Interview: Terror Australis
Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Industrial: The Hell of Troy
Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
History: Vicious Old Lady
International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Review: War Unfogged
The Locker Room
Getting Away With Murder
A Voice for Peace
By Andrew Casey
Shaher Sae'd, the General Secretary of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PFGTU) has joined more than 60 prominent Palestinian officials and leaders urging the Palestinian community to refrain from retaliation for Israel's assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
This group of prominent leaders argue retaliation would ignite a new round of bloodshed that would only hurt Palestinian aspirations for independence.
The PGFTU is affiliated to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions ( ICFTU).
The half-page advertisement in the PLO's Al-Ayyam newspaper called on Palestinians to lay down their arms and turn to peaceful means of protest to end Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The ad reflected apparently growing sentiment among many Palestinian leaders and intellectuals that military struggle is not helping the Palestinian cause.
Yassin was killed in an air strike prompting a massive outpouring of anger on Palestinian streets. Hamas has promised to strike back, saying even Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a target.
Among the many people who signed the ad which appeared three days after the Sheikh was killed - were the Sydney Peace Prize winner and lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi.
Read below the full text of the Palestinian ad - translated into English.
ICFTU protests harassment of Shaher Sae'd
Meanwhile, on the same day as the advert appeared, the ICFTU has sent a strongly worded letter to the Israeli PM, Sharon, protesting at the continuing harassment of Shaher Sae'd, General Secretary of PGFTU by the Israeli authorities.
The letter sent by Guy Ryder, the general secretary of the ICFTU, protested the early morning raid on Mr Sae'd on Wednesday March 25.
A copy of the letter to Sharon was also sent to Amir Peretz, the head of the Israeli trade union movement, the Histadrut.
The ICFTU letter to Sharon protested that a high number of IDF personnel surrounded the house of Shaher Sae'd at 04:25 am on March 25.
" (They) forced their way inside, took Mr. Sae'd out of his home at gunpoint, questioned him at length about the whereabouts of a person he allegedly knew and demanded that he accompany them to look for that person, which he refused," Guy Ryder says in his letter.
" He was held for a period of time, during which he was allegedly threatened by the soldiers, and then allowed to return to his house.
" The ICFTU considers this sort of intimidation as totally groundless and unacceptable, especially against a senior leader of the Palestinian trade union movement.
" I would appreciate it if you could instruct the relevant military authorities to abstain from such unwarranted action in the future and guarantee that Palestinian trade unionists are free to exercise their activities without fear of harassment by your country's security forces."
What the advert in the PLO paper said:
We, the undersigned, Palestinians from various political, intellectual and social institutions, united in our endurance and struggle for freedom, emphatically condemn and denounce Israel's blatant aggression on our people.
The cold-blooded murder of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and his faithful companions by Sharon and his right-wing extremist government two days ago epitomizes Israel's criminal and insidious behavior.
While we assert our people's rights, guaranteed by all international covenants, to defend themselves by all means available and despite the enormity of our pain at this horrific tragedy and its impact, we nevertheless call upon our people throughout Palestine, guided by the imperatives of national interest and the removal of the initiative from the hands of the criminal occupation gang, to repress their rage and rise once again in a widespread, popular and peaceful Intifada, based on clear objectives and forthright discourse, with the fate of our people steered by the masses.
Such an Intifada would be conducted by our valiant people as a proactive approach to deny Sharon the pretext to continue escalating his aggression on our people and holy sites and would prevent him from finalizing his "security" plot.
We call for this unified Intifada as a step towards the resurrection of constructive and disciplined popular action, with clear objectives as well as a binding program and political return. We reaffirm our commitment to our just and legal demands and to our people's inalienable rights. We call for uniting ranks on grounds of national unity and a unified leadership that can effectively resist the occupation.
You can see a list of all the signers and get more details about this ad here:: http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=3387&CategoryId=2
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