Bal Harbour, Fla.
The AFL-CIO called for an embargo on all Nigerian exports and recognized one of that country's leading dissidents with the George Meany Human Rights Award.
"Despite increasing international criticism and isolation, the renegade regime of General Sani Abacha continues on a course of widespread violation of the most basic rights of Nigerian citizens," the Executive Council said in a statement. "Violence and illegal arrests continue, much of which has been targeted against the country's trade unions and their leaders."
Among those being held illegally are Frank Kokori, general secretary of Nigeria's natural gas workers' union and the recipient of the 1996 George Meany Human Rights Award.
Kokori was arrested July 4, 1994, for leading his union, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, on strike in opposition to the military dictatorship. In the two years since he was arrested, no charges have been filed against Kokori, nor has he been allowed legal counsel or contact with his family.
The strike, which was joined by several other unions, halted production in the country's oil fields. Ninety percent of Nigeria's foreign revenue comes from oil exports, with nearly 50 percent of its oil exported to the United States.
Seven trade union leaders were arrested after the strike, and all but Kokori have been released. Milton Dabibi, general secretary of the Nigerian oil and gas workers' union, was arrested last month and also is being held without charge.
After the strike, trade unions were taken over by government- appointed "administrators" who replaced the elected leadership, and trade unionists were harassed and intimidated.
Such actions show that "more effective and forceful measures are urgently needed to force the Abacha regime to stop the violence and torture, restore civil liberties, including an end to arbitrary arrests, and immediately release all political prisoners," the council said.
Specifically, the AFL-CIO called for a complete embargo of all Nigerian exports, with sanctions on nations that refuse to honor the embargo, and an embargo on shipment of equipment and replacement parts to Nigeria.
The federation also backed freezing the foreign bank accounts of Nigeria's rulers and urged U.S. oil companies to "admit their culpability by ceasing their support of the Nigerian military regime that violently abuses human and worker rights to degrade the environment and make massive profits from the blood of its citizens."
In another statement, the council decried Irish Republican Army terrorism in London and called on the Clinton administration to renew its efforts to gain a cease-fire and regain momentum for a peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
Provided by the AFL-CIO Information Department.