The nomination of the labor union, UGTT, to the Nobel Prize is gaining ground both in Tunisia and abroad, honoring not only the workers and the labor organization militants, but also all Tunisians wherever they are.
“The nomination of the UGTT for the Nobel Prize is neither an act of allegiance nor that of glorification; it is fundamentally an ethical recognition that goes beyond political and trade union issues,” stated the letter signed by several university presidents who were behind this initiative.
And it is fundamentally this ethical dimension that has allowed the UGTT throughout all its history to take action, both at the union and political levels, to help Tunisia, a multidimensional society, move peacefully towards democracy, freedom, dignity and social justice despite a regional context marked by the upsurge of violence.
The UGTT, a trade union organization that was born in the particular context of colonization, has, since its foundation, played a key role in the liberation of the country, skillfully reconciling union and national struggle. Farhat Hached, the founder, paid for this with his life in 1952.
It is precisely this historic role that gave the trade union organization a prime position in building the newly-independent country. The major social reforms and the key public institutions bore, undoubtedly, the traces of the UGTT.
Thereafter, that role has never faltered.
Despite hardships, setbacks or repressions, the UGTT has carried on to be a space for the defense of public freedom, a refuge for militants and human rights activists. Thus and during the dark years of repression, the UGTT was one of the rare public spaces that could offer a haven to political and human rights militants.
Likewise, during the 2010-2011 revolution the UGTT welcomed and monitored youths and demonstrators.
For decades, this role has widely contributed to strengthen the peaceful struggle for freedom in Tunisia. Also, it was proved to be essential during the 2010-2011 revolution when the country was spared from violence and civil war.
Lately when Tunisia was caught up in an escalating turmoil with political assassinations and a deepening crisis of institutions, the UGTT, along with other important civil society organizations, conducted a national dialogue between political parties, thus saving the country from possible chaotic scenarios and breaking the deadlock in the civil and pacific transition to democracy.
Also, the UGTT has kept on, in concert with a wide range of Tunisian civil society, fostering a real culture of dialogue in the political, social and institutional life, as an antidote against violence. And because of this very peaceful dimension almost distinctive to the 14 January 2011 revolution, many people rightfully speak of the Tunisian exception.
It is therefore legitimate for Tunisians to get involved and rally together so that this major part played by the UGTT in the history of the country would be recognized and rewarded. But theNobel Prize is more than just recognition and reward: it raises hope and sets the example across the Arab world and beyond.
Tunisians abroad, French citizens of Tunisian origins, friends of Tunisia in France and throughout the world could only express their pride of the role played by the UGTT. At the same time, they welcome and strongly support its nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
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