Why Is Iraq Now Immune From Criticism Over Appalling Human Rights Record?
MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA, 10 September 2012
by Haifa Zangana – The Guardian
Despite at least 96 executions in Iraq this year and well-documented human rights abuses, the world remains silent.
Three women were among the 21 people executed within one day in Iraq, last Monday [27 Aug 2012]. It was followed, two days later, by the reported execution of five more people. The number of people executed since the start of this year is now at least 96 and they are not the only ones. The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, said: “I am appalled about the level of executions in Iraq. I deeply deplore the executions carried out this week, and am particularly alarmed about continuing reports of individuals who remain at risk of execution.”
There is also news of another 196 people on death row. According to Iraqi officials, they have all been convicted on charges “related to terrorism,” but there is little information about their names, what crimes they committed or whether they have access to lawyers or not. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously documented the prevalence of unfair trials and torture in detention in Iraq. Confessions under torture are often the only evidence against a person who has been arrested following a secret informant’s report. Parading the accused with their tortured, empty looks on Al Iraqiya, the official TV channel, is the norm. It took a court in Baghdad only 15 minutes to sentence Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a dual Iraqi-UK national, to 15 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of “funding terrorist groups”.
Amnesty has obtained and examined court documents and said it believes the trial proceedings were “grossly unfair”. Ahmed was held in a secret prison near Baghdad, during which time his whereabouts were completely unknown to his family. During this period Ahmed alleges he was tortured – with electric shocks to his genitals and suffocation by plastic bags – into making a false “confession” to terrorist offences.
So what kind of human rights are observed in the “new Iraq”? Hardly any. The list of abuses is long and the tip of the iceberg is waves of arbitrary arrests (over 1,000 monthly), torture and executions. All are barely noticed by the world media and the US and British official silence is rather convenient to cover up the crimes and chaos they created. From time to time, they break their silence but only to justify their act of aggression. Recently, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu pulled out of a seminar in protest over the presence of Tony Blair, a statement was issued by Blair’s office to justify the morality of his decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq.
The statement reiterated the plight of Iraqis under Saddam’s regime with no mention whatsoever of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the war and endemic abuses of human rights since 2003.
The Nouri al-Maliki government in Iraq with its human rights outfits is following the same path. Its human rights concerns remain focused on the crimes of the previous regime. So do most of the intellectuals and politicians involved in the scramble for seats and favours in Baghdad. People who for years before the invasion of 2003 were highlighting human rights abuses as a reason to invoke war as a prelude to democracy and transparency are now either totally silent or actively covering up the current abuses, despite glaring evidence from international human rights organisations.
The so-called “war on terror” reformulated many aspects of world politics and state accountability has become the first victim of that war. It has acquired variable meanings with highly selective application. Therefore, some governments have “enjoyed” immunity, no matter how brutally they have behaved against their own or other people. The Iraqi regime is one of them.
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