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الخميس، 13 مارس، 2014

Britain and Iraq: Business or Justice?

Much of the media may have lost interest. But ordinary people are not indifferent to these issues. There may be no official bringing to justice of the war criminals that perpetrated this catastrophic crime against Iraq, but others certainly have the appetite.


Eleven years after it participated in an illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, the UK is taking a different approach.
Global Research recently reported, ‘In December 2007, Major General Graham Binns, Commander of British Forces in Basra, handed illegally occupied Basra Province back to the Iraqis. However, Major General Binns, who commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003, is back in Basra with a new hat on. In the revolving door between the US and UK armies and mercenary companies, Binns, who left the army in 2010, joined Aegis Defence Services, who have been employed by the New Governor of Basra. Amongst other things, states the Major General: “Aegis will be asked to provide help with setting up specialised CCTV detection and checkpoint systems across the city, establishing a “ring of steel” security system to thwart suicide bombers.” Sounds just like old times,’ concludes the report. http://www.globalresearch.ca/basra-profiting-from-their-destruction-the-british-are-back/5364358

There’s something shameless about this that only the Brits can pull off. It’s paralleled by the Government appointment of a new Trade Representative to Iraq, Baroness Emma Nicholson, who campaigned against the Saddam Hussein regime’s abuse of human rights and was a prominent vocal supporter of the 2003 invasion to “free the Iraqi people from terrible tyranny”. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/26/the-curious-case-of-the-baroness-of-winterbourne/

Nicholson has now shifted her role from an outspoken champion of human rights to being Executive Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council. Addressing a conference last month, she pointed out that the country’s economy was one of the most vibrant in the world, despite the current challenging situation in some regions.
That would be Anbar Province and specifically the city of Fallujah. According to a Truth Out report by Dahr Jamail this month, ‘Doctors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city. Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.
“Ten of those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded are children,” Shami said. He also said five of the dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded. “Many children have been killed in cold blood as the result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city,” Shami said. “At the same time, there are many young people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-)Maliki’s army has killed and burned their bodies.”http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22138-iraqi-government-killing-civilians-in-fallujah

The Iraqi army refuses to allow medical supplies into the city, bombing bridges and roads to prevent their delivery. Some reports say Falluja’s general hospital has been attacked by government bombardment on eight separate occasions.
This is the regionally “challenging situation”  to which Emma Nicholson refers. But things are pretty bleak nationally too. Iraq’s criminal justice system is corrupt and murderous: “Last year alone, 1,200 men and women were on death row, most of them sentenced after the usual pre-trial confessions under torture,” wrote Robert Fisk recently. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/confessions-beaten-out-of-suspects-executions-by-the-hundreds-how-different-is-justice-in-todays-iraq-from-the-era-of-saddam-9086297.html 169 people were executed in 2013, putting Iraq in the top three countries in the world for judicial killing.
Much of the media is sectarian and Iraq remains one of the most dangerous countries - correction: the most dangerous country - in the world for journalists. A new personal status law - against which women demonstrated courageously on International Women’s Day - threatens to bring back child marriage. Around one third of people are below the poverty line. This breeds extraordinary desperation - Iraq is now a centre for human organ trafficking, female sex trafficking and child slavery. Business opportunities indeed.
Emma Nicholson understands that talk about human rights in Iraq is unfashionable now. Britain’s is a government that doesn’t care much for the human rights of its own citizens, let alone anyone else’s.
And it’s not just the government; the mainstream media is equally compliant. In the little noticed al-Sweady inquiry in London, British soldiers ten years on stand accused of the torture and murder of Iraqis in their custody. Corpses showed evidence of “eyes missing, tongues cut out, and noses cut off”.  Human rights abuses - but no-one’s interested nowadays.
In January, a ‘devastating 250-page dossier, detailing allegations of beatings, electrocution, mock executions and sexual assault, has been presented to the International Criminal Court, and could result in some of Britain’s leading defence figures facing prosecution for “systematic” war crimes. General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army; former defence secretary Geoff Hoon; and former defence minister Adam Ingram are among those named in the report, entitled “The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008”. The damning dossier draws on cases of more than 400 Iraqis, representing “thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. They range from “hooding” prisoners to burning, electric shocks, threats to kill and “cultural and religious humiliation”. Other forms of alleged abuse include sexual assault, mock executions, threats of rape, death, and torture.’
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-devastating-dossier-on-abuse-by-uk-forces-in-iraq-goes-to-international-criminal-court-9053735.html
Much of the media may have lost interest. But ordinary people are not indifferent to these issues. There may be no official bringing to justice of the war criminals that perpetrated this catastrophic crime against Iraq, but others certainly have the appetite.
The Independent reported recently: ‘He might have quit his job immediately afterwards, but the London barman who attempted a citizen’s arrest on Tony Blair has been rewarded with a sizeable bounty for his efforts,’ reported The Independent recently. ‘Twiggy Garcia was working at Tramshed in East London when the opportunity arose to confront the former Prime Minister. As Mr Blair was dining with friends and family, the DJ turned barman laid a hand on the former Prime Minister’s shoulder and tried to arrest him for “crimes against peace..namely the decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq.” The website that inspired his actions, George Monbiot’s Arrest Blair website, has now awarded him a quarter of their funds, a total of £2,222.’
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/twiggy-garcia-who-attempted-citizens-arrest-on-tony-blair-awarded-over-2000-9078074.html

A similar campaign has been launched in Australia to arrest John Howard, the conservative premier who sent troops to Iraq. This, and other initiatives, will continue, until a modicum of justice for Iraq is achieved.

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