Saturday, December 30, 2017

No justice

Justice in Iraq?

Our story from inside Baghdad’s anti-terrorism court where we found Iraqi and foreign ISIS suspects being sentenced to death in trials that take minutes and lack due process, potentially ensnaring innocents.

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim (WASHINGTON POST via STARS AND STRIPES) reported:

The two Turkish men shuffled into the courtroom, their closely cropped hair, clean shaven faces and chubby waistlines hardly the look of fearsome fighters of the Islamic State.
Appearing in court for the first time since being arrested in August on charges of belonging to that group, they professed their innocence, telling the judge they were simply plumbers who migrated to Iraq from Turkey looking for work.
After an 18-minute trial, they were sentenced to death by hanging.

Justice is a concept that still hasn't quite taken in 'liberated' Iraq.  As Hoshang Mohamed (RUDAW) explains:

Transitional justice initiatives since 2003 have been problematic in Iraq. Such initiatives have been used as tools to repress political opponents instead of ending impunity and ensuring justice. Therefore, people have lost trust in the existing justice system.

Where we stand today, in the aftermath of ISIS, victims may not share the political elite’s perceptions of justice. The understanding of justice varies across communities, each giving different priority to social justice, punitive justice, and restorative justice. While victims may have experienced similar violations, their perspectives on gender reflect factors like beliefs, gender, socioeconomic standing, ethnicity, and religion.

The current context requires a comprehensive study to construct a detailed understanding of the political dynamics of relevance to restore justice and end impunity. This requires an in-depth understanding of the crimes committed, the role of different perpetrators, the impact of the crimes on the victims and society, and the needs, demands and priorities of the victims and their communities.

Development of a new national policy is critically required to ensure accountable, transparent, and reliable justice and increase the capacity of the state to effectively deal with complex crimes such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. 

THE WASHINGTON POST's Tamer El-Ghobashy appeared on this weekend's THE NEWSHOUR (PBS):

ALISON STEWART: Earlier this month, the Iraqi government declared the end of combat operations in the fight against ISIS, ending three years of the militant group’s violent and deadly control over one third of the nation. And as the Washington Post reports this week, the Iraqi government is now undertaking an effort to quickly bring ISIS members to justice. But just how the process is moving forward and who’s being caught up in it is raising questions for an explanation. I’m joined via Skype from Ontario by Tamer El-Ghobashy, the Baghdad bureau chief for The Washington Post. I understand you’ve just returned from Iraq. So when you were there tell me who is being arrested? What are they being charged for? And what is the process like? 

TAMER EL-GHOBASHY: What we’re seeing is that there are thousands of people – both local Iraqis and foreigners – who came to join ISIS in Iraq who are being arrested and are now coursing through the Iraqi criminal justice system. They’re all being charged under the Iraqi anti-terrorism law which was passed in 2005 and has a very, very broad definition. Whether they raised arms and fought for the group or whether they cooked for fighters in the group or treated them as doctors or otherwise is irrelevant. Under Iraqi law, the idea that you joined ISIS or a similar group like Al-Qaeda means that you are subject to either life in prison or the death penalty. 

 ALISON STEWART: How long do these trials last? Is there anything that could be done to change the way this process is going forward? 

TAMER EL-GHOBASHY: The U.N. has suggested that Iraq doesn’t have the infrastructure in its legal system to handle these cases saying that most of ISIS’s crimes were crimes against humanity and war crimes and should be handled by an International Criminal Court for Justice. But so far there is no momentum. In fact, it seems that from the very top of the Iraqi leadership structure, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has authorized that these trials be expedited in order to to see justice served for the victims of ISIS. 

ALISON STEWART: Tamer how might these quick trials and these executions affect Iraq’s stability? 

TAMER EL-GHOBASHY: From a domestic point of view the idea is that these quick executions could result in a quite large number of innocent people being condemned to death. And one of the popular kind of conventional wisdom in Iraq and elsewhere is that the reason ISIS flourished in Iraq is because Sunnis felt disenfranchised and ignored by the majority Shia central government. So there might be a risk of further alienating Sunnis who feel like they were victims of ISIS and then were victimized once again by the Iraqi criminal justice system, which again, does not appear equipped to or willing to allow people a fair trial to defend themselves against the charge of joining the group.

All those years of 'helping' and the Iraqi justice system is no where near 'fixed.'  But maybe that was never really the point?

In other realities, Richard Sisk (MILITARY TIMES) reports, "U.S.-backed forces were in the process of 'crushing the life' out of ISIS but 'the war is not over' in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday."

The following community sites -- plus BLACK AGENDAY REPORT and Cindy Sheehan -- updated:

New Year’s Eve Spectacular from Detroit Public Television!

New Year’s Eve Spectacular from Detroit Public Television!

Start 2018 on the Right Note
With the Music of Michael Jackson and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Tomorrow night – New Year’s Eve - 10 p.m. live from Orchestra Hall in Detroit
Watch the concert live on DPTV (56.1), at

Looking for a great way to ring in the New Year?  It’s as easy as ABC – thanks to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Public Television, as we present the holiday’s hottest party set to the music of Motown’s own – Michael Jackson.

From his early years with the Jackson 5 to his mega-hit album Thriller and beyond, Michael Jackson stormed the music industry with hit after hit. With the Detroit Symphony orchestra and conductor Brent Havens, multi-talented performer James Delisco will deliver a rare combination of vocals and athletic dance moves to countdown the end of 2017 while reliving each era of Michael Jackson’s celebrated career, from ABC, I'll Be There, and Got To Be There through Beat It, Thriller, Rock With You, The Way You Make Me Feel, and many, many more.

At the acoustically perfect and resplendent Orchestra Hall, there’s no better way to get 2018 off to a great start.

The concert kicks off at 10 p.m. But there is a range of party options before and afterwards, which you can check out at the DSO’swebsite

The concert will also be broadcast live on DPTV (56.1), live-streamed at and available  on Facebook Live – all made possible by a generous contribution by the Stanley and Judith Frankel Family Foundation.

When it comes to starting off the New Year with a musical bang, with apologies to Michael Jackson, you can’t beat it!

Rich Homberg
President and CEO
Detroit Public Television
248-640-4169 -  - @RichHomberg

One Detroit.  4 Million People.  One Story.

If you don’t understand the difference between the boom and the bass, well, you haven’t been to Detroit.  But don’t worry, we’ll still be here when you decide to learn.

Dr. Tonya Matthews
Symphony in D

The pharmaceutical industry and corporations undermining food safety play a major hand in fueling the opiod and obesity crises (Tulsi Gabbard)

Some Tweets from US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard:

  • Erica Garner dedicated her life to the pursuit of justice and criminal justice reform. My prayers are with Erica's children and family and all who cherish and mourn the time they were able to spend together.
  • It is obvious that Puerto Rico needs additional relief. It was apparent even before the natural disasters they have suffered this year. Their crisis is ours. I will continue to do everything in my power to deliver justice and aid to our fellow Americans.
  • The economic, ecological, and humanitarian crises that US citizens of Puerto Rico are dealing with after Irma and Maria cannot be taken without consideration for the Recession, unequal treatment by Washington, and the debt that has been weaponized to wipe out social services.
  • Puerto Rico has imposed austerity for years at the behest of Wall Street vulture funds. Child poverty rose to ~60%, infrastructure failed, 100+ schools & hospitals closed, foreclosures rose 90% after 2008, median income hovered at $19,000 (compared to the $51K national average).
  • This is unacceptable, and quite frankly would not be happening if American citizens in Puerto Rico were treated the same as those living in states. The blame for this falls squarely on Washington and Wall Street hedge funds and creditors, not the Puerto Rican people.
  • The sets a goal of attaining 100% of our energy from renewable sources by 2035. If we work together, we can hasten our clean energy transformation to save the environment and compete in the 21st-century global economy.
  • The private prison industry is immoral, only concerned with their shareholders' profits at the expense of human life. No industry runs more contrary to our nation's founding ideal of liberty and justice for all. We need criminal justice reform NOW.
  • Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou! Wishing you and your ʻohana the very best in these final days of 2017 and in the New Year. While we face many challenges, I know we can overcome them when we come together in the spirit of aloha. May we find strength, courage and inspiration in ALOHA!
  • We must pass the Act and invest in the clean energy economy of the future. The sooner we transition, the more money we will save, the more jobs we will create, and the better we can prepare for the climate disruptions that are devastating so many communities.
  • . is absolutely right. The pharmaceutical industry and corporations undermining food safety play a major hand in fueling the opioid and obesity crises. They must be held accountable.
  • In Hawaiʻi alone, 25,780 of our keiki receive their health insurance through .
  • Water is life. We cannot take it for granted. Failing infrastructure, oil pipelines, and polluters that dump toxic chemicals threaten our rivers, lakes, aquifers, and oceans. This precious resource must be protected.