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Thesis & Antithesis

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

18 July 2005

Saddam on Trial

Today started the trial of Saddam Hussein. Instead of any thoughts about his trial, I will quote from a book I found in my library—it is a Middle East Watch book called Human Rights in Iraq, published in 1990.

- “One reliable report concerns a member of the ruling Baath party related to a former senior official, arrested in Baghdad in August [1987] after government informers reported that he had been present at a gathering where jokes were made about President Saddam Hussein. [The party member] was arrested for not informing the authorities, as were the male members of his family: three sons and a son-in-law. During interrogation they were subjected to torture … [A]ll five were subsequently executed and the family’s home was bulldozed.”

- “The evening television news begins with what Western diplomats in Baghdad call ‘the Saddam song,’ presented against a background of victorious soldiers and bursting fireworks by a smiling figure who chants:

Oh Saddam, our victorious;
Oh Saddam, our beloved;
You carry the nation’s dawn
between your eyes …
Oh Saddam, everything is good
with you …
Allah, Allah, we are happy;
Saddam lights our days …”

- “Ahmed Mattar, another Iraqi poet living in exile in London, wrote these lines in memory of a friend who died under torture in Iraq.

They imprisoned him
before they charged him
They tortured him
before they interrogated him
They stubbed out cigarettes in his eyes
and held up some pictures in front of him
Say whose faces are these
He said: I do not see
They cut off his lips
and demanded that he name
those “they” had recruited
He said nothing
and when they failed to make him talk
they hanged him.
A month later they cleared him
They realized the young man
was not the one they really wanted
but his brother…”

- “I looked around and saw 9 bodies out on the floor with him … but my son was in a chair form … that is a sitting form, not sleeping or stretched. He had blood all over him and his body was very eaten away and bleeding. I looked at the others stretched out on the floor alongside him … all burnt … I don’t know with what … another’s body carried the marks of a hot domestic iron all over his head to his feet … At the mortuary the bodies were on the floor … one of them had his chest cut lengthwise into three sections … from the neck to the bottom of the chest was slit with what must have been a knife and the flesh looked white and roasted as if cooked … Another had his legs axed with an axe … his arms were also axed. One of them had his eyes gouged out and his nose and ears cut off … One of them looked hanged … his neck was long … his tongue was hanging out and the fresh blood was oozing out of his mouth.”

- “Swawkat A. Akrawi, a consulting industrial chemist who graduated from Leeds University, managed to ‘smuggle’ a telephone call from a Baghdad hospital to a New Scientist contact. Speaking in Kurdish, he said: ‘The accident they arranged didn’t kill me, so they gave me thallium in the hospital where I am being treated. Say goodbye to everybody.’ The line was then cut off.”

- “At 6:00 am on August 25 [1988], eight planes flew over our village. All eight dropped weapons … When they dropped the bombs, a big sound did not come out—just a yellowish color and a kind of garlic smell. The people woke up, and some of them fainted. Those who poured water on themselves lived: those who could not reach the water died. I went to the river. Almost 50 women died. Some died who went to help their families. Seventy-five people died. My brother died … [And the son of Iskender Ahmad testified that:] Animals and children died. Blood came from their mouths and a yellow liquid from their mouths and noses. The noise did not sound ilke regular bombs. They would just drop and make a weak sound and them this cloud. Always expanding: a yellow cloud. Those who escaped managed to go into the water.”

Ziad al-Khasawneh, Saddam Hussein’s lawyer, is set on his defense: “Did anyone see him killing people? That is the problem!”

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