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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 Hussein's 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." Regards, Muhamad >>> H Sutter <email@example.com> 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" [Webster]. "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 hostility. (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 occupiers. 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 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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