Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/562/6763
The Socialist 14 January 2009 |
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Defend threatened Saudi Arabian trade unionist
EXILED SAUDI Arabian trade unionist, Yahya Al Faifi, has had his application for asylum for himself, his wife and children refused by the Home Secretary and they have been ordered to return to Saudi Arabia.
Dave Reid, Cardiff
Scandalously Yahya, whose life was in jeopardy there, was told he has nothing to fear if he returns to Saudi Arabia; where trade unions are illegal and the monarchical regime is one of the most repressive in the world. Yahya's appeal against this decision will be held in Newport on 22 January.
Yahya organised a trade union in BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia in 2004, after the company said they were cutting pay by 40%. Over 500 workers came to the first union meeting but BAE Systems then sacked Yahya and two others.
Yahya kept up the fight for months. Then in July 2004 he received a phone call threatening to cut out his tongue unless he left the country. Most opponents of the Saudi regime face first threats followed by beatings, arrest, torture and even murder. He was to leave the country immediately or the safety of his family "could not be guaranteed".
He fled to Britain taking most of his family with him. Those of his family still in Saudi Arabia have been denied the right to travel and are the target of threats.
Yahya would never have left Saudi Arabia for a much harder life as an asylum seeker if he hadn't believed he and his family were in extreme danger.
In Britain he won widespread support for his cause and for trade unionism in Saudi Arabia in the British workers' movement. He has become an important part of the South Wales trade union movement, joining the Communication Workers Union, being made an honorary member of the National Union of Mineworkers, winning the Wales TUC's support and addressing dozens of labour movement meetings.
If Yahya and his family are forced to return to Saudi Arabia all indications are that he will face serious and potentially life-threatening attacks from a government with one of the world's worst human rights records.
Yahya made a stand for trade unionism in Saudi Arabia and put his life and his family's safety at risk. He urgently needs support to defend him against being sent back to face the tyrannical Saudi regime's oppression. Trade union meetings should discuss the matter and raise it with union-sponsored MPs and the Home Secretary.
Send protest letters to: Jacqui Smith MP, Secretary of State for Home Department, 3rd Floor, Peel Buildings, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF email: firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting reference number A1236316.
Send copies to Defend Yahya Al Faifi Campaign, 144 Commercial Street, Senghenydd, Caerphilly CF83 4GB or email@example.com Model letters available at www.socialistpartywales.org.uk