Dead men tell no tales

Subscribe to ShahidulNews


Share


By Vijay Prashad

21 October 2011 ??The Greanville Post ? Qaddafi, From Beginning to End
NATO?s Agenda for?Libya
gaddafi.jpgOn the dusty reaches out of Sirte, a convoy flees a battlefield. A NATO aircraft fires and strikes the cars. The wounded struggle to escape. Armed trucks, with armed fighters, rush to the scene. They find the injured, and among them is the most significant prize: a bloodied Muammar Qaddafi stumbles, is captured, and then is thrown amongst the fighters. One can imagine their exhilaration. A cell-phone traces the events of the next few minutes. A badly injured Qaddafi is pushed around, thrown on a car, and then the video gets blurry. The next images are of a dead Qaddafi. He has a bullet hole on the side of his head.
These images go onto youtube almost instantly. They are on television, and in the newspapers. It will be impossible not to see them.
The Third Geneva Convention (article 13): ?Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.?
The Fourth Geneva Convention (article 27): ?Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.?
One of the important ideological elements during the early days of the war in Libya was the framing of the arrest warrant for Qaddafi and his clique by the International Criminal Court?s selectively zealous chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. It was enough to have press reports of excessive violence for Moreno Ocampo and Ban Ki-Moon to use the language of genocide; no independent, forensic evaluation of the evidence was necessary. [Actually, independent evaluation was soon forthcoming from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, decisively debunking Ocampo?s charges. AC/JSC.]
NATO sanctimoniously said that it would help the ICC prosecute the warrant (this despite the fact that the United States, NATO?s powerhouse, is not a member of the ICC). This remark was echoed by the National Transitional Council, NATO?s? political instrument in Benghazi.
Humanitarian intervention was justified on the basis of potential or alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions. The intervention?s finale is? a violation of those very Conventions.
It would? have been inconvenient to see Qaddafi in open court. He had long abandoned his revolutionary heritage (1969-1988), and had given himself over to the U. S.-led War on Terror at least since 2003 (but in fact since the late 1990s). Qaddafi?s prisons had been an important torture center in the archipelago of black sites utilized by the CIA, European intelligence and the Egyptian security state. What stories Qaddafi might have told if he were allowed to speak in open court? What stories Saddam Hussein might have told had he too been allowed to speak in an open court? As it happens, Hussein at least entered a courtroom, even as it was more kangaroo than judicial.
No such courtroom for Qaddafi. As Naeem Mohaiemen put it, ?Dead men tell no tales. They cannot stand trial. They cannot name the people who helped them stay in power. All secrets die with them.
Qaddafi is dead. As the euphoria dies down, it might be important to recall that we are dealing with at least two Qaddafis. The first Qaddafi overthrew a lazy and corrupt monarchy in 1969, and proceeded to transform Libya along a fairly straightforward national development path. There were idiosyncrasies, such as Qaddafi?s ideas about democracy that never really produced institutions of any value. Qaddafi had the unique ability to centralize power in the name of de-centralization. Nevertheless, in the national liberation Qaddafi certainly turned over large sections of the national surplus to improve the well-being of the Libyan people. It is because of two decades of such policies that the Libyan people entered the 21st century with high human development indicators. Oil helped, but there are oil nations (such as Nigeria) where the people languish in terms of their access to social goods and to social development.
By 1988, the first Qaddafi morphed into the second Qaddafi, who set aside his anti-imperialism for collaboration with imperialism, and who dismissed the national development path for neo-liberal privatization (I tell this story in Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, which will be published by AK Press in the Spring of 2012). This second Qaddafi squandered the pursuit of well-being, and so took away the one aspect of his governance that the people supported. From the 1990s onward, Qaddafi?s regime offered the masses the illusion of social wealth and the illusion of democracy. They wanted more, and that is the reason for the long process of unrest that begins in the early 1990s (alongside the Algerian Civil War), comes to a head in 1995-96 and then again in 2006. It has been a long slog for the various rebellious elements to find themselves.
The new leadership of Tripoli was incubated inside the Qaddafi regime. His son, Saif al-Islam was the chief neoliberal reformer, and he surrounded himself with people who wanted to turn Libya into a larger Dubai. They went to work around 2006, but were disillusioned by the rate of progress, and many (including Mahmud Jibril, the current Prime Minister) had threatened to resign on several occasions. When an insurengy began in Benghazi, this clique hastened to join them, and by March had taken hold of the leadership of the rebellion. It remains in their hands.
What is being celebrated on the streets of Benghazi, Tripoli and the other cities? Certainly there is jubilation at the removal from power of the Qaddafi of 1988-2011. It is in the interests of NATO and Jibril?s clique to ensure that in this auto-da-f? the national liberation anti-imperialist of 1969-1988 is liquidated, and that the neoliberal era is forgotten, to be reborn anew as if not tried before. That is going to be the trick: to navigate between the joy of large sections of the population who want to have a say in their society (which Qaddafi blocked, and Jibril would like to canalize) and a small section that wants to pursue the neoliberal agenda (which Qaddafi tried to facilitate but could not do so over the objections of his ?men of the tent?). The new Libya will be born in the gap between the two interpretations.
The manner of Qaddafi?s death is a synecdoche for the entire war. NATO?s bombs stopped the convoy, and without them Qaddafi would probably have fled to his next redoubt. The rebellion might have succeeded without NATO. But with NATO, certain political options had to be foreclosed; NATO?s member states are in line now to claim their reward. However, they are too polite in a liberal European way to actually state their claim publically in a quid-pro-quo fashion. Hence, they say things like: this is a Libyan war, and that Libya must decide what it must do. This is properly the space into which those sections in the new Libyan power structure that still value sovereignty must assert themselves. The window for that assertion is going to close soon, as the deals get inked that lock Libya?s resources and autonomy into the agenda of the NATO states.
VIJAY PRASHAD?is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His most recent book,?The Darker Nations: A People?s History of the Third World,?won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009. The Swedish and French editions are just out. He can be reached at:[email protected]

The secret interrogation policy that could never be made public

Subscribe to ShahidulNews


Share


By?

Tony Blair evaded questions over his role in document, and ministers have refused to say if they were aware of details

This article was published on?guardian.co.uk at?18.46 BST on Thursday 4 August 2011. A version appeared on p10 of the?Main section section of?the Guardian on?Friday 5 August 2011. It was last modified at?00.06 BST on Friday 5 August 2011.

Rapid Action Battalion headquarters
The headquarters of the Rapid Action Battalion in Uttara, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Shahidul Alam for the Guardian

Government ministers were extraordinarily sensitive about the contents of the secret?MI5 and?MI6 interrogation policy document when the Guardian became aware of its existence two years ago.
Initially, its purpose was to permit the questioning of prisoners being held at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, despite it being clear that these men were being severely abused by members of the US military.
In time, the policy developed into one governing the conduct of British intelligence officers who were questioning terrorism suspects held by some of the world’s most notorious security agencies.
As a number of these men began to emerge from captivity, some bearing clear signs of having been tortured, the ministers became even more nervous. The disclosure of the contents of the document helps explain why.
Tony Blair evaded a series of questions over the role he played in authorising changes to the instructions in 2004, while the former home secretary David Blunkett maintained it was potentially libellous even to ask him questions about the matter.
As foreign secretary, David Miliband?told MPs the secret policy could never be made public as “nothing we publish must give succour to our enemies”.
Blair, Blunkett and the former foreign secretary Jack Straw also declined to say whether or not they were aware that the instructions had led to a number of people being tortured.
The head of MI5,?Jonathan Evans, said that, in the post 9/11 world, his officers would be derelict in their duty if they did not work with intelligence agencies in countries with poor human rights records, while his opposite number at MI6, Sir John Sawers,?spoke of the “real, constant, operational dilemmas” involved in such relationships.
Others, however, are questioning whether, in the?words of Ken Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions, “Tony Blair’s government was guilty of developing something close to a criminal policy”.
The Intelligence and Security Committee, the group of parliamentarians appointed by the prime minister to assist with the oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies, is known to have examined the document while sitting in secret. However, it is unclear what ? if any ? suggestions or complaints it made.
Paul Murphy, the Labour MP and former minister who chaired the committee in 2006, declined to answer questions about the matter.
A number of men, mostly British Muslims, have complained that they were questioned by MI5 and MI6 officers after being tortured by overseas intelligence officials in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Guant?namo Bay. Some are known to have been detained at the suggestion of British intelligence officers.
Others say they were tortured in places such as Egypt, Dubai, Morocco and Syria, while being interrogated on the basis of information that could only have been supplied by the UK.
Some were subsequently?convicted of serious terrorism offences or subjected to control orders. Others were returned to the UK and, after treatment, resumed their lives.
One is a?businessman in Yorkshire, another a?software designer living in Berkshire, and a third is a?doctor practising on the south coast of England.
Some of the men have brought civil proceedings against the British government, and a number have received compensation in out-of-court settlements. Others remain too frightened to take action.
Scotland Yard has examined the possibility that one officer from MI5 and a second from MI6 committed criminal offences while extracting information from detainees overseas, and detectives are now conducting what is described as a “wider investigation into other potential criminal conduct”.
A new set of instructions was drafted after last year’s election,?published on the orders of David Cameron, on the grounds that the coalition was “determined to resolve the problems of the past” and wished to give “greater clarity about what is and what is not acceptable in the future”.
Human rights groups pointed to what they said were serious loopholes that could permit MI5 and MI6 officers to remain involved in the?tortureof prisoners overseas.
The issue of alleged torture in custody continues to haunt political, military and intelligence elites on both sides of the Atlantic. On Thursday a judge in America allowed a former military contractor who claims he was imprisoned and tortured by the US army in Iraq to sue the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally for damages.
The man, an army veteran whose identity has been withheld, was working as a translator for the US marines in the volatile Anbar province when he was detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a US military facility near Baghdad airport dedicated to holding “high-value” detainees.
The US government says he was suspected of helping to pass classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law.
Lawyers for the man, who is in his 50s, claim he was preparing to return to the US on annual leave when he was detained without justification and that his family were told nothing about his whereabouts or whether he was still alive.
Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed a suit in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to the courts, in violation of his constitutional rights.

Alleged victims

Binyam Mohamed, 33, returned to Britain in 2009 after his release from Guantan?mo Bay. An MI5 officer was alleged to have been involved in an interview with Mohamed in Pakistan and to have seen him three times while he was being held in Morocco.
Faisal Mostafa, 47, a chemist from Stockport, was repatriated from Bangladesh last summer after being detained in Dhaka in 2009. He is said to have been hooded, strapped to a chair and questioned about the UK while a drill was driven into his shoulder and hip.
Alam Ghafoor, 40, from Huddersfield, said he was held on a business trip in the United Arab Emirates after the London 7/7 bombings. The Foreign Office insisted he had not been detained at the request of the UK. Released after signing a false confession.
Zeeshan Siddiqui, a British citizen detained by the Pakistani security services and tortured while they accused him of being a member of al-Qaida. He returned to the UK and was placed under a control order. He absconded and is still missing.
——
Previous articles on RAB
Death Squad
Bangladesh Torture Centre

PRESIDENTIAL CLEMENCY

Subscribe to ShahidulNews


Share


But, will the people forgive the President..?

By rahnuma ahmed

The president has granted clemency to AHM Biplob, son of Laxmipur ruling party leader Abu Taher, a death row inmate, convicted of kidnapping and murdering advocate Nurul Islam on September 18, 2000, who was then organising secretary of Laxmipur BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party).
But will the people forgive the President? This is the question that grips politicians, lawyers, intellectuals and activists as they discuss and debate, that arouses common people’s passions as they argue and pass judgment, even those who are opposed to the death penalty in principle, as I am. The ruling party’s electoral pledge to establish the rule of law now rings hollow. Absolutely. Finally.
Since July 14, when presidential clemency was granted to Biplob.
Ruling party leaders insist that president Zillur Rahman has acted in accordance with his constitutional powers. Part IV, section 49 says, “The President shall have [the] power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.”
But surely presidential pardons must necessarily be exercised with discretion? With caution? Only in cases where there is reasonable ground to assume that a miscarriage of justice has occurred? To prevent it from happening?
That, however, is not the case. The truth can no longer be hidden. It has been exposed as it was bound to, revealing the corrupt arrogance of ruling party talking heads who prove yet again to be blind to the absolute misery of common people devastated ever more by killings. By senseless road accidents.? By sexual assaults,?rapes, mob attacks leading to deaths. By extra-judicial killings.
Continue reading “PRESIDENTIAL CLEMENCY”

On Forced Marriage, and Insourced Torture

Rahman?s case is one of the latest in a growing number of cases ? 29, at last count ? in which British intelligence services have been accused of colluding in the torture of British nationals and residents: Rangzieb Ahmed, Salahuddin Amin, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Rashid Rauf by the ISI, Binyam Mohamed in Morocco, Alam Ghafoor in Dubai, and Azhar Khan in Egypt. Rahman?s case provides the clearest indication so far, of torture outsourced

The Loving Face of British Imperialism

rahnuma ahmed

…the [Nigerian] nationalist leader Nnamdi Azikiwe urged Africans and other colonized peoples to prepare their own blueprint of rights themselves instead of relying on those who are too busy preparing their own.
— Bonny Ibhawoh, Imperialism and Human Rights, p. 155.
Forced marriage, says a British High Commission press release, is a crime (British High Commission, ?The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Forced Marriage Unit Launches National Publicity Campaign on Forced Marriage,? Dhaka, 28 March 2006. The link, for unknown reasons, has gone dead). As opposed to arranged marriages, forced marriages — by dint of not being based on consent — are a form of domestic violence and human rights abuse.
To increase awareness, both in Britain and abroad, the British home ministry (HO), and the foreign ministry (FCO), jointly formed a Forced Marriage Unit in January 2005. The unit was tasked with launching a publicity campaign: radio and press adverts, TV fillers and poster campaigns, and providing information. To those at risk, those affected, and those who are survivors.
The British government, said the state minister for home, Baroness Scotland QC, is determined to protect young people’s “right to choose” their spouses. A determination backed by the state minister for foreign office Lord Triesman’s assurance that “help is available” for its victims. Continue reading “On Forced Marriage, and Insourced Torture”