IMF News Release

Geneva, March 31, 1999




Agim Hajrizi, President of the Assembly of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo (BSPK), aged 38 and of Albanian origin, was assassinated last Thursday, March 25, by the Serbian police. His mother and 11-year-old son were also killed, but his wife and 15-year-old daughter, who witnessed these murders, managed to escape.

The General Secretary of the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), Marcello Malentacchi, has expressed his deep shock and profound sadness to learn of these killings. "Agim Hajrizi was both a good friend of myself and the IMF. The last time I met with him was in Venice in June 1998, when the IMF's Italian affiliate FIOM-CGIL organised a conference with Serbian, Kosovar and other metalworkers' unions of the region. The IMF mourns the tragic loss of Agim Hajrizi."

It was clear, declared the IMF General Secretary, that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has never respected human rights, including trade union rights. If that had been the case, there would have been a strong union which, unlike the State-controlled unions, could now stand in Milosevic's way.

"However, there are people in Yugoslavia who are fighting for freedom and democracy, and they need all our support, in whatever form it can be expressed," continued Malentacchi. "The human tragedy of the people of Yugoslavia and Kosovo cannot leave anyone unconcerned."

The IMF strongly urges all its affiliates to support the democratic forces in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.