Thursday, July 12, 2012

A proposed law threatens all Iraqis

Iraq is in the news cycle today.  And that should be a good thing because, goodness knows, there is a great deal needing attention.  That's not limited to Ahmed Chalabi's charge that billions have been stolen from the government, the continued violence, the continued political crisis, the 8 athletes they plan to send to the Olympics in London which kicks off in 15 days and so much more.

Sadly, Iraq's in the news cycle over something really unimportant to what is going on in Iraq.  The defection of Syria's Ambassador to Iraq is two sentence story tops.

It has nothing to do with Iraq.  But it's grabbing all the air in the room and that's because reporters want war.  They pretend to be 'troubled' but they want war.  Reporters, with few exceptions, are nothing but puppets to the narrative and once the war drums start beating, there are two outcomes for the narrative: War arrives or War skips out.  When the Syria War has been pimped as long as it has, the only 'satisfying' end to the narrative is combat.

So each and every thing that might get the reporters a little closer to climax will be endlessly pimped, fondled, stroked as you can see as every outlet attempts to file on the defection while ignoring real issues to Iraq.  Such as?

Human Rights Watch released a new report today entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq's Information Crime Law: Badly Written Provisions and Draconian Punishments Violate Due Process and Free Speech."  From the opening summary of the report:

Iraq's government is in the process of enacting what it refers to as an Information Crimes Law to regulate the use of information networks, computers, and other electronic devices and systems.  The proposed law had its first reading before Iraq's Council of Representatives on July 27, 2011; a second reading is expected as early as July 2012.  As currently drafted, the proposed legislation violates international standards protecting due process, freedom of speech and freedom of association.

This is not a minor point and HRW connects the law with the broader attack on liberties taking place in Iraq:

Since February 2011, Human Rights Watch has documented often violent attacks by Iraqi security forces and gangs, apparently acting with the support of the Iraqi government, against peaceful demonstrators demanding human rights, better services, and an end to corruption.  During nationwide demonstrations on February 25, 2011, for example, security forces killed at least 12 protesters across the country and injured more than 100.  Iraqi security forces beat unarmed journalists and protesters that day, smashing cameras and confiscating memory cards.  On June 10 in Baghdad, government-backed gangs armed with wooden planks, knives, iron pipes, and other weapons beat and stabbed peaceful protesters and sexually molested female demonstrators as security forces stood by and watched, sometimes laughing at the victims.
Given this backdrop, the draft Information Crimes Law appears to be part of a broad effort to suppress peaceful dissent by criminalizing legitimate activities involving information sharing and networking.  Iraq's Council of Representatives should insist that the government significantly revise the proposed Information Crimes Law to conform to the requirements of international law, and the council should reject its passage into law in its present form.  Without substantial revison, the proposed legislation would sharply undercut both freedom of expression and association.

Further in, the report notes:

Among other things, the law threatens life imprisonment and large fines for those found guilty of "inflaming sectarian tensions or strife;" "defaming the country;" "[u]ndermining the independence, untiy, or safety of the country, or its supreme economic, political, military, or security interests;" or "[p]ublishing or broadcasting false or misleading events for the purpose of weakening confidence in the electronic financial system, electronic commercial or financial documents, or similar things, or damaging the national economy and financial confidence in the state."  The law also imposes imprisonment and a fine on anyone who "encroaches on any religious, moral, family, or social values or principles," or "[c]reates, administers, or helps to create . . . any programs, information, photographs, or films that infringe on probity or public morals or advocate or propagate such things."

And let's point out this under Thug Nouri.  Nouri who sued the Guardian newspaper in England because he didn't like their story on him where some officials were talking about his power grabs.  Nouri who has tried to shut down press outlets repeatedly -- most recently wanting to close a list of outlets -- which included the BBC -- because they didn't have the correct 'papers.'

Let's remember this is Nouri al-Maliki, Little Saddam.

The man who had barely become prime minister in 2006 before he was stating that reporters covering bombings were terrorists and tried to stop all coverage of violence in the country.  It's a detail that so many of the foreign (non-Iraqi) press overlooks today -- probably because they were covering something else (another country, another beat) in 2006.

Let's also remember this is Nouri who is waiting for the current Parliament to finish its term so he can use one MP and this is also the same Thug Nouri who tried to have Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stripped of his post for saying Nouri was becoming a dictator.

The Human Rights Watch report notes that it threatens all Iraqis -- all Iraqis and yet the news cycle is obsessed with one defector today -- journalists, activists, everyone due to it being vaguely written and due to the harsh punishments proposed. It would threaten and intimidate free speech, a major issue in a society already struggling against a government that seems allergic to openess.

The following community sites -- plus the Guardian (look at their 'Iraq' story, no not HRW's report), Cindy Sheehan, Susan's On The Edge, Courage to Resist,, Pacifica Evening News, The Diane Rehm Show, Iraq Veterans Against the War, CSPAN and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night and today:

And The Diane Rehm Show's first hour today is on global violence against women -- she has two women as guests (Women Thrive Worldwide's Ritu Shamra and Wilson Center's Global Women's Leadership Initiative's Rangita de Slive de Alwis) and the US government's Donald Steinberg (USAID).  Let's hope they truly go global and not just yammer away about Afghanistan.  There are global issues and deep roots that need to be addressed.

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