“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for June 5th, 2008

Iraqi Trade Unions.

with one comment

I can’t even begin to imagine how hostile the internal regime in Iraq is for trade unionists, Harry Barnes has pointed out a recent TUC statement on the Iraqi governments use of anti-union laws from Saddam Hussein’s era:

“TUC slams Iraqi government at ILO

The TUC has launched a five point attack on the Iraqi government for its harassment of trade unions at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) committee on standards today (Wednesday).

Addressing the committee in support of complaints from Iraqi trade unionists, ILO Governing Body member Simon Steyne of the TUC condemned the Iraqi government for:

using Saddam Hussein’s laws to ban public sector trade unionism;

introducing a new law to freeze union bank accounts and allow the government to interfere in union internal affairs;

repeatedly failing to adopt an ILO-compliant labour law for several years to replace the anti-union Decrees;

demanding elections inside Iraqi unions this summer on the government’s terms, including disenfranchising public sector workers, prohibiting non-Iraqi citizens from standing for elections, and requiring candidates to secure the support of their employers; and

relocating leaders of an Iraqi oil union specifically to disrupt the union which has consistently opposed oil privatisation.

Simon Steyne said:

‘These actions are being taken by a Government that says it is too busy fighting terrorism to implement the ILO-compliant labour law, which would stop these labour rights violations. We empathise with the struggle for peace in Iraq. But it is strange that a Government too busy fighting violence should spend so much time and effort harassing one of the few institutions which unites workers regardless of tribal, ethnic or religious boundaries and is committed to women’s emancipation and the creation of a peaceful and prosperous Iraq. It is certainly too busy with its Oil Law – no doubt a reason for its unwillingness to allow free trade unions in the sector.’ “

Written by modernityblog

05/06/2008 at 20:12

Posted in Uncategorized

Open Thread on Tibet and the Middle East.

with 7 comments

News from Tibet, unlike other countries, is restricted and what we hear from that country is very limited, snippets about Tibetans being murdered or enforced Chinese rule, but not a great deal and often what comes out has been censored or made such that the Chinese occupation is portrayed in the best possible light.

The BBC highlights the tight grip that China keeps on the Tibetan’s neck:

“China appears to be maintaining a tight grip over Tibetan areas, nearly three months after a series of anti-Beijing protests and riots.

The government suggests life in areas inhabited by Tibetans is returning to normal, but evidence suggests otherwise.

Security is tight, Tibetans face travel restrictions, and monks and nuns have been forced to attend re-education classes.

Chinese tourists are once again being allowed to visit the Himalayan region, but not many are making the trip.

Foreigners are banned. It is difficult to get information about what is going on in Tibet and nearby provinces that are home to large numbers of Tibetans.

Chinese central and local government officials – who keep a tight rein on information at the best of times – are saying little.
There are also roadblocks on highways leading into Tibet.

The Chinese crackdown follows unrest that began in Lhasa on 10 March.

Monks from several monasteries began a series of protests to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

These protest turned into riots, during which Tibetans targeted Han Chinese people who had moved into Lhasa.

Tibetan students living in India hold a rally on 28 May 2008

China says 18 innocent civilians and one police officer died in the riots.

The Tibetan government-in-exile said about 250 died, most of whom were Tibetans killed in the ensuing crackdown.

Over the last couple of months, hundreds of Tibetans have been arrested, with the first batch of 30 tried and jailed earlier this month.

China said they received fair trials, but this is contested by Tibetans abroad and human rights organisations.

Even on this one issue, there is no agreement on the facts of what is currently going on in Tibet.”

But contrast that situation with the Middle East, leaving aside the various quasi-dictatorships and authoritarian regimes which are fairly numerous, there is no shortage of news about conflict in the region. If we were to look at nearly any Israeli newspaper there would be very critical coverage of the Israeli government and the military’s own conduct in the region.

Which is strange, isn’t it? Barely a critical voice against brutal Chinese oppression in Tibet, but the Israelis often scourge themselves over these issues. What a difference?

Written by modernityblog

05/06/2008 at 01:43

Posted in Uncategorized