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Re: [casi] The International Occupation Watch Center in Iraq

Dear colleagues,
                          " Anti-occupation group/Funeral Banners in Iraq"
"Banners in Iraq keep losses in public view
July 6, 2003, By Natalie Pompilio, Inquirer Staff Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The banners, black with yellow and white lettering, can't be missed. They hang 
throughout Baghdad, covering walls at the busiest traffic circles, draping across fences and even 
hanging on street vendors' carts.Some of the more recent banners recall the crimes of Saddam 
government. One memorializes 24 "martyrs" whose bodies were found recently in mass graves. "Died at 
the hands of Saddam Hussein" is how they are remembered. They
greatly outnumber the dead at coalition hands.
But Hussein is gone, untouchable, while the U.S. military is visibly present."


>>> H Sutter <> 07/11 1:28 pm >>>

Dear Mohammed Ali,

Mohammed, I understand you to be delighted about
the creation of the International Occupation Watch
Center in Iraq. So am I, especially since the media
in Iraq is censored by the US occupiers.

You may differ only on a few points of semantics,
and perception.

> If it is "occupied Baghdad" how come you are free to
> enter it as an opponent, hold public meetings, set up
> web sites and be free to leave it whenever you want.
> Obviously, it is far more free than "unoccupied Iraq".

Baghdad is indeed occupied, in case you have any
doubts. So inhabitants of that city are writing
from "occupied Baghdad", regardless of who may or
may not enter their occupied country.

In this context, occupation means the "seizure
and control of a country or area by military forces"

"Free", a highly subjective concept, is of course
open to interpretation.

But it seems irrelevant to speculate if occupied
Iraq is "far more free" than "'unoccupied Iraq'".
The degree of freedom, real or imagined, does
not justify the occupation.

Because the war was illegal under international
law, so is the occupation - irrespective of
freedom, WMDs, or any human rights infringements.

It is interesting that you should take it as a
manifestation of 'freedom' that the occupiers
are not screening out "opponents" - as yet.

According to the Geneva Convention, occupied Iraq
may not be treated a prison, despite USUK's attempts
to turn it into one. So the occupiers can't very
well lock up Iraqis for setting up websites or for
holding "public meetings".

But occupied Iraqis may not espouse views considered
'unfriendly' to the occupation anywhere. Demonstrators
have been killed and wounded; people have been gagged,
handcuffed, and tortured; clergy have been censured
for commenting unfavourably on the occupation. In
fact, the occupiers stifle all criticism, no matter
how valid, on the grounds that is anti-American

(As an aside: The world is getting weary of this
'anti-American' boomerang in response to any
criticism. People consider it rather infantile.
They can't fathom why the only super power is
expecting ovations for its wars, destructions,
and other misdeeds - like a four-year-old.)

> Therefore, I propose that you extend your remit in
> time to include the same under "unoccupied Iraq",
> namely mass graves, torture chambers and flattened
> villages.

As I understand it, the people who set up the
International Occupation Watch Center act as monitors,
not as double-entry bookkeepers. They will track
the effects of the occupation, including human
rights violations. In any case, no amount
of bookkeeping would cancel out USUK violations:
two wrongs simply don't make a right.

> By definition, human rights standards stipulate
> one yardstick everywhere for everyone and at all
> times.

Applying a "yardstick" means judging people or
situations by comparison. But the monitors of the
USUK occupation neither judge nor compare. They
will merely record what's happening in Iraq under
occupation. In their own words, they "will monitor
the role of CPA in Iraq". You should be pleased
about that.

Besides, the assumption about equal wrong for all
doesn't hold true: Human rights violators may be
equal, but some are definitely more equal than
others. Power enters into the equation.

> Otherwise, one will be guilty of double standards
> and selectiveness at best.

I believe your fears about "double standards" are
groundless. Automatically, the world thinks of
America first when it comes to "double standards".
Not because that country has a monopoly on hypocrisy,
but because it is preaching unceasingly about
freedoms and human rights to others.

To begin with, people in all parts of the world
stumble over the Declaration of Independence, which
proclaims that 'all men are created equal' with
'unalienable rights'. But, like everywhere else,
American society has always trampled on the rights
of those considered less equal than others. The
same goes for human rights violations.

> At worst, it may be seen as detraction from the
> endemic cause of Iraq's deplorable past state of
> human rights.

Again, your fears are groundless: there can be no
question of "detraction". Legally and morally,
Iraq's human rights past doesn't justify USUK's
invasion - nothing does. Nor does it justify the
killing, maiming, and the destruction that went
with it. And it does not justify the occupation
or the human rights violations committed by the

But if you feel that a country's human rights
record is cause for a foreign takeover, then
let's bomb, invade, and occupy America:

The US has a well-documented record of home-grown
human rights violations, including torture. It has
a 56-long record of training foreign thugs on
US soil in vicious methods of torture and other
niceties - complete with training manuals. This
happens at the School of the Americas (now renamed)
in Fort Benning, Georgia. SOA graduates have
committed unspeakable atrocities. (The BBC produced
a documentary, "They Shoot Children Don't They?)
And the US has an equally dismal record for
sponsoring 'friendly' dictators in mass murder,
torture, rape and other crimes against humanity:
eg, in Latin America, Indonesia, Iran...

Still, I can see why you favour the notion that
previous wrongs by Iraq cancel out USUS wrongs,
seeing that you support the war and the occupation.
But this logic will convince only the like-minded,
who need no convincing. And in the end, we all
have to live and die with our own conscience.

I wish you peace of mind, Mohammed.

Best regards,
Elga Sutter

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