Socialist Workers Party, a major force in the organisation both of the European Social Forum and of the Stop The War Coalition, has condemned the shouting-down of Subhi al Mashadani, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, at the ESF on 15 October.
According to Socialist Worker (16 October): “A couple of dozen people, with no connection to the anti-war movement, broke up the meeting through barracking and intimidation. They ignored appeals from, and a vote by, over 2,000 people in the audience for the meeting to take place”.
Alex Gordon, a member of the RMT rail union who visited Iraq in October 2003 and has been active in building support for the Iraqi unions, talked to Solidarity about the shouting-down of Subhi al Mashadani.
“…One must of course refute the lies put about by the SWP and George Galloway that the IFTU is a stooge organisation. That’s why they didn’t want Subhi al Mashadani to speak — because they would have refuted those lies by talking about disputes the IFTU is engaged in with employers, and problems it is having with the occupation authorities.
The US has asked the British government to send you north to free up forces for another offensive against Falluja. I’m writing to ask you to refuse any orders to deploy to Baghdad or other areas currently under US control.
I was an ambulance volunteer in Falluja during the April siege. I went because my friend Salam, a doctor, said US troops were stopping medical supplies getting in, cut off water, food, electricity, and had closed down the main hospital and controlled the road to the smaller one with snipers.
Support the Basra oil union and a Workers' Conference
Support the Basra Oil Union!
The Southern Oil Company Trade Union stresses its autonomy and independence from any political parties and agendas.
The Basra Oil Union represents more than 30,000 oil and gas sector workers in the British-occupied south.
Jane Ashworth (letters, Solidarity 3/59) complains about my comment on the “tilt... towards pro-war and pro-occupation elements in the labour movement” of the new and still somewhat mysterious “Labour Friends of Iraq” group.
But check out its website. A speech by Jack Straw gets pride of place.
Amidst the brutality of occupied Iraq, a new labour movement is growing - independent trade unions, unemployed movements, women's organisations, and working-class political parties.In oilfields, oil refineries, railways and factories, workers have organised trade unions and won victories by removing Ba'thist managers or improving wages.
Leaflet issued at the European Social Forum, 16 October 2004.
LAST NIGHT, Friday 15 October, Subhi al Mashadani, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, was shouted down and prevented from speaking.
He was a scheduled speaker in the plenary, "End the Occupation of Iraq". Before the plenary started, some dozens of people tried to rush the platform and force him off. When his turn came to speak, he was unable to get himself heard beyond yelling through the microphone, "I do not support the occupation".
The officers of the Stop The War Coalition have issued a statement denouncing the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (pictured), which was printed in the Morning Star of 11 October 2004. Here are the statement and a reply.
Iraq has a growing new labour movement — independent trade unions, unemployed movements, women’s organisations, and working-class political parties.
In oilfields, oil refineries, the railways, factories, and elsewhere, workers have organised trade unions and sometimes won victories by removing Ba’thist managers or improving wages.
Different strands in the Iraqi labour movement have sharp political differences between themselves. But all the main groups agree on two points:
From the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq
In one of the public health sectors in the city of Mosul, the Islamists have committed several misogynist crimes, in their thirst for blood and hatred for women.
By a delegate to Labour Party conference
At this year’s Labour Party conference there were major debates on rail renationalisation and extending council housing. Both arose from “minority reports” coming out of the National Policy Forum (NPF).
Congratulations to the sharp-eyed Colin Foster for spotting the existence of the Labour Friends of Iraq (LFIQ) (Solidarity, September). There was indeed a LFIQ website which we withdrew after only a few days. As Colin says, we promise to be back online soon at labourfriendsofiraq.org.uk, and may even be so by the time of your publication. But there Colin’s forensic skills end.
He is wrong about the ownership of the successful fringe meeting at Party Conference that attracted more than 100 delegates.
See the Iraq Workers' Solidarity Group website.
IRAQ AND US WORLD POLICY
Additional motion to update to 17/04/04
1. We condemn the US military action at Fallujah and elsewhere, which has resulted in many deaths - in Fallujah 600-700, many of them non-combatants.
At this year's Labour Party Conference there was a collective amnesia about the split in the party on the issue of the War in Iraq. Delegates who opposed the war got up to say that we must all leave this behind and all pull together to rebuild Iraq. Unions that had opposed the war agreed an NEC Statement, carried overwhelmingly, that firmly shut away the destabilising aspects of Blair's decision to go to war on Iraq. A critical motion that called for a date to be set for an early withdrawl of troops was defeated approx 80% to 20%, with the vote in the Union section even higher: 90% to 10%.
Following its congress decision on 13-16 September 2004, the TUC has launched an Aid Appeal for Iraq to support Iraqi trade unions. You can donate online.
By Colin Foster
The TUC congress on 13–16 September passed a motion from the lecturers’ union NATFHE committing it to “maintain and strengthen contact with Iraqi trade unionists, in particular the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) [and] initiate, together with affiliated trade unions, a solidarity committee to liaise with, and give practical support to, the trade union movement in Iraq”.
The Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) — that section of it around Hamid Taghvaee and Azar Majedi — held a congress on 18–19 September in Germany to rally its forces against a recent split.
The other section, led by Koorosh Modaresi, held a meeting the same weekend in England.
About 300 attended the congress in Germany. 485 of the WPI’s members had registered for the conference, and another 203 sent messages of support.
A recent interview given by Yanar Mohammed of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq to a radio and TV station in New York.
AMY GOODMAN: We are joined right now by Yanar Mohammed. She is director of the Organization of Women's Freedom, a group that works to stop atrocities against Iraqi women. One of the organization's main projects is the development of a battered women's shelter in Baghdad to protect women who are fleeing from violence and “honor killings.” Also the editor-in-chief of The Equality newspaper. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Yanar.
Seventy-one per cent of people in Britain now want the government to set a date to withdraw British troops from Iraq.
From the website of Juan Cole, a US expert on Iraq (5 September).
AP reports: "In Baghdad... members of Iraq's 100-member transitional assembly, known as the Iraqi Council, gathered for a meeting... Delegates elected four vice chairmen of the National Council, which is intended to act as a watchdog over the interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi until the election".
Petition produced by Jubilee Iraq to demand that the Iraqi people should not have to pay the debt run up by Saddam Hussein in order to finance his wars, his palaces, and his secret police.
Details of a solidarity fund which has already raised $14,000 for the new trade unions in Iraq. This fund's money is allocated 50% to the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, 50% to the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions of Iraq.
No Sweat leaflet calling for support for the new Iraqi labour movement.
Petition calling for support for the new Iraqi labour movement.