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Triumph and tragedy for Iraq

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    Iraqis Boycott Election Fraud By 20 Iraqi Exiles Al-Jazeerah, February 1, 2005 http://www.aljazeerah.info/1o/Iraqis%20Boycott%20Election%20Fraud%
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2005
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      Iraqis Boycott Election Fraud
      By 20 Iraqi Exiles
      Al-Jazeerah, February 1, 2005
      http://www.aljazeerah.info/1o/Iraqis%20Boycott%20Election%20Fraud%
      20By%2020%20Iraqi%20Exiles.htm

      Iraq is being denied free and fair elections, after enduring decades
      of Saddam's dictatorship. The US and British occupation governments
      have engineered a process for reproducing the US-appointed Iraqi
      Interim Government, to prolong the occupation and incite sectarian
      and ethnic conflicts.

      Millions of Iraqis, under siege in many parts of their homeland,
      will be disenfranchised, while hundreds of thousands of second
      generation Americans and Israelis could vote.

      While boycotting this undemocratic exercise, we strongly condemn all
      forms of violence against Iraqis participating in it. We, as exiles,
      are confident that the vast majority of Iraqis, at home and abroad,
      shall unite to end the US-led occupation and establish democracy,
      whatever their stance on participation.

      We echo opinions within Iraq stressing the impossibility of holding
      free and fair elections while under occupation, and being subjected
      to war crimes by the US-led forces. However, we support demands for
      minimal pre-conditions:

      (1) Setting a strict timetable for speedy withdrawal of all
      occupation forces,

      (2) Ceasing all attacks, and confining all occupation forces to
      barracks until full withdrawal,

      (3) Ending martial law and releasing all political prisoners,

      (4) Establishing an independent election commission, led by Iraq's
      senior serving and retired judges, and including all Iraq's
      political forces. The commission can be assisted by anti-occupation
      figures, e.g. Nelson Mandela, and the UN General Assembly."


      Signatures:


      1. Sami Ramadani: Senior lecture, London Metropolitan University

      2. Haifa Zangana: Novelist, UK

      3. Professor Kamal Majid, UK

      4. Tahrir Numan: Journalist, UK

      5. Dr. Imad Khadduri: Nuclear scientist, Toronto, Canada

      6. Mundher Adhami: Researcher, Kings College, London University

      7. Dr. Nadje Al-Ali: Exeter university, UK

      8. Dr. Mousa Al-Hussaini: Writer and journalist, UK

      9. Dr. Usama Al-Shabibi: Pharmacist-Pharmacologist, UK

      10. Dr. Ali Assam: Computer expert: UK

      11. Yasar Mohammed Salman Hasan: computer expert, UK

      12. Dr. Mahboub Al-Chalabi, Petroleum expert, UK

      13. Dr Subhi Toma: Social studies researcher, Paris

      14. Jafar Al-Samarrai: Computer expert

      15. Dr. Ali Al-Shahwani: Engineer

      16. Zaid Numan, Chartered building Surveyor, UK

      17. Hani Lazim, Computer expert: UK

      18. Mohammed Aref: Science writer, UK

      19. Fenik Adham: Councellor: UK

      20. Mahmoud Al-Bayaty: Novelist, Sweden


      For further information contact:


      **************************************************

      Sami Ramadani,

      Department of Applied Social Sciences,

      London Metropolitan University, City Campus,

      Calcutta House,

      Old Castle Street,

      London, E1 7NT


      Tel: 020 7320 1280

      Fax: 020 7320 1034

      Email: Sami.Ramadani @ londonmet.ac.uk

      ---------------
      Triumph and tragedy for Iraq

      Low level of Sunni participation tarnishes success of large poll
      turnout

      By Robert Fisk

      01/31/05 "The Star" -- Baghdad - Even as the explosions thundered
      over Baghdad, they came in their hundreds, and then in their
      thousands. Entire families, crippled old men supported by their
      sons, children beside them, babies in the arms of their mothers.

      The Shi'ite Muslims of Baghdad yesterday walked quietly to polling
      stations, to the Martyr Mohamed Bakr Hakim School in Jadriya,
      without talking, through the car-less streets, the air pressure
      changing around them as mortars rained down on the US and British
      embassy compounds and the first of the day's suicide bombers
      immolated himself and his victims, most of them Shi'ites, 3km away.

      The Kurds voted, in their tens of thousands, but the Sunnis - 20% of
      Iraq's population, whose insurgency was the principal reason for
      this election - boycotted or were intimidated from the polling
      stations.

      The turnout figure, estimated at perhaps 72% of Iraq's 15-million
      registered voters, represented both victory and tragedy. For while
      the Shi'ites voted in their millions with immense courage, the Sunni
      voice remained silent, casting into semi-illegitimacy the National
      Assembly whose existence is supposed to provide the US with a
      political excuse to extricate itself from its little Vietnam in the
      Middle East.

      And yes, there was the violence we all expected. There were nine
      suicide bombers in Baghdad - the largest number ever to have killed
      themselves on a single day anywhere in the Middle East.

      An American mercenary and a US soldier were among the first to die
      when mortars exploded across the American-appointed administration
      buildings in central Baghdad. Then more than 20 voters were cut
      down. Before dusk came news that a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules
      transport aircraft had crashed en route to the largely insurgent-
      held city of Balad. In all, almost 50 people were killed across Iraq.

      But it was the sight of those thousands of Shi'ites, the women
      mostly in black hejab covering, the men in leather jackets or long
      robes, the children toddling beside them, that took the breath away.
      If Osama bin Laden had called these elections an apostasy, these
      people, who represent 60% of Iraq, did not heed his threats.

      They came to claim their rightful power in the land - that is why
      Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the grand marja of the Shi'ites of Iraq,
      told them to vote - and woe betide the Americans and British if they
      do not get it. For if this election produces a parliamentary
      coalition which splits the Shi'ites and turns their largest party
      into the opposition, then the Sunni insurgency will become a
      national uprising.

      "I came here," said a young man in the Jadriya polling
      station, "because our grand marja told us that voting today was more
      important than prayer and fasting."

      An older man beamed with delight. "My name is Abdul-Rudha Abu
      Mohamed and I am so happy today," he said. "They must elect a
      president from us and we must be one with all Iraqis - and we must
      have justice."

      Even the local election agent was close to tears. Taleb Ibrahim
      admitted that he had participated in Saddam Hussein's one-man
      elections but that this day marked the moment when the Shi'ites of
      Iraq, after refusing to take revenge on their Ba'athist oppressors,
      would show their magnanimity.

      Even if the Sunnis were boycotting the poll, he said, "there is an
      old saying that if the father becomes angry, we will have no
      problems with his sons. We will make sure that these sons - the
      Sunnis - have equal rights with us."

      Across Baghdad, it was the same story; entire families moved as one
      towards the polling stations while the air rang with explosions.
      Just after voting started, there were 30 detonations in the city in
      less than two minutes - but still they came as if on a family day
      out.

      Bombs are now heartbeats in Iraq, and we could hear the thump of
      explosions even above the low-flying American Apache choppers. Yet
      along the empty roads, neighbours stopped to talk and show each
      other the indelible ink on their index fingers that officials used
      to ensure there were no double votes.

      It was both the safest and the most dangerous of days.

      At one polling station, I asked the first of the young Iraqi
      soldiers who were to check us - all wore black woollen face masks so
      that they could not be identified - if he was frightened.

      "It doesn't matter," he said.

      "I am ready to die for this day. We have got to vote."

      Seven hours later I talked to him again and he, too, had the
      indelible ink on his finger. "It's like you can change your future
      or your faith," he said.

      "We only had military coups and revolutions before. We voted 'yes'
      or 'yes'. Now we vote for ourselves."

      It was easy to imbibe the false optimism of the Western television
      networks and the nonsense about Iraq's "historic" day - for it will
      only have been historic if it changes this country, and many fear
      that it will not.

      No one I met yesterday believes the insurgency will end - many
      thought it would grow more ferocious - and the Shi'ites in the
      polling stations said with one voice that they were also voting to
      rid Iraq of the Americans, not to legitimise their presence.

      This is a message that the Americans and British will ignore at
      their peril.

      On Baghdad's streets yesterday, the Americans deployed thousands of
      troops, most of them trying to show some respect for the people,
      watching them rather than threatening them with their rifles, which
      is how they usually behave in the dangerous capital.

      A certain Captain Buchanan from Arkansas even ventured a political
      thought. "It's a pity the Sunnis aren't voting - it's their loss."

      But of course it is also Iraq's loss and the Shi'ites' loss too -
      and possibly America's loss. For without that vital minority
      component, who will believe in the new parliament or the
      constitution it is supposed to produce or the next government it is
      supposed to create?

      I asked a Sunni Muslim security guard what he thought would be the
      future of his country.

      He had not voted - in many Sunni cities only a third of the polling
      stations opened - but he had thought a lot about this question.

      "You cannot give us 'democracy' just like this. This is one of your
      Western, foreign dreams," he said. "Before, we had Saddam and he was
      a cruel man and he treated us cruelly. But what will happen after
      this election is that you will give us lots of little Saddams."

      ©2005 The Star & Independent Online

      http://207.44.245.159/article7919.htm

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