South African unions condemn U.S. attacks on Afghanistan

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Posted by on October 08, 2001 at 19:52:50:

COSATU Statement on the US Attacks on Afghanistan

08 October 2001

COSATU condemns attacks against Afghanistan by the US and its allies on the 07 September 2001. While the attacks may appear justifiable and logical, in COSATU's view they add to a vicious cycle of violence. It is worrying that the US has hastened to attack Afghanistan without convincing the world beyond doubt about the culpability of Osama bin Laden and his crew in the deplorable attacks on the US on the 11 September. Preferably, the UN should have taken leadership in resolving the current impasse between the US and Afghanistan. The US track record as a referee and a player, particularly in the Middle East is questionable. Hence the need for an impartial world body such as the UN to play a key role in resolving the current impasse.

Unfortunately, the UN has become ineffective in resolving conflicts such as the current one mainly due to the attitude of the US and other dominant countries. When it suits their purpose the dominant countries use the UN and when it does not suit their agenda these countries act outside of the UN. This has discredited the UN and creates conditions for 'unilateralism' and for dominant countries to act with impunity.

In the final analysis the attacks may spark further retaliatory attacks and may mobilise support for Osama bin Laden and his group. This will plunge the world in an internecine spiral of violence that the world cannot afford, and ultimately undermine world peace and stability. In COSATU's view, this is a time for cool heads in search of political and not military solutions. At the end of the day it is the ordinary Afghan citizens, like in Iraqi that are going to suffer. This will further worsen the social crisis that has engulfed the country for some time. The humanitarian crisis that is now unfolding in that region compounds a famine that has faced Afghanistan.

COSATU believes that the world should seek justice and not vengeance. The perpetrators of the September 11 attacks on the US must be apprehended and placed before a court of justice. In the long run what is needed is a concerted and long-term campaign to combat terrorism not quick fix military strikes. The quick fix solutions have proven ineffective during the gulf war and in other regions where the US preferred military intervention.

The effects of the US actions, particularly the negative spillover effects on the economy, will be felt by the rest of the world. If the current attacks worsen the world economic situation, the poor will be the brunt of an economic slowdown. It is for this reason that there is a need for a co-ordinated political action under the auspices of the United Nations.

Against this background, COSATU calls on the US and British governments to reconsider their position of military action and seek a political solution under the auspices of the UN. COSATU is encouraged by the South African government decision not to participate in military action and hope that it will maintain this position throughout. The South African government has a duty to mobilise other UN members for a political solution to the current impasse.

Further, COSATU would like to urge the Taliban administration in Afghanistan to cooperate with the international community so that those that there is evidence that they participated or engineered the deplorable attacks should stand trial. Until there has been due process, the involvement or otherwise of bin Laden and his group, the accusations amounts to sheer and dangerous speculation. The US government must also swallow its pride and engage the Taliban in direct talks rather than issuing ultimatums.

The federation also condemns last night's attack on the mosque in Pretoria. Such attacks are misguided and fuels hatred towards people of different religious faith. The police must swiftly find the perpetrators. COSATU wishes to express its sympathy and solidarity to the Islamic community and appeals for calm and religious tolerance.

Issued by the COSATU General Secretary on behalf of the Federation:


Contact 082-821-7456 Patrick Craven or Moloto Mothapo for further comment.

Visit the COSATU web site at for copies of our most recent press statements. For the full archive go to:

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