Stop Deportations to Iraq and Harrasment of Union Activists in Iraq

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Iraq: Alarm at forced transfer of Basra union activistsRichard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian, Friday July 25 2008

Eight Iraqi trade union leaders have been forcibly transferred from Basra to Baghdad, where their lives are said to be at risk for opposing a planned law in which control over oil exploration and production would be placed in foreign hands.

The men, members of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions, IFOU, have been moved to the capital apparently on the personal orders of Hussain al-Shahristani, the Iraqi oil minister, under anti-union legislation left over from Saddam Hussein's rule. Greg Muttitt, co-director of Platform, the human rights, environment and oil industry watchdog, described the men's transfer as "extremely disturbing". He met Shahristani a month ago to protest against the move.

The Iraqi oil minister said the eight men were involved with the militias and in criminal activities, such as smuggling. But Muttitt said: "There is absolutely no substance in these extremely serious allegations and he offered no evidence."

Even if there was such evidence, it should be a matter for the Iraqi judicial authorities and the courts, he added.

British officials in Baghdad and Basra have investigated the affair, said Kim Howells, the foreign minister. In a letter, he said Britain wanted to repeal Saddam's "restrictive" union laws and said Anne Clywd, the prime minister's special envoy on human rights, had recently "emphasised the fundamental need for free and fair trade unions in Iraq".

However, he added: "It appears that the government of Iraq is tackling illegal trade union activities with the South Oil Company."

John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, said: "The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions has been leading the opposition to the sell-off of Iraq's oil and these members are clearly being targeted for their political actions. We believe the British government should work for the safety of Iraqi trade unionists, not be complicit in their persecution."

In a letter to Howells, he said: "We would also like you to state whether the British government in any way condones the transfer of trade unionists into dangerous areas as a method of "tackling their activities, whether legal or illegal".

Hassan Juma'a Awad, an IFOU spokesman, claimed the transfer was ordered by Shahristani himself. "Those activists, through their hard work, are well known for fighting corruption and corrupt-ministry gangs in the oil sector," he insisted, adding that the transfer amounted to a "human rights crime".


Press Release 22 July 2008

Kurdish asylum seeker forcibly deported to Bahgdad

Namak Ahmad father of Shawan Namek from Kirkuk reported to International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) that his son Shawan Namek was forcibly deported at 1 pm on 14 July 2008, by military aircraft to Bahgdad. Namak was contacted by the Iraqi authorites infrorming him they were holding his son at Bahdad airport until they were given identity papers for Shawan. Namek made the dangerous journey from Kirkuk to Bahgdad only to be told by the Iraqi authorities that the papers were not sufficient, and they would not release Shawan.

This is not the first time the UK Government has forcibly deported Iraqi asylum seekers. Since 2005 approximately 500 asylum Iraqi seekers have been deported to the Kurdish region of Iraq. However this is the first time that they have deported anyone back to Bahgdad. This Barbaric policy must be stopped! IFIR has received the following reports from returned asylum seekers and their families

Sirwa Nouri was 7 months pregnant when her husband was forcibly deported in April 2008. Sirwa gave birth to a health baby on 20 June 2008, since he was deported Sirwa has not heard from her husband.

Kadir Salin Abdullah lived in the UK for five years. He left behind five children in Iraq. On 20 March 2005 he gave up the fight to claim asylum in the UK and signed voluntary return papers. Upon his return in February 2006 as his family feared he was kidnapped by the PUK and has not been heard of since. Following his disappearance his daughter committed suicide.

Sadullah was 16 when he first arrived in the UK and lived in Peterborough for 4 years. His asylum application was refused and the Home Office told him to go home or he will be forcibly deported After 4 years living off the charity of friends, he gave up and went back. Tragically, Sadullah was killed by a car bomb in January 2007 in Kirkuk.

Many more have been forcibly deported back to Iraq but IFIR has been unable to trace them. IFIR condemns all forcible deportations. More than ever Iraqi asylum seekers need your support. We call on Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and all Human and Refugee Rights organisations and Trade Unions to write letters to the UK Home Office condemning deportation to Iraq.

Please send letters of protest to:

Fax number: Fax:00442070354745

Home Secretary

2 Marsham St

London, SW1P

and copy to IFIR & csdiraq , PO Box1575, Ilford, IG1 3BZ, London, email and and sarah parker:

International Federation of Iraqi Refugees-IFIR

CSDIRAQ _______________________________________________

POBOX1575,ILFORD IG1 3BZ ,LONDON,UK Tel:0044 7856032991 ,

Dashty Jamal
International Federation of Iraqi Refugees