Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the post-election chaos continues, Chalabi and boy pal set to ban even more candidates, Amnesty releases a new report on the targeted in Iraq and more.
Amnesty International issued a [PDF format warning] report today entitled "Iraq: Civilians under fire," click here. The human rights group's 28 page report focuses on the groups targeted in Iraq:
Hundreds of civilians are still being killed or maimed every month in Iraq, even if the past two years have seen an overall reduction in the number of civilian deaths. As a result, safety and security remain key concerns for Iraqis -- especially for those who, because of their religious, ethnic or other identity or because of their profession or work, are particularly vulnerable to be targeted for violent attack.
Although civilians have been killed, injured or otherwise abused by Iraqi security forces and foreign troops based in Iraq and by members of private military and security companies, most killings of civilians are being carried out by armed groups.
For the report, Amnesty spoke to a wide range of Iraqis in Iraq as well as to Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria and other countries. The targeted include those are who are targeted for speaking out or for reporting on abuses. "Women who have taken the lead in confronting violence against women and promoting women's rights," the report notes, "have been directly targeted because of their activities, notably by members of Islamist armed groups and militias. Some have been attacked and killed because of their efforts to promote gender equality." The report notes:
Wars and conflicts, wherever they are fought, invariably usher in sickeningly high levels of violence against women and girls. All parties to the armed conflict in Iraq have been involved in violent crimes specifically aimed at women and girls, include rape. Perpetrators have included members of armed groups, militias, Iraqi government forces and foreign military forces. In addition, women and girls continue to be attacked and sometimes killed by male relatives and Islamist armed groups or militias for their perceived or alleged transgression of traditional roles or moral codes. Most of these crimes are committed with impunity.
Relatives attacking women include not only husband but "fathers, brothers and otehr relatives, particularly if they try to go against the wishes of the family." Another targeted group would be composed of the religious and ethnic minorities. Unlike other targeted populations, they are guaranteed (a small amount of) representation in the Parliament -- or some are. Iraq's now dwindling Jewish population, for example, was never had set-aside seats in the Parliament. We cover the persecution of religious minorities regularly and will do so in another snapshot this week so we'll instead focus on one of the least reported ongoing persecutions: the assault on Iraqi's LGBT community.
Members of the gay community in Iraq live under constant threat. They are confronted by widespread intolerance towards their sexual identity and scores of men who were, or were perceived to be, gay have been killed in recent years, some after torture. Violent acts against gay men have occurred against a background of frequent public statements by some Muslim clerics and others condemning homosexuality.
[. . .]
The wave of attacks on gay men in early 2009 coincided with statements by Muslim clerics, particularly in al-Sadr City, urging their followers to take action to eradicate homosexuality from Iraqi society. They used language that effectively constituted incitement to violence against men known or alleged to be gay.
Gay men face similar discrimination as women under the legislation that provides for lenient sentences for those committing crimes with an "honourable motive". Iraqi courts continue to interpret provisions of Article 128 of the Penal Code as justification for giving drastically reduced sentences to defendants who have attacked or even killed gay men they are related to if they say that they acted to "wash off the shame". In its rulings, the Iraqi Court of Cassation has confirmed that the killing of a male relative who is suspected of same-sex sexual conduct is considered a crime with an "honourable motive", thus qualifying for a reduced sentence under Article 128.
Although provisions under Articles 128 have been amended in the Kurdistan Region by Law 14 of 2002 and, therefore, may no longer be applied in connection with crimes committed against women there, they continue to be applicable throughout the whole of Iraq in connection with crimes against gay men.
For example, on 24 October 2005 the Court of Cassation of the Kurdistan Region confirmed the conviction for murder and one-year prison sentence imposed on a man from Koysinjak who had confessed to killing his gay brother earlier in 2005. The court found that he had killed his brother with "honourable motives" because he "wanted to end the shame which the victim [of the crime] had brought over his family by practicing depravity and by being engaged in homosexuality and prostitution." The court also accepted that a one-year prison sentence was in this case appropriate for premeditated murder, a crime which carries the death penalty.
You can kill a gay man and get away with it in Iraq. Which sort of makes John T. Fleming look like a lying prick. (Much worse than that but I can use "prick" and still manage work safe language.) Fleming is with the US State Dept. Last June, Seth Michael Donsky (Boston's Edge) reported:
John T. Fleming, who heads public affairs for the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, takes pains to point out that homosexuality is not a crime in Iraq. "Homosexuality," he pointed out in a recent e-mail to EDGE, "is outlawed by more than 85 countries and is punishable by death in several Islamic states . . . but Iraq is not one of them."
Being gay's not a crime in Iraq . . . except it is. And if you kill a man because he's gay and you're a family member you can walk. Much, much more complicated than Fleming's 'informed' explanation. From a US official acting the fool to a British one, Paul Canning (Pink News) explains David Miliband (Foreign Secretary) is providing one whopper after another:
He said: "Under Labour the UK will continue to be a beacon of hope for LGBT people."
This delusion sounded a lot like Home Office minister Phil Woolas' article last year, when he wrote that he was proud of the attendees of the London Pride march who'd found sanctuary in the UK -- never mind that his office would have refused them and fought tooth-and-nail to remove them.
The pair should form a double act.
An Amnesty International report released today said that gays in Iraq have no protection from the state and are allegedly even being targeted by some security forces. Yet Miliband's 'beacon' government would tell those seeking our sanctuary they could safely return and be "discreet".
Also at Pink News, Jessica Green covers Amnesty's report and notes, "An Amnesty International report claims that the UK and several other European countries are breaching United Nations rules on returning vulnerable Iraqi asylum seekers."
The internally displaced are also targeted, especially if they attempt to return to their homes. The Palestinian refugees in Iraq remain targeted and vulnerable to assaults "mainly by Shi'a militias." And, of course, the residents of Camp Ashraf -- Iranian dissidents -- remain targeted by Nouri al-Maliki in his attempts to curry favor with the Iranian government. The report closes with recommendations for a number of groupings in Iraq. We'll note two. First the US could
* Exercise due diligence and protect the human rights of all civilians in Iraq.
* Ensure prompt, impartial and thorough investigations into all attacks on and other violent crimes against civilians by US forces, and bring those resposible to justice in conformity with internation law and without recourse to the death penalty.
For those in government in Iraq?
* Exercise due diligence and protect the human rights of all civilians in Iraq.
* Review and improve protection measures for human rights defenders, other critical voices and vulnerable groups, including by consultation with representatives of groups at risk.
* End discrimination, including with regard to protection measures, on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, origin, colour, religion, sect, belief or opinion, or economic or social status -- as required by Iraqi and international law.
* Ensure prompt impartial and thorough investigations into all attacks on and other violent crimes against civilians, and bring those responsible to justice in conformity with international law and without recourse to the death penalty.
* Immediately disarm all militias.
* Train and instruct law enforcement personnel to identify at risk individuals or groups and ensure effective protection measures.
* End the indication of holder's religion on identity cards in light of the risk of grave human rights abuses entailed in the inclusion of religious affiliation on identity cards, in consultation with religious minority communities.
* Abolish legislation that provides disproportionately lenient sentences for perpetrators claiming "honourable motives" for crimes against women and members of the gay community perceived to be transgressing traditional gender roles or moral codes.
* Ban or enforce existing bans on harmful traditional practices for girls, namely female genital mutilation and forced and early marriages.
* Provide assistance to all displaced people, including shelter, health care and other essential needs.
* Do not forcibly return any refugees or asylum-seekers to countries where they are at risk of human rights violations.
For the global community, the recommendations include: "End all forcible returns to any part of Iraq; any return of rejected asylum-seekers should only take place when the security situation in the whole country has stabilized." Friday on Free Speech Radio News, it was noted that Denmark was forcibly returning an Iraqi refugee.
Sondre Bjordal: A resigned atmosphere hung over the small group of protestors this afternoon after Umaeed the Iraqi asylulm seeker who had since 2002 was led by police to the gates. Umaeed is one of about 280 aslyum seekers including some two dozen children who are effected by an agreement between the Danish and Iraqi governments that lets them repatriate asylum seekers even if their lives may be in danger in the war ridden country. Under the agreement, Iraq has promised their safety but the UN doubts that promise can be fulfilled. Forced repatriations now happen about once a month. Umaeed's pregnant wife told FSRN that she now sees little hope for the future.
Umaeed's wife: I don't know what to do. I can't provide for myself. I can't. A woman with two children can't provide for herself. And the children of course need their father.
Sondre Bjordal: As many as 200,000 Muslims live in Denmark where limiting immigration has become a major political issue.
That was pointed out by a FRSN friend who also informed me that I was wrong (I was wrong) and that FRSN had noted the Friday's bombings on Fridays:
In Baghdad today, numerous bombs exploded across the city -- at least 58 people are dead. Varying reports say there were between 6 and 13 blasts -- most targeted Shia mosques during Friday prayers. The blasts follow yesterday's announcement that yet another high level al Qaeda leader was recently detained. In the past week, US and Iraqi forces have killed at least three high level al Qaeda in Iraq leaders, and detained a number of others.
As noted, I was wrong in yesterday's snapshot. My apologies for my error and thank you to a FRSN friend for calling me and correcting me.
Amnesty's also notes how the continued election confusion isn't helping either. It's not surprising that Iraq has yet to form a government. No one's surprised by that, not even Chris Hill. What's surprising is that roadblocks keep being tossed out there to prevent talks to forming a coalition -- such as yesterday's disqualifying of candidates -- including two who won seats in the Parliament. Today US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:
On March 7, I congratulated the people of Iraq on their national elections, which were a clear demonstration of their commitment to democracy and a future without fear and intimidation.
Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the United Nations, the Arab League, and both international and domestic observers declared those elections to be free of widespread or systematic fraud. The United States respects the legal avenues that Iraq has set up for challenges to candidates and to electoral results. However, for challenges to be credible and legitimate they must also be transparent and must accord with the laws and mechanisms established for the conduct of the elections. Investigations into allegations of fraud should be conducted in accordance with IHEC procedures. Similarly, candidates should have every opportunity to answer charges against them. Transparency and due process are essential to protecting the integrity of the process and preserving the confidence of the Iraqi people in their democratic system.
The United States does not support a particular party or candidate. We seek a long-term partnership with an Iraq that is stable, sovereign and self-reliant. As a friend and partner, the United States calls upon Iraq's leaders to set aside their differences, respect the courageous ballots of the Iraqi people, and to form quickly a government that is inclusive and represents the will of all Iraqis and their hope for a brighter future in a strong, independent and democratic Iraq.
Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reminds, "Before the elections, the IHEC banned more than 500 politicians, mostly Sunnis, from running in the national vote over alleged links to Baath party." Firas Al-Atraqchi (Huffington Post) shares a fear, "The decision by an Iraqi court to disqualify dozens of candidates -- including one winner from the Iraqiya coalition led by former premier Iyad Allawi -- for alleged ties to the Baath party could push the country closer to civil war." It's a common fear. Osama Al Sharif (Arab News) notes, "Iraq is tailspinning into a bottomless pit of terrorism, sectarian violence and political disarray. Since the March 7 elections, the government has become dysfunctional while the country's various political parties and alliances continue to engage in futile bargaining that has prevented any of them from clinching the required majority to end the impasse." Also noting disturbing events which might be trends is Simon Tisdall (Guardian):
Last Friday saw a series of bomb attacks on Shia targets in Baghdad and Anbar, in the Sunni triangle. Some of the carnage was attributed to al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, purportedly to avenge the killing by US forces of its two most senior leaders. But the savagery was reminiscent of the mosque bombings in 2006 that sparked Sunni-Shia sectarian warfare -- and was seen as an attempt to rekindle it.
Iraqi soldiers who arrived on the scene of one of the bombings were stoned by angry Sunnis who oppose the Shia-led government. Ominously, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iran-based foe of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, has since said his Shia Mehdi army, demobilised under a 2008 truce, is ready to step in to protect worshippers. His "offer" resurrected the spectre of the militia battles of old.
In a separate incident last week, the family of a Sunni tribal chief who supported the US-initiated programme to build a Sunni alliance against al-Qaida was butchered after gunmen stormed their home in Tarmiya, north of Baghdad. Police said the man's three young sons had their throats cut while his wife and daughter were shot in the head.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Leila Fadel reported that troops from Iraq's predominantly Shia army beat and tortured dozens of Sunni men in Radwaniyah, west of Baghdad, after the killing of five soldiers. The incident was said to have underscored the gulf of mistrust separating the two communities.
UAE's The National Newspaper notes, "Certain Shiite factions are using a variety of procedural tricks to weaken Iraqiyya, the secular party led by Ayad Allawi, which won the most seats in last month's elections. We have seen these games before. The infamous de-Baathification Committee, led by Ali Al Lami and Ahmad Chalabi, themselves running for parliament, disqualified hundreds of candidates, alleging that they had ties to the banned Baath Party. Cooler heads were able to limit the vendetta's damage and there was no boycott of the election." And of course, yesterday saw al-Lami and Chalabi get their way yet again as 50 candidates from the March 7th election were announced banned. Ma'ad Fayad (Asharq Alawsat Newspaper) reports, "Iraqiya spokesman Maysoon al-Damluji told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Amman on Sunday that 'the Iraqiya bloc will go the UN Security Council -- as Iraq remains under Chapter VII [of the UN Charter] -- as well as the European Union, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in order to protect the political process in Iraq.' He added that 'the US signed a security agreement with Iraq taking responsibility to protect the democratic process [in Iraq] which Iraqis died for'." Today's Zaman reports, "Iyad Alawi, the leader of the Iraqi election-winning al-Iraqiyya bloc, said on Tuesday in Ankara that his cross-sectarian alliance will not let a small group of judges take the political process hostage, referring to a ruling by an Iraqi election court that disqualified 52 candidates, including one al-Iraqiyya winner -- a decision that threw Iraq's disputed election results into even deeper disarray."
Jason Ditz: It's a dispute about the election which is now a month and a half ago and we still don't have any real effort to form a government by any of the parties and we're not even really clear who won because the election commission has announced that they are recounting all the ballots in Baghdad which is something that Maliki has wanted since the election because his party didn't do as well in Baghdad as they thought but since the election commission is so close with Malaki there's kind of assumption that these recounts are going to be designed to ensure that he get a few extra seats.
Jason Ditz is with Antiwar.com and Scott Horton interviewed for Antiwar Radio.
Scott Horton: Give us the lowdown on the three major blocs and the compromises that are not being worked out. I mean it's a parliamentary system, they need a majority in their one big House of Representatives to chose their prime minister, right?
Jason Ditz: Right no one of these parties is going to get anywhere near a majority. Right now the preliminary talk showed Iraqiya which is Ayad Allawi's bloc which is sort of a secular bloc and has a large number of Sunnis in it leading with 91 seats. Maliki is just behind with 89 seats. And then the third place finisher ,which is kind of a king maker, is Moqtada al-Sad'r Iraqi National Alliance which has 70 seats
Scott Horton: Right and it's important I think when you call it Moqtada al-Sadr's Iraqi National Alliance, as you explained on the show the last time you were here -- it's really no longer the Hakims' Iraqi National Alliance. The older Hakim, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, has died, his son has taken over and apparently Sadr has really muscled into control over that entire group.
Jason Ditz: Right the younger Hakim never appeared all that interested in politics. And he tried, he isn't all that savy either. So. The Surpeme Islamic Iraqi Council barely got any seats in the election, I mean they're --
Scott Horton: Are they going to stay in the coaltion with Sadr or is there a chance that they might split off and go join with Maliki's new party?
Jason Ditz: Well there's been some talk that they might do that. But Hakim has also spoken favorably about Allawi being the winner of the election and that Allawi should be allow to form a government. So I'm not really sure that they've made any decision to change.
And UPI reports today that the extra-legal Justice and Accountability Commission announced, via Chalabi's boy pal Ali al-Lami, that it was reviewing nine "would-be lawmakers" to determine if they were 'Ba'athists.' And I really don't mean to kick the stupid, I really don't. But I will note -- without naming him -- that if indeed the US had -- as he falsely reported -- worked out an agreement for Nouri and Ayad to share the prime ministership (splitting it in half by years), then all of this wouldn't be taking place. I will note that his fanciful 'reporting' never ceases to amuse even if it never quite matches up with reality. Surveying events, Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) draws some conclusions:
The latest evidence of Iran's maneuvering in Iraq: the pro-Iranian Iraqi National Alliance and its ally, the so-called Justice and Accountability Commission (JAC), have struck again, this time disqualifying several winning candidates in the March 7 election and threatening to disqualify many others. (In January, you'll recall, the Commission barred more than 500 candidates from the ballot on spurious charges that they were members or supporters of the Baath Party, the former Arab nationalist party that was a powerful force in pre-2003 Iraq, going back to the 1950s.)
Meanwhile Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports that Nouri's cabinet "passed a five-year development plan" today. The Parliament is over. The newly elected, once sworn in, will be the Parliament. But currently the country has no Parliament. Why is Nouri using this time to push through things like five-year plans? And if we followed the $186 billion he's committing/giving to various people in this plan, might we find he's buying off influence -- with other blocs or possibly judicial types?
The at-risk population remains at-risk. Nothing's changed. One at-risk population in Iraq is journalists. Alsumaria TV notes, "The Committee to Protect Journalists urged the Pentagon on Monday to probe the death of journalists in Iraq by US forces." We noted that in yesterday's snapshot. There's been more than enough time for it to make into the news cycle . . . but try to find it. France's AFP does and notes, "The New York-based media rights group published its 2010 'Impunity Index' earlier this month, a list of a dozen countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes - topping the list was Iraq with 88 unsolved journalist murders." There's Reuters' article. Excuse me, where's the US outlet covering it? And not a wire service. Where's the newspaper covering it or all the 'reporters' working on the style section today? Where's NPR covering it or are they too busy covering Billy Carter 2010?
In Iraq today, Reuters notes 2 college students were shot (one dead, one wounded) in Kirkuk, a Mosul shooting claimed the life of 1 police officer and left another wounded and police exchanged fire injuring "a child and a man" while two Mosul roadside bombings left two people injured.
And that's going to be it except for a message from me. I'm hearing what we're being asked to note, stuff e-mailed to the public account. We will note the DPC tomorrow. I'm told it's too wide -- the press release -- to be copied and pasted and I'm not going to ask the friend I'm dictating this too to retype a lengthy press release. For the same reason, an event in Tennessee can't be noted here. Both will be noted in the morning entries tomorrow. However, not those but other things. I'm not interested. I am not interested in your need to scream "RACIST" in order to score some political points.
Stop sending me your crap. Don't send me your crap about so and so being treated poorly by a racist press. I'm not in the f**king mood. Is that clear?
Senator Roland Burris was treated in a racist manner and you never spoke up. And you never defended him. So why don't you just sit your White ass down and think about your actions.
The press followed that lead that people like you created with regards to Roland Burris but the press had enough sense to reconsider when they saw, with their own eyes, how it looked as Senator Burris was not seated. Is the press "racist"? It can be. It can follow the mood of the country. It can usually do some self-examination as well. I'm sick of all this "Oh, this is what the press is, that's what the press is" b.s. from people who don't know what the hell they're talking about. I'm less and less enchanted with some of the media criticism that's being churned out these days by people who don't even understand the way the media works. I grew up in a media family and I do understand how it works, I understood before I was ten.
I'm not really sure if it's that people don't understand it or that they want to make charges to work the ref. But I don't have time for it. Stop it. Don't send me another thing. And here's one more thing to all you people with websites wanting endlessly to be noted here. You don't have to link to me, I don't give a damn. If I wanted attention, I wouldn't be "C.I." online. But I do care that none of you cover Iraq. So in the future, when you're asking for yet another favor, why don't you include when you last noted the ongoing Iraq War. And if it hasn't been in weeks, how 'bout you don't bother with an e-mail?
As Katya says in Russia House, "I hope you are not being frivolous, Barley. My life now only has room for truth."
The world does not revolve around New York. I know that surprises you. I know you wanted to go to town on Eliot Spitzer. And I know I said it was a political hit job and you should be defending him. You didn't, did you? Still think you made the right call on that? Going smutty work out real good for you? Going smutty work out real good for Wall Street?
Did you defend Noam Chomsky? Oh, no, you didn't do that either did you. You don't do too much at all, do you? But you scream "Racist!" to advance Democratic politics -- even though you yourself are not a Democrat.
I am offended that I'm being pulled into this nonsense. I'm not in the mood for this s**t and it's exactly what's going to make us go back to only including things that have to do with Iraq or that a personal friend of mine asks to be noted. Stop abusing the public e-mail account and, honestly, grow up. I'm passing this stupid e-mail over to Elaine who will probably comment on it at her site.