From the TUC

Solidarity on the 1st anniversary of Charlie Hebdo killings

07 Jan 2016, By

This afternoon, exactly a year after murderous gunmen burst into the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to kill people doing their jobs, French trade unions have organised a solidarity action in Paris. Trade union leaders from Tunisia and Turkey will also be speaking at the event, drawing attention to the trade union movement’s experience of violent attack in many countries. The Tunisian speaker, Houcine Abassi from the UGTT, last month collected the Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm: demonstrating the trade union movement’s preferred approach to resolving differences.

Our Brussels Officer Elena Crasta will represent the TUC at the event in Paris, and at the same time I will be meeting the French Ambassador to the UK, Sylvie Bermann, to hand over the ETUC statement agreed after the most recent attacks on Paris.

That statement, endorsed by the TUC, condemns “without reservation these barbaric murders. There can be no justification for the deliberate, cold-blooded taking of people’s lives, for causing injury and trauma, for bringing grief to the family and friends of the victims.” It pays tribute to the police, security and emergency services (some of whom also lost their lives in the Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath.)

But it also looks at the political lessons:

“We reject any attempt to divide us by religion, nationality, ethnicity, skin colour or any other irrelevant difference.

“We highlight the fact that many victims and members of the various services dealing with the attacks were of different religions and ethnic backgrounds. We are proud of our work towards a more tolerant Europe, we will continue to foster tolerance, and to respect and celebrate diversity.”

“There is ample evidence that terrorists exploit unemployment, poverty and hopelessness to recruit people in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to hatred and violence. Greater efforts are also needed to tackle unemployment and inequality in Europe.”

The statement opposes military solutions, as it opposes limiting democratic rights which often follows such outrages.

The statement also contains a message of hope – a call for a better world as part of the solution to the rising tensions around Europe and the Middle East:

“We call on EU member states, employers and civil society organisations to work together more closely for a fairer and more social Europe, to tackle unemployment and integrate those seeking employment into the workplace, to deal in a humanitarian way with the refugee emergency, to prevent terrorists from mounting further attacks and to recognise the need to uphold, more than ever before in the face of severe provocation, our fundamental values of democracy, social justice, and tolerance.”