Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Princess Charming





Reality is also Amnesty International's new report "Iraq: A Decade of Abuses."  Reality is that the report has been ignored by CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, PBS' The NewsHour, Democracy Now! and so many other so-called news outlets in the United States.  Reality is forced 'confessions' in Iraq that are treated as real ones -- even when the confessors 'recants' and says that

On 20 June 2012 Ramze Shihab Ahmad, 70, a dual Iraqi-UK national, was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment by the Resafa Criminal Court [case number 1901 of 2012, First Branch] after it convicted him under the Anti-Terrorism Law.  He had already been held for over two years.  Arrested in December 2009 at Mosul, he was held at the secret al-Muthanna detention prison, where he said interrogators tortured him by his ankles, and threatened to rape his wife until he agreed to sign a statement admitting to links with al-Qa'aid in Iraq.  Prior to his conviction, he had been tried and acquitted of charges under the Anti-Terrorism Law on eight previous occasions.  The court that eventually convicted him based its guilty verdict on three pieces of oral testimony that it accepted as evidence against him -- the pre-trial confession that he had repudiated, the allegedly coerced testimony of a co-defendant in a previous trial, and information from a secret informant.
In 2009, Article 243 of the Penal Code was amended to increase the penalty for falsely accusing an innocent person due to the problems that had arisen from the use of secret informants.  At the same time, the Supreme Judicial Council issued a directive urging investigating judges to satisfy themselves as to the reliability of information provided by secret informants and not to consider it sufficient, in the absence of other evidence, to issue arrests warrants or detention orders.  Despite this, Ramze Shihab Ahmad's conviction was based on no more than two contested confessions and information provided by a secret informant.
Earlier, in May 2012, the Resafa Criminal Court imposed life imprisonment sentences on Ramze Shihab Ahmad's son, Omar Ramze Shihab, and another accused after convicting them under the Anti-Terrorism Law [case 760 of 10 May 2012, First Branch].  Omar Ramze Shihab had been arrested in September 2009 in Mosul.  Later, he was described as the leader of a group that had killed several Christians and detonated a bomb in a village, when he was presented at a press conference convened by the Ministry of Defence on 18 January 2010.  At this, officials played the video-recorded pre-trial confessions of Omar Ramze Shihab and eight other men.  The Resafa Criminal Court judgement notes that both men at trial retracted their earlier confessions to participating in bomb attacks in 2009 that killed civilians but makes no mention of the men's torture allegations.

If that doesn't disgust you, maybe the pain of a young Iraqi woman will make you feel something?  Hugh Sykes has returned to Iraq fora  multipart BBC radio documentary entitled After Saddam.  Excerpt.

Hugh Sykes:  Mahmoud's daughter Mais, doing the high five with her dad, is 21. She's a third year biology student at Basra University.  She's a Muslim.  She wears a smart head scarf and she's an independent woman -- of the the kind which was normal under Saddam Hussein but which is less so now.  She travels overseas alone.  She's been twice to the United States -- a liberating experience.  But when she returns home, Mais tells me  feels constricted by what she sees as the increasingly conservative Islamic environment of the new Iraq.  Here in Basra, if you suddenly feel, 'Uh, I've got to get out of the house, I want to be alone!'  Can you pop down to the Corniche, walk down to the Corniche on your own?

Mais: Never.  I get -- Here the men just look to the women as bodies.

Hugh Sykes:  What would the men do if you did walk along the Corniche on your own? How

Mais:    Oh.

Hugh Sykes:    How would they react?  Would it be very unpleasant?

Mais:   I can't imagine that.  Because maybe even they can touch the girl.

Hugh Sykes:  Touch you?

Mais:  Yes.   If I was alone.  Believe me, it's sad.  It's sad.

Hugh Sykes:  After several weeks in Boston, or Washington, DC, or Chicago and you come back to Basra, to the dust and the mud and the intense heat or the rain and the cold and the broken streets and the poverty, poverty, poverty - and you look out the window of the car when you're coming from the airport, what do you think?

Mais:  Sad.  Very sad.  Because why?  I'm asking myself all the time, why we are living here?   In this environment, in this bad situations, I can't describe my feeling because it's hard.  You came from outside and you are just here for guest and you -- you feel very sad.  So how I can feel about my community and my country? 

Hugh Sykes:  Guess I'm feeling sad now because it's -- it's emotionally overwhelming -- the deprivation and the poverty here and the contrast with the extraordinary cheerfulness of the eager, friendly children who rush towards us and ask me to take their pictures.  And then they ask, and this is pretty significant, they ask not for sweets or money or soft drinks.  They ask for pencils.

Mais [Crying]  I'm sorry.  Because I feel sad about my country.   I want to stay here to help my country because there is no one care about us.  I care about my people.  So I am never thinking to go out of my country because there is no one care about the children, the girls, the women, even the old men.  I know I am very filled with the sad.  Maybe there is very little hope in my heart.  But I am here because I love this country.  I love my Iraq.

Brits aren't the only ones getting coverage of Iraq.  Over the weekend, 60 Minutes (link is video) reported on Iraq.

Michael Usher:  It was a war based on a lie: That Saddam Hussein was stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction and it cost more than 100,000 deaths.  I just spent a week in Iraq asking that question.  And what I found was a country still at war.  Car bombings, kidnapping and assassinations are a daily threat.  [. . .]   It was all mean to be over in six months.   But a decade on, Iraq is now a battleground between religious fanatics. 350 people killed last month alone.  And car bombs are the weapon of choice

If the name of the program seems familiar but the name of the journalist doesn't, it is 60 Minutes but it's Australia's 60 Minutes.

The protests continue in Iraq.  Great Britain's Socialist Worker observes, "But despite the decade of misery, sectarianism and war, Iraq is now experiencing a revival in a popular movement. This began last month with anti-government demonstrations in Fallujah, and has jumped across the sectarian and ethnic boundaries."   Al Mada reports that there was a meet-up in Falluja on Sunday of various representatives for demonstrators from the western provinces.  The meeting follows Friday's "last chance" protest which saw Nouri's forces attack the protesters in Mosul.  National Iraqi News Agency reports protesters in Baaj and Tal Afar today are demanding that government officials reduce the "excessive deployment of military and security forces just near the government offices in the regions of western Mosul."  These are the forces that Nouri has sent in to intimidate the protesters.  Iraqi Spring MC posts this video of students in Tikrit protesting today.  And to be clear, that footage is Tuesday footage.  Nouri's forces shut them down yesterday.  They are protesting again today and showing solidarity with the protesters in Ramadi, Tikrit, Nineveh and Diyala.  You can also video of their protest today hereProtests continue in Falluja.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Protests, IDPs, third terms?"
"CIA ramps up what role in Iraq?"
"Rita Moreno"
"Ramen for the White House"
"Back in the day . . ."
"The Client List (spoilers)"
"Matt Lauer tries to do damage control"
"That embarrassing Jon Lee Anderson"
"The Good Wife"
"Is he going to get pinned?"

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