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West's double standards
Wednesday May 5, 2004
If the media made even a fraction of the
fuss over Blair's dodgy dossier as they are making over the pictures of British
soldiers mistreating Iraqi hostages, then we wouldn't be in Iraq today (Torture
is the real issue, May 4). If the pictures showed Arab troops humiliating
British prisoners, there would be howls of indignation and no one would be
rushing to make excuses about their authenticity. In any case, the behaviour of
our US "allies" was plain. Muslims in this country are now the targets of police
raids which are given wide coverage. Yet no apology is given by the media
establishment, which continues to portray them as terrorists, when the same
people are later released without charge. The double standards are all too
apparent. It is this that angers Arab and Muslim opinion more than anything.
Whereas the actions of Arabs and Muslims is always presumed as suspect, the
conduct of British occupiers must always be excused.
If the Iraq abuse photos are real, then it is an
astonishing indictment. If they are fake, it is a slander. What worries me more
is our reaction in our self-obsession. Even anti-war Charles Kennedy is now
heard talking remorsefully of the damage to our armed forces and the new danger
our troops are put under. This fits into a wider pattern of concern for
westerners at the expense of Iraqi lives. It was a "clean" war, with only a few
hundred coalition deaths. What about the tens of thousands of Iraqi dead? The
coalition chose to put the lives of its troops on the line. Iraqis were not
given that choice.
pictures showing the abuse of prisoners are not the first evidence of torture by
US troops. In early January, Christian Peacemaker Teams presented the Coalition
Provisional Authority with a report containing 72 case studies of the
mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, including torture. Between May and December
2003, they conducted dozens of interviews and gathered testimonies from
prisoners and their families. The report showed that often detentions involved
acts of violence and abuse, as well as theft and destruction of personal
property. Some prisoners said they were left with their hands tied behind their
backs for several days, that they received only one spoonful of army-rationed
food a day, and were deprived of water. The also recounted frequent beatings by
US soldiers. The report challenges the suggestion the US military did not know
what was going on, but also that the pictures represent an isolated incident.
Why express surprise
(Leaders, May 3) at the predictable and usual acts of torture and degradation in
which angry immature males express their contempt for "the enemy", who must not
be perceived to be equally human, or there would be a problem with killing them.
The only responsible action for the media is to publish daily the numbers,
names, manner of death and photos of all those killed or disabled, not merely
those of the US and British troops in illegal occupation of a
Newton Abbot, Devon
still takes place in the army, why should we be surprised to see it emerge in
the theatre of war?
So there are
up to 20,000 private military contractors in Iraq (Beyond the law, May 3) .
Should they not be designated as "illegal combatants"?