The event began with opening remarks by Tim Nesbitt, president of Oregon AFL-CIO, and further moderated by Margaret Hallock. Tim began by stating that..."brothers and sisters, no matter what we may think about the causes and conduct of the war in Iraq, there's little disagreement in our country and our union movement that we want now to see a free and democratic Iraq. And with that as our goal, we have a lot to learn from the brave union leaders of that country who fought and risked their lives for a free union movement under Sadaam Hussein and who continue to fight and risk their lives under a Provisional Authority."|
Tim introducers the modreator, Margaret Hallock, who, after a few remarks of her own introduces the two Iraqis union leaders.
Hassan Juma'a Awad AL Asade is chief of the Executive Branch of the General Union of Oil Employees in Basra. He was an opponent of the Ba'athist regime, a human rights activist, and unionist, who was imprisoned by the Ba'athist regime three times for "subversive" activity. He served for thrity-one years as a technician in various oil companies and is a founding member of the Oil Sector Union, being elected its Chief Executive in July of 2004.
Faleh Abbood Umara is General Secretary of the General Union of Oil Employees. He is a founding member of the oil workers union and a member of the local council in the Al-Hade district in Basra. In 1998, he was detained by the Hussein regime for his activities on behalf of his co-workers. He has serve on the union's negotiating team with both the Oil Ministry and the British occupation authorities.
Both men would end the occupation immediately and state that the Iraqi people are perfectly capable of organizing and sustaining themselves, without U.S intervention. They do believe that they are better off without Sadaam, yet believe that the war was actually a war for oil and that under the current occupation, the people have no real power to determine their own fate. Hassan Juma'a Awad Al Asade stated that "we know that one of the main reasons for the invasion of Iraq was to control the oil resources in the Middle East, and because Iraq owns certain oil reserves in the world."
And further, "I would like to indicate to you that the infrastructure of Iraq has been destroyed, because the war has not left anything for the Iraqis, only the oil."
This is a rare glimpse into the life of the Iraqi people, through the eyes of two men struggling for the empowerment of their people. This audio file is about 28 minutes in length, the majority of which are the presentations and translations by the two Iraqi union leaders. Both translators are Iraqis, currently living with their families here in Portland.
Iraqi Speakers, RealMedia
Iraqi Speakers, MP3