Iraq

Hadi Never Died

Read Brendan Barber, the General Secretary of the TUC, at CiF:

A couple of years ago, I led the TUC delegation to the global congress of trade unions in Japan. Among many other trade unionists from all over the world, we met a quiet, dapper man from Iraq called Hadi Saleh, international secretary of the then Iraqi federation of trade unions, who explained in very dignified and carefully chosen words that trade unionists and workers generally were under threat of their lives from terrorism. He impressed me greatly.

A month later, he returned to his Baghdad home late from his union duties one night to find that former members of Saddam Hussein’s secret police had broken into his house. They were there when he entered. They tortured him and then killed him.

The TUC and our colleagues in the AFL-CIO in the US helped his grieving family and his trade union colleagues to erect a tombstone over his grave. We held a memorial occasion at Congress House on the 40th day after his death. We have, as he would have wanted, continued to assist his trade union sisters and brothers to organise, to resist unjust laws and to grow.

But we wanted to do something more. And today we are publishing a booklet by his friend Abdullah Muhsin with Alan Johnson, editor of Democratiya. Hadi Never Died is the story of Hadi Saleh, from his early activism and arrest under the Ba’athists through his years in exile, first in Syria and latterly in Sweden, and thence back to Iraq as the invasion force built up. It interweaves his story with the history of the trade union movement in Iraq – once the largest and best organised in the region – and its recent past.

Since Hadi’s death, terrorists in Iraq have begun to target unionists. Many have already been killed. And so have thousands of ordinary workers who, as well as being trade union members, became targets for the terrorists either because they were by their very employment assisting the government, or – in some ways more chillingly – because of what they were doing: teaching girls and boys about equality or human rights, for instance.

The so-called resistance and the religious fanatics are currently engaged in what some trade unionists there have described as genocide against workers. They are fairly clearly trying to stop trade unions from becoming a beacon for a secular, democratic, anti-sectarian and egalitarian civil society.

I remember Hadi Saleh, and I want to make sure they fail.

Now buy a copy of Hadi Never Died.

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