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January 20, 2005

Obit for Murdered Iraqi Labor Leader Hadi Saleh

The Guardian has this wonderful obituary for Hadi Saleh, a man sentenced to death and hunted by Saddam Hussein, even as he would oppose the invasion of Iraq by the United States. Having covertly been a leader on behalf of labor rights in Iraq since 1980, he helped found the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU)-- which the Bush administration would militarily attack and politically undermine by retaining Saddam's anti-union laws.

It is sad that for all many pundits wistfully discuss an Iraq not divided by ethnic and religious ideology, they largely ignore the Iraqi labor movement and men and women like Hadi Saleh, who seek exactly that vision:

Hadi Saleh's commitment to trade unionism was a vital feature of his vision for a democratic, peaceful and federal Iraq, which would unite all Iraqis, regardless of their background, ethnicity or religion. For him, trade unions would be the key to achieving such unity. Thus he championed workers' rights to organise and to strike to achieve decent jobs, pay and working conditions: the basic building blocks of strong, non-sectarian trade unionism. Such a strategy remains the only way to defeat the IMF shock therapy and trans-national economic occupation, which has been imposed undemocratically on Iraqis by the occupying powers.
His murder by what appears to be the ex-security forces of the old regime doesn't fit simple versions of either the pro- or anti-war story line, so his story is largely being ignored in the mainstream news. But his death should be on the front page representing the attacks on the best hope for a non-sectarian future for Iraq.

Posted by Nathan at January 20, 2005 07:31 AM