The verdict on Saddam is out. The striking aspect of this news coverage were the two contrasting scenarios that evolved in most of the media reports globally. One was that of the celebration (on account of the verdict) within the Shia community of Baghdad, while the other was the contrast of despair and angst amongst the Sunnis. This, perhaps, is not just about Baghdad alone. Throughout the world, reactions have been divided between the Shias or Sunnis. And I have a strong feeling that the ramification of this verdict would be beyond the capacity of Americans to control. Iraq would once again erupt in another round of violence of vengeance, and probably the Sunnis, who have been at the receiving end, would fight back, amply aided this time by the Sunni dominant nations of the Middle East. And if the US stays on, then all that would go back is the number of body bags.I am not trying to justify that Saddam did not get the right verdict, neither am I portraying him as a ‘would be’ martyr. Indeed, he was a brutal dictator who ran a fiefdom in Iraq; and God knows how many he killed. No doubt, he made torture the rule of law; so much so that his Revolutionary Command Council even legitimised the amputation of tongue as a punishment for anyone maligning the President. His sons, Udayy Saddam Hussien and Qusayy Saddam Hussein, were lecherous and mentally sick individuals who derived sadistic pleasure by torturing and raping women. Beheading and limb amputations of political opponents was a part of Saddam’s daily affair. But, my contention is something different. Among all the crimes that he committed during his tenure, why was the massacre of 148 Shias at Dujail in 1982 taken up before others? A report by Foreign and Commonwealth Office of UK states “Human rights organisations, such as Human Rights Watch and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iraq, have reported the phenomenon of killing inmates in order to cleanse the prisons. In 1984, 4,000 political prisoners were executed in a single prison, the Abu Ghraib. An estimated 2,500 prisoners were executed between 1997 and 1999 in further ‘prison cleansing’ campaigns.” The same report further stated that “Amnesty International estimates that over 100,000 Kurds were killed, or disappeared during 1987-1988, in an operation known as Anfal campaigns, to quell Kurdish insurgency and activities. The campaign included the use of chemical weapons. According to Human Rights Watch, a single attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja killed up to 5,000 civilians and injured some 10,000 more.” My question is, why did the war crime trail have to start with the massacre of Shias in Dujail and not with the genocide of the Kurds? Is it to create a bigger rift between the Shias and Sunnis? Or is it that the US is preparing its ground to exit Iraq (after gaining almost 11% of the world’s oil resource) on the premise of this increasing sectarian violence?The verdict, howsoever correct, would have been more justified, had it been from the UN. A peep into history tells us that Saddam, a monster created by the US, was an erstwhile ally of the US itself, to fight out Iran. In such a scenario, the verdict clearly indicates that for the sake of ‘profits’, Americans can go around the world to punish leaders, kill people and create a fake illusion in the name of justice. Even if I try to convince myself with a more rational reflection that war criminals like him should ideally be punished, and even if we take the context of his crime of killing 148 Shias in Dujail as a revenge for a failed attempt on his life by the underground Al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party, and considering the fact that such brutal and repressive vengeance needed to be punished, some questions remain unanswered. Instead of putting Saddam up for prosecution, shouldn’t one have in fact started with the trial of American Presidents for what they did in Japan (the atomic explosions killed more than 380,000 civilians), Korea (where the death toll was in millions), Vietnam (where casualties were anywhere between 2.5 to 3.8 million), Yugoslavia (the Kosovo war) and the relentless killings that happened in Middle East? Frankly, it sounds nothing less than ‘cold blooded audacity’ when a George Bush says that his country has delivered justice to the people of Iraq.Should not the very first trial have been of George Bush for the havoc that he and his administration created in Iraq? Does he even know how many he has killed due to lack of basic medicines from the time sanctions were imposed on Iraq (since the end of Gulf War I)? Forget about the ongoing civilian causalities, according to UNICEF, more than 500,000 children under the age of five have died since the imposition of sanctions in 1991. Isn’t this a crime on the Iraqis? And if it is, then who in this world gave Americans any right to control and conduct the trial of Saddam Hussein?
- 19 November 2006 |
- Dr. Arindam On America