Left:Hadi Saleh, IFTU International Secretary, assassinated 4th January 2005. For full coverage of the global trade union response to the killing of Hadi Saleh, click here.
Right:Ali Hassan Abd, martyred Iraqi trade unionist and member of the Oil and Gas Workers' Union. Our brother was assassinated on Friday 18th February 2005 by terrorist extremists while returning with his children to his home in al-Dorah District, close to the Al-Dorah Oil Refinery in Baghdad. The IFTU wishes to express our gratitude to all the labour movement and progressive, internationalist forces who continue to show solidarity with Iraqi workers and trade unionists. For information on the global trade union campaign that helped to win the release of Talib Khadim Al-Tayee, the kidnapped President of the Iraqi Mechanics', Metalworkers' & Printing Union click here.
NOTE: THE FOLLOWING OBITUARY OF HADI SALEH IS WRITTEN BY FALEH ABDEL JABAR, ONE OF IRAQ'S MOST PROMINENT CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGISTS. HE SAID IN A NOTE SENT TO THE IFTU THAT HE IS NOT A WORKER BUT WANTS TO JOIN THE FEDERATION TO SHOW HIS SUPPORT AND RESPECT FOR HADI'S VISION FOR STRONG, INDEPENDENT AND FREE TRADE UNIONS.
The Macabre Death of Hadi Saleh
Faleh A. Jabar.
I recall a prophetic line of verse that roughly reads: My life is a long row of candles; warm, lively candles are my coming days; consumed and burnt are those of bygone days; and I would not turn back lest I see the horrible row of burnt candles growing larger and larger. Substitute graves for candles. I had few tombs in my memory in exile; upon my return to Baghdad, they developed into a massive cemetery. I could not realize how prolific wars and tyranny are in this macabre enterprise that makes life seem so fragile, so accidental. The last new grave was that of my friend and colleague, the unionist, Hadi Saleh (1949-2005).
A group of five, most probably, ex-security men, broke into his house in Baghdad, waited for him in the dark and preyed on him the moment he stepped in. They killed three times: first they strangled him with a wire; second they riddled his body with bullets; lastly they burnt him. This was not an ordinary killing. Unlike show beheadings that mark ‘resistance’ in Iraq, this was a triple vengeance: in the 1970s Saleh was condemned to death for clandestine unionism, he was amnestied years later, now the Ba’ath security men working in clandestine for restoration reneged on their amnesty.
They also took vengeance for the successes Saleh achieved in rebuilding trade unions (The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, IFTU) that stand now at some 200,000 membership, a formidable democratic social movement defying all sorts of fundamentalist, communal or other parochial identities. Lastly, they wanted to hush him and his colleagues who pursue a twin line of peaceful action for the restitution of Iraq’s sovereignty and building an all-inclusive, federal democracy.
Perhaps he was born with a smile; and simply forgot it was there. I never saw him appearing without that innocent grin. We rubbed shoulders at the ICP printing house in Baghdad that ran the only non-governmental publications in the 1970s. He was a printing worker, and later, an expert, I was a fledgling writer. My first book appeared there. He was on the production line ready with a helping hand. In exile in Beirut and Damascus, we worked on a daily basis to produce the ICP’s monthly, al-Thaqafa al-Jadida.
After his return from Sweden in 2003 with his wife Corea and two kids, the offices of the Iraqi unions were raided by the coalition forces for no apparent reason. I was worried about him. Following the macabre series of kidnapping and beheadings in 2004, my worries grew even sharper, and he had this reassurance to offer at our last encounter in Baghdad in November 2004: ‘I am a worker and unionist not a politician, who on earth would wish to target me. They are killing your lot, writers and intellectuals‘.
I wish he were right. He was on the hit list by the very murderers who raped the nation for thirty odd years and who reemerged now with the gold they dug from the Central Bank, their family networks and the criminals of the underworld, putting a false mantle of ‘resistance’.
Millions of Iraqis are resisting the occupation peaceably. Their collective wisdom is that restitution of sovereignty should go hand in hand with popular mandate, and block restoration. Hadi Saleh’s death is a wake-up call for all those who rightly opposed the war, but wrongly support post-conflict violence. The millions of Iraqis who defied death to vote reiterated Saleh’s message and sacrifice for those who may see in bombing utilities, gas stations, union offices, voters and voting stations as ‘anti-imperialist’ endeavours. Skeptics should ask at least one question: if insurgents genuinely enjoy massive popular support, as they seem to claim, why do they fear the ballot?
The leading Egyptian newspaper 'Al-Wafd', published a tribute on 31 January 2005 to Hadi Saleh, the International Secretary of the IFTU who was brutally murdered in his home by former Saddam loyalists. The publication of this fulsome tribute to the life of Hadi is extremely significant in one of the leading daily Arabic broadsheets and represents a long-overdue acknowledgement of the Iraqi people's struggle for democracy, human rights and self-determination and against dictatorship and occupation. Unfortunately the article is not published in English, but Arabic readers may access it online here.
National Labor Relations Board Union
26 Federal Plaza, Room 3614
New York, New York 10278-0104
Telephone: (212) 26
Fax: (212) 264-8427
March 2, 2005
Dear Mr. Mushin,
The members of Local 2 of the National Labor Relations Board Union offer their sincere condolences to the family and union brothers and sisters of Hadi Saleh. His death is a loss to all fighters for unionism and democracy.
Sincerely and fraternally yours,
Sent 2 march 2005
فالح عبدالجبار الحياة 2005/01/23
تعرفت على العنف, أول مرة, على الورق. لا يزال كتاب فرانز فانون "معذبو الأرض" بين كتب اخرى, تذكرة مفيدة. قدّم لنا الكتاب صورة عن دورة تاريخية للعنف بعيني طبيب نفساني, وزنجي - فرنسي, قام بمعالجات سريرية للظاهرة.
عند فانون القتل, وهو اجلى مظاهر العنف, يجري في دورة مكتملة: القتل المستبطن عند الضحايا العاجزين, فالقتل العشوائي بين الضحايا انفسهم, ثم القتل السياسي الموجه نحو الآخر (الأوروبي) في نوع من تفريغ سيكولوجي للعنف المستبطن, وهو ضرب من التنظيف الموازن, ان صح التعبير. قدم لنا فانون هذه الدورة بمثابة قدر وبمثابة خلاص. كانت الدورة محكمة, مترابطة, بل منطقية. تلك هي تجربة الجزائر.
مرة ثانية, تعرفت على العنف على الورق ايضاً, في نصوص تسجيلية من حرب فيتنام, ومن الفيتناميين الثوريين انفسهم. بحسب منطوق فانون, كان هؤلاء يلجون المرحلة الاخيرة, اي عنف التطهّر, تلك القناة التي تفرغ الخزين الجواني لرمي الثفالات الى البرّاني. لكن لأصحاب التجربة كان الوضع معاكساً تماماً. فبعد الفراغ من اطلاق العنف الحبيس, تحولت دورة القتل ذاتها, عند كثرة الى روتين يومي, حتى نمت إلفة غريبة مع هذا الروتين, بقوة التكرار, بل غدت حاجة, نوع من إدمان انسلخ عن حوافزه الاولى, اياً كانت درجة شرعيتها.
وتجد هذا الادمان نفسه عند قدامى المحاربين, الذين يقضون سحابة نهاراتهم الاخيرة متشبثين بأخوة المحاربين الكونية التي تعمدت بالدم, بلسماً يخفف عنهم توترات أرواحهم المنهكة. فهذه الارواح تتشوق الى توترات الحرب, ولا تزال ثفالاتها تبهظ ارواحهم التي لا تستطيع ان تتحمل سكينة المدنية وسكونها. فاللاعنف, عندهم, هو اللاحياة. فلسفة الوجود في نظرهم تقوم في اختزال بسيط للقتل.
في الحرب, يقولون, نحن لا نرتكب جريمة قتل (MURDER), بل نفتك (KILL) بالآخر. ويضيفون: نحن لا نريد ان نموت في سبيل وطن, بل نريد للآخر ان يموت في سبيل وطنه.
هذا الانموذج من القاتل - المحترف, القاتل - المدمن, القاتل - "الشرعي", يعاد انتاجه على نطاق واسع ويومي. وتشترك في اعادة الانتاج ثلة من الاصناف, كتبة ووعاظ, سياسيون واعلاميون, جهلة ومتعلمون, من كل شاكلة ولون. اكتب هذا وقد امتلأت ذاكرتي بالمقابر, كان آخرها قبر صديق يدعى هادي صالح, نقابي يتحدر من الناصرية, أسمر, نحيف, يحمل بسمة دائمة, وفكرة واحدة: النقابة الحرة. وبفكرته هذه كان شذوذاً في عالم البعث العراقي, حيث الدولة التوتاليتارية, الماسكة بتلابيب الرائح والغادي, تربأ بأي فكرة خارج سيطرتها. فلا حرية سوى حريتها, ولا وجود سوى وجودها.
لم أفاجأ بقتله, فالخطف والقتل على الرأي والهوية هما (ولن اقول صارا) من تراث الدولة البعثية, وهو كما نرى تراث شمولي لا يزال ماثلاً, معمّداً بأسماء اخرى. ولم أفاجأ بأسلوب قتله. فقد كان هذا مجرد صفحة واحدة في مجلد القسوة البعثي - الاصولي.
زمرة من خمسة او اكثر اقتحموا دارته في بغداد: عصبوا عينيه, قيّدوا يديه وراء ظهره, وقيدوا قدميه. بعد هذا خنقوه بسلك معدني. لم يكتفوا بمشهد الشنق (أفلت هادي من حكم صدر عليه بالاعدام لممارسته العمل النقابي السري عام 1969), فأطلقوا زخات من الرصاص على جسده. وفي الموجة الثالثة من الحيوانية الكاسرة أحرقوا جسده.
ثلاثة اعدامات في جسد واحد, في آن واحد. طويت حزني عليه وعلى اصلاحه: اعادة تأسيس النقابات في العراق. ومع انني لست عاملاً ولا نقابياً, بل كاتب فردي حريص على بقاء فرديته, وجدتني مسوقاً بهذا الغضب العارم على اصحاب العباءة والخنجر, لأن ارسل برقية الى النقابة ألتمس فيها قبولي عضواً مؤازراً, لا لشيء إلا لأشهر محبتي للضحية. غير ان هذه الفاصلة الصغيرة من الأسى الذاتي, لن تعفيني, او تعفينا, من معاينة دورة العنف الجهنمية في العراق قبل الحروب, خلال الحروب, وبعد الحروب.
ثمة حلف شبه معلن بين ثلاث شخصيات غير درامية: القاتل المأجور, رجل الاستخبارات البعثي, والأصولي المتقد ورعاً. تجتمع في هذه الشخصيات ميول واحدة للابادة التي تتركز في معظمها على العراقيين.
القاتل الأجير في عراق اليوم هو في الاغلب الأعم جندي سابق, تعلم فن القتل, ومارسه بلا قيد على جبهات القتال, وعاد الى الحياة المدنية معدماً, بلا عمل, بلا أمل, بلا طائل. بحسب الارقام الرسمية بلغ عدد هؤلاء نحو 31 ألفاً, كانوا يقضون أحكاماً بالسجن المؤبد, او ينتظرون دورهم لارتقاء منصة الاعدام. أُخلي سبيل هؤلاء عشية الغزو, وعادوا الى المدينة في مافيات تملأ مساحات العالم السفلي.
في اعترافات أحدهم, التعاقد على الاغتيال مربح. تتولى المافيا الاختطاف, تقبض الثمن, وتسلم الخطيفة جثة هامدة. المقاول الاصولي يضيف لمساته: يبتر الرأس ويصور القتيل ويبث الصور على شبكة الانترنت, او يطبعها ويسلم الصور لثلة من أطفال تركوا مقاعد التلمذة ليعتاشوا على المهنة الجديدة: بيع الصور للجمهور! اما رجل الاستخبارات, فيترك لنا بطاقته الخاصة. بحسب الافلام الوثائقية المتبقية, كان جهاز الاستخبارات القديم يقوم, على غرار فرق الأس أس النازية, بتجريب أشكال شتى من الاعدام, بينها ما يشبه المشهد الختامي في "محاكمة" كافكا: الضحية (شاب في العشرين على الاغلب) تقف في اخدود على كتف تلة, وهو مقيد اليدين, يأتي المنفذ (لا نرى منه سوى قفاه) ليربطه بجهاز تفجير عبوة ناسفة حزمت على الخصر. تبتعد عدسة الكاميرا, يكبس اصبع على الزر, ويتطاير الضحية اشلاء.
في كل مشاهد الاعدام هذه, وغيرها, يتلذذ المنفذ بايقاع اقسى آيات العذاب, واستكشاف اشكال جديدة من التعذيب, شأن مدمن يبحث عن مخدر اقوى فعلاً. وأعجب ما في هذه الوثائق تلك الاستكانة وذلك الصمت اللذان يبدوان على الضحية. وأخيراً ثمة الاصولي الورع. يعرف البغداديون هؤلاء الآتين في السيارات المفخخة, من صرخاتهم. فقبل لحظات من التفجير الانتحاري يطلق السائق الاصولي صيحات التكبير في صوت يشي بخليط من ارتعاشات الخوف والرهبة. الواقع ان هذا التكبير المرتجف أقرب الى الهلع منه الى الاقدام. مرة خاب فأل الانتحاري ولم تنفجر العبوة, فهرب من السيارة المفخخة الى حارة قريبة. طارده المارة وأوسعوه ضرباً قبل ان تنقذه الشرطة من غضب الجمهور. كان مذعوراً من رأسه حتى أخمص قدميه.
يحلم هذا الاصولي بالصعود من بين حطام السيارة وأشلاء ضحاياه الى الفردوس, لينعم بأحضان حورية يفتقدها في بؤس حياته الارضية. الواعظ يعده بهذه الخاتمة, والفتاوى تؤكد له هذا المآل, على رغم ان السؤال الحارق هو إن كان المفتي عالماً بالغيب, او إن كان هو نفسه قادراً على ان يضمن لنفسه شبراً في الجنة.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The assassination of prominent union organizer Hadi Saleh in Iraq shows just how difficult the establishment of a free and democratic Iraq will be. Union organizers and other progressive Iraqis face both deadly Baathist insurgents, who likely killed Saleh, and U.S. occupiers intent on privatizing Iraq's state-owned factories. PNS associate editor David Bacon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a photographer and writer specializing in labor issues. He visited Iraq in October 2003.
BY DAVID BACON, PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE
When they came for Hadi Saleh, they found him at home in Baghdad with his family. First, they bound his hands and feet with wire. Then they tortured him, cutting him with a knife. He died of strangulation, and before fleeing, his assailants pumped bullets into his dead body.
No group claimed credit for the Jan. 4 assassination. But for many Iraqis, the manner of his death was a signature.
In 1969, when Saleh was only 20 years old, sentenced to death in a Baathist prison, such murderous tactics were already becoming well known. For the next 30-plus years the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein's secret police, used them against Saleh's friends and coworkers. In early January in Baghdad, killers intent on sending the same bloody message finally visited these horrors on him.
Iraq has never been a very safe place for trade unionists, socialists or democratic-minded people. Iraqi progressives seemed to be on top briefly in 1958, when they finally threw out King Faisal II. For a few years, organizing unions and breaking up the big estates were not just dreams, but government policy. Oil was nationalized, and the revenue used to build universities, factories and hospitals.
That vision of Iraq shaped Saleh's generation of political activists, and still does today. For Americans, who know little of Iraqi history, that vision is unknown. Mainstream U.S. media did not report his death.
Thirty-five years ago, Saleh's dangerous notions led to his being arrested, accused of being a trade unionist and a red. Narrowly escaping execution, he spent five years in prison. On his release he joined many of his compatriots in exile, where he lived for over 30 years.
When Saddam Hussein finally fell, Saleh and his friends returned to reorganize the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU). He became its international secretary. Despite a brutal U.S. military occupation, the IFTU began seeking ways to turn into reality that old dream of a progressive Iraq.
Remarkably, the group has been very successful at organizing new unions, which workers need as never before. A study by the economics faculty of Baghdad University last fall puts unemployment at 70 percent. Wages were frozen by the occupation authorities at $60 a month. First U.S. administrator Paul Bremer, and now Iyad Allawi, installed as president by the United States and the British, seek to privatize Iraq's big state-owned factories, which workers fear will lead to even further job losses. In September 2003, Bremer issued Order #39, permitting 100 percent foreign ownership of businesses, except for the oil industry, and allowing repatriation of profits. Bremer appointee Tom Foley, a Bush fund-raiser, drew up lists of state enterprises to be sold off.
In two years the IFTU has organized 12 national unions for different industries, and successfully challenged the occupation's low-wage regime. But success has had its cost. Saleh's murder is the latest in a series of attacks on workers and unions in response to their increasing activity. Last November, armed insurgents attacked freight trains, killing four workers. Other workers were kidnapped and beaten a month later. Teachers have also been murdered. They say they're being blamed for helping the occupation by doing their jobs, although they perform no military function.
Attacks come from U.S. troops and the Iraqi government as well. U.S. soldiers threw the Transport and Communication unionists out of their office in the Baghdad's central bus station in December 2003, and arrested members of the IFTU executive board. Last fall, after textile workers in the city of Kut struck over low pay, the factory manager and city governor called out the Iraqi National Guard, who fired on them. Four were wounded, and another 11 arrested.
Saleh's murderers had two objectives in making him a bloody example. For the Baathists among the insurgents, the growth of unions and organizations of civil society, from women's groups to political parties, is a dangerous deviation. Their hopes of returning to power rest on a military defeat for the United States, without a corresponding development of popular, progressive organizations that could govern a post-occupation Iraq.
Trying to stop those organizations from using the elections to organize a support base is a second objective.
None of Iraq's new unions support the armed resistance, nor do most other organizations of Iraqi civil society. But even progressive Iraqis disagree about the elections. Some boycott the process as a charade organized by the occupation. Other parties, from the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), to which Saleh belonged, to the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq of Shiite Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, see the elections as a vehicle for winning power. In exile, the ICP condemned the war and U.S. invasion, but when the occupation started it joined the Governing Council. Two of its members are currently ministers in the Allawi government.
While some parts of Iraqi civil society and the Bush administration might share a desire for elections, they have very different goals in mind. For some on the Iraqi left, once the occupation is gone, a mass-based political party with a radical program could win the actual power to implement it.
Iraqi civil society -- unions, women's and professional organizations and left-wing parties -- are trying to grow in a political space that is rapidly shrinking. The armed resistance doesn't want them around. And despite talk of democracy, the Bush administration would doubtlessly prefer another dependable dictator than popular resistance to the free-market plan. Furthermore, the longer the occupation lasts, the more violence skyrockets and the harder it is for workers to join a union, much less demonstrate and protest.
Another IFTU leader, Abdullah Muhsen, remembered Saleh's vision: "a democratic, peaceful and federal Iraq, which would unite all Iraqis, regardless of their background, ethnicity or religion ... workers' rights to organize and to strike to achieve decent jobs, pay and working conditions ... a defeat for IMF shock therapy and economic occupation, imposed on us by the occupying powers."
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Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU)
January 24th, 2005
SUD-rail is a french trade union federation of railworkers. We would like to send you the support from SUD-rail federation in your struggle, especially after the murder of your international secretary, Hadi Saleh. We send to Hadi Saleh's family and to your organisation our solidarity.
We know that you will continue the struggle to develop free trade union and organisations against Capitalism and one of its weapon: Imperialism which means in Iraq, occupation just as you did fight against the Saddam Hussein's dictatorship.
By the way SUD-rail federation also certainly support your struggle to organise workers for better situations, for better working conditions and better salaries in jobs.
The murder of Hadi Saleh is unbearable. Once against, SUD-rail federation send you its solidarity to your Organisation.
For SUD-rail unions federation,
The January meeting of Cambridge Trades Union Council (CTUC) passed the following motion:
"Cambridge Trades Council condemns the murder of Iraqi trade unionist Hadi Salih, the murderers of Hadi Salih, and the apologists for the murder and murderers of Hadi Salih."
"Cambridge Trades Council resolves to produce and circulate a further leaflet calling for support for Iraqi trade unionists which covers: the attacks on, and murders of, Iraqi trade unionists and workers; recent developments in the Iraqi trade union movement; support for Iraqi trade unions from UK unions."
I want to offer my deep personal condolences to you and the IFTU. This was certainly shocking and saddening. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Hadi Salih I have heard from David Bacon and others that he was a courageous and wise leader.
Iraq will need that kind of leadership to move toward a progressive secular society. I trust that other courageous and wise leaders will step forward to take his place, and that this brutal attack will not stop the labor movement's work. Nonetheless, this is a loss to all of us in the world who fight for peace and justice.
Co-Convenor US Labor Against the War
ASLEF Ref: COMP/PC/IRAQ
11 January 2005
Both myself as Acting General Secretary and the ASLEF Executive Committee mourns with deepest sorrow and sadness, the murder and torture of the IFTU executive committee member and International Secretary Hadi Saleh (Abu Furat).
ASLEF feels deeply for the Iraqi people and mourns its martyred working class hero who played a significant part in formation of trade union movement and was a key campaigner in both the Arab and international spheres, over more than a quarter of a century, to make the voices of Iraqi workers’ heard and was a major defender of worker rights.
ASLEF fully supports the IFTU struggle in Iraq.
Acting General Secretary
I want to express to you and to the IFTU my personal solidarity and the solidarity and pain of the whole Fiom, having had the information of the killing of Hadi Saleh. I am very sorry to be so late in writing you, but I was abroad, in Palestine, some two weeks.
I think I met Hadi Saleh in Bagdad in July 2003 and I really feel bad for what happened and for all the Iraqi people are suffering, because of the occupation and the enormous violence that it had generated.
Please, express our condolences to his family and to the IFTU.
International Secretary Fiom-Cgil
Harry Barnes MP
House of Commons, London SW1A OAA
I was absolutely horrified to hear of the murder of your comrade and mine, Hadi Saleh and would like to add my condolences to Hadi's family and friends.
I was very privileged to have met Hadi. Despite the language barriers, his decency and bravery shone through to me and, I am sure, all the other MPs and others who he met when he was last in London.
Words are never enough in such terrible circumstances. I know that is always said on these sad occasions but the old labour movement saying - don't mourn, organise - is still the most appropriate.
Nothing can ever bring Hadi back but his murder makes me all the more determined to give my support to the IFTU and Grassroots Iraq.
With best wishes
Harry Barnes MP
Dear Brothers in the Iraqi Railway Union,
We officers and members of the Philippine Railway Workers' Union, Philippines, supports your struggle for a safer working place.
Yes, the war that is happening in your country is affecting much the ordinary workers and their families, and you could not have peace in your minds as you perform your work because of the possibility of being killed or kidnapped.
We join you in calling the iraqi government to do something and protect the iraqi railway workers, the war that is ongoing in your country is a not a war the workers wanted, it is a war forced upon the iraqi people.
Whatever it is comrades, please be informed that we are here, fellow workers in other parts of the globe, supporting your struggles.
Long live solidarity of the working class.
Philippine Railway workers Union (BKM-PNR-ITF)
Edgar P. Bilayon
From all of us
A leading Iraqi trade unionist, he fought for workers' rights and opposed the rule of Saddam Hussein, as well as the recent war
13 January 2005
Assassination an Affront To International Human and Union Rights
The brutal torture and assassination of Hadi Salih,International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) at his home of January 4th has shocked and angered Western Australian unionists, and all workers whose enjoyment of universally-accepted democratic rights depends upon their freedom to speak and
"At a time when our compassion and energies are necessarily focused upon assisting our regional neighbors in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami on December 26th,neither must we forget those who struggle against all odds in other areas of crisis and conflict in order to attain the rights that we all too often take for granted", stated UnionsWA Secretary Dave Robinson.
"Western Australian trade unionists, as do all working people and all Australians, have a big stake in Iraq. On our behalf, our federal government must reassure us that our national efforts and continuing presence there will provide Iraqis like Hadi Salih with the ability to build a free and democratic trade union movement and participate in the reconstruction of their country without threat or fear."
"We call upon our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to share our expressions of sympathy to Hadi's family and colleagues and publicly express their condemnation of his atrocious murder. The Iraqi people must know that our country, as a principal member of the Coalition of the Willing and partner in the reconstruction of their country,will not be silent when one of their community leaders is blindfolded, tortured and strangled with electrical wire', concluded Robinson.
Background Extracts provided by Labourstart
Hadi Salih, 58, had spent five years in prison under Saddam Hussein after being sentenced to death in 1969 for independent labour activities. Over the last 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 the same day that the tsunami struck our South Asia neighbors, the building housing the Transport and Communications Workers in central Baghdad was shelled.
Iraqi trade union sources believe that Hadi's assassination was carried out by remnants of Saddam Hussein's secret police, the Mukharabat.
Contact: Dave Robinson 0417 060 360
17 January 2005
Remember the life of Hadi Saleh - vote in the Iraqi elections
Hadi's brutal murder
Friday January 14, 2005
We unreservedly condemn the brutal murder of Hadi Saleh, the international secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, at his home in Baghdad on the night of January 4.
The CGT (France) condemns the murder of Hadi Saleh, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), on Tuesday 4 January, at his home in Baghdad.
La Cgt condamne l’assassinat de Hadi Saleh, secrétaire aux relations internationales de la Confédération irakienne des syndicats (IFTU), mardi 4 janvier, à son domicile de Bagdad.
In a recent interview, Hadi Saleh warned that « War conditions make it very dangerous being involved with trade unionism », trade unionists are targeted by extremists who consider them to be « collaborating with a State created by the Americans, and legitimate targets » or are « victims of organised crime ».
This murder, preceded by torture, of a leading trade unionist in the forefront of the movement, took place as one of a series of murders and kidnappings of trade unionists in recent months, affecting teachers, railworkers and oil engineers. It represents another tragic demonstration of the intnetion to prevent the development of trade union organisations, the guarantors of the democratic development of the country and of respect for human rights.
In the person of Hadi Saleh, his murderers wanted to eliminate a symbol. Imprisonned for five years for his labour activities under the regime of Saddam Hussein, then exiled in Sweden, he opposed the American war in Iraq. Having returned to his country after the fall of Saddam Hussein, he worked tirelessly for an end to the occupation of his country and to rebuild trade unionism, with the creation in May 2003 of the Trade Union Federation, the IFTU, despite the obstacles put in the way of trade unionism by the occupation authorities and the interim government.
The CGT salutes the memory of Hadi Saleh. It sends his family its condolences and assures Iraqi workers and trade unionists and their organisations of its support in their struggles. The interim government must guarentee the protection of workers’ representatives, as outlined in Convention 135 of the International Labour Organisation, which is ratified by Iraq.
La Cgt condamne l’assassinat du syndicaliste irakien Hadi Saleh
La Cgt condamne l’assassinat de Hadi Saleh, secrétaire aux relations internationales de la Confédération irakienne des syndicats (IFTU), mardi 4 janvier, à son domicile de Bagdad.
Dans une interview récente, Hadi Saleh avait averti que « les conditions de la guerre rendent très dangereux l’exercice de l’activité syndicale », les syndicalistes étant considérés comme « collaborateurs d’un état créé par les Américains et cibles légitimes » ou « victimes du crime organisé ».
Ce meurtre, précédé de tortures, d’un dirigeant syndical de premier plan, s’inscrit dans une série d’assassinats et d’enlèvements de syndicalistes depuis plusieurs mois, touchant des enseignants, des cheminots, des ingénieurs du pétrole. Il représente une manifestation tragique supplémentaire d’une volonté d’empêcher le développement d’organisations syndicales, garantes du développement démocratique du pays et du respect des droits humains.
En la personne de Hadi Saleh, ses assassins ont voulu éliminer un symbole. Emprisonné pendant cinq ans pour son militantisme syndical sous le régime de Saddam Hussein, puis exilé en Suède, il s’était opposé à la guerre américaine en Irak. Retourné dans son pays après la chute de Saddam Hussein, il a oeuvré sans relâche à mettre un terme à l’occupation du pays et à la reconstruction du syndicalisme, avec la création en mai 2003 de la Fédération des syndicats IFTU, malgré les obstacles, érigés par les autorités d’occupation comme par le gouvernement intérimaire, au fonctionnement du syndicalisme.
La Cgt salue la mémoire de Hadi Saleh. Elle adresse à sa famille ses condoléances et assure les travailleurs et syndicalistes d’Irak et leurs organisations de son soutien solidaire dans leurs luttes. Elle exige du gouvernement intérimaire qu’il garantisse la protection des représentants des travailleurs, conformément à la convention 135 de l’OIT ratifié par l’Irak.
We would like to express our deep shock and revulsion at the brutal torture and murder of Hadi Salih, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) on the 4th January.
Hadi Salih was a courageous man and he has paid a heavy price to terrorism regarding his commitment to building a free society with respect for trade union rights. His brutal torture and murder express the terrorism hate to the democracy and to an authentic worker's movement in Iraq.
The Iraqi trade union leaders can count on our support and solidarity and to Hadi Salih's family and friends, we express our deepest sympathy and condolences in this time of grief hoping that Iraqi colleagues from the trade union movement will continue their work in those difficult circumstances to a free and democratic society.
Yours in solidarity,
International Secretary UGT-Portugal
UNI has expressed its sympathy and condolences to the family of Hadi Salih, the International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of trade unions (iftu) who was brutally murdered in Baghdad last week.
The condolence message from UNI General Secretary, Philip J. Jennings, reads as follows:
On behalf of UNI I would like to express our condolences at the shocking torture and murder of Hadi Salih, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).
We are outraged at this vicious murder which is aimed to create a climate of fear among Iraqi workers and to undermine the important and courageous work you are doing to build a free and democratic trade union movement.
The UNI delegation recalls the courageous intervention made by Hadi Salih during the ICFTU Congress in Miyazaki where he demonstrated commitment to his fellow workers and to building a new union structure in Iraq.
The entire UNI family expresses its sympathy and condolences to his family and friends. I can assure you that UNI will continue to stand with our Iraqi colleagues, in their struggle to build a free and democratic union movement and for human and trade union rights to be respected in the country.
UNI was created on 1 January 2000 following a merger of four Internationals, the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees (FIET), the Communications International (CI), the International Graphical Federation (IGF) and the Media and Entertainment International (MEI). Union Network International (UNI) has 15 million members from 900 affiliates in 150 countries.
13 January 2005
11th January 2005
It is with deep sorrow that we have heard of news of the torture and assassination of Mr. Hadi Salih. Please accept our sincere condolence for him and convey our profound sympathy to all comrades in your organization.
Community and Public Sector Union
Level 5, 191-199 Thomas Street Haymarket 2000, Australia
It was with deep sorrow that I and the CPSU (Community and Public Sector Union) heard of the murder of Hadi Salih. Our thoughts are with his family, and we ask you to pass on our condolences to them.
Not only was the assassination an attack on the trade union movement and a violation of the freedom of association and human rights, but it is a tragedy for his family, comrades and friends.
We can only hope that this will not discourage the many others who are fighting for freedom, justice and the right for workers to unionise and that Hadi Salih's ultimate sacrifice and courage will not have been in vain.
It is with deep sorrow that we have known about the torture and vile assassination of Hadi Salih, trade unionist and member of IFTU executive committee. Please extend to your organisation and to Hadi Salih's family CCOO's condolence and solidarity message in this sad moment.
This terrorist act is a serious loss for the Iraqi and Arab workers' movement but will not stop the rebuilding of a democratic workers' movement in Iraq and the popular move for a democratic state. We recently met comrade Salih at Miyazaki, during the ICFTU Congress, and we were deeply impressed for his courage and commitment with the Iraq workers. Now, he and his memory deserve that all efforts should be done for continuing with the building of a free and democratic trade union movement that could ensure the respect of human rights for all citizens and for the Iraqi workers.
Together with our colleagues from all ICFTU member organisations, we express once again our sympathy for his death and our support to all of you in your struggle.
Jose María Fidalgo
Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO.),
7 January 2005
The GMB were saddened to hear of the torture and murder of Brother Hadi Saleh. The loss of a courageous trade unionist at such an important time in Iraq’s development is a harsh blow to the future of a free trade union movement in Iraq. The GMB would also like to pass on its condolences to Brother Saleh’s family.
This vicious murder is an attack on the right of Iraqi workers to trade union representation. It is aimed at destabilising and undermining the development of trade unions as cornerstones of development and respect for human rights.
Brother Saleh fought for a democratic, peaceful and federal Iraq, which would unite all Iraqis regardless of their background, ethnicity or religion. He championed workers’ rights to organise to achieve decent jobs, pay and working conditions.
The GMB reaffirms its solidarity with the struggling workers of Iraq. We will continue to work with the IFTU and others in the international trade union movement to bring about Brother Saleh’s dream of building an authentic workers' movement in Iraq.
The GMB will therefore call on Iraq’s interim government to offer proper protection to workers and their trade unions. Allowing them the freedom and opportunity to grow and contribute to the development of Iraq’s fragile society.
Kevin B Curran
Sun, 9 Jan 2005
A letter of support from the Irish Congress Trade Unions (ICTU)
On behalf of the ICTU [Irish Congress of Trade Unions] Unemployed Centre in Main Street, Tallaght, South Dublin County, Ireland, we have learned with shock and outrage of the cowardly murder of the International Secretary of IFTU, Hadi Saleh at his home on 4 January, 2004.
We express our sincere sympathy to his wife and to all his family and comrades. His long struggle for democracy, decency and workers rights will not be forgotten, and will be one of the solid foundations for the new free democratic Iraq.
The importance of the work of Hadi and his colleagues is shown by the vicious attacks on them by the new nazis. The words of Dolores Ibarrui in Spain during the struggle from 1936 against the original nazis are still relevant - "no pasaran" - they shall not pass.
However long the present struggle by workers and all democrats in Iraq against the terror and tyranny which murdered Hadi, and however high the price they have to pay, there can be no doubt about who is right, or about who will finally win.
We salute the heroic memory of Hadi Saleh and all the other martyrs for freedom and democracy in Iraq, and we pledge our full support to their stand for justice, solidarity and freedom, and our deepest sympathy to their families and friends in their long honourable struggle on behalf of all workers and democrats.
Dear Brothers & Sisters of the IFTU.
The Pakistan WAPDA Labour Union (PWLU) and Pakistan Brick Kiln Labour Union (PBKLU) jointly condemn the murder of Comrade Hadi Salih, leader of Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), who has been shot on 4 January 2005 by assassins who broke into his home.
The leadeship of PWLU & PBKLU said "Mr. Hadi Salih was a brave labourer, like all other trade unionists. Comrade Hadi believed in peaceful solutions to working people's problems and his commitment to rebuilding the trade union movement as part of a democratic IRAQ has cost him and his family.
In expressing both the very complicated situation of his country as well as that of IRAQI workers and his commitment for bringing about change, Hadi's loss will be felt severely not only by Iraqi workers, but by all the trade unions of the globe.
Please convey Pakistan WAPDA Labour Union (PWLU) & Pakistan Brick Kiln Labourer's Union (PBKLU) condolences to the family and be sure that you can trust on PWLU & PBKLU friendship now and for future.
On behalf of all members of PWLU + PBKLU please accept our deepest solidarity.
In charge of International Section of PWLU.
The IFTU executive committee mourns with deepest sorrow and sadness, the murder of its executive committee member, the martyred hero trade union leader Hadi Saleh (Abu Furat), the International Secretary, who was assassinated by Saddam’s loyalists and their terrorist supporters on Tuesday evening 4 January 2005.
Our federation mourns its martyred working class hero who played a significant part in formation of the trade union movement and was a key campaigner in both the Arab and international spheres, over more than a quarter of century, to make the voices of Iraqi workers heard and was a defender of worker rights. Our brave workers are determined to continue the struggle and fight to build a democratic trade union movement and participate in the rebuilding of Iraq despite all the sacrifices and with the knowledge of the great feats achieved by the Iraqi working class and which it continues to pay with its noble blood.
We pledge our martyred hero, that we will continue the struggle and that the terrorists and criminals who tortured assassinated Hadi Saleh will receive their deserved justice.
Our federation demands that the Iraqi interim government and its appropriate bodies take the necessary legal procedures to bring to justice the perpetrators of this vile crime.
Glory and honour to the martyrs of the Iraqi working class
Long live the Iraqi working class
5 January 2005
The IFTU mourns the loss of comrade Hadi Saleh who was assassinated last night (4 January 2005) at his family home in Baghdad in a cowardly act carried out by elements loyal to the fascist-type dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein.
This is a tragedy for Saleh’s family, the IFTU and the Iraqi working people.
Iraqi working people have now lost a brave trade union leader who dedicated three decades of his life to fighting against Saddam’s dictatorship. He fought for a democratic peaceful and federal Iraq, which would unite all Iraqis regardless of their background, ethnicity or religion. He championed workers’ rights to organize and strike to achieve decent jobs, pay and working conditions.
Hadi Saleh was a key activist known as Abu Furat, in the clandestine Workers’ Democratic Trade Union Movement (WDTUM) which was established in 1980 to keep alive an independent labour movement in Iraq during the years of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. He was hunted by the regime for his trade union activities and forced into exile. Hadi Saleh was 56, and was a former printing worker.
Under Saddam Hussein's regime, Hadi Saleh was imprisoned for five years for his labour activism. After fleeing Iraq, Hadi became a political refugee in Sweden.
Hadi Saleh opposed Bush’s illegal war against Iraq. He returned home to Iraq after the ignominious collapse of the disgraced Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Hadi worked tirelessly to end the occupation and set about the task of re-building independent trade unions in Iraq resulting in the formation of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) of which he was a founder member (May 2003).
The IFTU denounces this murder as an act of cowardice, which follows a well-orchestrated programme of intimidation against workers and trade unionists and indicates a well-established pattern of targeted campaigns of assassination and terror waged by Saddam’s loyalists.
The IFTU therefore is calling on the international labour movement, the ILO and peace movements across the globe to deplore and denounce this heinous crime. We ask for messages of condolence to be sent to comrade Hadi Saleh’s wife and family (through the IFTU office at the top of this press statement) and for statements of support to be sent to the IFTU and the working people of Iraq for whom Hadi Saleh worked tirelessly.
Furthermore we ask the international labour movement to demand that Iraq’s interim government provide adequate protection for workers and their legitimate trade union representatives as they carry out their jobs.
The IFTU demands that the perpetrators of this vile crime be arrested and brought to trial and to prevent the attempted intimidation of trade unionists through foul acts such as the murder of comrade Hadi Saleh from happening again.
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
BRUSSELS, 6 January 2005, ICFTU Online:
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) today expressed its deep shock and revulsion at the brutal torture and murder of Hadi Salih, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) at his Baghdad home on Tuesday night (4 January). "This vicious murder is nothing less than an attack on the right of Iraqi workers to trade union representation. It is aimed at destabilising and undermining the development of trade unions as cornerstones of development and respect for human rights", said ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder.
The TUC today (Wednesday) condemned the murder of Hadi Salih, the international secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), who was shot last night by assassins who broke into his Baghdad home.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Hadi was a very brave man, who with no thoughts for his own personal safety, returned home as soon as Saddam was gone to try to make Iraq a better place to live and work.
"Like all trade unionists, Hadi believed in peaceful solutions to working people's problems and his commitment to rebuilding the trade union movement as part of a democratic Iraq has cost him and his family dear. Sadly, Iraq has now joined the list of countries where trade unionists live under the almost daily threat of violence and death, and Iraqi working people have lost someone who worked tirelessly on their behalf."
Hadi Salih had, on many occasions, condemned those who seek to use violence and terror in Iraqi. Only last month he had been at the ICFTU World Congress in Japan where he had met Brendan Barber and other senior British trade unionists.
Hadi Salih was 56, and was a former printing worker, who helped found the IFTU last May. Under Saddam Hussein's regime, Hadi Salih was sentenced to death in 1969 for his labour activism. But after five years in jail, he escaped the gallows when his sentence was commuted. After fleeing Iraq, Hadi became a political refugee in Sweden but rushed back to Baghdad shortly after the war began in a bid to rekindle the labour movement.
Iraqi Federation of Trade Union (IFTU)
We received the sad news of the assassination of Hadi Saleh the trade union leader who was a very significant patriotic figure who struggled for trade union rights in Iraq.
The Iraqi, the Arab and the International labour movement have lost a courageous trade union leader who spent his life fighting for democratic and human rights values in Iraq. He was a key campaigner for trade union rights and fought to rebuild a new independent and free trade union movement.
Hadi Saleh spared no effort in his determination to see Iraq free, sovereign and democratic and the master of its own wealth and resources.
We strongly condemn this act of cowardice and stress that the ILO will continue to support your struggle for a free and independent Iraqi trade union movement; to consolidate the IFTU structure as it campaigns on behalf of Iraqi working people and as a significant participant in the rebuilding of Iraq.
The ILO wish to pass on, through your federation, the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), its deepest condolences to the family of Hadi Saleh, to the people and the workers of Iraq.
May God rest the martyred Hadi Saleh in his heaven and may his family find peace and solace.
Talib Al Rifai, Regional Director ILO
Walid Hamdan, ILO Regional Workers’ Director
6 January 2005
The AFL-CIO today condemned the murder of Hadi Salih, the international secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), who was shot last night by assassins who broke into his Baghdad home.
AFL-CIO President Sweeney said, “Hadi was a courageous trade unionist fighting for Iraqi workers. He put aside all thoughts of his own personal safety, returned home even before the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. From exile, he actively supported an underground labor movement committed to organizing workers. He returned to Iraq as soon as it was possible to help make Iraq a better place to live and work.
“Like all trade unionists, Hadi believed in peaceful solutions to working people’s problems. His commitment to rebuilding the trade union movement and a more democratic Iraq even under dangerous circumstances has cost him his life and thus a great loss for his family. He will be sorely missed by all of us who have met him and by the workers whom he valiantly fought for. Sadly, Iraq has now joined the list of countries where trade unionists live under the almost daily threat of violence and death, and Iraqi working people have lost someone who worked tirelessly on their behalf.”
On many occasions, Hadi Salih spoke out against the use of violence and terror in Iraq. Last month he participated in the ICFTU World Congress in Japan where he met President John Sweeney and other American trade unionists.
Hadi Salih, 56, was a former printing worker who helped found the IFTU last May. Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, Hadi Salih was sentenced to death for his labor activism in 1969. But after five years in jail his sentence was commuted. After fleeing Iraq, Salih became a political refugee in Sweden but returned to Baghdad shortly after the war began to help rebuild the labor movement.
All Pakistan Federation of United Trade Unions (APFUTU)
Head Office: Imtiaz Manzil, Qasim Pura, Railway Road, GUJRAT (Pak)
07th January 2005.
Respected brave Sisters and Brothers,
On behalf of thousands members of our ALL PAKISTAN FEDERATION OF UNITED TRADE UNIONS (APFUTU) I, wish to offer condolences to the Family, Friends and colleagues of brother Hadi Salih, International Secretary of IFTU.
It is not only painful but also very difficult to convey in words our revulsion at the brutal torture and murder of our brother Hadi at his home in Baghdad on 4th January 2005. It seems that the said murder is an attack on the rights of Iraqi workers.
We strongly condemn the murder of Hadi Salih, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).
Pirzada Imtiaz Syed,
January 6, 2004
On behalf of the 3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, I wish to express our condolences at the horrible torture and murder of Brother Hadi Saleh in Baghdad yesterday.
I agree entirely with ICFTU General Secretary, Guy Ryder, that "this vicious murder is nothing less than an attack on the right of Iraqi workers to trade union representation. It is aimed at destabilising and undermining the development of trade unions as cornerstones of development and respect for human rights".
I and several of my colleagues had the pleasure of meeting Brother Saleh during the ICFTU World Congress in Miyazaki, Japan last month. We were impressed with his sincerity as he spoke about the necessity for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Iraq and we are pleased to read on the IFTU’s website that your organization will not be intimidated by this brutal killing of your colleague.
The Canadian Labour Congress reaffirms our solidarity with the struggling workers of Iraq. We will continue to work with you and others in the international trade union movement to bring about Brother Saleh’s dream of building an authentic workers' movement in Iraq.
Finally, I ask you to please convey our condolences to the family of Brother Saleh.
Kenneth V. Georgetti
President of the CLC
I learnt with deep shock and sorrow about the vile murder of our comrade and friend Hadi Saleh.
In expressing both the so complicated situation of this country as well as that of Iraqi workers and his commitment for bringing about change, his loss will be very severe not only for Iraqi workers, but for the trade unions movement as a whole.
Please, convey CGIL's warm condolences to the family and be sure that you can trust CGIL friendship now and for the future.
On behalf of the General Secretary and all CGIL, please receive our deepest solidarity
Gian Franco Benzi
In charge for relationship with Mediterranean and Middle East countries
To: The IFTU, Iraq
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
On behalf of members of our global union federation the IUF around the world, organized in 354 trade unions in 125 countries, I wish to offer condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of IFTU International Secretary Hadi Salih.
It is difficult to convey in words our revulsion at his murder. While, as far as we know, the assassins have not yet been identified, nor has any group claimed credit, the nature of the deed speaks for itself. It was committed in order to strike fear and terror into all those acting in defense of workers rights in Iraq.
The murderers stand in opposition to every value, every belief and every principle upon which the labour movement was built and continues to rely. It was therefore aimed at workers everywhere, and for that reason the IUF will do everything within its means to ensure that workers' fundamental rights are legally guaranteed and actively protected in Iraq now and in the future.
Yours in solidarity,
It was with great sadness that I learnt today of the horrific death of Hadi Salih, the International Officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions. On behalf of UNISON and all its members I wish to pass on our condolences and sympathy both to the family of Hadi Salih and to the IFTU.
We in UNISON salute the courage, bravery and political determination of Hadi Salih, for his forthright opposition to the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein, his long term commitment to labour activism, his efforts to rebuild the trade union movement in Iraq and his opposition to the occupation of his country. Hadi Salih believed in peaceful solutions and condemned all those who used violence and terror to achieve their objectives. That he should be brutally murdered by assassins who broke into his home reinforces the urgency of his message.
I also wish to take this opportunity to express the outrage of UNISON over the recent spate of murders and attacks against the IFTU and its members. Can I assure you that we continue to stand alongside your efforts to build the trade union movement in Iraq, despite the enormous difficulties that you face, and your commitment to free and independent trade unionism as an integral part of a democratic society in Iraq.
Once again we express our deepest condolences and our sympathy
7 Jan' 2005
TRANSPORT UNION RMT has expressed its revulsion at the brutal torture and murder of Hadi Saleh, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) at his Baghdad home earlier this week (January 4).
"This callous murder was aimed at undermining the development of free trade unions in Iraq," said RMT president Tony Donaghey.
He said that the tragedy only reinforced the union's policy of opposing the illegal attacks on Iraq and in support of Iraqi trade unionists.
"I only met Hadi in London recently and his commitment to building independent and democratic trade unions in his country was clear.
"On behalf of RMT I wish to pass on our condolences and sympathy both to the family of Hadi Saleh and to the IFTU," Tony Donaghey said.
David Cockroft, General Secretary of global union federation the ITF, said today: "I have to report with sadness that we have learned of the murder at his home last night of Hadi Salih, International Officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU)."
"A month ago at the congress of the ICFTU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) 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."
Date published: 05 January 2005
Source: press release
ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR | +44 20 7403 2733 | email@example.com
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 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!
Hadi Salih, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions
Assassinated December 4, 2005
Brother Hadi Salih was a 56-year-old former printing worker, a founding member when the IFTU was formed in May last year. He had been sentenced to death in 1969 for his labour activism. After five years in jail, Mr Salih escaped the gallows when his sentence was commuted. He became a political refugee in Sweden but rushed back to Baghdad shortly after the war began in a bid to rekindle the labour movement.
"The biggest struggle at this time is to educate members and leaders on real, democratic work and the nature of trade unions," he said at the 18th World Congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), held in Japan December 6, 2004. "We are definitely interested in global support for labour education and training of members and leaders because real trade union work was absent in Iraq for the past 35 years."
"War does not serve the people of Iraq. Occupation doesn't help democracy," Salih said. Salih voiced optimism that the labour movement in Iraq could play a role as it did in Japan, where trade unions were key in the country's stunning economic comeback after the devastation of war. "The labour movement in Japan has been fighting for the future of Japan ever since the end of World War II, and they are living this future today and tomorrow," he said. "If they can do it, we can too," he said. "There is no reason why we can't fight for the future of Iraq. That's why I am enthusiastic."
Salih told a trade union meeting in England on January 22, “We need new progressive laws that recognise and guarantee workers’ rights and trade unions need to be involved in the formulation of any new labour laws.”
More information will be posted as it becomes available.
06 January 2005
Further to my e-mail, I now write to express on behalf of NATFHE’s NEC our deepest condolences to the family and comrades of Hadi Saleh. Our thoughts are with them at this terrible time.
It is difficult at such a time to balance our personal solidarity for those who mourn with the need to acknowledge Hadi Saleh’s political and trade union commitment and endeavour.
NATFHE commemorates Hadi Saleh as a founder member and international secretary of the IFTU and condemns utterly his vicious murder which is clearly aimed at intimidating trade union activists and destabilizing the rebirth and development of the Iraqi trade union movement.
We know that Hadi Saleh opposed Sadam Hussain’s dictatorship over three decades, enduring the privations and loneliness of exile for his commitment. We salute him for his vision of a democratic, peaceful and federal Iraq where workers’ rights to organize in unions were fully recognised.
NATFHE opposed the war and opposes the occupation of Iraq but we condemn absolutely the murder of trade unionists in the name of ‘resistance’.
NATFHE – the University & College Lecturers’ Union
6 January 2005
The TUC has drawn to our attention the horrific death of your International Officer Hadi Salih.
It is devastating to lose someone in such circumstances and I wish to extend the deepest sympathy of NASUWT to Hadi’s family and to you and your colleagues.
ICFTU Spotlight interview
Interview with Hadi Saleh, International Secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, at Miyazaki during ICFTU Congress (December 2004).
It is with shock, sadness and regret that we have just learned of the murder of your friend and colleague Hadi Salih.
On behalf of all of us at War on Want, may I express our most sincere sympathies to you and your colleagues in the union, and to Hadi's family and friends. His untimely death must make us all the more determined to work for peace and democracy in your country and to continue the fight which Hadi was so much a part of.
With all best wishes - my thoughts are with you all at this time.
War on Want
(6/1/05) Trade unionists were today mourning the death of a leading member of Iraq’s fledgling union movement, who has been assassinated by remnants of Saddam Hussein’s secret police.
Hadi Salih, the international secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), was brutally tortured in his family home in Baghdad, before being shot.
UNISON’s general secretary Dave Prentis was among the UK trade union leaders who immediately sent their commiserations to Hadi Salih’s family and colleagues. UNISON has been active in recent months in supporting the federation in its attempts to build an independent trade union movement in post-Saddam Iraq.
A statement by the IFTU said: “Iraqi working people have now lost a brave trade union leader, who dedicated three decades of his life to fighting against Saddam’s dictatorship.
“He fought for a democratic, peaceful and federal Iraq, which would unite all Iraqis regardless of their background, ethnicity or religion. He championed workers’ rights to organise and strike to achieve decent jobs, pay and working conditions.”
The federation denounced a “cowardly act”, which it said followed a well orchestrated programme of intimidation against workers and trade unionists waged by Saddam loyalists.
And it called on the international labour movement “to demand that Iraq’s interim government provide adequate protection for workers and their legitimate trade union representatives as they carry out their jobs".
Hadi Salih, who was 56 and a former printing worker, had been a key activist in the clandestine Workers Democratic Trade Union Movement, which was established in 1980 to keep alive an independent labour movement during the Saddam dictatorship.
Persecution by the regime for his trade union activities forced him into exile. He returned to his homeland after the fall of Saddam and immediately set about the task of re-building independent trade unions in Iraq. He was a founder member of the IFTU, in May 2003.
“We in UNISON salute the bravery and political determination of Hadi Salih, for his forthright opposition to the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein, his long term commitment to labour activism, his efforts to rebuild the trade union movement in Iraq and his opposition to the occupation of his country,” said Prentis.
“Hadi believed in peaceful solutions and condemned all those who used violence and terror to achieve their objectives. That he should be brutally murdered by assassins who broke into his home reinforces the urgency of his message.”
Only last month Hadi Salih had attended the ICFTU world congress, in Japan, where he met a number of British trade unionists, including TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.
Condemning the murder, Barber said: "Hadi’s commitment to rebuilding the trade union movement as part of a democratic Iraq has cost him and his family dear.
“Sadly, Iraq has now joined the list of countries where trade unionists live under the almost daily threat of violence and death, and Iraqi working people have lost someone who worked tirelessly on their behalf."
5 January 2005
I am writing to offer you my deepest sympathies following the death of Hadi Salih. I met Hadi last month in Baghdad. I was struck by his dedication to the people of Iraq, and the labour movement in that country over many decades.
I know that he was imprisoned by the former Baathist regime, escaped execution and had to live in exile for many years, returning to Iraq to help his countrymen build peace and democracy.
His death is an atrocity and those who murdered him have deprived Iraq of a decent and committed man at a time when such people are needed the most.
I would be grateful if you could pass on my sincerest condolences to Hadi Salih’s family, friends and colleagues in the IFTU.
Rt Hon Ann Clwyd MP
Special Envoy to the Prime Minister
on Human Rights in Iraq