(en) Africa/Middle East (1/2)

lingvoj@lds.co.uk
Sat, 8 Mar 1997 00.00 GMT


PAFFAC WINS ASYLUM VICTORY Sender: a-infos-request@tao.ca Precedence: list Reply-To: a-infos-d@tao.ca

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The Pan Afrikan Freedom Fighters Asylum Campaign (PAFFAC), formed in October 1996 in response to the Tory Government attacks on refugee political activists, has achieved its first victory against the Asylum & Immigration Act. The Home Office is yet to recover from this humiliating defeat, as it was compelled to grant full refugee status to Affiong Southey, a Nigerian political activist and member of the ITUSC Committee.

In May 1996, the Home Office rejected Affiong's asylum application and rushed her appeal through the fast track process. Around the same time other refugee political activists from Ghana and the Ivory Coast were also served with rejection notices. This was clearly an attack on political activists from the asylum-seeking communities meant to instil fear into the wider community and effectively silence any voices of protest by attempting to make an example of some front-line activists. =20 The PAFFAC campaign, waged with a unique and uncompromising strong political thrust, brought together refugee groups, trade union activists and community organisations, with concrete support from comrades all over the world. On the eve of the appeal, the Home Office asked for an adjournment to consider "fresh evidence". However, there was nothing "fresh" about the evidence! What they realised at the proverbial 11th hour was that this was going to be "one hell of a case" and that we were prepared to challenge them politically, legally and by any means necessary!

Although the appeal was called off, PAFFAC activists,strongly supported by the ITUSC went ahead with the planned protest action outside 10 Downing Street. The message was sent loud and clear to John Major and his cronies," We are here because you are still there!"

As PAFFAC was preparing its 1997 fighting strategy, the Home Office wrote to say it had granted full refugee status to Affiong. PAFFAC believes that if the campaign had not been waged with a strong political perspective, Affiong would certainly have been put on a plane back to Nigeria.=20

This victory teaches us never to put ourselves at the 'mercy' of the enemy. Even though Affiong's case has been won, we will intensify our efforts in support of other comrades, in the belief that a successful campaign will force a future Labour government to repeal the racist Act. Indeed, the PAFFAC campaign slogan says it all, "Smash immigration barriers, we have a world to win!"=20 ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________

This is from the International Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC) at:- e-mail: itusc@gn.apc.org website: http://www.itusc.org.uk 'snail' mail: PO Box 18, Epsom, Britain, KT18 7YR Tel/Fax ++44 (0) 1372 817 778 ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________ =20 CYRIL RAMAPHOSA---A STUDY IN BETRAYAL =09 A few weeks ago, one of our ITUSC activists in Durban, comrade NM, was shot by a group of masked gunmen in an evident attempt on his life. This brutal action was not dissimilar to that taken against another ITUSC activist, comrade Bongani Mkhungo, for nothing more than leafletting the COSATU 10th Anniversary Rally, with a call for support for the striking nurses in ex-Transkei and a demand that COSATU remains independent of the state.The COSATU stewards who carried out the attack on comrade Mckhungo were clearly directed by the ANC, whose role against the progressive elements in the workers' movement of South Africa imitates the role of Stalin's GPU in the Spanish Civil War. This isn't too surprising given that the ANC security forces were trained under the auspices of the former Soviet Union. These activities by the ANC against the workers' movement, raise massive concerns about the aims of the ANC and its leadership. One case in point is Cyril Ramaphosa, who was trained by the British TUC (amongst others) ,and was much vaunted by its self-seeking social democratic bureaucracy. Ramaphosa has come full circle, from General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in South Africa, to General Secretary of the ANC, chief ANC negotiator at the World Trade Centre talks, chair of the Constituent Assembly and left Parliament to serve on the Board of New Africa Investments Ltd. (NAIL). His first job at NAIL was to spearhead a bid for Anglo-American's 48% holding in Johnnic -a company that has interests in the media, food, motor vehicle manufacturing and brewing industries, as well as in the retail sector. In the event, Ramaphosa succeeded in securing a 20% holding in Johnnic, and as part of the deal some R1.5 billion must be paid in October. Trade union pension and provident funds are currently being raided to help make this payment. In all these positions, Ramaphosa has remained true to the class he elected to serve -the black middle class. As General Secretary of the NUM he was part of the COSATU bureaucracy, which up to this day suppresses the fight of the working class for socialism. We only need to recall the events of 1987 when the mineworkers launched their strike, which shook South Africa's capitalist class to their very bones. The strike grew so rapidly in scope that the workers were threatening to challenge the capitalists and the state for control of the mines. The mining bosses panicked. How to stop this strike was the life and death question that every capitalist took to bed each night. They produced the age-old method used by capitalists the world over -offer a compromise which contains a few privileges for the leaders, but leave the basic relationship between boss and worker unchanged. It was Ramaphosa and his bureaucratic friends who accepted this compromise. It was they who stopped the strike, even though the best fighters of the workers' revolution rejected this. We can see the results of this betrayal. The workers still work and die under the same conditions in the mines. The revolution was derailed. The capitalists still own and control the mines. Their profits continue to pile up each year. The black middle class demonstrated its worth to the capitalist class. For the right price, they could be used to deflect the workers' revolutionary struggle at every step. Cyril Ramaphosa's "successful career" and the "respect" that the capitalists show him is due to this fact and to nothing else. As General Secretary of the ANC and at the World Trade Centre, Ramaphosa continued on the same path. The negotiated settlement was aimed to divert the masses from revolutionary struggle. It aimed to get the people to drop their reliance on their own, independent organisations and militant action to solve their problems." Continue with your normal lives while we negotiate to solve your problems" is what the ANC tried to teach the people. But to continue normally as before meant to continue to work for the bosses, "not to disturb the fragile economy", to accept that the capitalists will exploit you for ever. The elections and the government which came out of these negotiations aimed at precisely this. It ensures the ruling class position of the capitalists by safeguarding their ownership of all the means of production -the mines, the factories, the farms, everything. It also tries to ensure that the working class will remain a poor and exploited class. The South African constitution does the same thing. It contains all the rights and rules needed to protect the interests of the bosses and the capitalist system as a whole. It contains none of the rules and rights important to give the working class majority the chance to take control of society. The liberation of the working class from exploitation is illegal under the constitution. Cyril Ramaphosa and his friends have served capital well. His move onto the Board of NAIL means that he has become a capitalist himself. It also completes the project which the local and foreign capitalists launched in the 1980's. That project was to make the ANC and the aspirant black middle class which it represents, part of the system, and to get them to help suppress the fight for a revolution. Anglo-American and the imperialists had to give them a chance to become "big businessmen" as well. In other words, to give them a chance to share in the exploitation of the labouring masses. This is what the members of the of the black middle class really dream about -to become rich capitalists themselves. For this dream ,they will sell out the workers, suppress their struggle, simply do anything to please their benefactors. They are the enemies of the South African worker. Let no worker forget this for one= minute. In their struggle to rebuild the trade unions and workers' movement on the basis of independence from the state, democracy within unions and workers' internationalism, comrades Mkhungo and NM stand tall whilst Ramaphosa and his ilk grovel abjectly before capital. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________ Following a major discussion about violations of trade union and human rights by the government of the Ivory Coast, during the ITUSC's International Workers' Conference in London, the following protest has been sent to the President, Prime Minister and other Ministers of the Ivory= Coast. Please publicise this information as widely as possible and add your protest by writing to;

HE Henry Konan Bedie, =20 President of the Republic, =20 La Presidence, =20 Boulevard Cozel, =20 ABIDJAN =20 Cote d'Ivoire = =20 = =20 =20 Dear Mr President,

Human Rights violations in the Ivory Coast

I write to advise that during our recent International Workers' Conference in London , we received very disturbing reports of the activities of your government against the ordinary people of the Ivory Coast and against the workers and students unions in particular. In consequence of these reports the following resolution was unanimously endorsed by the Conference delegates from around the world:

" This International Workers' Conference meeting in London condemns the kidnapping, arrest, imprisonment and torture of the Federation Estudiantine & Scolaire de Cote d'Ivoire (FESCI) by President H.K.Bedie's dictatorial government. We call upon workers everywhere to join this protest and demand: a) the immediate release of all FESCI members and other trade unionists and political prisoners; b) the recognition of freedom of association and expression for the Ivorian people; c) the lifting of all bans on opposition parties, workers and students unions and independent newspapers; d) that the government of the Ivory Coast recognises the FESCI union, which is said to have been declared illegal since 1991 and; e) support the call for an international campaign for a total boycott against the dictatorial regime of H.K. Bedie in the Ivory Coast, until all the above demands have been met."

You must be aware of the damage the repressive anti-democratic measures of your government do to the reputation of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire in the eyes of the civilised world. The ITUSC urges you to take action to end these activities against human and trade union rights and introduce legislation which protects the democratic, human and trade union rights of the citizens of Cote d'Ivoire.

I have sent a copy of this letter to your Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Minister of Security and I look forward to receiving from you details of the action you have taken.

Yours faithfully, KEITH STANDRING General Secretary

c. H E The Prime Minister H E The Minister of Justice H E The Minister of Security

IRANIAN OIL WORKERS ARRESTED

This message has been requested by the:- COMMITEE FOR THE DEFENCE AND SUPPORT OF THE IRANIAN OIL WORKERS

Today (16 February), hundreds of oil workers and their elected representatives from the petroleum refineries in Iran (of the cities of Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz and Tehran), together with workers of the oil distribution sector, the oil pipelines and the national gas company, were arrested at a picket in front of the Tehran oil ministry. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also declared all oil workers' organisations as illegal, banned the formation of a national organisation and refused their demand for collective bargaining. As we previously informed you, the oil workers are involved in a direct confrontation with the Iranian regime. They are protesting against their working conditions, the level of wages and for the right to form a workers' organisation. Up to now the regime which governs Iran has refused to accept these basic and just demands.The oil workers had previously threatened to go on an all-out national, unlimited strike if their legitimate demands are not met. On 5 and 6 February, they elected representatives who then went to Tehran to form a national organisation. This organisation met there on 7 February, but the Iranian government intervened and dissolved the meeting. It then forced the representatives to return to their respective cities and prohibited them from leavingthem, putting them under 'city' arrest.A week later, the government demanded that each city send representatives to Tehran for negotiations. These negotiations were fruitless. Today, 16 February, around 2,000 oil workers and their representatives, acxcompanied by many other workers of associated industries, held a picket in front of the Tehran oil ministry and demanded to speak to the oil= minister. Iranian 'Revolutionary' Guards were called and quickly surrounded the area. They gave warning shots into the air to deter others from joining the oil workers' protest. Later, the government and the Revolutionary Guards brought many buses to the scene, arrested several hundreds of oil workers and their representatives and others.Tonight, at least until2100hrs. (Tehran time) , they went to workers homes and made arrests. They wre taken to a prison, but it is not known which one. The government has declared all oil workers' organsations illegal, prohibited the formation of a national organisation and refused the collctive bargaining demand. Today, in a radio interview, the Iranian oil minister claimed that negotiations with oil workers had taken place and that an agreement had been reached. According to our sources in Iran, which are 100% reliable, this is a complete fabrication; there is no element of truth in this statement. Today, all workers in all four refineries including the Tehran oil distribution department, oil pipeline workers and the national gas company have joined the strike to free their colleagues. WE URGE ALL TRADE UNIONS, POLITICAL PARTIES AND THE MEDIA TO PUBLICISE THIS NEWS AND TO PUT PRESSURE ON THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT TO FREE ALL OIL WORKERS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS WHO HAVE BEEN ARRESTED, IMMEDIATELY AND= UNCONDITIONALLY. Please send faxes to the Iranian Embassy in your country and let us have a copy of your response for relating your message to the Iranian oil workers and their representatives (through publications and broadcasts).

Iranian Refugee Workers' Association, PO Box 3646, London.=20 SW11 5YT Britain Tel/Fax 0044 (0) 1372 817 778 e-mail: itusc@gn.apc.org

Communist Party of Iran, C.D.R.T., PO Box 70445, 107 25 Stockholm, Sweden. Fax: (46) 08 86 80 54 Fax: 0044 (0) 181 248 2658

Iranian Workers' Left Unity, PO Box 22634, 1100 DC Amsterdam, The Netherlands.=20

IRANIAN OIL WORKERS KILLED

On behalf of the Committee for the Defence and Support of the Iranian Oil Workers

On 16 February 1997,we informed about the oil workers mass rally took place in front of the oil ministry in Tehran, Iran, and the attack on them and the beatings by the Islamic militias.Hundreds were arrested. After several days, most of those detained were released, but some are still in prison.

On 2 March, we received news from reliable sources in Iran that at least two of the demonstrators have since died of the injuries inflicted upon them in detention. Oil workers informed us that at least two others have probably died whilst being tortured.

Oil workers of the Shiraz refinery marched to the city and demanded the unconditional release of their comrades and acceptance of all their demands by the government of Iran, including the right to organise and the right to collective bargaining.

A few days ago, oil workers from Iran informed us that a new wave of arrests had begun, and that more than 50 oil workers, including some of their leaders, were taken to unknown prisons. They have not made contact with their families therefore their current situation is unclear. Our sources also told us that all the refineries are surrounded by Islamic militia guards; the refineries are under siege.

In its response to a letter from theInternational Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC), condemning the Iranian regime, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, London acknowledged that there has been a "recent protest by workers of the oil refinery in Tehran", that the protest concerned "their low wages" and that "workers at the Tehran Refinery protested at their low wages, demanding that the oil ministry take steps to solve their pay and welfare problems".=20

We reject these points:- =B7 First, the protest is not 'recent'; in fact the protests go back to the period just after the Revolution in 1978-79 and had intensified especially after the Gulf War;

=B7 Second, it was not only the workers of the refinery in Tehran who 'protested' but workers of many other refineries, namely Shiraz, Tabriz and Isfahan, were equally involved in this dispute. In the period up to the demonstration, workers of the oil pipelines, Iranian national gas and Tehran distribution centre were also involved. Pretending that the 'protest' had quite a narrow base, namely Tehran refinery, the Islamic government is as usual lying.

=B7 Third, low wages and welfare conditions are important issues in this dispute, but they are not the principal ones. The main dispute was over the right to organise and to form independent, workers' organisations. On 5 and 6 February, all oil refineries and the other industries mentioned above elected representatives who went to Tehran to form their national organisation, which was dissolved by the Iranian government on 7 February. It forced the representatives to return to their cities. The demand for the right to collective bargaining was the second, crucial demand which obviously presupposes a form of organisation among workers. This has been totally rejected by the government. (There were other demands as well).

The Embassy's letter states further that there had been negotiations, and that the problem is solved. The truth is that there have been no negotiations concerning the basic demands of the workers. The regime has told the workers that collective bargaining and forming independent organisations is out of the question. And the protest, contrary to the Embassy's statement, was and is not ended.

The letter ends by claiming that the workers and the oil ministry "had reached an agreement after which the workers returned to their work". By 'agreement' they mean that they have dissolved the founding meeting of 7 February, sent back the workers to their cities, and after the mass rally outside the oil ministry, have injured, imprisoned, tortured and - while torturing- killed workers. And after all that the oil refineries are under a state of siege.

Finally, it is a triumph for the workers that the wall of silence imposed by the Islamic Republic has been broken, mainly through their struggle, but also through international support and solidarity. They still need international solidarity to free their comrades and leaders, and to achieve their just demands, especially the rights to organise and collective= bargaining.

Please act urgently to secure the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested Iranian oil workers. Let the Committee for the Defence and Support of the Iranian Oil Workers have your solidarity messages to be passed on, published and broadcast on radio stations which will reach the Iranian oil workers.

IRANIAN OIL WORKERS KILLED (more)

transcript of reply from ITUSC to Iranian Embassy response, referred to in earlier message. Please note the second para. which provides names of two of the dead.

Mr. Mahmoud Khani, 7 March 1997 International Relations Section, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 16, Prince's Gate, London. SW7 1PT

Your Ref. FEBKHA 1/2313-01-7/23928 =20

Dear Mr. Khani,

Iranian Oil Workers Dispute=20

Thank you for your letter dated 26 February, in reply to ours of 25 January under the above heading.

We received news on 2 March from reliable sources in Iran that at least two of the demonstrators referred to in our earlier communication, have since died of the injuries that were inflicted upon them in detention. We know that one of them was Gholam Barzegar. Oil workers informed us that at least two others have died whilst being tortured, namely Hashem Kamely and another worker whose name is not yet known to us. Only a few days ago, oil workers from Iran informed us that more than 50 oil workers were arrested and taken to unknown prisons since when their families have received no contact from them, therefore their current situation is unclear.=20

Even as this letter is being prepared, we have learned from Iran that oil workers from the Abadan Oil Refinery have been arrested and are currently being transferred to Tehran gaols.

Your letter is headed " Protest by Workers of the Tehran Refinery" and it acknowledges that there has been a "recent protest by workers of the oil refinery in Tehran", that the protest concerned "their low wages" and that "workers at the Tehran Refinery protested at their low wages, demanding that the oil ministry take steps to solve their pay and welfare problems".=20

The ITUSC rejects these points:- =20 =B7 First, the protest is not 'recent'; in fact the protests go back to the period just after the Revolution in 1978-79 and had intensified especially after the Gulf War; =20 =B7 Second, it was not only the workers of the refinery in Tehran who 'protested' but workers of many other refineries, namely Shiraz, Tabriz and Isfahan, were equally involved in this dispute. In the period up to the demonstration, workers of the oil pipelines, Iranian national gas and Tehran distribution centre were also involved. Pretending that the 'protest' had quite a narrow base, namely Tehran refinery, the Islamic government is as usual lying.

=B7 Third, low wages and welfare conditions are important issues in this dispute, but they are not the principal ones. The main dispute was over the right to organise and to form independent, workers' organisations. On 5 and 6 February, all oil refineries and the other industries mentioned above, elected representatives who went to Tehran to form their national organisation, which was dissolved by the Iranian government on 7 February. It forced the representatives to return to their cities. The demand for the right to collective bargaining was the second, crucial demand which obviously presupposes a form of organisation among workers. This has been totally rejected by the government. (There were other demands as well).

Your letter states further that there had been negotiations, and that the problem is solved. The truth is that there have been no negotiations concerning the basic demands of the workers. The government has told the workers that collective bargaining and forming independent organisations is out of the question. And the protest, contrary to your statement, was and is not ended.

Your letter claims that the workers and the oil ministry "had reached an agreement after which the workers returned to their work". The government has dissolved the founding meeting of 7 February, sent back the workers to their cities, and after the mass rally outside the oil ministry, has injured, imprisoned, tortured and - while torturing- killed workers. That is not an agreement at all. And after all, if there is an agreement why then are all the oil refineries under a state of siege from the Islamic militia?= =20

In the above circumstances, you will not be surprised to learn that we are appalled at your government's actions and are wholly unimpressed by your attempt to mislead us by your response to our letter. We now not only demand the right of freedom of association and the recognition of the oil workers right to collective bargaining and all their other legitimate demands, but must also demand that the Iranian government immediately releases all those oil workers who have been detained.

With regard to your request for information about our constructive activities to promote the rights of British workers. We are an international body, whose headquarters, at the moment, happens to be in Britain. We have a proud record of defending workers throughout the world, including Britain, from abuses of trade union and other human rights. Your attempt to defend the indefensible actions of your government against its own workers, does not fill us with any confidence that you have the workers' best interests at heart. If, however, we are mistaken you may wish to subscribe to our International Trade Unionist Bulletin. It only costs =A38 for one copy of 10 issues or for 5 copies of ten issues =A330 and for each additional 5 copies= =A312.

We ask you to kindly convey the contents of this letter to your government. =20 =20

FREEDOM PRESS INTERNATIONAL =20 http://www.tao.ca/~freedom

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