Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Pinkertons at the CPA

Pinkertons at the CPA
Iraq's resurgent labor unions could have helped rebuild the country's civil society. The Bush administration of course tried to crush them.

By Matthew Harwood

On Jan. 4, labor union leader Hadi Saleh returned to his Baghdad home after work. Five masked men laid in wait. After he entered, they jumped him, blind-folded him, and bound his hands and feet. The intruders beat and burnt Saleh on his torso and head and then choked him to death with an electrical cord. Before they left, the men strafed Saleh's body with bullets. His membership files were ransacked. This wasn't everyday violence. Saleh was, at the time of his death, international secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and a strong player in Iraq's born-again labor movement once crushed by Saddam Hussein. The labor leader's killers are widely suspected to be remnants of Hussein's secret police, the Mukhabarat. Saleh's slaying was the most high-profile attack on Iraqi labor officials, many of whom continue to be kidnapped and killed with impunity by the insurgents. In recent months, two more trade unionists have been murdered, one while he was walking home with his children.

There is good reason for insurgents to take on the trade unionists. The IFTU supports a secular state, representative of Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurd. Its leaders have called for the insurgency to end. The union has endorsed U.N. Resolution 1546, which sets the time table for Iraq's transition into a democracy....