As he nears his death ‘Taariq’ (date)…

November 8, 2010 at 1:01 am (Iran) (, , , , , , , )

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Announcement of death sentence for former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz came as a shock to the entire world. Not only did it shake the terrain of Iraqi politics, it unearthed a series of speculative theories in the back-drop of the recent Wikileaks exposé of the US government’s role in the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s.

“The death penalty for former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz is an attempt by the United States to distract the world from its failure under the flag of democracy,” said Konstantin Kosachev, a senior Russian lawmaker.

The reactions of the officials worldwide prove that hanging Tariq may not be that easy!

Tariq Aziz

In 1983, Tariq Aziz, a Roman Catholic, was appointed Iraq’s Minister of Information. In 1977, he joined the Revolutionary Command Council, the committee of senior Baath party officials ruling Iraq. In 1979 he became Deputy Prime Minister.

He appeared as the ‘global face’ of Iraq during the three Iraq wars. He also represented Iraq in all talks with the United States government. He helped win U.S. support for Iraq in its 1980-1988 war with Iran, which is now under a cloud due to the revelations made recently by the Wikileaks.

In January 1991, he dismissed a letter  from then US President, George Bush, to Saddam during the 11th-hour talks between the two countries because of its “humiliating” tone. One of the few men who could oppose the world’s leading nation, Aziz, with his faultless English, strong nerves and negotiating skills, exhibited a personality that impressed world leaders.

He was often the moderating voice within Iraqi councils.

Breakdown of the international face

In April 2003, two weeks after Saddam was overthrown, Aziz surrendered to the US forces. At this time, he was number 43 on the U.S. most-wanted list of Iraqi officials centred on the belief that he knew the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein. . He surrendered in exchange for his family being flown out of the country to safety.

He has been in prison ever since and was handed over to the Iraqi detention system by U.S. authorities earlier this year, along with most of the other accused former officials.

In March 2009, he was sentenced to 15 years jail for his role in the execution of 42 traders who broke state price controls in 1992. In August 2009, Aziz was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds from oil-rich northern Iraq during Saddam’s rule.

On October 26th, 2010, the Iraqi High Tribunal sentenced Aziz to death by hanging. This decision has been condemned by various governments across the world, while US remains silent in their view.

In an interview with CNN, Tariq’s daughter, Zainab Aziz said that her family had no idea her father was going to be sentenced. “Until last week, they were hearing new witnesses in this case,” she said. “My father served his country for more than 22 years. He delivered himself to the U.S. Army [after the collapse of the Saddam Hussein] because he wasn’t afraid. He didn’t do anything wrong. He served his country. He has been wronged.”

Aziz, through an international campaign, could reveal and educate the world public and influence the global opinion on what the nature of the ‘Great Game’ in the region has been. “His personal testimony regarding developments involving Iraq, Iran, the U.S., the U.K., Europe, and regional forces since 1980 could blow the lid off the official cover stories related to the conflicts in that period.” writes globalsearch.ca.

Another speculation that grew with the sentence relates to the current Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki. Though this revelation has gathered only internal response in Iraq, the facts cannot be ignored.

The judge who ruled the sentence in the case is a former aide to Prime Minister Maliki, who ‘stood for elections on Maliki’s misnamed State of Law alliance’. It is supposed that Maliki wants to use the execution of Aziz, a Roman Catholic, to build support for his party among the extreme Shiite supporters.

As a result of this, the International experts have criticized the proceedings and said that former regime officials should be tried in an international court, free from “political influence and intimidation.”

Reaction over the world

UK’s leading daily, The Guardian carried an article saying “The decision by Iraq’s high tribunal to pass a death sentence on Tariq Aziz, once the international face of dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, over the persecution of Islamic parties, has the feel of retribution about it.”

On October 27, AFP news service quoted from a statement issued by Russia’s foreign ministry calling for “clemency” for former Iraqi Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz, who had been sentenced to death by hanging by Iraq’s top criminal court a day earlier.

The statement read: “It is obvious that considerations of elementary humanity demand that [Aziz] is shown clemency. We would like to be able to count on Iraq’s presidential council not allowing this sentence to be enforced.”

Mikhail Margelov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council said, “What has happened in Iraq is the elimination of a witness and a settling of accounts between different religions, not a victory for justice. Nothing can justify this sentence.”

Gennady Zyuganov, the head of Russia’s Communist Party, said in an Interfax statement, “We will … call on the international community and parliamentarians in Europe and the United States to prevent this assassination.”

Syrian Catholic Archbishop Georges Casmoussa of Mosul appealed for the life of Tariq Aziz. “We have to form an international appeal to the Iraqi government to reverse their decision concerning Tariq Aziz,” he said. “I am ready to sign any document asking that the death sentence is not carried out.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, issued a Vatican statement asking Iraq not to execute Aziz, while Italian radical leader Marco Pannella has started a hunger strike to denounce the judgement.

With such strong reactions, one wonders whether the sentence can actually be carried out. Aziz is frail, ill, and harmless. But he is someone who has a lot of history to tell. He can appeal his sentence in the court of law.

But given Maliki’s rush to hold onto his post, it is also assumed that Aziz will be a human sacrifice.

With such strong internal and international influence, the Iraqi court has a lot at stake before they rule on the judgement made by the tribunal court!

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Notorious Nobel

November 7, 2010 at 11:53 pm (China) (, , , , )

Norwegian Nobel Committee

Nobel Prize

The controversy arising out of the award of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is another case of a politically-guided decision by the Nobel Committee. The selections made, reveal the thoughts of the committee members and its secretaries and advisors.

On a deeper level, they also reflect the Norwegian definition of the ‘broader’ and western political values- the often slightly left-of-center kind. Of the five Nobel Prizes, the Nobel Peace Prize is the most controversial of all.

This could explain why 2010 is not the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has spurred a debate. Other examples of controversial recipients include Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977, who had played a key role in the Vietnam War, in deposing the democratically-elected Salvador Allende in Chile and in supporting ‘brutal military regimes’ in South America that were responsible for the killing and disappearances of thousands of civilians; and Menachem Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel, who was the leader of the terror outfit that led to the creation of the Zionist state of Israel.

Nobel Prize for US President Barack Obama in 2009 also sparked a debate because during the period for which he was awarded the Nobel, he had played a major role in escalating the war in Afghanistan.

Adolf Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935 for peaceful resolution of the Sudetenland Crisis (though later withdrawn). Nobelprize.org lists Hitler under “three most common searches on individuals in the Nobel Peace Prize nomination database”.

The 1996 award to Cardinal Carlos Belo and Jorge Ramos Horta of East Timor demanded the Indonesian government to grant independence to the former Portuguese colony.

In an op-ed article in chinadaily.com, Guo Jisi, an international issue observer says, “Western critics label the Nobel Committee as “independent” and “just”, and honor it as a moral court. However, the Committee that comprises five Norwegians only represents the voice of some of the Norwegians or, at best, the values of some in the West. It is far from representative. Indeed, the Nobel Peace Prize is a national award with certain international fame rather than an award showing the consensus of the international community.” Although Guo’s words present an opinion of a furious pro-government journalist, there is an element truth in his words.

Thorbjorn Jagland, Nobel Committee Chairman published an article, “Why We Gave Liu Xiaobo a Nobel” in the New York Times, explaining how Liu Xiaobo has become the ‘foremost symbol’ of the human rights movement in China. His earlier statement that it was necessary for the outside world “to keep an eye” on China and to debate on “what kind of China do we want to have,” was seen by China as a case of interference.

The Nobel Prize websites explains the reason for Liu’s nomination as follows:

“For over two decades, Liu Xiaobo has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights also in China.  He took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989; he was a leading author behind Charter 08, the manifesto of such rights in China which was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 2008… Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China’s own constitution and fundamental human rights… Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China.”

Truth about Tiananmen Square Protests, 1989

During the declaration of the Nobel Prize the Nobel committee mentioned Liu’s role in the Tiananmen protests of 1989 as one of the major factor for the Prize. In the book Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, written by F. William Engdahl, the author reveals some hidden facts about Liu’s role in Tiananmen Square Protest.

He cites how Liu’s role in the protest “was an early attempt of the US intelligence to interfere in the internal affairs of the Peoples’ Republic of China and to implement what later came to be called Color Revolutions.”

Nobel’s Will

Fredrik Heffermehl, a Norwegian lawyer and peace activist, in his book- Nobels Vilje says that more than half the Nobel Peace Prizes awarded since 1946 have been awarded illegally, because they do not follow the expressed will of the ‘millionaire inventor of dynamite’. He says, all but one of 10 prizes awarded since 1999 are illegitimate under Norwegian and Swedish law.

Heffermehl’s book emphasizes that Alfred Nobel’s will concentrated on ‘rewarding the struggle to end wars through an international order based on law and abolition of military forces’. Few of the recent winners can be seen to have engaged in that struggle. Among those awards he names as illegitimate: Mother Teresa (1979); Lech Walesa (1983); Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin (1994); Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi (2003); Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai (2004); and Al Gore (2007).

In a feature, “The peace prize in the digital age”, Arab news site, aljazeera.com, talks about how internet has played a major tool for the propaganda of promoting Liu as a ‘hero’. Pakistan condemned the decision of the Nobel committee. The local newspapers wrote that “The decision to award him the Peace Prize is not only controversial, but runs contrary to the testament of Alfred Nobel, the founder of the century-old Nobel Peace Prize.” Pakistan Foreign office spokesperson said they were “surprised and deeply perturbed’’ by the choice. He added that the “politicization of the Prize” towards interfering in the domestic affairs of states is contrary to the recognized principles of inter-State conduct.

In the Boao Forum for Asia- a regional conference modeled on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Jackie Chan said, “I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not. I’m really confused now. If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.” “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not controlled, we’ll just do what we want,” he concluded.

The question here remains whether the Nobel Prize committee is aiming at awarding the peace makers to promote humanity, or is it just acting “nasty” by imposing their political values onto other nations?

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