Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Democracy in the new Iraq: Broken ribs and limbs, and seven to 15 years, for offending Nuri al-Maliki

Family members say Muntathar al-Zaydi is suffering from broken rib(s) and legs, and from serious injuries to his face and eyes, and they fear for his life if he says in custody, according to AlQuds alArabi. Azzaman cites an AFP report that quotes his brother Dargham who said what they broke were ribs and an arm. AlQuds leads with this item; Azzaman buries it beneath a quote from Bush spokesperson Dana Perino who said "the president thinks Iraq is a sovereign and democratic nation..." so the matter will be left to them.

The director of operations for the Interior Ministry said he is unaware of any torture undergone by the journalist. He said the arrest warrant issued by a judge yesterday is on a charge of "affront to the head of state Nuri al-Maliki", under the provisions of Iraqi criminal law dating from 1969, which is still in force. The judge that issued the warrant said the charge carries a sentence of from seven to 15 years of imprisonment. He said al-Zaydi has already admitted to the charge in question. (AlQuds alArabi, Wednesday Dec 17, p.1)

Meanwhile, on a planet far, far away, America's "public diplomacy" community is chuckling over a recommendation this morning by center-left public diplomacy scholar Marc Lynch of a piece one of his friends called "For many of us, the fun is just beginning: Who will be the next UnderSecretary [of State, for Public Diplomacy]".


And there is this: Alsabaah cites AFP which cites the American forces in Iraq to the effect they have turned over to the Iraqi judicial authorities (at the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad) 39 figures in the former regime that have been held up to now in Camp Cropper. They have either been charged or will be charged under Iraqi criminal law, the Americans said. This is the first prisoner turnover from the Americans to the Iraqis under the terms of new security agreement. A recent report by Human Rights Watch said the Central Criminal Court allows prolonged detention without charges, allows prisoners to be mistreated and tortured, and conducts kangaroo courts in which a proper defence is not allowed. By contrast, the statement by the American forces (via AFP/AlSabaah) said: "This turnover operation demonstrates that the Iraqi criminal authorities and the Iraqi prison system are capable of what is required for the assurance of the protection and the prosecution of these individuals."

Quite apart from showing that the Americans are deliberately ignoring the HRW report and the issues of torture, coerced confessions and railroading, what this says is that the first batch to be turned over to the Iraqi authorities under the terms of the security agreement are alleged Sadaamists, clearly not a step in the direction of political accomodation (not that this needs to be repeated, but the question is: Where are the Democrats on this, given that they are treating the security agreement as a bona fide agreement between two sovereign democratic states).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if this will come to anything, but:

Iraq troop debate ends in uproar
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Iraq's parliament speaker, has threatened to resign following house arguments concerning the presence of foreign troops and the imprisonment of a local journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mahmoud Othman, an Iraqi member of parliament, said it had been argued that keeping an Iraqi journalist in jail while debating immunity for foreign forces in Iraq was unjust.

"The whole thing escalated ... the speaker got very angry. He got up and said I can't work like this in this parliament and I am resigning officially ... and he stormed out."

Separately, in the Guardian, Sami Ramadani says, "No one asked after Muntadhar's religion or sect, but they all loved his message. Indeed, I have yet to come across an Iraqi media outlet or website that pronounced on his religion, sect or ethnicity. The first I heard of his "sect" was through US and British media.

The reality is that Muntadhar is a secular socialist whose hero happens to be Che Guevara. He became a prominent leftwing student leader immediately after the occupation, while at Baghdad University's media college."

And the International Federation of Journalists demands Muntadar al-Zeidi's release, making a very good point:
It is no coincidence says the IFJ that the protest comes only days after the United States refused to release a detained journalist, despite an Iraqi court order that he should be set free. "When the US appears to defy the rule of law in Iraq, it is no surprise that journalists will look to other ways to make their protest over injustice," said White.

11:06 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Special thanks for linking to that piece in the Guardian by Sami Ramadani, who knows of Muntathar al-Zaydi from his college days--now a unifying national hero of no know religion and no sect. And it was the words, with the first shoe the good-bye kiss, and with the second, for those killed and their survivors, and the effect was, as he says, electrifying. Down goes the sectarian story ...

12:09 PM  

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