Iraqi oil workers

Democracy Now! had a very illuminating program featuring Faleh Abood Umara, the general secretary of the Federation of Oil Unions and a founding member of the oil workers union in Iraq and Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, president of the Electrical Utility Workers Union and the first woman to head a national union in Iraq.

At one point, Faleh Abood Umara calls the US-written and US-backed Iraqi Oil Law “robbery.”

FALEH ABOOD UMARA: [translated] With regards to the situation of the Iraqi oil workers, they’re persevering in their work and preserving the Iraqi oil wells. The reason we went on strike was to make twenty-seven demands, which we submitted to the Iraqi prime minister. He agreed to them, but the minister of oil did not implement the demands that led to the strike.

The most important point or one of the most important points is our demand not to rush through the new Iraqi oil law, because we believe that this oil law does not serve the interests of the Iraqi people. So we ask our friends in the United States, as well, to stand in solidarity with us and publicize the ill effects of this law, so that it never is agreed upon in the parliament….

HASHMEYA MUHSIN HUSSEIN: [translated] As a part of the Iraqi society, they suffer like everybody else, but also there were laws that were issued under the occupation that specifically targeted women, especially Law No. 137, which canceled the old civil law and delegated all issues that have to do with civil law to the local communities and religious communities, religious authorities. We took this very seriously and went out in demonstrations until the new law was canceled, but it was reintroduced through the new constitution, and we now demand the cancellation of this article.

As far as women’s rights are concerned, women are not completely suppressed. As you can see, I am right here in front of you. And we have 25% of the parliament members who are women, and we seek, we hope that it will soon become 40%. And this is a result of our struggle and determination that women in Iraq will have their rightful place.