[Hassan Jumaa Awad is the President of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra]
In the name of God, The Merciful, The Compassionate,
Dear friends, antiwar activists, and peace lovers,
Allow me to thank you very much for your invitation to join this conference which opposes war and advocates peace. As you know, the occupation of Iraq is one of the most important issues on the current international scene. I believe that conferences of this kind are important and very useful for informing world public opinion about the latest developments in the military actions of the occupation forces. As you also know, we live in a world in which evil forces pursue domination and the usurpation of rights and property. In order for peace to reign over the entire world, we have to stand steadfast against those evil forces, unify our protest and practice solidarity, for it is the unity of peoples that intimidates the forces of evil. To this end, I convey to you the greetings of Iraq’s workers, and in particular the oil workers who, by their struggle, have tormented the forces of evil represented by America and its allies. They have stood against occupation forces and confronted them, preventing them from getting to the oil installations, and have stood likewise against foreign companies. Oil workers were the first to stand against these companies by holding out against the monopolist firms that were brought in by America two months after the beginning of the occupation. These firms came under the protection of American tanks; however, our Union’s first action was to expel KBR [Halliburton] from our oil sites, thus marking the victory of Iraqi workers against the forces of evil.
Our Union was reconstituted eleven days after the arrival of occupation forces in Baghdad. That was on April 20, 2003: a number of activists faced up to this task, rendered exceptionally difficult by the state of chaos and security instability prevailing in the country. The main goals of the reconstitution of the Union were well-known: the first was to secure Union members’ claims while Iraqi state administration fell under American control; the second goal was to safeguard the oil sector’s production mechanism, knowing full well that America’s goal is to control Iraq’s oil. It is for these reasons that the Union was reconstituted in the oil sector — because we were aware of American intentions, as oil was one of the main reasons for launching the war on Iraq.
As you know, brothers and sisters, Iraqi oil reserves are considered the world’s second largest and that is why the war was launched against the land of the two rivers. Allow me to say a few words about the vicious onslaught that America and its allies launched against our beloved Iraq. The reasons for war that were presented to the world were, first, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction — Bush, the criminal, purposely ignoring that [UN] inspection commissions had been roving Iraq north to south since 1991 in search of these weapons and did not find any. The second alleged reason was the war against terrorism, whereas Bush and the U.S. administration knew quite well where terrorism was truly based. We say therefore that these were not the main reasons for launching the war on Iraq, but the reasons were those that I mentioned, to which should be added that one of the main reasons was also that Iraq constituted the major threat to the security of Israel. We know, and everyone here knows, real American intentions. America is fully prepared to annihilate the entire world for its interests, and its interests lie in exerting control over Iraqi oil and putting this wealth at its disposal.
We know, brothers and sisters, how clear are the goals of this war, military occupation being but the first step to be followed by economic occupation. America has destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq — it destroyed the schools, the universities, the hospitals, the factories, the plants and it has violated human rights. Among these violations stands the fact that the Transitional Administrative Law [TAL, promulgated by U.S. proconsul Paul Bremer] did not allow the formation of unions and other organizations. American and British politicians are claiming that they are establishing democracy in Iraq, since there was no democracy in our country because it lived under a dictatorial regime. But very regrettably, their so-called democracy consists in the [Iraqi] citizens having to stop whenever an American or British military column passes by, for fear of being killed, as everyone knows: this is their so-called democracy. The [Transitional] Administrative Law considers demonstrations a crime punishable by law.
In our experience America has not been honest in any way. Every now and then they declare that the security responsibility has been handed over to the Iraqis, but then we see the occupation forces roaming everywhere. We believe that America deliberately creates crises every now and then in the areas that are somewhat stable and secure, the reason obvious to all being that crises justify extending the presence of the occupation forces. If stability and security prevailed, these forces would have to leave. However, America does not want to withdraw at this time, because it did not complete its operation; it has not yet accomplished the second phase of the occupation, the economic occupation of Iraq. That is why the U.S. administration is currently putting forward its economic plans which include privatization of the oil and manufacturing sectors, and the production sharing agreement [PSA] project.
From this platform, I would like to make clear to all the positions of our Union, which are known to the Iraqi people:
1. Occupation forces must leave the country immediately and unconditionally.
2. We will stand firmly and resolutely against all those who want to tamper with the security and power of the Iraqi people.
3. We condemn terrorist attacks against our people and stress the importance of respecting human rights.
4. We support the honorable resistance that targets and strikes at foreign military forces and seeks to drive the occupiers out.
5. We will not allow the intrusion of foreign companies [in the oil sector] and production sharing agreements, and we will stand with all our force against monopoly firms such as Halliburton, KBR, Shell, and others.
6. We ask the patriotic forces, the antiwar movement and peace-lovers to support our Union in its campaign against privatization and PSAs.
7. We demand the unconditional cancellation of Iraq’s [foreign] debts, as these debts never benefited the Iraqi people but served the buried regime.
In conclusion, I wish you good luck and success, and I look forward to meeting you in a free, democratic, and united Iraq that would be a workshop for all free citizens of the world. I offer again my thanks and appreciation to the organizers of this conference.
May peace and God’s mercy, and blessings be upon you.
(Translated from the Arabic. Original version posted on the website of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra.)