Posts Tagged ‘Saddam Hussein’


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Why I Won’t Walk to Protest Against Islamic State

John Salisbury recently walked more than 300km to protest the treatment of Palestinians by Israel. His view about the West more broadly won’t surprise you.

In October this year I walked from The Sydney Opera House to Parliament House, Canberra in support of Palestinian human rights. It wasn’t easy but I felt compelled to do so. I would not, however, undertake a similar walk protesting against ISIS. Though Tony Abbott might encourage and support me on such a walk, my moral compass will not send me in that direction.

In November, Tony Abbott suggested that the Anglo Saxon, Christian group to which we both belong is a superior culture. He said:

“All cultures are not equal, and frankly, a culture that behaves in decency and tolerance is much to be preferred to one that thinks you can kill in the name of God, and we have got to be prepared to say that.”

Apart from Abbott’s assertion being a repugnant, racist and morally reprehensible suggestion, a closer look at history suggests he is deeply misguided and ill-informed on the history of Christianity.

The Christian religion has been the justification and basis for numerous vastly, violent conflicts. Many men have lost their lives killing in the name of the Christian God, or, by the hands of deeply religious Christian men.

Abbott would do well to read up on some of these before making such ill-informed and bigoted statements.

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Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott.

There was the American Civil War in the 1860s; a Protestant versus Protestant battle with a death toll of 600,000.

And then of course there was the Franco-Prussian War, the Boer War and World War I. All these conflicts were Christian fighting Christian.

There was also the Spanish Civil War where Catholics murdered each other and then there was one of West’s greatest bloodsheds to date, World War II.

A war led by the infamous Adolf Hitler, a man born Catholic who had a deep-seated hatred for anyone from the Jewish religion. This war unleashed a violence the world had never seen before.

When spouting the superiority of Christianity, Abbott justified his assertion by saying there were some events that “Islam never had – a Reformation, an Enlightenment, a well-developed concept of the separation of church and state.”

What Abbott must also not realise, is that one of the most depressing aspects of Hitler’s Holocaust was that it happened despite The Reformation and The Enlightenment in Europe.

The Reformation actually started in Germany with Martin Luther. Realising that the Catholic church of the time was corrupt and in need of theological reform, some men decided to break away and begin their own more moral strand of Christianity. And yet still, despite this reformation many years earlier, Hitler was still able to send thousands of innocent men, women and children to their death in ovens while the good, Christian citizens of Germany fanned the flames and waved at the trains heading to Auschwitz.

All of Hitler’s willing executioners were also Christians. Perhaps Abbott believes that the Muslim religion would be able to benefit from a Reformation or Enlightenment where the Christian religion could not?

And yet, despite all this loss of life and the creation of the United Nations after World War II, still more Christian violence continued. More blood was spilt in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The only reason the Cold War did not become “hot” was because of mutually assured destruction. The acronym for this (MAD) sums up the situation so chillingly.

And then of course we come to the West’s more recent wars in the Middle East. It is well known that Saddam Hussein was a dreadful character. No-one would refute that. But it is now equally well known that he had nothing to do with 9/11. He was instead just the man who had to bear the responsibility and George W. Bush chose him as the fall guy.

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(IMAGE: STML, Flickr)

We made an unforgivable mistake invading Iraq and we should admit it. The chaos in Iraq today is largely a result of Western, and therefore Christian, interference.

We should remember also that George W. Bush specifically mentioned his prayers to God and, he claims, God influenced his decision to invade.

Our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, plus our blind and unprincipled support of Israel’s brutal 48-year occupation of Palestine, has led some Muslims to think they are under attack.

Thankfully, the number of Muslims who have succumbed to the entreaties of violent jihad and carried out revenge attacks on innocent civilians in Australia is tiny.

Everything we know from history, anthropology, archaeology, biology, physics and geology tells us that we inhabit this planet with everyone else as equals. Nobody is better than anyone else. Nobody is special.

And yet still our leaders instil fear in us and paint our fellow humans from a different religion as evil. Still our media presents us with one-sided, stereotypical views on our brothers and sisters living on other continents.

We created the United Nations after the horrors of World War II, but we are as far from united as we have ever been.

When Abbott suggests that the problem is the Muslim religion itself we should know better. Our Resources Minister, Josh Frydenberg, recently espoused a similar sentiment when he said, “We have to acknowledge that religion is part of this problem. I would say it is a problem with Islam.”

But, just as the Sunnis and Shias claim that “God is great” before they detonate bombs or kill opponents, so too did the Confederate Generals in the American Civil War kneel and pray before battling for the right to keep African-Americans as slaves.

And so too did the Christian Rwandans believe God was on their side when they massacred each other in 1994.

The common thread here is men using religion as a disguise for a more inherent, human flaw. It is not religion that is the problem, but the human desire for power and unbridled greed.

Perhaps we will see more progress, and get further, when men like Abbott start realising that our problems stem from human flaws, rather than a specific religion.

When we stop blaming one group, and start working together, then we really will become united, and work towards preventing horrendous acts of violence and bloodshed like the United Nations was initially invented to thwart.

When I walked those 330 kilometres to Canberra in October, I did so because I sought to protest a global injustice.

Regretfully, the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel is not an issue taken seriously by most of our political leaders. This occupation does not make the world a safer place.

Indeed, it only strengthens the bully mentality and sense of superiority that the West and Christians have held for so long.

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John Salisbury is a 61-year-old self-funded retiree with a life long interest in issues of global injustice. John was born in New Zealand but is a 40-year resident of Melbourne.

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Obama Crushes the Neocons
The agreement signed with Iran on Sunday is a momentous step forward. Yet Republicans will try to subvert the success by playing to their Obama-hating base.

Well, the ayatollah appears to have lent his provisional support to the historic U.S.-Iran accord announced Saturday night. In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said the deal “can be the basis for further intelligent actions.” Now we just need sign-off from our American ayatollahs. But the early indications are that the Republicans, eager to perform Bibi Netanyahu’s bidding—not that they needed a second reason to oppose something Barack Obama did—will do everything within their power to stop the thing going forward.

We shouldn’t get too carried away in praising this accord just yet. It’s only a six-month arrangement while the longer-term one is worked out. Those talks are going to be harder than these were, and it’s not at all a stretch to envision them collapsing at some point. Iran is going to have to agree to a regular, more-or-less constant inspection regime that would make it awfully hard for Tehran to be undertaking weapons-grade enrichment. It’s easy to see why they agreed to this deal, to buy time and get that $4.2 billion in frozen oil revenues. But whether Iran is going to agree to inspections like that is another question.

Still, it is indeed a historic step. Thirty-four years of not speaking is a long time. So it’s impressive that this got done at all, and even more impressive are some of the inner details, like the fact that Americans and Iranians have been in direct and very secret negotiations for a year. Rouhani’s election does seem to have made a huge positive difference—four of five secret meetings centered in Oman have been held since Rouhani took office, which seems to be a pretty clear indication that he wants a long-term deal to happen.

So this is potentially, I emphasize potentially, a breakthrough that could have numerous positive reverberations in the region—not least among them the virtual elimination of the chance that the United States and Iran would end up at war. And what a refutation of those harrumphing warmongers! I’d love to have had a tap on John Bolton’s phone over the weekend, or Doug Feith’s, or Cheney’s, and heard the combination of perfervid sputtering and haughty head shaking as they lament Obama’s choice.

Well, then, let’s compare choices. They chose war, against a country that never attacked us, had no capability whatsoever to attack us, and had nothing to do with the allegedly precipitating event, 9/11. We fought that war because 9/11 handed the neocons the excuse they needed to dope the public into supporting a unilateral war of hegemony. It has cost us more than $2 trillion now. It’s taken the lives of more than 100,000 people. It has been the author of the trauma of thousands of our soldiers, their limbs left over there, their families sundered. And on the subject of Iran, the war of course did more to strengthen Iran in the region than Obama could dream of doing at his most Machiavellian-Manchurian. Fine, the world is well rid of Saddam Hussein. But these prices were far too steep.

Then along came Obama in 2008, saying he’d negotiate with Iran. I’d love to have a nickel for every time he was called “naive” by John McCain or Sarah Palin (after the differences between Iran and Iraq were explained to her) or any of dozens of others (and yeah, even Hillary Clinton). I’d settle for a penny. I’d still be rich. You might think that watching this past decade unfold, taking an honest measure of where the Bush administration’s hideous decisions have left us, that some of them might allow that maybe negotiation was worth a shot.

Of course that will never happen. Marco Rubio was fast out of the gates Sunday, but he will be joined today by many others. Some will be Democrats, yes, from states with large Jewish votes. Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez have already spoken circumspectly of the deal (although interestingly, Dianne Feinstein, as AIPAC-friendly as they come, spoke strongly in favor of it). There will be a push for new sanctions, and that push will be to some extent bipartisan.

But the difference will be that if the Democrats get the sense that the deal is real and can be had, they won’t do anything to subvert it, whereas for the Republicans, this will all be about what it’s always about with them—the politics of playing to their Obama-hating base. But there’ll be two added motivations besides. There’s the unceasingly short-sighted and tragic view of what constitutes security for Israel, which maintains the conditions of near-catastrophe that keep just enough of the Israeli public fearful of change so that they perpetuate in putting people like Netanyahu in power, thus ensuring that nothing will ever change. And perhaps most important of all in psychic terms to the neocons, there is contemplation of the hideous reality that Obama and the path of negotiation just might work. This is the thing the neocons can’t come to terms with at all. If Obama succeeds here, their entire worldview is discredited. Check that; even more discredited.

Rouhani appears to be moving his right wing a bit. Ours, alas, isn’t nearly so flexible as Iran’s.


War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes

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The last 50 years have seen some fantastic events and seen some huge steps forward for mankind, however it has also seen some of the worst than mankind can produce.

There have been some atrocities over the last half century that defy belief, and some of those responsible for these acts are even still alive today.

Before you delve further down the page I should warn you that there are some graphic images in this post that will upset some people, so please don’t say you were not warned.

In 1998 there would have been hardly a tear shed for the death of Pol Pot, the former dictator and ruthless leader of the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot is credited with the deaths of up to 3 Million Cambodians which made up around a quarter of Cambodia’s total population.

Those in his camps were used as slaves and most died of disease and malnutrition, however many others were simply executed or some were killed in the most grotesque ways imaginable for the entertainment of the camp guards.

Pol Pot died whilst under house arrest in his bed.

Pol Pot

Pol Pot

Slobodan  Milosevic was another one who got off lucky, dying of a heart attack in his prison whilst awaiting trial on March 11th 2006.

Milosevic was awaiting trial for war crimes that included ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Known as the “Butcher Of The Balkans” he presided over the deaths of more than 200,000 people over 10 years in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

...and the winner of the older Geert Wilders look alike contest is.... Sobidan Milosevic

…and the winner of the older Geert Wilders look alike contest is…. Slobodan Milosevic

In 1994 The Rwandan genocide occurred while the world watched on for approximately 100 days and did little.

The genocide was carried out by the Hutus who massacred somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,0000 Tutsis in the most brutal of fashions.

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In 1998 Jean-Paul Akayesu, a Rwandan politician and mayor of a commune, was sentenced to life imprisonment for 9 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity which included the rape and sexual mutilation of women.

Rwanda’s very own shock-jocks Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza were both given life sentences in October 2000 for inciting and encouraging the massacre throughout their broadcasts.

Also serving a life sentence for his part in the genocide is Jean Kambanda who was the Prime Minister of Rwanda during the genocide.

Bodies in a field in Rwanda

Bodies in a field in Rwanda

We all remember the hunt for former Iraqi Dictator and war criminal Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own citizens, massacred thousands of Kurds and his own citizens, and after the Gulf War evidence of torture was discovered that appeared to be state sanctioned and carried out by members of Hussein’s Republican Guard.

Saddam Hussein was eventually captured after being pulled out of a hole in the ground in December 2003.

After facing trial for crimes against humanity Saddam Hussein was given the death penalty and was hung on the 30th December 2006

For the people of Iraq who faced years of fear and oppression under Saddam’s rule, his death was a cause for celebration.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein

For those who suffered at the hands of Pol Pot and Milosevic it must have seemed cruel to see them both escape punishment so easily and die a relatively peaceful death when they themselves had been so inhumane and cruel in their bringing about the deaths of others.

However it is not just these people who need to face investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

One would have had to be hiding in a hole like Saddam Hussein to have missed Kony 2012.

The social media campaign to try and bring about the tracking down, capture and conviction of Joseph Kony, thought to be hiding out in the Congo.

Joseph Kony is the leader of the “Lords Resistance Army” thought to have recruited over 30,000 children for use as soldiers. Child soldiers recruited often kill their family while young girls are captured and used as sex slaves for the young soldiers.

It is not known how many have been killed by Kony and his forces although conservative estimates by the UN put the number at over 100,000. Many of these deaths are amongst the most shocking and cruel deaths imaginable as soldiers compete to see who is the cruellest amongst them.

Joseph Kony is still at large.

Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony

We have all seen in news broadcasts over the past few years the atrocities that are ongoing in the civil war in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been accused of war crimes with calls for action against his regime coming from all over the globe.

Assads regime has been notorious for war crimes against men women and children including massacres, torture, and evidence of the use of chemical weapons.

Victims of Assad's regime

Victims of Assad’s regime

The UN expects more than 5 Million refugees to come from Syria by the end of 2014 as a result of Assad’s rule. Estimates on the death toll have varied with the UN saying that it is most certainly over 100,000.

Most of the world has condemned Assad and are keen to bring him to justice and investigate him and his regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Victims of Syrian nerve gas attack

Victims of Syrian nerve gas attack

It is something that is beyond doubt that those who commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity should be hunted down and severely punished for their crimes.

Another nation where war crimes such as genocide, torture and ethnic cleansing are reported to have been committed is Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan civil war dragged on for 26 years and saw the deaths of over 100,000 people, mostly civilians.

One incident towards the end of the war saw 300,000 civilians trapped on a narrow beach, 40,000 of these civilians were gunned down by the Sri Lankan army and many atrocities were alleged to have been committed.

The man in charge of the Sri Lankan military was Defense Secretary  Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Last week the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka was boycotted by Canada, India , and Mauritius as a protest against the human rights abuses and war crimes that have yet to see action taken.

British Conservative Prime Minister was also keen to address the violations of human rights and see Sri Lanka investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Cameron stated during a press conference

“Let me be very clear. If an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the United Nations human rights council to work with the UN human rights commission and call for a full credible and independent international inquiry.”

It is clear that the British along with many other nations calling for justice for the countless thousands of innocent civilians that were tortured and massacred, men, women and children.

Not to be outdone, Tony Abbott weighed in on the discussions and when questioned about the massacre and torture of civilians stated;

We accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen”

I have never heard of a country being given a free pass for genocide and torture before, and those who committed some of the atrocities must be pleased to hear that someone accepts what they have done.

Tony Abbott - Accepts Sri Lankan torture and genocide, but won't accept Sri Lankan refugees

Tony Abbott – Accepts Sri Lankan torture and genocide, but won’t accept Sri Lankan refugees

The photo’s below are of some of the atrocities that Tony Abbott has accepted on our behalf when he uses the word “We”

However Tony Abbott not only accepted their actions, which he says must have been difficult as I’m sure they were for those on the receiving end, but he also thought that giving a couple of gifts was appropriate.

A massacred Sri Lankan family

A massacred Sri Lankan family

David Cameron calls for war crimes investigations, Tony Abbott gives away gifts.

So what gift is appropriate to give a nation who used its military to commit massacres and other crimes against humanity?

More military equipment of course.

A woman raped and murdered by Sri Lankan military soldiers

A woman raped and murdered by Sri Lankan military soldiers

Tony Abbott has given the Sri Lankan government two Navy Patrol Boats for them to use in any way they see fit in return for them clamping down on asylum seekers fleeing the country due to tensions that still exist and seeing their family members executed in many cases.

A butchered Sri Lankan child

A butchered Sri Lankan child

The gift of military boats to the nation the UN accuses of war crimes costs the taxpayer $2 Million. The cynical may say Abbott is trying to emulate his idol John Howard who allegedly paid bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime via the Australian Wheat Board.

The use of the boats as mentioned is totally unrestricted, the Sri Lankans can arm them with whatever weaponry they like.

Fairfax reported on 19th November about the actions of a similar Sri Lankan patrol boat at the end of the civil war when it came across civilians on a fishing boat.

”We held two white flags and on seeing the navy we called them, ‘Aiya, Aiya [Sir, Sir]‘. There was sudden shelling and eight died on the spot … navy hit, navy attacked and many people died.”

A message needs to be sent to Tony Abbott that his actions and his words on this matter are not just inappropriate, they are truly sickening.

More rape and murder in Sri Lanka

More rape and murder in Sri Lanka

As a nation we do not accept, endorse, or tolerate genocide or torture, it goes against everything we should be standing for.

Tony Abbott, when you claim “we” accept this, you sure as hell don’t speak for me.

With thanks, via http://wixxyleaks.com/

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A sensible Humanist approach to Islam

Islam and the Politics of Violence

Over a long period culminating in recent years, Muslim fundamentalists dedicated to establishing Islamic theocracies have ascended to power and solidified their authority in several countries. They have also established enclaves in many other nations, and some of them have formed terrorist organizations. Though belonging to various Muslim sects, these theocrats share a willingness to implement Islamist Sharia laws with punishments that disregard basic human rights, particularly women’s rights, and some conduct assassinations and brutal reprisals in the name of “true” Islam.

Though adherents of this type are gaining in numbers and power, they do not represent all Muslims. Generalizing Islam as entirely violent undermines the efforts of millions of Muslims and others who are struggling to challenge the rise of extremism.

Since September 11, 2001, prejudice and discrimination have been on the rise in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere against Muslims. Such individuals are suffering from increased security screenings, hostile media attention, and oppressive new laws, as well as localized acts of violence and widespread disrespect. Moreover, disinformation campaigns and negative imagery have led to popular confusion wherein al-Qaeda is inaccurately connected to the former regime of Saddam Hussein, Iranians and South Asians are misidentified as Arabs, Sikhs are mistaken for Muslims, and the world faith of Islam, with its 1.3 billion followers, is viewed as a doctrinaire monolith.

The American Humanist Association is opposed to both the activities of Islamic extremists and to the “crusade” mentality rising in Western circles that condemns all Muslims indiscriminately. This statement aims at defining a rational and informed humanist position.

Common Standards

Humanists should assess Islam using the same standards applied to all belief systems. This means, in practice, that humanists support the concept of a democratic secular state, with complete separation of religion and government. Consistent with this, humanists oppose theocracy in all of its forms and support:

  • The freedom to think and believe or not believe, and to profess or critique, resisting efforts to impose one’s religious beliefs on others through coercive and punitive measures
  • The choice to observe or not to observe religious practices, to the degree that such practices do not harm others or interfere with their rights
  • Democratic principles, to the degree that such choices do not permit the state to engage in religious indoctrination or similar tyrannies of the majority
  • Modern human rights, not tolerating violations of those basic rights whether or not they are bolstered by religious law or custom

A Balanced Humanist Policy

There is a great deal of violence in the world today, a disturbing portion of which is perpetrated in the name of Islam. Humanists recognize that the world of Islam is vast and heterogeneous, and problems that exist in one area may not exist in others. For this reason, one-size-fits-all responses to issues that outsiders perceive within Islam are not only unworkable but are likely to be detrimental to humanistic solutions.

While small numbers of Muslim revivalists may reside in the United States, and while there is a continuing threat of terrorist attack from Islamic terrorist groups, extremist Islam as a political force has not taken hold in this country. Problems are mostly limited to instances when Islamic requirements, such as those relating to dress or prayer, conflict with preexisting law and custom. These are often resolved in a spirit of mutual understanding. When that fails and the courts intervene, their decisions should reflect both practical requirements and a respect for religious freedom. In general, humanists do not support either extending religious accommodation in ways that would create an unequal playing field between the religious and nonreligious or rigidly enforcing legal provisions that unnecessarily encumber individual religious liberty.

Some countries, notably in Western Europe, have been less successful than the United States in integrating Muslim immigrants into mainstream society. Humanists respect the desire of the majorities in these countries to preserve their human rights traditions; they also support the efforts of humanist groups to resolve emerging problems in a humane and practical manner. But this is not a blanket endorsement of cultural preservation. Some approaches have been strikingly racist and ethnocentric in nature. While freedom of speech must not be compromised, humanists oppose nativism, jingoism, and open hostility toward Muslim citizens and immigrants within any nation.

Humanists strive for a world where violence and fear are not the drivers of ideals and actions. In every case and in all its forms, extremism must be condemned. But neither should fear and ignorance be permitted to sanction prejudice and discrimination. Humanists recognize that challenging Islamists, Christian fundamentalists, and all others who hold to religious or ideological extremes is not a process with an easy or short-term conclusion, but it is the way toward progress.

Humanists see no contradiction, on the one hand, between their longstanding adherence to principles that run contrary to religious beliefs and, on the other, their strong distaste for efforts to propagate a crusade mentality against Islam or any other religion. Religious liberty means freedom for all: freedom to peacefully affirm and practice a faith, freedom from religious coercion, and freedom to peacefully leave or reject a faith. Such religious liberty is and always has been a central tenet of humanism and is herewith reaffirmed.


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