Monday, June 26, 2006


"Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche.

From the Associated Press:

Rasheed Qambari: 3 years' probation; fined $6,600.

Ahmed Abdullah: 18 months' probation; fined $3,100.

Amir Rasheed: 1 year probation; fined $2,268.

Rasheed Qambari received the heaviest punishment because he challenged the Patriot Act, forcing it to trial. Challenge is something fascists do not like; just ask Saddam. Challenge is why the assistant US attorney in the case, William Gould, recommended imprisonment for Qambari, while recommending only probation for Abdullah and Rasheed, who decided to plead guilty. This sentencing is also a message to Fadhil Noroly, whose federal trial is scheduled to begin on 11 July, not to challenge the Patriot Act either.

The most humorous part of the AP report were Judge Glen Conrad's words to Qambari:

But Conrad told Qambari, who was a math and physics teacher in Iraq, "You should have known better. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand ... that this was a recipe for disaster."

Nor does it take a rocket scientist to realize that, as a math and physics teacher, Qambari is far closer to actually being a rocket scientist than anyone else in the courtroom--including the judge.

The one who makes the most sense in the report is the Kurdish imam of the community, Kakahama Askary:

While he was relieved that none of the men will be imprisoned, Askary said there are many people in the Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq who are suffering with little food or water and no medical care and need financial help from their relatives in this country.

"The Patriot Act should be changed," he said.

Better yet, the Patriot Act should be found unconstitutional.

In a report carried on a local television station's website, WHSV, Askary had more to say:

"They break the law we can say that technically, but they didn't break the spirit of the law, that's very important," says Kakahama Askary, a professor at JMU. Askary says the United States is partly to blame. "We don't have a bank system in Iraq and this is the responsibility of the United States authority to provide the legal system for the people to be able to send money for the needy people over there," says Askary.

The banking system in South Kurdistan is in its bare infancy. I could count the number of banks that I personally saw in South Kurdistan last year on one hand and those were only in cities or larger towns. Getting people to use the limited number of banks is something else, because most people there have no trust in banks. In the past, during so many years of war, banks had a bad habit of collapsing, and people lost money. The KRG has been trying to encourage people to use banks, and has begun by strongly encouraging those working for the KRG to use them, but it is going to take a long time of stability before ordinary people can build any trust in them, much less have regular access to them.

Until such time as the US government decides to own up to its responsibilities in South Kurdistan and Iraq, and sets up some kind of money transfer system that it considers "legitimate," US foot-dragging on this matter will continue to contribute to the extreme hardships that many people there suffer. Yet by reading the comments of the court, you'd get the idea that the inconvenience of the people the US wanted to "liberate" is nothing compared to the inconvenience the Kurds of Harrisonburg caused the US government, again from the AP report:

The government was justified in prosecuting the men, said Conrad, adding they had engaged in a "dangerous activity."

In many cases, the men did not know the people they transferred money for and it was impossible to trace where it went overseas, FBI agent Stephen Duenas testified.

"There was a lot of smoke that the government had to clear away," Conrad said.

Poor things! It was too hard for the FBI to trace the money overseas, and it caused a lot of "smoke" that the government had to clear away. Maybe I'll be able to squeeze out a tear for them . . . when they can squeeze blood from a turnip.

Once again, the best thing about this whole federally-sponsored fiasco was the community of Harrisonburg itself, which rose to the defence of it's neighbors, up to and including jamming the courtroom today, from the WHSV report:

There was a huge outpouring of support for the men Monday with protesters filling Court Square and lining the streets next to the federal court building. The judge asked for those in the court room, who were in support of the defendants, to stand. Nearly all of the citizens stood and when they did the judge simply said, "that's remarkable."

Hundreds of people stood on Court Square and in front of the federal court building to show their support to three Kurdish men. Some say they came to show the Kurdish community that they value them as their neighbors. Others came as friends of those in trouble with the law.

Altogether, some 200 residents took the time to appear at the courthouse. The community of Harrisonburg has actively displayed the noble character of the American people. Still, there are those who characterize the government as a "sympathetic" villain, as in a report by the Charlottesvelle Daily Progress.

I disagree with such a characterization. In my opinion, if a government will not respect the people, then it must learn to fear them. Governments should never forget their place.

When governments do forget their place, this is the kind of thing that happens, from the Hewlêr Globe:

200 Kurdish child survivors of Anfal were presented as gifts to the Iraqi Women’s Union

A recently discovered document has revealed that two hundred Kurdish children below four years of age from Kirkuk were given to the Iraqi Women’s Union following the Anfal Campaign.

Zakia Ismael Haqi, a Faili Kurd and a United Iraqi Alliance member of the Iraqi Parliament announced the presence of documents revealing the transfer of these children in an interview with Media Newspaper, June 13.

”Following my return from America in 2003, I became a consultant in the Iraqi Ministry of Justice. My office was near the office of Paul Bremer, American Administrator of Iraq at the time, in one of Saddam’s former palaces,” Haqi stated, adding that there were also a number of Iraqi journalists staying in the palace.

“One night, one of the journalists accidentally knocked a picture off a wall, revealing a gap behind. The young journalist shouted ‘I found a treasure! Ten percent is mine,’ but the opening contained only documents. One of the documents, sent from the Iraqi Intelligence, regarded the sending of a number of Kurdish children between the ages of two months and four years to Manal Younis, former president of the Iraqi Women’s Union. She was told to do whatever she liked with them.”

Haqi has attempted to uncover the fate of the children. “According to some information, they were taken to Al-Qaria Al-Iraqia, The Iraqi Village, constructed in 1980 on the Karkh side of Baghdad. They then became members of Saddam’s juvenile and volunteer army.”

Haqi added that the existence of another document stating that 18 Kurdish girls and young women, between the ages of 14 and 29 were also given to nightclubs in Egypt.

For more on the stolen Kurdish women and girls of Saddam's Anfal, see IWPR and KWAHK.

And people have the nerve to wonder why I am angry. . .


Vladimir said...

I know who haves those documents... with the names on it. It's very sad.

Anonymous said...

I was really happy reading about the Harrisonburg Kurds untill I read the last part of the post.

In Harrisonburg, a small victory for all Kurds. In Kurdistan, yet another story that Kurds are not surprised to hear about.

Mizgîn said...

That is the bittersweetness of the Kurdish reality, isn't it? A victory and a defeat. It is always like this, and that is why I felt that both stories are tied together. If we are joyful for one event, there is always something else to conquer for justice.

The pursuit of justice is life itself.