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Media Centre | COSATU Press Statements
07 - 11 - 06
The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemns Saddam Hussein as a brutal dictator. Just like the late PW Botha, they cruelly oppressed, tortured and murdered thousands of people in order to maintain their ruling elites in power. Saddam persecuted any one who opposed his rule, and ruthlessly suppressed the aspirations of the Shia and Kurdish peoples.
He and his cronies deserve severe punishment, and should spend the rest of their lives behind bars. COSATU is however totally opposed to the death penalty, even for people like Saddam Hussein and PW Botha. It is a barbaric form of punishment, which is righ tly outlawed by the South African constitution. It does not serve as a deterrent and dehumanises all those involved in its implementation.
COSATU also has serious reservations about whether the trial of Saddam Hussein has been free and fair. He fully deserves to be put on trial, but the process has seemed to be more of a public relations exercise than a judicial process.
There is even a suspicion about the fact that the announcement of the verdict came a few days before crucial Congressional elections in the USA. Turning the media spotlight on the crimes of the man used by George Bush and Tony Blair as a hate-figure to jus tify their invasion of Iraq could divert attention away from the fact that he is now known not to have possessed weapons of mass destruction. It might thus help Bushs Republicans get a few more votes, at a time when opinion polls categorically show that m ost American people disapprove of the Iraq war.
A death sentence will also do nothing to advance the cause of democracy in Iraq. The trade unions, banned by Saddam, are still outlawed in democratic Iraq. The invasion by the imperialist powers has ensured that the interests of the Iraqi people remain s econdary to those of the multinational oil companies and all the other international business interests who are exploiting the countrys natural resources and labour, in order to extract the maximum profits and impose their hegemony on society.
COSATU remains resolutely opposed to the invasion of Iraq, demands the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops and calls for a genuine democracy that allows free trade unions, protects human rights and defends the national interests of all the peoples.