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Dear Rahul I am quite shocked to hear that people are avoiding discussion of this sort of issues. I think that those who are concerned about the livelihood of the Iraqi people should naturally be concerned about the impact of the recent amnesty on the Iraqi society, if not the wider political implications. We heard many reports that a lot of prisoners being released are political prisoners (or as you claim, most of them). My question is quite simply whether we should believe these reports? We can deduce of course that a highly punitive and despotic regime like Iraq must have locked up a lot of dissidents and that they may constitute a majority of the prison population but these are no more than deductions. Are deductions the best that we can do at this moment? I have never been to Iraq but I imagine that organised crime, as in other Arab/Muslim societies, is generally not a problem. But would the current Iraqi regime provide catalyst for its thriving among the released prisoners, given the current state of economy? Or could, for example, these prisoners be turned into guerilla in case of an American invasion, given the recent rise of religious fundamentalism? These we will not know of course unless we work in the Iraqi government (or maybe those who work in the Iraqi government and on this list can let us know); but maybe the more knowledgeable among us can make an intelligent deduction? Best regards Jiale Message: 5 Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 17:57:22 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Rahul Mahajan Subject: Re: [casi] Recent Amnesty Hello, all. This seems to be another thread of the kind that many on this list wish to regard as taboo. But it is worth pointing out for those unaware that most prisoners in Iraq are political prisoners, not criminals. Regimes like that of the GOI cannot survive without imprisoning dissidents. Among criminals, the worst ones are never in prison under regimes like this because they collude with the state. Petty thieves, on the other hand, who have no political power or connections, can expect to have their hands amputated -- and the doctors who refuse to amputate them can expect a prison term themselves. If this is a "poison pill," it may turn out to be one for Saddam. If he has done it to blunt the force of Bush's drive to war, it will obviously not work. If he's done it to increase Iraqi solidarity against foreign aggression and increase support for his government, it may work, but it's very likely to backfire -- despotic regimes like his are in the most danger when they start to relax control. He couldn't even control the release of prisoners -- when mobs of people coming to receive them surged, there was no way to assert authority at that moment and the people stormed the prisons. For anyone who has worked on Iraq for any length of time to assume that prisoners in Iraq are criminals is mind-boggling. Surely it is possible to oppose the far greater crimes of the American empire and its British satrap without supporting or justifying despotism and the crushing of popular resistance in other countries. In solidarity, Rahul Mahajan __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Y! Web Hosting - Let the expert host your web site http://webhosting.yahoo.com/ _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk