By Yvonne Ridley
I have no idea where the Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL or whatever name it uses came from, and I’m just as baffled by the roots of its violent ideology. While I never pretend to speak for the diverse community of Muslims living in Britain today, I reckon my views on this will be echoed by the majority who have watched with growing concern the unprecedented rise of this group.
However, just as unprecedented is the childish invective being spewed out by Islamophobes, racists and so-called terrorism experts encouraged by some sections of the British media. They have not helped at all.
While I’ve blocked most of the jack-booted trolls who patrol Twitterland demanding that anyone who is or even looks like a Muslim should launch an immediate protest march against ISIS, I’m amazed that similar rhetoric is being pushed by elements of the media.
There are many reasons why I’ve not spoken out against ISIS. For a start, I’m not sure who it is, where it came from or how it is funded. I’ve not seen such a militarily- and strategically-savvy fighting force emerge in the Middle East before, other than the highly disciplined and much feared Hezbollah. I, like many others, want to know a little bit more about ISIS before making public comments.
Secondly, why should I organise a march against ISIS? I am not responsible for its actions, just as my Jewish friends are not responsible – and nor should they be – for the actions of that other group of violent psychos in the Middle East, the Israeli military. While ISIS enforcers wield head- and limb-chopping knives, Israel drops bombs called Daisy Cutters which also decapitate and maim anyone caught in the fallout.
Thirdly, my silence over ISIS does not mean that I support the group even if some fools take my silence as a sign that I do. Only when I ask some male tweeters to apologise on behalf of rapists, on the grounds that every rapist is a man so they must all be somehow culpable, does the penny drop; occasionally I’ll get a muffled apology.
And finally, even if I jumped up and down and declared that “ISIS is the scum of the earth”, exactly what would that achieve anyway? I hardly think its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is going to lose any sleep over Yvonne Ridley’s views.
There are few certainties in the chaos that is now the Middle East. However, what I can say with authority is that the world would never have heard of ISIS had widow-makers George W Bush and Tony Blair not launched their illegal war in Iraq in 2003. The world would also never have seen ISIS develop into the full blown monster that it is if the West had, at the very least, introduced a no-fly zone in Syria after the chemical weapons were unleashed on civilians by Bashar Al-Assad’s forces exactly a year ago this week.
The question to ask is this: Who really benefits from the unfolding ISIS spectacle? The big winners are sitting within the Assad regime. It is that regime which was, by the way, suspected of capturing US journalist James Foley who went missing in north-west Syria on 12 November 2012. How on earth did he slip out of the Syrian government’s hands into those of the murderous head-chopping maniacs of ISIS?
The former head of the British Army says that the West should sit down and negotiate with Assad to get rid of ISIS, but what if ISIS was created by Assad and his ally Iran, which has members of the elite Republican Guard in parts of Syria?
As crazy as it sounds, that would explain why Nouri Al-Maliki’s Iraqi army fell away so easily in the face of ISIS leaving behind a massive arsenal of weapons for the militia to use. It is virtually inconceivable for a trained fighting force to leave all of its kit behind before doing a runner, just as it’s virtually inconceivable that a crack fighting force like ISIS could emerge from a rag tag bunch of ill-disciplined rebel fighters buoyed-up by disaffected youngsters from Europe and beyond.
Make no mistake, ISIS’s domination of Iraq is nothing short of breath-taking; it has achieved in a matter of weeks what the US and its allies failed to do in 10 years of occupation. This hasn’t happened by accident; military victories on this scale take strategic planning and inside help. So who, exactly, is behind ISIS?
This article was first published in the Middle East Monitor.
Gaza,FATA,Nazi Germany, Israel and Pakistan: Some random thoughts for my troop worshiping Pakistani friends
I have been writing for some time against crimes committed by the Pakistani/USA and other forces in this fake war on terror and Israeli occupation and bombings of Palestinian territory. I have also been observing the reactions of people against and in favor of both operations, wars, genocide or mass murders (Whatever you want to label them).
What I see is that most of us believe in the concept of humanity but for most people the main issue seems to be their definition of the entity called “human”.
The definition seems to be greatly dependent on race, religion ,sect, nationality, political ideology and other sources of discrimination. This discrimination blinds many people to the extent that they start considering the lives of a 2 years old on one side of the conflict as less important one than on the other side of the conflict.
If we look at Israeli attacks over Gaza and Pakistan army attacks over FATA then we will see that there is not much difference between Benjamin Netanyahu and Nawaz/Raheel Sharif operations. Same logic of targeting particular groups but in reality damaging lives and properties of common people. Also there is not much difference between pro-war Israelies who were shown on the media enjoying bombings over Gaza and pro-war troop worshipers and fake liberals (In reality sectarian and social class fascists) of Pakistan who support and enjoy aerial bombings and heavy ground bombings over populated areas of FATA. Not to forget another thing. Israel and Egypt’s dictator Al-Sissi both have closed their borders for Gaza refugees and here in Pakistan both Sind and Punjab are doing the same with IDPs.
Ask a Pakistan army supporter about Israeli actions and he will use the all the harsh words he or she has against the Israelis and will condemn the attacks strongly. Ask him if these attacks are similar then you will receive harsh words for your self and things like, “There is no general public living in Waziristan & FATA area where Pak Army is doing bombing.” Similarly ask an Israeli army supporter about war in Gaza and similarity between their actions and the actions of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and he will say ” There is no general public living in GAZA area where Israeli Army is doing bombing”
Reality is people don’t care as long as its their men doing their job and it’s not our head facing the bullet or bombings.
No one is asking from Pakistan army that which high-profile targets were targeted? what are the identities of all those hundreds of so-called Uzbaks? what is the proof that all these so-called Uzbaks were terrorists or they were the refugees we accepted for many years or they were from the younger generation of the old soldiers Pak/US trained to fight the Soviets or were they common tribal people?
Similarly not many in Israel will ask their army about the hatred these bombings will create in the region against Israelis or how long can they bully the whole region and how the actions are different from what Hitler did?
The thing is that long as boots on the ground are our’s , bombs from sky are our’s and it’s not us or the people we care are being targeted, all is OK!
We need to oppose the idea of using aerial bombings over civilian population areas (whether so-called enemy areas or so-called our areas) on principle not on prejudices.
Fear of the other kind is a useful tool in the hands of people like Hitler, Netanyahu, Pakistan’s very own dictator Yahya, Musharraf, Bashar al Assad, Stalin, Mussolini, Bush, Obama and others like them.
It’s up to the common people to reject this “creating fear and controlling masses” policy. We need to do it not just for the other side and their rights as humans but also for our rights and freedom too.
Wrong actions and policies, if accepted as norms or principles will eventually hit us too and we will have no moral justification to oppose such actions if we would have supported them in the beginning against other people.
Who is Aafia Siddiqui’s husband? Majid Khan or Ammar al-Baluchi? –> More US media lies and deceptions on the issue.
Just read a news on reuters about aafia siddiqui, 5 feet week lady, allegedly linked with al-qaida and serving 86 years imprisonment for snatching a gun from 3 strong marines in prison and in the process getting herself shot without having any finger prints on the gun (according to trial reports and testimony of fbi agent in the court). First USA media was saying Ammar Al-Baluchi is Aafia’s husband and now they are saying Majid Khan is her husband? We also need an open trial in Pakistan to see who is her husband? It seems they are not consistent in their 9/11 lies and deception.
Even the bogus wikipedia entry on her still says Al-baluchi as her husband and many US media sources of that time (though her family denies any of these reports). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aafia_Siddiqui
Justice, humanity and peace loving people in USA should raise their voice on the issue.
Something relevant to current times, written in Nazi days by Pastor Martin Niemoller :
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Update : Reuters have recognized their mistake and have now edited the story with a note at the end : (In para 12, removes incorrect description of Aafia Siddiqui as Khan’s wife; she is not his wife)
Source : http://ftp.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=96105&Itemid=2
LONDON, Feb 10 (APP): Describing the conviction of Pakistani neuroscientist Dr.Aafia Siddiqui as “miscarriage of justice”, British Parliamentarians have called for withdrawal of case against her and repatriation to Pakistan. At a function organised at the House of Lords on Tuesday evening to raise support for the incarcerated Dr. Siddiqui, Lord Nazir Ahmed together with other speakers said her trial in New York was full of flaws and not based on facts.
They sought the intervention of the US leadership and demanded a fair trial based on real facts and not assumptions. Lord Ahmed said he would be writing a letter to the US President Barack Obama carrying signatures of other British MPs calling for Dr.Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan and withdrawal of case.
The Labour Peer further said he would also raise this question in the Parliament to ascertain how the British Government could help in this regard.
According to Lord Nazir, the conviction of Dr.Siddiqui has been received with great dismay in Pakistan which would further fuel anti-American feeling in the south Asian country.
“If US wants to create a good impression of itself in Pakistan, it should release Dr.Siddiqui and send her back to Pakistan,” he asserted.
He said no credible independent evidence was presented at the New York court and in the words of defence lawyers the decision of the jury was based on fear rather than facts.
Lord Altaf Sheikh, MP Muhammad Sarwar, Muhammad Saghir, a representative of Caged Prisoners which represent the inmates of Guantanamo Bay, Rabia Zia of UK Chapter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, journalist Yvonne Ridley, who witnessed the trial and Barrister Abid Hussain also spoke on the occasion.
The thrust of their speeches was to mobilise public opinion against Dr.Siddiqui’s conviction and call on Pakistani authorities to demand her repatriation as well making efforts to find the whereabouts of her two missing children.
Sarwar said Pakistani authorities must hold inquiry at their end to know the circumstances of her disappearance from Karachi in 2003 and her appearance in Kabul five years later.
Ridley said it was now up to the people of Pakistan to organise regular rallies in support of Dr.Siddiqui and send strong message of their resentment to the USA on this trial.
Barrister Abid Hussain urged the British Pakistanis to lobby their respective MPs and sign on-line petition in support of the neuroscientist for exerting maximum pressure on the US Government.
Howard Zinn wrote it in 2001 after 9/11 and USA invasion of Afghanistan.
The article is important for those who find it liberal to support the current war and consider anti-war voices as Taliban. I hope Zinn will not be named as “Taliban Zinn”.
Just A Cause, Not A War
It Seems to Me by Howard Zinn
December 2001 Issue
A Just Cause, Not a Just War
I believe two moral judgments can be made about the present “war”: The September 11 attack constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified, and the bombing of Afghanistan is also a crime, which cannot be justified.
And yet, voices across the political spectrum, including many on the left, have described this as a “just war.” One longtime advocate of peace, Richard Falk, wrote in The Nation that this is “the first truly just war since World War II.” Robert Kuttner, another consistent supporter of social justice, declared in The American Prospect that only people on the extreme left could believe this is not a just war.
I have puzzled over this. How can a war be truly just when it involves the daily killing of civilians, when it causes hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to leave their homes to escape the bombs, when it may not find those who planned the September 11 attacks, and when it will multiply the ranks of people who are angry enough at this country to become terrorists themselves?
This war amounts to a gross violation of human rights, and it will produce the exact opposite of what is wanted: It will not end terrorism; it will proliferate terrorism.
I believe that the progressive supporters of the war have confused a “just cause” with a “just war.” There are unjust causes, such as the attempt of the United States to establish its power in Vietnam, or to dominate Panama or Grenada, or to subvert the government of Nicaragua. And a cause may be just–getting North Korea to withdraw from South Korea, getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait, or ending terrorism–but it does not follow that going to war on behalf of that cause, with the inevitable mayhem that follows, is just.
The stories of the effects of our bombing are beginning to come through, in bits and pieces. Just eighteen days into the bombing, The New York Times reported: “American forces have mistakenly hit a residential area in Kabul.” Twice, U.S. planes bombed Red Cross warehouses, and a Red Cross spokesman said: “Now we’ve got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all.”
An Afghan elementary school-teacher told a Washington Post reporter at the Pakistan border: “When the bombs fell near my house and my babies started crying, I had no choice but to run away.”
A New York Times report: “The Pentagon acknowledged that a Navy F/A-18 dropped a 1,000-pound bomb on Sunday near what officials called a center for the elderly. . . . The United Nations said the building was a military hospital. . . . Several hours later, a Navy F-14 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a residential area northwest of Kabul.” A U.N. official told a New York Times reporter that an American bombing raid on the city of Herat had used cluster bombs, which spread deadly “bomblets” over an area of twenty football fields. This, the Times reporter wrote,”was the latest of a growing number of accounts of American bombs going astray and causing civilian casualties.”
An A.P. reporter was brought to Karam, a small mountain village hit by American bombs, and saw houses reduced to rubble. “In the hospital in Jalalabad, twenty-five miles to the east, doctors treated what they said were twenty-three victims of bombing at Karam, one a child barely two months old, swathed in bloody bandages,” according to the account. “Another child, neighbors said, was in the hospital because the bombing raid had killed her entire family. At least eighteen fresh graves were scattered around the village.”
The city of Kandahar, attacked for seventeen straight days, was reported to be a ghost town, with more than half of its 500,000 people fleeing the bombs. The city’s electrical grid had been knocked out. The city was deprived of water, since the electrical pumps could not operate. A sixty-year-old farmer told the A.P. reporter, “We left in fear of our lives. Every day and every night, we hear the roaring and roaring of planes, we see the smoke, the fire. . . . I curse them both–the Taliban and America.”
A New York Times report from Pakistan two weeks into the bombing campaign told of wounded civilians coming across the border. “Every half-hour or so throughout the day, someone was brought across on a stretcher. . . . Most were bomb victims, missing limbs or punctured by shrapnel. . . . A young boy, his head and one leg wrapped in bloodied bandages, clung to his father’s back as the old man trudged back to Afghanistan.”
That was only a few weeks into the bombing, and the result had already been to frighten hundreds of thousands of Afghans into abandoning their homes and taking to the dangerous, mine-strewn roads. The “war against terrorism” has become a war against innocent men, women, and children, who are in no way responsible for the terrorist attack on New York.
And yet there are those who say this is a “just war.”
Terrorism and war have something in common. They both involve the killing of innocent people to achieve what the killers believe is a good end. I can see an immediate objection to this equation: They (the terrorists) deliberately kill innocent people; we (the war makers) aim at “military targets,” and civilians are killed by accident, as “collateral damage.”
Is it really an accident when civilians die under our bombs? Even if you grant that the intention is not to kill civilians, if they nevertheless become victims, again and again and again, can that be called an accident? If the deaths of civilians are inevitable in bombing, it may not be deliberate, but it is not an accident, and the bombers cannot be considered innocent. They are committing murder as surely as are the terrorists.
The absurdity of claiming innocence in such cases becomes apparent when the death tolls from “collateral damage” reach figures far greater than the lists of the dead from even the most awful act of terrorism. Thus, the “collateral damage” in the Gulf War caused more people to die–hundreds of thousands, if you include the victims of our sanctions policy–than the very deliberate terrorist attack of September 11. The total of those who have died in Israel from Palestinian terrorist bombs is somewhere under 1,000. The number of dead from “collateral damage” in the bombing of Beirut during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was roughly 6,000.
We must not match the death lists–it is an ugly exercise–as if one atrocity is worse than another. No killing of innocents, whether deliberate or “accidental,” can be justified. My argument is that when children die at the hands of terrorists, or–whether intended or not–as a result of bombs dropped from airplanes, terrorism and war become equally unpardonable.
Let’s talk about “military targets.” The phrase is so loose that President Truman, after the nuclear bomb obliterated the population of Hiroshima, could say: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”
What we are hearing now from our political leaders is, “We are targeting military objectives. We are trying to avoid killing civilians. But that will happen, and we regret it.” Shall the American people take moral comfort from the thought that we are bombing only “military targets”?
The reality is that the term “military” covers all sorts of targets that include civilian populations. When our bombers deliberately destroy, as they did in the war against Iraq, the electrical infrastructure, thus making water purification and sewage treatment plants inoperable and leading to epidemic waterborne diseases, the deaths of children and other civilians cannot be called accidental.
Recall that in the midst of the Gulf War, the U.S. military bombed an air raid shelter, killing 400 to 500 men, women, and children who were huddled to escape bombs. The claim was that it was a military target, housing a communications center, but reporters going through the ruins immediately afterward said there was no sign of anything like that.
I suggest that the history of bombing–and no one has bombed more than this nation–is a history of endless atrocities, all calmly explained by deceptive and deadly language like “accident,” “military targets,” and “collateral damage.”
Indeed, in both World War II and in Vietnam, the historical record shows that there was a deliberate decision to target civilians in order to destroy the morale of the enemy–hence the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, the B-52s over Hanoi, the jet bombers over peaceful villages in the Vietnam countryside. When some argue that we can engage in “limited military action” without “an excessive use of force,” they are ignoring the history of bombing. The momentum of war rides roughshod over limits.
The moral equation in Afghanistan is clear. Civilian casualties are certain. The outcome is uncertain. No one knows what this bombing will accomplish–whether it will lead to the capture of Osama Bin Laden (perhaps), or the end of the Taliban (possibly), or a democratic Afghanistan (very unlikely), or an end to terrorism (almost certainly not).
And meanwhile, we are terrorizing the population (not the terrorists, they are not easily terrorized). Hundreds of thousands are packing their belongings and their children onto carts and leaving their homes to make dangerous journeys to places they think might be more safe.
Not one human life should be expended in this reckless violence called a “war against terrorism.”
We might examine the idea of pacifism in the light of what is going on right now. I have never used the word “pacifist” to describe myself, because it suggests something absolute, and I am suspicious of absolutes. I want to leave openings for unpredictable possibilities. There might be situations (and even such strong pacifists as Gandhi and Martin Luther King believed this) when a small, focused act of violence against a monstrous, immediate evil would be justified.
In war, however, the proportion of means to ends is very, very different. War, by its nature, is unfocused, indiscriminate, and especially in our time when the technology is so murderous, inevitably involves the deaths of large numbers of people and the suffering of even more. Even in the “small wars” (Iran vs. Iraq, the Nigerian war, the Afghan war), a million people die. Even in a “tiny” war like the one we waged in Panama, a thousand or more die.
Scott Simon of NPR wrote a commentary in The Wall Street Journal on October 11 entitled, “Even Pacifists Must Support This War.” He tried to use the pacifist acceptance of self-defense, which approves a focused resistance to an immediate attacker, to justify this war, which he claims is “self-defense.” But the term “self-defense” does not apply when you drop bombs all over a country and kill lots of people other than your attacker. And it doesn’t apply when there is no likelihood that it will achieve its desired end.
Pacifism, which I define as a rejection of war, rests on a very powerful logic. In war, the means–indiscriminate killing–are immediate and certain; the ends, however desirable, are distant and uncertain.
Pacifism does not mean “appeasement.” That word is often hurled at those who condemn the present war on Afghanistan, and it is accompanied by references to Churchill, Chamberlain, Munich. World War II analogies are conveniently summoned forth when there is a need to justify a war, however irrelevant to a particular situation. At the suggestion that we withdraw from Vietnam, or not make war on Iraq, the word “appeasement” was bandied about. The glow of the “good war” has repeatedly been used to obscure the nature of all the bad wars we have fought since 1945.
Let’s examine that analogy. Czechoslovakia was handed to the voracious Hitler to “appease” him. Germany was an aggressive nation expanding its power, and to help it in its expansion was not wise. But today we do not face an expansionist power that demands to be appeased. We ourselves are the expansionist power–troops in Saudi Arabia, bombings of Iraq, military bases all over the world, naval vessels on every sea–and that, along with Israel’s expansion into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has aroused anger.
It was wrong to give up Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler. It is not wrong to withdraw our military from the Middle East, or for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, because there is no right to be there. That is not appeasement. That is justice.
Opposing the bombing of Afghanistan does not constitute “giving in to terrorism” or “appeasement.” It asks that other means be found than war to solve the problems that confront us. King and Gandhi both believed in action–nonviolent direct action, which is more powerful and certainly more morally defensible than war.
To reject war is not to “turn the other cheek,” as pacifism has been caricatured. It is, in the present instance, to act in ways that do not imitate the terrorists.
The United States could have treated the September 11 attack as a horrific criminal act that calls for apprehending the culprits, using every device of intelligence and investigation possible. It could have gone to the United Nations to enlist the aid of other countries in the pursuit and apprehension of the terrorists.
There was also the avenue of negotiations. (And let’s not hear: “What? Negotiate with those monsters?” The United States negotiated with–indeed, brought into power and kept in power–some of the most monstrous governments in the world.) Before Bush ordered in the bombers, the Taliban offered to put bin Laden on trial. This was ignored. After ten days of air attacks, when the Taliban called for a halt to the bombing and said they would be willing to talk about handing bin Laden to a third country for trial, the headline the next day in The New York Times read: “President Rejects Offer by Taliban for Negotiations,” and Bush was quoted as saying: “When I said no negotiations, I meant no negotiations.”
That is the behavior of someone hellbent on war. There were similar rejections of negotiating possibilities at the start of the Korean War, the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the bombing of Yugoslavia. The result was an immense loss of life and incalculable human suffering.
International police work and negotiations were–still are–alternatives to war. But let’s not deceive ourselves; even if we succeeded in apprehending bin Laden or, as is unlikely, destroying the entire Al Qaeda network, that would not end the threat of terrorism, which has potential recruits far beyond Al Qaeda.
To get at the roots of terrorism is complicated. Dropping bombs is simple. It is an old response to what everyone acknowledges is a very new situation. At the core of unspeakable and unjustifiable acts of terrorism are justified grievances felt by millions of people who would not themselves engage in terrorism but from whose ranks terrorists spring.
Those grievances are of two kinds: the existence of profound misery– hunger, illness–in much of the world, contrasted to the wealth and luxury of the West, especially the United States; and the presence of American military power everywhere in the world, propping up oppressive regimes and repeatedly intervening with force to maintain U.S. hegemony.
This suggests actions that not only deal with the long-term problem of terrorism but are in themselves just.
Instead of using two planes a day to drop food on Afghanistan and 100 planes to drop bombs (which have been making it difficult for the trucks of the international agencies to bring in food), use 102 planes to bring food.
Take the money allocated for our huge military machine and use it to combat starvation and disease around the world. One-third of our military budget would annually provide clean water and sanitation facilities for the billion people in the world who have none.
Withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, because their presence near the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina angers not just bin Laden (we need not care about angering him) but huge numbers of Arabs who are not terrorists.
Stop the cruel sanctions on Iraq, which are killing more than a thousand children every week without doing anything to weaken Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical hold over the country.
Insist that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories, something that many Israelis also think is right, and which will make Israel more secure than it is now.
In short, let us pull back from being a military superpower, and become a humanitarian superpower.
Let us be a more modest nation. We will then be more secure. The modest nations of the world don’t face the threat of terrorism.
Such a fundamental change in foreign policy is hardly to be expected. It would threaten too many interests: the power of political leaders, the ambitions of the military, the corporations that profit from the nation’s enormous military commitments.
Change will come, as at other times in our history, only when American citizens– becoming better informed, having second thoughts after the first instinctive support for official policy–demand it. That change in citizen opinion, especially if it coincides with a pragmatic decision by the government that its violence isn’t working, could bring about a retreat from the military solution.
It might also be a first step in the rethinking of our nation’s role in the world. Such a rethinking contains the promise, for Americans, of genuine security, and for people elsewhere, the beginning of hope.
Below is the article by an Indian doctor on the issue of Vikram Buddhi, who got jailed for just expressing his views. Allegedly he just gave few remarks about George W Bush on a website.
Hopefully the guy will find justice and will be freed soon.
Also please sign the petition for Vikram’s release:
The Curious Case Of Vikram Buddhi
By Dr. Shah Alam Khan
13 December, 2009
It is ironical that the day President Barrack Obama held his Nobel Peace medal in hand, the American judiciary soiled its hand with blood of justice…….cold and savage. Again the American consciousness failed to separate the good from the bad. And yet again an innocent was sacrificed at the altar of lady of liberty, the symbol of freedom and hope for millions across America. The sentencing of Vikram Buddhi, the IIT Alumnus from India has come as rude shock in this part of the world. The curious case of Mr. Buddhi, a graduate of the IIT Mumbai, is an eye-opener for all those who till date believed in the fairness of the American legal system.
The case of Mr. Vikram Buddhi is perplexing. In December 2005, an Internet message appeared urging the people of Iraq to avenge the death of 312,769 Iraqi women and children. Subsequently this message was traced to the computer of Vikram Buddhi, a graduate student at Purdue University in Indiana. Vikram was picked up for interrogation and released on January 18, 2006 by the U.S. Secret Service, complete with a report that he posed no threat.
For obscure reasons, in May 2006 he was mysteriously picked up again and jailed. The case went to trial, crucial evidence was hidden from the jury by a hostile judge, and a guilty verdict was returned on June 25, 2007. Finally on December 11, 2009 he was handed a four years nine months prison sentence. So much for posting hate messages against the then President George W Bush and his team of gangsters. I suppose if this was his crime, then at least half the world’s population would be behind bars! We all know how popular the butcher of Baghdad was!
America and its claim of freedom has been under the scanner for long. Post 9/11 the American claims of justice, egalitarianism and liberty have been admonished on a regular basis. No wonder, President Obama announced the closing down of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in his first Presidential address to the nation. It is important that in a world with impending terrorist threats every country has a right to defend its land and subjects. But it is also noteworthy that governments have no right to trample human dignity in the name of salvaging freedom and liberty. Needless to say American establishment has a habit to stamp on the rights of others. Their past and recent misadventures in the Middle East, Vietnam, Central America, Rwanda and Afghanistan are an appalling testament for the same.
The tombstones in America’s human right cemetery have a grim story to tell. Vikram Buddhi’s case is not the only one. The mockery of justice and legality in the legally correct land is a regular feature. Although it is a different matter that those who suffer are African Americans, Native Indians or expatriates from the third world; the not so equals in an otherwise “equal & just” American social order.
The most glaring of all cases is that of Gary Tyler, an African-American, who is serving a life sentence in Louisiana. He was convicted by an all-white jury in 1974 for the murder of a 13-year-old Timothy Weber, a white student who was shot during intense racial clashes in Destrehan, Louisiana. Tyler, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has consistently denied involvement in the crime. In yet another story of blatant violation of human rights at the hand of an unjust legal system, two prisoners Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox languish in solitary confinement for the last 37 years in a prison in Angola, Lousiana. Their crime, political activism in prison. No other living prisoner in the United States is believed to have spent so long in solitary confinement as these two. And of course who can forget the thrashing of Rodney King in March 1991 at the hands of Los Angeles Police officers, the custodians of law.
There is no justification to the obscenity of Vikram Buddhi’s remarks on the internet. Equally there is no justification of handing him a half baked prison sentence, concluded in secrecy and painted with prejudice and hate. The American people should realize that it is not what he said is important, but why he said it. The universal detestation for America comes from its extraordinary record of war and destruction across the globe. American hegemony and its fall out is something which should worry the common American as a citizen of this world. Aggression breeds frustration and frustration breeds people who are vulnerable to the follies of the rabid. How lop sided can the American system be in condemning the handling of Roxana Saberi’s case by the Iranian authorities when they themselves have a Vikram Buddhi at hand? Justice is a bewildering weapon. Its presence can be sweet and fresh but equally it can hand a savage blow to the very cause it is meant to fulfill. American establishment and most importantly the American people need to introspect. Vikram’s case has revealed the vulnerability of their system.
It won’t be long before the American dream dies for millions of Indian students who wanted to go the same path as Vikram Buddhi; but for the common American the nightmare has only begun. Freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of identity are at stake. Once all Indians, all Chinese, all Arabs, all Blacks, all Browns and all Natives are swallowed by the legal American anaconda, it will come for their blood.
Dr. Shah Alam Khan
Department of Orthopedics
All India Institute of Medical Sciences
New Delhi, India