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Cablegate: Iraqi Labor Activist's Anti-U.S. Comments Draw Media

VZCZCXRO2805
RR RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHCG #0157 1220635
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010635Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL CHENNAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1646
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3098
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0003

UNCLAS CHENNAI 000157

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ELAB IN IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQI LABOR ACTIVIST'S ANTI-U.S. COMMENTS DRAW MEDIA
ATTENTION IN KERALA


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Abdulla Muhsin, described as a labor activist from
Iraq, grabbed media attention in the South India state of Kerala
with sharp comments against American multinational companies
"looting billions and billions of dollars worth of oil under the
guise of the U.S. occupation of Iraq." Muhsin was one of the
participants in an international labor conference of the Southern
Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) held in
Kochi from April 19-23. Muhsin's comments will contribute to
reinforcing leftist Kerala's widely held notion that U.S. action in
Iraq is motivated by oil. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Abdulla(h) Muhsin, who described himself as the
International Representative of the General Federation of Iraqi
Workers (formerly known as the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions),
came to Kerala to participate in the eighth international conference
of the Southern Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights
(SIGTUR) held in Kochi from April 19-23. About two hundred
delegates, half of them from 20 other countries including Japan,
Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka,
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Australia, Brazil, and South Africa,
participated in the conference hosted by the Center of Indian Trade
Unions (CITU), the top trade union of the Communist Party of India
(Marxist). Among others, CITU President M.K. Pandhe and Kerala
Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan spoke at the conference.

3. (SBU) Muhsin grabbed much media attention with his alleged
comments against American multinational companies "looting billions
and billions of dollars worth of oil under the guise of U.S.
occupation of Iraq." In an interview with national daily The Hindu
(April 30), he reportedly said that American multinational companies
"looting billions and billions of dollars worth of oil under the
guise of the U.S. occupation of Iraq." According to Muhsin,
hundreds of people in the oil-rich nation are dying without proper
treatment and medicines every day, in addition to the dozens killed
in factional fights and U.S. firing.

4. (SBU) Muhsin also criticized the earlier regime of Saddam Hussein
and the fundamentalist militias in Iraq, as well as the "American
occupation." Muhsin alleged that it is the disastrous policies of
the occupying forces that have led to the Sunni-Shia internecine
fighting in Iraq. According to him, the greed and one-upmanship of
the Iraqi politicians and the fundamentalist outfits add to the
people's woes. He said the neighboring countries are fomenting
trouble by pitting one section of the people against the other.
Muhsin also alleged that nearly 250 key scientists, intellectuals
and top academics were systematically finished by the "secret agents
of a foreign country." In parenthesis, the news reporter mentioned
that "there have been accusations that Israeli agents have been
involved in this."

5. (SBU) The Hindu staff correspondent K.P.M. Basheer, who
interviewed Muhsin told Post that Muhsin was a star at the SIGTUR
Conference, where his passionate talk about Iraq and its sufferings
drew loud ovations. Muhsin allegedly is based in London since he
fled Iraq in 1978. According to an Internet site, Muhsin had been a
student union activist in Iraq, and in exile, he was active in the
Workers' Democratic Trade Union Movement (WDTUM), an underground
organization that resisted the Ba'ath Party until its collapse.

6. (SBU) SIGTUR, which held its eighth international conference in
Kerala, is a collective of leftist trade unions from Asia, Africa,
South America, Australia and New Zealand. Some of the major
collaborators are ACTU (Australia), KCTU (South Korea), CITU
(India), KMU (Philippines), COSATU (South Africa), and CUT (Brazil).
Formed in 1991 (although formally named only in 1997) to fight
"neo-liberal globalization which seriously undermines labor rights",
SIGTUR's activities are coordinated by Rob Lambert, an Associate
Professor at the University of Western Australia. The
academic/activist has played a key role in founding SIGTUR and has
hosted Indian communist party leaders in Australia. Note: Details
of SIGTUR can be viewed at www.sigtur.com and CITU's introductory
note on the SIGTUR Kochi conference can be viewed at
http://www.citucentre.org/sigtur/indexMore.ph p

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Although Muhsin made sharp comments against Saddam
Hussein's reign and the activities of fundamentalist militias as
well, what grabs attention are his wild allegations of oil looting
and human rights violations. Unfortunately, Muhsin's comments are
likely to find resonance in Kerala where sustained propaganda
against U.S. actions in Iraq is a key component to the leftist
political activity. END COMMENT.
HOPPER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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