Thursday, April 19, 2007

Santiago and Mahmoud, our brothers, murdered and jailed

Eric Lee of LabourStart writes:

In unions in different countries, we call each other by different names. Some unions use the word 'comrade', others use 'colleague'. And many use the terms 'brother' and 'sister' to describe fellow union members.

Are we simply using these words because we always have, or do they still have any real meaning?

I ask that question because in the last few days one of our brothers has been brutally tortured and murdered, and another one, an innocent man, jailed.

In Mexico, Santiago Rafael Cruz, a 29-year-old union organizer from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC, AFL-CIO) was brutally tortured and murdered. Santiago was a successful organizer in the USA who had moved down to Mexico to run the union's office there. His activities aroused the hostility of those who fear the growth of trade unionism among farm workers, and generated attacks in the media, threats of deportation, robberies and intimidation, culminating in this terrible crime.

Santiago has a family in Mexico, a mother, father, sisters and brothers. But his family is much larger than that; it includes all of us. We must grieve together with his family, and we must fight together with them as one large family to ensure that the Mexican government investigates the murder, arrests and prosecutes those responsible, and ensures the safety of union activists in that country.

Please take a moment to send off your message today:

About the same time that union-hating murderers were ending the life of this courageous young man in Mexico, on the other side of the world Iranian security forces lured union activist Mahmoud Salehi into the local prosecutor's office on the pretext of discussing plans for this year's May Day celebrations. Salehi, a former president of the bakery workers' union in the city of Saqez, was then arrested and put in jail for a year with a three year suspended sentence on top of that. His crime was that in 2004 he organized a May Day demonstration.

Tell the Iranian authorities to release Mahmoud Salehi now, and to drop all charges. Send off your message by clicking here:

I doubt very much if Santiago and Mahmoud ever met -- and yet they are brothers. One now languishing in an Iranian prison, the other in a Mexican grave.

If these two men were not just fellow trade union members but actually your brothers, the sons of your mothers and fathers, how would you react? I know that you wouldn't be silent -- you would be up in arms and the whole world would know your anger and your pain.

Please pass this message on. Let's tell the Mexican and Iranian governments that we in the international trade union movement are a single family, and we will not tolerate our brothers and sisters being tortured, jailed or murdered anywhere in the world.

Eric Lee

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