From Hariri to Taseer The international community cannot stay silent The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed on the 10th of December of 1948 by the United Nations is rightly seen as a landmark on humankind development. Like several other international initiatives of that time, the Declaration found its roots on the strong will of the World democratic leaders to insure that the horrors of the holocaust would never be repeated, a will that was however soon to be confronted with massmurder of gigantic proportions. In the past 62 years, these crimes against humanity, and many others of not so gigantic proportions that was not possible to silence or still, that are only partially known and acknowledged, are evidence to all of us of how the Declaration intentions remain far from being fulfilled. Class, ethnic, ethno-religious and ever more purely religious cleansing, massmurder or targeted murder have been ever present, but very seldom have they been tolerated when sufficiently publicised. A qualified exception deserves here to be made on the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the very well documented mass cleansing of political dissenters went unpunished and gave rise, as yet, to no international action, and furthermore did not prevent an influential sector of the Western intelligentsia to discover in this murderer regime the birth of a supposed new type of democracy. The Islamic Republic is also to be taken in due consideration for at least three cumulative reasons: (1) it is in the vanguard of the effort to deny the holocaust, and therefore to void of significance the Declaration; (2) it has the most open and obvious penal code prescribing the murder for whoever disagrees with the rulers and in particular under the legal figure of Mohareb1; and (3) it is established in a big and developed country. The stepping up of Iran’s aggressive intentions through its nuclear plan stopped finally the generalised complacency with the nature of the theocratic rule, but has yet to convince the international community of how the Theocracy aims and the Universal Declaration are inherently incompatible. The present year of 2011, however, marks the beginning of a new challenge to the Universal Declaration, the challenge of the international tacit recognition of the right to murder. The murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon in 2005, Rafik Hariri, was the catalyser for the Cedars Revolution in this country, and led to United Nations resolutions nominating a Special Tribunal for Lebanon, demanding the withdrawal of foreign armed forces as well as the disarmament of foreign armed internal armed groups. The UN resolutions were however only partially implemented – Hezbollah considerably reinforced its weapons and its internal and external aggression activity – as the energy and commitment of the international community towards the
that is, those who fight against God, and since they are supposed to rule in the name of God, this means “those who confront the theocratic authorities”; 1
establishment of a democratic rule of law in the region were severely eroded by the disastrous results of the Iraqi military operation. As the verdict of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon approached, and as it became clear that it would highlight the responsibilities of the Lebanese Hezbollah – an organisation created, financed, armed and trained by the Iranian theocracy – in the murder of Rafik Hariri as well as many other members of parliament or prominent public figures, this organisation decided to publicly blackmail the Lebanese Government into disavowing the Court conclusions. As I am writing these lines, several hours after Hezbollah provoked the fall of Saad Hariri Government, with all the international press full with details of the events, silence continues to prevail from the international community; the same way silence did prevail for several month after Hezbollah threatened to do what it is now doing. The murderers of Rafik Hariri do not bother to wait for the publication of the verdict and even less to use whatever instruments to credibly deny their responsibility, they just stand on their right to murder, and for this they count on the continuation of the silence, or the near silence, of the international community. However, the meaning, the circumstances and the aftermath of the murder of Salmaan Taseer on the past January the fourth far outweighs whatever we have seen yet. It is worth reminding the essential precedents of the murder. The so-called antiblasphemy laws of Pakistan provide a legal framework for persecution of dissent and minorities. The condemnation to capital punishment under these laws of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, led Salmaan Taseer to say: “ this is a travesty and shame that a poor woman like this who hasn't the means to defend herself [against] trumped-up charges” 2 and ultimately to its death sentence by the mounting Islamic fanatic establishment. His murder was perpetrated in open air, in a public market, by a member of his own security guard who shot him 26 times before being disarmed. Leading clerics of the country not only openly congratulated the murder, but threatened the lives of all of those who would dare to mourn him. The assassin was treated like a hero. The very same lawyers, that had been branded “democrats” for their opposition to the former Pakistani ruler, covered him with flowers, and through a whole week international press readers could read with dismay news on the glorification of the murder of a top politician that refused to accept murder of an innocent woman on religious grounds. The EU High Representative did publish the same day a clear condemnation of the murder, and urged Pakistan authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime rapidly to justice. In the US, there was no official declaration, and the Department of State representative just announced during his daily briefing that he was sure the Secretary “will express our condolencesat the assassination today of Salman Taseer”. Neither the EU nor the US made so far any official declaration on the ongoing glorification of the murder in Pakistan. 2
NPR,December the 14th, 2010
Having just read the outstanding thousand pages history of the Second World War by Martin Gilbert3 there is one lesson one can vividly draw from them: silence has the power to transform murder from a sporadic event into a weapon of massdestruction.
Brussels, 2010-01-12 Paulo Casaca4
Red in Portugueseversion, 5th edition, Dom Quixote, 2009 (1989) Lisbon.
Director of the Alliance to Renew Co-operation among Humankind, ARCHumankind Brussels