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Labor and peace activists should unite in support of the courageous Iraq southern oil workers strike

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An organization little known outside of Iraq has presented an opportunity to galvanize labor, peace and human rights activists here and abroad in a major show of solidarity with the people living in the U.S. occupied country.

The Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC) is mobilizing workers in Iraq to strike. The Oil Workers Union -- by far the country's largest and most influential --has voted to strike and numerous other unions and womens' and human rights organizations have agreed to support the strike. Talk of the strike has gained the attention of Prime Minister Noori Almaliki who has asked to meet with union leaders. With widespread international support the workers' demands for basic humanitarian needs and a democratic sovereign nation can be achieved.

The IFC has become known as "the last hope" to bring about unity among the Iraqi people and an end to the violence. One of its slogans is "No Sunnis, No Shiites, Ours is Human Unity." It is the only grassroots group working to create a unified, democratic, secular and progressive Iraq.

In preparation for the strike, those who support an end to the U.S. occupation can learn about the Iraq Freedom Congress by visiting www.ifcongress.com. The web site lists founding documents, news from Iraq, and a newsletter that explains more about the IFC, its activities and growing ties to American and other countries' peace, labor and justice groups.

Six senior Iraqi labor leaders, all members of IFC, met with hundreds of Americans in June 2005 during the Iraq-U.S. Labor Solidarity Tour of 25 U.S. cities, sponsored by US Labor Against the War. A documentary of the tour produced by the Center for Study of Working Class Life at Stony Brook University in New York is available at www.meetingfacetoface.org. US Labor Against the War and its 110 member unions took a much-needed leadership role in bringing Iraqis and Americans together to discuss in public forums, free of corporate media whitewash, the true story of the risks and hardships Iraqis face ever day in their turbulent country.

Over the past several months, Cindy Sheehan and Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, CodePink and other organizations have suggested nationwide sit-ins at Congressional offices as a method to force representatives to represent the will of the majority of Americans by calling for a quick and orderly withdrawal from Iraq.


No matter the form of protest, Iraq is now in a civil war and it is even more urgent that Americans mobilize and call for an immediate end to the occupation. Americans can take the power and lead where their elected politicians have not by supporting the striking workers and affiliate human rights organizations. The risks for standing up for justice pale in comparison to the risks and sorrows Iraqis face daily.

The recent expansion of Middle East violence led by U.S.-backed Israel's disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Gaza and Lebanon underline in red America's destructive, directionless policies in the region.

News release from the Iraq Freedom Congress:

Southern oil union workers' strike preparation spurs pro-occupation prime minister to request negotiation

Strike supported by labor and human rights allies locally and globally

Following Iraq Freedom Congress's appeal to affiliate organizations, individuals and supporters around the world to support the strike of the Southern Oil Workers, pro-occupation Prime Minister Noori Almaliki has requested a negotiation with the labor leaders of the oil workers on Sunday, July 16. Falih Abood, IFC Central Council member and Secretary General of the Southern Oil Trade Union, will head the delegation to meet with the prime minister.

The IFC Executive Bureau has requested all manner of support from its affiliates to strengthen the impact of the strike. Positive response has come from the electricity and transportation trade unions in Basra, oil workers and teachers trade unions in Baghdad, transportation and civil employees in Iraq, mechanic workers trade union in Alexandria, Karbala trade union, oil administration of Northern Oil Company in Kirkuk, Council of Adamya District, and other organizations and individuals.

International organizations and political forces have requested the timing of the strike so they can launch a supporting campaign.

The Iraq Freedom Congress is working for a democratic, secular and progressive alternative to both the U.S. occupation and political Islam in Iraq.


Iraq Freedom Congress
Media Centre
July 15, 2006
email: ifcongress@gmail.com
web site: www.ifcongress.com

 

Kathlyn Stone is a Minnesota-based writer covering science and medicine, health care and related policies.-She publishes www.fleshandstone.net, a health and science news site.

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First, I would like to thank Kathlyn Stone for wri... by Martin Schreader on Thursday, Aug 24, 2006 at 8:06:49 AM