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   Vol. 67/No. 24           July 14, 2003  
Longtime communist dies

Peter Hemgren, a longtime supporter and friend of the communist movement in Sweden, died in Malmö in the south of Sweden on May 30 from a brain tumor. He was 46 years old.

In his early 20s Peter joined the section of the Fourth International in Sweden, an organization that later took the name Socialist Party. Through discussions at a summer camp in 1979 he was won to the perspective of getting a job in industry and becoming a member of an industrial trade union, in order to become part of workers’ struggles, participate in changing the trade unions into revolutionary instruments, and work more effectively to build a communist nucleus as part of a working-class vanguard.

As part of a campaign to win a majority of the members in the organization he had joined to becoming industrial workers, Peter became a metal worker at Sandvik, in Sandviken in central Sweden.

While working there Peter helped form an organization of metal workers from all over Sweden against the apartheid regime in South Africa. “Metalworkers against Apartheid” worked to stop all investments by Swedish companies in South Africa. Sandvik was one of those companies who had substantial investments and trade in that country, together with ASEA, Atlas Copco, SKF, and Alfa Laval, companies which at that time were some of the largest in the mechanic industries in Sweden.

Peter also worked to support female coworkers who were victims of harassment and discrimination.

In 1985 Peter went to the United Kingdom and traveled around in the coal fields to learn about the coal miners strike that took place at that time against the union-busting efforts of the government led by Margaret Thatcher.

In 1986 Peter visited Nicaragua on a work brigade. He wanted to learn firsthand about the revolutionary struggle by workers and peasants in that country. Catharina, who was to become Peter’s life-long companion, was also part of that brigade.

In 1987 Peter and Catharina joined a similar work brigade to Cuba.

When the Communist League in Sweden was formed in 1989 after a split in the Socialist Party, Peter decided he could not move to Stockholm to become a member of the league. Since then he promoted the Militant, Perspectiva Mundial, and Pathfinder books. When his time allowed he participated in the Pathfinder Reprint Project. Above all, however, Peter was engaged in translating into Swedish, proofreading, and formatting several books published or distributed by Pathfinder Press, including several issues of the Marxist magazine New International, which has been published in Swedish as Ny International. The last pamphlet Peter helped produce was Arbetarklassen och lärandets förändring (The Working Class and the Transformation of Learning) by Jack Barnes.

Peter’s broad political views and the deep knowledge he acquired by reading the Militant and Pathfinder books, together with his feeling for language, made him a very good translator. His disciplined and attentive proofreading left few errors to correct after he had finished his part.

In January and February of this year Peter translated informational material and a petition in defense of Róger Calero into Swedish. Through this material Calero’s fight to remain in the United States got support from young people in Hagfors, who had been involved in the defense of a family from El Salvador who faced deportation from Sweden, and meat packers in a plant in Stockholm, many of them immigrants, among others.

Peter had one daughter, Maja, and two sons, Kalle and Jonas.

Catharina Tírsen
Stockholm, Sweden

Mine bosses to blame for death

I was reading the Militant article about mining deaths, vol. 66, no. 49, Dec. 30, 2002. I am sending an article about my son’s death and yes the article is right about saying killing people and getting away with it. The company killed my son and on the report I am sending it states “this could have been prevented.” I hope you will read this and maybe publish something. I would like people to know about the company that killed my son.

Regina Matthews
Kuttawa, Kentucky

Regina Matthews’s son, Mickey Travis, was killed Aug. 19, 2002. According to a report by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the government agency that conducted an investigation of the accident, the 29-year-old miner was killed by “a rib roll in the developing underground slope of Warrior Coal LLC’s Cardinal mine,” located southwest of Manitou, Kentucky, off U.S. Highway 41. The report, sent to the Militant by Regina Matthews, states that Travis was gathering tools to be taken outside when “he was struck by a rock measuring 8.5 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet.” The report concluded, “It is the consensus of the investigation team that the accident occurred because of inadequately supported rock that fell from the rib of the slope.” It further stated that “the root cause was management’s failure to adequately control the ribs as required by the Approved Slope Sinking Plan…. The accident could have been prevented by management recognizing the hazards associated with the changes in strata through the transitional area and adequately supporting the rib by adding wire mesh securely attached to the roof bolts or steel arches with lagging or additional support.”


Secret arrest of Saudi student

Mohammed Al-Qudhai’een, a Saudi Arabian linguistic scholar at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who had earlier sued America West for racial profiling, was taken into custody June 13 by the FBI. Officials refuse to say why he was taken or where he is. In 1999 Al-Qudhai’een and another linguistic student were handcuffed and removed from an America West flight at the Columbus, Ohio, airport because of complaints by a flight attendant who alleged he had touched the cockpit door after using the restroom. They filed a federal lawsuit against racial profiling, which a judge dismissed a few weeks before Al-Qudhai’een was picked up.

Betsy McDonald
Tucson, Arizona

‘Militant’ a great tool

I am writing because I would like to start getting your paper again. Two facts forced me to stop getting it around a year ago. First, my father died and with him my source of money. Also, Dooly State prison, where I was housed at that time, began to severely restrict the number of publications that we could receive.

I am now at a new address, listed below, and would like to begin getting your paper again. I would greatly appreciate it if you could find a sponsor for my subscription. As before, I can promise that I will pass it on to any and all who will read it, as I think yours is a great tool with which to educate the working class

I hope all of you are well and happy.

A prisoner
Hardwick, Georgia

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