Monday, August 10, 2009

British citizen faces possible execution in Iraq

Yesterday an Australian contractor (Darren Hoare) and a British contractor (Paul McGuigan) were shot dead in the Green Zone and, in the incident, an unidentified Iraq was injured with British contractor Danny Fitzsimons arrested in the shootings. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) speaks with a spokesperson for Iraq's Internation Ministry, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who "said Fitzsimons got into a dispute with colleagues as they were drinking. 'They got into an argument and he started shooting his colleagues,' Khalaf said." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune features a news round up which quotes an Iraqi military spoksesperson, Qassim al-Moussawi, insisting the incident "started as a squabble. The subject is facing a premeditated murder charge." We'll come back to the shooting but the paper also contains an item in their news round up built around Chelsea J. Carter's AP report from yesterday which notes that 51 US service members in Iraq have been diagnosed with swine flu and 71 more are in isolation as they await tests. As noted Saturday, an Iraqi women who died in Najaf is thought to be Iraq's first swine flu fatality. In today's New York Times, Rod Nordland reports on the Swine Flu noting that, "Members of Parliament have expressed alarm that United States troops could be introducing the disease into Iraq, particularly among members of the Iraqi military with whom they patrol." Typical crap. First, if the Iraqis really feel that way, Nouri can kick the Americans out at any time (at any time he's convinced he can maintain power without them). Second, in every culture, it's the 'foreigners' who are scapegoated whenever there is an outbreak. Swine Flu is a global sickness and no country is immune but watch the xenophobia run wild in Iraq as US service members and other foreigners are blamed. And don't be at all surprised in what has become a backward little country as their best and brightest refused to live under thug rule and fled the country creating the 'brain drain.' Possibly Nouri can stage his own version of the witch trials prior to the January elections to beef up his support?

Back to Fitzsimons. Oliver August (Times of London) reports that British contractor "fled the scene with a pistol, was held after a shootout and handed to Iraqi police." (He was held by US troops who turned him over to the Iraqi police.) August speaks with an unnamed witnesses who sketches out the contractors all drinking and getting into a skirmish which turned increasing violent. At some point, August says 4:00 a.m., the not so surprising feature to a drunken, aggressive squabble among armed people took place: Fitzsimons pulled out a gun and waived it around. Iraqis have mentioned execution. Jay Price (Raleigh News & Observer) adds, "According to AP, the gunman could be the first Westerner tried for murder under Iraqi law since an agreement that took effect Jan. 1 between the U.S. and Iraq ending the immunity Western contractors had enjoyed since not long after the war began in 2003." August files a report where he focuses just on the drinking and the skirmish and contains more details from eye witnesses with Fitzsimons allegedly waiving the pistol and others attempting to disarm him when, apparently, the shooting began. August adds, "Consular officials from the British Embassy have visited Mr Fitzsimmons, as well as a second British national, believed to be another ArmorGroup employee, who was being held there but not considered a suspect and has now been released." The paper's Deborah Haynes provides a commentary entitled "Arrest of Danny Fitzsimons highlights how security industry is hated" which opens:

The arrest of a British private security contractor in Baghdad provides a long-awaited opportunity for Iraq to make an example of someone from an industry that is loathed by most people in the country.
It is also a huge embarrassment for Britain at a time when Gordon Brown is still waiting for the Iraqi parliament to ratify a new security agreement between the two countries -- something that should have happened by the end of May but is unlikely to take place until autumn at the earliest.
The arrest comes at a time when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is trying to secure the release of three remaining British hostages in Iraq, two of whom are thought to be dead.
The Iraqi authorities will be keen to demonstrate their newly restored sovereignty by trying the suspect in an Iraqi court, which has the power to order the death penalty.

Meanwhile Tim King (Salem News) reports on the US military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and we'll note the Iraq death (no offense to the Afghanistan deaths for drive-bys; however, our focus is Iraq and the community decided that over three years ago):

Staff Sergeant Johnny R. Polk, 39, of Gulfport, Mississippi, died July 25 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank grenade on July 23rd in Kirkuk, Iraq.

He leaves behind a daughter, Mary, and a son, Antoine, who his family said also serves in the military. He will be escorted by the Patriot Guard upon his return home.

Among his awards and decorations are: the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas, and died supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

With Fitzsimons' detention in Iraq and Iraq's announcement that he might face the death penalty, a highlight is especially pertinent this morning, Lindsay notes Worker's World's "Stop executions in Iraq:"

In the imperialist media, there is no equality among victims or alleged victims of state repression.

In June a young woman was killed in Iran. It is unclear who killed her or why. Yet Iran is a U.S. “enemy,” and so the whole world knows her given name—Neda. Her face quickly showed up on the T-shirts of protesters.

By Aug. 4, the usurpers in Honduras had killed six people who were peacefully protesting the military coup. Unless you follow the progressive Spanish-language press, you might not know this even happened. Of course you haven’t heard their names.

In Iraq, still occupied by 134,000 U.S. troops, still with a U.S. Embassy armed like a fortress, the regime plus its courts and prisons owe their very existence to the U.S. invasion and occupation. But the names of their potential victims are unprinted, or if printed, the individuals are demonized.

On March 10, 2007, Workers World published a story about Iraqi women who faced execution. (See One was charged with the killing of five officers in an attack on the occupation police. Another was charged with participating in an attack on a joint patrol of the Iraqi and U.S. armies in Baghdad; and a third with the killing of an official in the Green Zone in the course of a kidnapping.

To the vast majority of people in the world, even if the charges are true, these women are seen as freedom fighters taking legitimate action to defend their country. Given the state of Iraqi injustice under the U.S. occupation regime, it is likely that torture and rape led to their convictions. Even organizations like Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, though not sympathetic with the Iraqi resistance, have denounced the legal system in occupied Iraq.

Last year an international campaign stopped the executions. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated then that “the three Iraqi women will not be executed until an appeals court has ruled on their cases.”

International supporters of human rights for Iraqis under the occupation commented: “This assurance came from Iraqi authorities. It is not enough. We demand to know the charges on which these three Iraqi women stand convicted. We demand to know the date of their appeal hearings. We demand that a public statement is made. We demand that they be afforded all due protections under international human rights and humanitarian law.”

The suspicions behind these demands were justified. Now two of the women, Wassan Talib and Samar Saád ’Abdullah, are again facing execution. According to Amnesty International, they are among at least nine women in Iraq facing imminent execution after recently having their death sentences confirmed. One of the condemned women says she was tortured into falsely confessing.

More than 1,000 people have been executed in Iraq since 2004. A dozen were executed this May. More than a hundred prisoners are on the Iraqi equivalent of death row.

Workers World joins with those in the Iraq Solidarity Association in Stockholm, Sweden, in their anger at the “absence of rights in Iraq under the occupation, an absence of rights for which the occupation power bears ultimate responsibility.”

And with them we say: “Stop the executions of the Iraqi women! Make public all information about the women! Recognize all the legal rights of the women! Guarantee a stop to the rapes and torture! Stop all executions in Iraq!” (

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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