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Re: [casi] Recent Amnesty

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

Message: 5
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 17:57:22 -0500
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

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