Stop the Theft of Iraq’s OIl!

February 25th, 2008 - by admin

US Labor Against – 2008-02-25 00:49:52

Labor, Environmentalists and Antiwar Activists
Say “Stop the Theft of Iraq’s Future:
Iraqi Oil for the Iraqi People!”

One year ago, the Iraqi Cabinet, under intense pressure by the United States government, passed an Oil Law that is now awaiting Parliament’s approval. The proposed Oil Law is a plan to give Big Oil unprecedented control over Iraq’s oil fields for 30 years.

The US government collaborated with corporate oil giants in this resource grab, and has continued to put pressure on Iraq to pass the law. [1] The Iraqi Parliament has so far resisted pressure to pass it, but their struggle is by no means over.

In response to this pressure, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions is mobilizing an international day of actionand will be holding protests in Basra and elsewhere against the ongoing occupation and proposed oil law. US labor, environmental and antiwar organizations are joining the 70% of Iraqis who oppose the passage of the Oil Law in this day of solidarity. See a list of all US, UK, and Iraq Actions

“Iraq, ever since the occupation started, and now, is producing oil without an oil law,” said Hassan Juma Awad, President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions. “Therefore we think the insistence of passing a law under the current circumstances is a trick to bring in international oil companies.”

The oil workers unions have played a leading role in fighting privatization of Iraqi oil. “Because of an opposition to the oil law, we find all kinds of condemnation from the government, and our workers understand fully that the campaign waged against us is because of our opposition to the oil law,” Awad said. “The Iraqi people need such a law, but we need to gain our full sovereignty before such a law is enacted.”
(Iraqi Worker, Activists Demand Hands Off Iraqi Oil 6/6/07 UC)

On Friday, Feb. 22, at noon U.S. Labor Against the War, Oil Change International, and allied organizations (listed below) convened a press conference and conducted a street action in Washington, D.C., in solidarity with the unions of Iraq to oppose U.S. attempts to impose an Oil Law that would privatize control of their national resources, and to demand respect for labor rights for Iraqi workers.

The press conference was addressed by Gene Bruskin, National Co-Convenor of USLAW, Adam Kokesh representing Iraq Veterans Against the War and Trina Zahller of Oil Change International.

Gene Bruskin presented an “Open Letter” to Prime Minister Maliki and President Bush signed by four hundred trade union leaders, members and labor allies in support of the demands of Iraqi unions.

Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War echoed Awad’s sentiments. “I learned from my experience in Iraq that we will never be able to establish rule of law for the Iraqi people. It has become clear that our military presence in Iraq is to secure American oil interests.

“This war will never pay for itself, it will never bring back dead Marines and soldiers, it will never bring back 1.2 million dead Iraqis, it will never make up for the horror of 9/11, and it will never make us safer. But it WILL serve to make a lot of corrupt businessmen rich.”

Trina Zahller of Oil Change International, an organization seeking to get oil money out of politics and end government subsidies to the oil industry, points out, “Foreign oil companies are scrambling to use this opportunity to secure access to massive profits from Iraq’s large, untapped oil reserves at the expense of the Iraqi people.

Grabbing access to a finite resource amidst vast regional violence is not a step towards solving our long-term energy issues. Nor is coercing an occupied country to pass a law its people vastly oppose a step towards democracy.”

Oil workers are at the center of this struggle and find themselves fighting at the intersection between sovereign rights and labor rights.

According to Gene Bruskin of U.S. Labor Against the War, “When members of the oil workers unions protest the oil law, the Minister of Oil uses dictatorship-era laws[2] to proclaim they do not exist, to close their offices, freeze their bank accounts, and issue arrest warrants against their leaders.

Close to 650 Iraqi oil workers have been killed or wounded or kidnapped since the occupation began in March 2003[3], many under suspicious circumstances.”

This event is part of two days of solidarity actions in at least three US cities and a dozen UK cities. The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, as well as other unions and civil-society organizations in Iraq, are mobilizing on March 15th against the occupation, oil law and privatization contracts.

* International actions urge against Iraq oil law, say no good oil decisions can be made under occupation…
* Kick That Barrel

Coverage of protests outside the US

Participating Organizations:

Oil Change International,
US Labor Against the War,
No War No Warming,
Code Pink,
DC Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW),
United for Peace and Justice,
After Downing Street,
Grassroots America,
Hands Off Iraqi Oil,
Platform UK,
War on Want,
Consumers For Peace,
Iraq Freedom Congress,

[1] The origin of the Oil Law can be traced to Houston-based oil corporations who collaborated with the State Department to issue a $250 million contract to BearingPoint, a U.S. consultancy firm that “advised” the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on the new oil law. After the oil giants and the IMF reviewed it, it was finally seen by the Iraqi Cabinet.

[2] Laws 150 and 151 were put into effect by Saddam Hussein in 1987 to prohibit workers in the public sector from organizing unions and are still in effect. No new labor law currently exists in Iraq. Iraqi unions seek a labor law that conforms to the standards established by the U.N. International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions governing the rights of workers.

[3] The door to Iraq’s oil opens, by M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times 2/16/08

Media that covered the event:
1. Telesur (So. America TV): Nitza Perez
2. Internet Sites: Mike Ferner
3. AKAHATA (Japanese newspaper): Yumi Kamazuka
4. Talk News Radio: Evan Segelman
5. Atlantic Television News for Press TV: Kaili Nadiner & photographer
6. Aljazeera: Mahmoud Hamalawy with TV camera
7. UPI: Ben Lando
8. Voice of America: Ruth Reader with camera person and photographer
9. AFP (French wire service): Paul Richards
10. Trouw: (Netherlands)