Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Democracy, Saddam style

The descriptions are chilling:
They claimed variously to have been beaten with cables, hosepipes and metal rods; slapped, kicked and punched; bound and suspended in the air for long periods; and subjected to electric shocks to the genitals, ears and other sensitive parts of the body. Some of the victims were children.
Yes, this occurred in Iraq, but not Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This occurred in the brave new democratic Iraq, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, which was detailed in Wednesday's Times of London, as well as newspapers around the world, but few American newspapers. (The story does not appear in the Des Moines Register, which does carry a front-page story on the possible demise of the Iowa Pork Queen competition.)

The story, by Times Baghdad correspondent Richard Beeston, goes on to say:

Dr Allawi’s Government “appears to be actively taking part, or is at least complicit, in these grave violations of fundamental human rights”, the report alleges.

“The people of Iraq were promised something better than this after the Government of Saddam Hussein fell,” Sarah Leah Whitson, head of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, said. “Sadly, the Iraqi people continue to suffer from a Government that acts with impunity in its treatment of detainees.”

The Iraqi security forces were fighting a brutal insurgency, she said, “but international law is unambiguous on this point: no government can justify torture of detainees in the name of security”.

In its report, Human Rights Watch alleges that this is not what deposing Saddam Hussein should have led to:
“The people of Iraq were promised something better than this after the government of Saddam Hussein fell,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. “The Iraqi Interim Government is not keeping its promises to honor and respect basic human rights. Sadly, the Iraqi people continue to suffer from a government that acts with impunity in its treatment of detainees.”
Astoundingly -- and here in the wilderness we are becoming increasingly disspirited at needing to continually conjure up words that betray our weary astonishment at the apathy of the American press in reporting the news -- the "news" organizations that did pick up the story preferred to use the wire service dispatch instead of covering the story themselves. Of course, since Human Rights Watch is based in that Podunk called New York City, presumably, the major newspapers have no correspondents in that smallville.

Instead, we must constantly turn to the foreign press, which seems to have a greater pulse on what makes news, such as when Americans raid a mosque in Mosul and desecrate sacred objects. But it seems that your esteemed fourth-estate gatekeepers have already decided that unless 37 American soldiers die in one day -- as occurred Wednesday -- that the bombings, attacks on Iraqi police, soldiers and civilians, and the obviously deteriorating conditions merit not a word in the front half of the A section. Because after all, we already had our say on the war in November. That's old news. Time to devote all kinds of space to what really matters in this country. Like what dress Cate Blanchett plans to wear to the Oscars.


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