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May 2013

Vol 13, No.05

SECTARIAN WARFARE GRIPS IRAQ By Jean Shaoul

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scalating violence in Iraq has led to the deaths of at least 179 people since Tuesday (26 February 2013), the highest death toll since the withdrawal of US troops at the end of 2011. The re-eruption of the sectarian strife that broke out under the US occupation testifies to the devastation wrought by the US-led invasion of Iraq and Washington’s whipping up of ethnic and sectarian tensions. It is also an extension of the on-going US proxy war in neighbouring Syria, in which it is backing ultra-right Sunni forces tied to Al Qaeda.

Since December, Iraqi Sunnis, including those with ties to forces active in Syria, have been protesting discrimination, arbitrary arrests, detention and the execution of oppositionists by the Shi’ite-led coalition government of Nouri AlMaliki. They are particularly opposed to the sweeping anti-terrorism law they

claim targets them for being members of Al Qaeda or of the Ba’ath Party of former President Saddam Hussein. They have called for Maliki’s resignation.

Hundreds of thousands have been locked up for years, many without charges, in prisons run by sectarian militias. More than 1,400 people face execution. The government’s reliance on dictatorial methods is bound up with the rising level of unemployment and seething discontent over the lack of electricity, water, sanitation and the failure to rebuild the infrastructure

destroyed by US sanctions and war. This is despite the fact that oil production grew by 24 percent last year, with Iraq overtaking Iran to become the biggest member, after Saudi Arabia, in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This violence follows armed raids by government troops on a Sunni camp in Hawija, near Kirkuk, 170 kilometres north of Baghdad, four days after militants attacked a military and police checkpoint, seized their weapons and killed a soldier. Ensuing clashes left 53 people dead, including three soldiers. Sunni protesters in Anbar and Nineveh provinces have called for a general strike and there has been a wave of armed clashes beyond Hawija, killing dozens more. Gunmen tried to storm army posts in the nearby towns of Rashad and Riyadh, killing 13. In Ramadi, Anbar’s capital, protesters Turn to next page

STATEMENTS

.VENEZUELA: RESPECT THE PEOPLE’S WILL: ACCEPT MADURO’S VICTORY

BY CHANDRA MUZAFFAR................................................................................................................................P3 .ARMS TRADE TREATY: LEGITIMATE MISGIVINGS

BY JUST EXCO..........................................................................................................................................P4 .THE KOREAN CRISIS: SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL BY JUST EXCO..........................................................................................................................................P4

ARTICLES .THE NIGHTMARE STORY OF DR. AAFIA SIDDIQUI

BY JUDY BELLO...................................................P 5 .THE ECONOMY UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP (PART I)

BY MARJORIE KELLY...........................................P 10

.INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL OF BANGLADESH IN

THE LIGHT OF HISTORY BY ABDULLAH AL- AHSAN.....................................P 7


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threw stones at a military convoy and set army vehicles ablaze. In Fallujah, about 1,000 people took to the streets chanting, “War, war.” Armed clashes broke out and there were three attacks on Sunni mosques. In Suleiman Beg, between Baghdad and Kirkuk, government forces used helicopters against Sunni gunmen who took over a police station. A military spokesman said that the army had made a tactical withdrawal “so we can work on clearing the region, corner by corner.”

At least ten policemen and 31 Sunni gunmen were killed in armed clashes in northern Iraq after Sunni gunmen seized control of the eastern part of Mosul. It took three days for the army to regain control after prolonged gun battles. In eastern Baghdad, at least eight people were killed and 23 more wounded when a car bomb exploded. Insurgents attacked a pipeline carrying oil from Kirkuk to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Kirkuk is the subject of a bitter dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government, which wants to include it into its autonomous region. A crowd of mourners in Kirkuk numbering in the thousands chanted, “Death to Maliki” and “Revenge to the agents of Iran.” Some Sunni sheikhs have joined

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with clerics, declaring that the government has crossed “red lines.” They are calling for activists to arm themselves and attack the army, security forces and government collaborators. Two Sunni ministers in Maliki’s coalition government have resigned over Hawija, adding to the string of defections, including a boycott of his government by Kurdish ministers. Maliki has blamed the current unrest on Al Qaeda and “remnants of Ba’ath Party for creating rift” in the country. He had earlier called the protesters’ demands “stinking and sectarian”, but on Thursday adopted a more conciliatory stance, saying “their demands were legitimate.” He offered some concessions, including changes to anti-terrorism laws targeting the Sunni community, and announced an inquiry into the Hawija clashes under the chairmanship of the Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlag. He said that the families of those killed and injured in Hawija would be compensated. The upsurge in violence comes just days after the April 20 provincial elections, themselves characterised by violence against candidates, mainly of the Sunni al-Iraqiya coalition. Fourteen of its candidates were assassinated. It won 91 seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections, two more than Maliki’s State of Law coalition. Car bombs went off at rallies and meetings, killing dozens. In the mainly Sunni provinces of Anbar and Nineveh, the government postponed the elections, now set for July 4, with no date set for the disputed province of Kirkuk. Elections will be held in the three Kurdish provinces in the autumn. Maliki heads a corrupt, unpopular

L E A D A R T I C L E and isolated government, made up of shifting coalitions, parties and factions that are constantly splitting and fighting over influence and sinecures. Preliminary results of Saturday’s provincial elections testify to the government’s isolation. Official estimates claim that 50 percent of the electorate voted, small itself, but local monitoring networks claim that the real figure was 37 percent. In some provinces, voters found that their names were not on the electoral list, which is still based upon the ration card system issued by the Saddam Hussein regime as there has been no comprehensive census for years. Maliki’s State of Law coalition appears to have won a reduced majority, winning 20 fewer seats and possibly eight of the twelve voting provinces, including Baghdad and Basra provinces. His Sunni allies did not increase their vote, while Shi’ite areas gave their votes for independent politicians. Incapable of resolving the vast socio-economic problems besetting Iraq, the neo-colonial regime in Baghdad, installed by Washington and supported by Iran, is focused on dividing and oppressing the Iraqi working class. Maliki has concentrated power in his own hands, holding the defence and interior posts, and used the anti-terrorist laws against his Sunni rivals, whipping up sectarian tensions to divide the working class. A key factor is the on-going sectarian war for regime change in Syria that has pitted Sunni Islamist militias against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ism. This has been sponsored, financed and supplied by Iran’s Sunni Gulf rivals, and also Turkey, at continued next page


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Washington’s behest. They also fear that Maliki, whose installation as prime minister was sanctioned by Washington, is too close to Tehran. They are acutely conscious of the seething discontent among their own increasingly embittered populations, many of whom are Shi’ite, who have not shared in the ruling families’ oil- and gas-based wealth.

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Iraqi Sunni Islamist fighters linked to Al Qaeda of Iraq have longed played a prominent role in the Syrian civil war, sending Jihadi fighters through Anbar province. The Al-Nusra Front, the largest and most effective fighting force, recently openly swore allegiance to Al Qaeda in Iraq. At the same time, some members of Iraqi Shia militias are fighting for the Assad government. The Maliki government has refused

L E A D A R T I C L E to join in the demands for Assad’s ouster, earning the enmity of the Sunni monarchies. 28 February, 2013 Jean Shaoul is professor of public accountability at the University of Manchester, UK. She has written on privatisation and the use of private finance in trans port and healthcare. Source: wsws.org

STATEMENT VENEZUELA: RESPECT THE PEOPLE’S WILL; ACCEPT MADURO’S VICTORY

According to media reports, “thousands of opposition supporters” are protesting the result of the recently concluded presidential election in Venezuela. Violence has begun to tarnish the protests. Seven persons have been killed so far.

that would not have altered the final outcome. This is why the CNE is insisting that the result is irreversible. Capriles and his supporters should accept the election result. During the campaign, he had pledged to accept the verdict. He must keep his word.

It is partly because the victory of Nicolas Maduro was so narrow, 50.75% to 48.97% for his rival Henrique Capriles, that Maduro’s opponents have been emboldened to challenge the electoral verdict. They are now accusing Maduro and the National Electoral Council (CNE) of fraud and are demanding a full recount.

It is unfortunate in this regard that Capriles’s foreign backers, especially the United States’ elite, are supporting his demand for a recount. The US elite has a vested interest in denying Maduro his legitimate victory. Since Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, became President in 1999, the US elite had gone all out to undermine Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution which seeks to uplift the masses and to protect the dignity of the Venezuelan people and the independence of the oil-rich nation. The US elite knows that Maduro is

Independent observers are not convinced that there was electoral fraud. They say that there may have been irregularities here and there but

deeply committed to advancing Chavez’s struggle for justice at the national, regional and international level. People everywhere who value justice and dignity should come out openly and endorse Maduro’s victory. They should not allow those who do not care for Venezuela’s independence and integrity to repudiate the people’s will.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, President, International Movement for a Just World (JUST). 18 April, 2013


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ARMS TRADE: LEGITIMATE MISGIVINGS The International Movement for a Just World(JUST) expresses its disappointment with the stipulations of the Arms Trade Treaty recently passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Twenty-three countries abstained from the vote (representing half the world’s population), including Russia, China and India, while Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Gholam-Hossein Dehqani, called the treaty a political document disguised as an arms regulation treaty. Nations that abstained cited the highly abusable stipulations in the text that could easily be susceptible to politicization, manipulation and discrimination. The treaty does not recognize the rights of all states to acquire, produce, export, import and possess conventional weapons for their own legitimate security purposes. In theory, this treaty gives the world’s largest arms exporters heavy sway over the UN, granting much greater ability to influence whether or not an individual country is allowed to obtain weapons for its own defense. India’s

lead negotiator Sujata Mehta highlighted the text’s lack of any explicit prohibitions regarding arms proliferation to terrorists and unlawful non-state actors, noting that the treaty actually lowers the bar on obligations of all states not to support terrorists and /or rebel groups. There is no doubt that certain states would take advantage of this loophole’s vast potential for misuse. More disappointingly, the treaty fails to prohibit the transfer of arms to countries engaged in unprovoked military aggression against other nations, lending credence to accusations that the treaty is in fact

toothless. The treaty applies to the transfer of conventional weapons such as battle tanks, attack helicopters, and missiles, while the proliferation of UAV drones and other modern military technology is not addressed or scrutinized. Most importantly, the treaty does not focus upon actually reducing the sale of arms by limiting global production, which should rightfully be the objective of a treaty that uses global mass causality figures to legitimize itself. According to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, armed violence kills more than half a million people each year, a figure that should rightfully strengthen calls to regulate and decrease global production rather than focusing simply on trade. JUST is regrettably skeptical that this treaty can reduce human suffering and have a meaningful impact on the lives of the most vulnerable while the text remains in its current form.

Executive Committee, JUST 12 April, 2013

THE KOREAN CRISIS: SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL? The danger posed by the increasing hostile situation on the Korean peninsula cannot be understated. There is a frightening possibility that the situation could spin out of control, leading to a deadly regional conflict in one of the most densely populated parts of the world. North Korea has embarked on a near-daily onslaught of belligerent threats, some of which include its invalidation of the 1953armistice agreement that ended the Korean War, threats to attack the United States with nuclear weapons, and threats to occupy South Korea. Military analysts say that North Korea is at least several years from building a nuclear warhead or a missile capable of

that if the Kim regime oversteps in its approach, there could be severe repercussions for civilians in South Korea and Japan, both in range of North Korea’s rockets.

reaching the US mainland. Pyongyang’s rhetoric matches their familiar brand of psychological warfare tactics aimed at driving up the tensions with Seoul and Washington with destruction, only to be rewarded with food aid and concessions when it tones things down. There is no doubt

The United States recently used two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets for the first time in its annual military drills with South Korea forces. The International Movement for a Just World believes that the tactics taken by the Obama administration serve to raise antagonisms on the Korean peninsula, which in fact legitimizes Pyongyang’s rhetoric of the US threatening the North with nuclear war. JUST unequivocally continued next page


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condemns the proliferation of force by any side and calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint in the face of provocations. JUST supports a dialogue-based approach that will lead to de-escalation of tensions on the

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Korean peninsula and calls on South Korea to engage in meaningful dialogue with Pyongyang aimed at scaling back provocation displays of force and reestablishing greater inter-Korean economic cooperation. It is of maximum importance that levelheaded

S T A T E M E N T S diplomacy prevails and needlessly confrontational displays of military muscle are suspended.

Executive Committee, JUST 9 April, 2013

ARTICLES THE NIGHTMARE STORY OF DR. AAFIA SIDDIQUI By Judy Bello

A woman finds herself alone on the street in an unfamiliar neighborhood of an unfamiliar city. The people around her don’t speak her native language, and in fact, she doesn’t understand their language. She is accompanied by a 12 year old boy, Ali. She doesn’t recognize him, but she has a great affection for children, and he is in her care. He will later be identified as her son, Ahmed, whom she has not seen in the 5 years since they were abducted from a taxi in Karachi not far from their home. She doesn’t know how she got there, and she isn’t entirely sure why she is there. Small and slender, no more than 110 lbs, She seems fragile, a little disoriented, out of place. She will later say that she was looking for her husband, or another time, that she was looking for a particular woman. It’s possible she really doesn’t know why she is there. She hears the Muezzin’s call and begins to move towards the mosque. Perhaps she will find a refuge there. The Afghan police in Ghazni notice

a woman on the street. Something draws their attention to her. She doesn’t appear to belong to the place. Perhaps she isn’t dressed in the local style. She is on the street in the early afternoon on a Friday when most men are at the Mosque and women are in their homes. The Police say she seemed out of place, lost. The police would later say that she was loitering after dark, but among the court documents, there is an interview with the shopkeeper in front of whose store she was detained. He says that he wasn’t in the store because it was Friday, he was attending the prayer service at the Mosque. It would have been between 1 pm and 3:30 pm. He swears the woman is a stranger and he has never seen her before. Though they will later say that they only approached her because she seemed out of place, they check his shop and even his phone to make sure. There is nothing on his phone except some pornographic images of white girls. He is innocent. So what did attract their attention? Most likely we will never know for sure. Maybe its her apparent disorientation as they will later state, or perhaps it is just that they don’t recognize her. Maybe they have been tipped off to look for her. When they confront her, she is startled and defensive. She screams at them not to touch her. She accuses them of

being Americans or American operatives. It is clear that neither she nor the boy speaks the local language, so a translator is called. A WikiLeaked document identifies a shopkeeper who was enlisted as translator. He says that she shouts at the police and curses them in Urdu. She calls on Allah and demands that they not touch her. Of course the same document says that she was picked up after dark. If they are just asking what she is doing, why is she so distressed? Have they physically detained her, or is she just panicked by their uniforms? They take her in for questioning. They have found a number of incriminating objects in her handbag. According to a document later published through Wikileaks, her purse contains “numerous documents on how to build explosives, chemical weapon use, targeting US military assets, excerpts from the Anarchist’s Arsenal and a 1 GB (gigabyte) thumb drive with additional related material” along with “unknown chemical materials sealed in containers”. During the course of the interrogation she is severely beaten. She admits that she is a suicide bomber whose target is the local governor. Apparently his home is nearby the place she was detained. She has a passport, which apparently has her true identity because they recognize her name as being on the FBI Most Wanted List . continued next page


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(Pretty good reckoning for local Afghan National Police who don’t speak English). Perhaps it just confirms that she is definitely the one they were looking for. They call Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Americans at Bagram, as well as the Governor she was supposedly targeting, who immediately takes advantage of the opportunity for publicity and calls a press conference. Soon the Americans arrived, FBI agents with soldiers and translators in tow, to collect their prey. She is sitting on a bed behind a curtain in a rather small room. She is bruised and exhausted. Perhaps she has dozed and is awakened by the entrance of as many as 10 men into the small room where she is being held. Now she is alert. It is interesting that the interrogators have brought along translators, but perhaps they need them to communicate with the Afghan police. The woman speaks good enough English to get a Masters Degree from MIT and PhD from Brandeis University. She was a dynamo then, busy with her studies and her charities and her family. Now she is exhausted, beaten, frightened, alone in a room full of heavily armed men. One of the soldiers seats himself near the curtain and sets his automatic rifle on the floor near his chair. He will later say that it hadn’t occurred to him that the prisoner was in the room. I suppose that is understandable. In the world these Americans normally inhabit, prisoners are regularly shackled and hooded. They are brought into a room when everyone else is in place like chained animals being brought into the ring at a circus. Even so, it is a pretty serious breach of responsibility for the Sergeant in charge of the security team to lay his rifle on the floor next to a closed curtain. This prisoner is curious about the commotion and anxious. She wants

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to know what is happening. She rises and steps forward. She peeks through the curtain . . . Snatches the gun . . . . and Fires the gun . . . according to the Americans . Someone yells out “The prisoner is free.” Shots ring out. She falls to the ground, wounded, with a bullet in her belly and one in her side. When her attackers come to rescue her, she curses them in English and screams at them not to touch her, even as they wrestle her to the ground. Later, in court, the Americans will swear that she took the gun and fired it. They will say they had no choice but to defend themselves. The Afghans will state that they didn’t see what happened but they heard shots fired. The woman says that she came to the curtain to see what was going on.

The prisoner is brought to Bagram Hospital for surgery, where a portion of her intestines is removed, along with a kidney. She is in shock and near death on arrival. Numerous transfusions are required to bring her back and stabilize her prior to and during the emergency surgery. Afterwards, she is shackled, hand and foot, to her bed. Imagine, if you will, a surgery where the patient is cut from breastbone to pubis, and then shackled to a bed on her back, bound hand and foot like a crucifixion. A pair of watchful FBI Agents stay by her side, encouraging her to talk about herself, about her life. She will later refer to THEM as her only friends. She is heavily sedated with pain killers, and one can imagine they might be very

A R T I C L E S helpful, given her restraints, and comforting, given her state of utter dependence and aloneness. A week later, she is flown to New York and arraigned before the Southern Court of New York in a wheelchair on separate charges of obtaining a lethal weapon and of attempting to kill each person in the room. This terrible story is like something out of a nightmare, or a bad novel. But it is a true story, in so far as you can find the truth of events that are disputed and cloaked in the secrecy of multiple ‘security operations’. At least it is part of the story of the ordeal of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman, born into an upper middle class family with conservative religious values, who placed a high value on education and on service. It is a part of the story of a young woman who came to the US, initially to Texas, later to Massachusetts to attend various colleges, eventually achieving a degree in ‘Neuroscience’, though she was did not enjoy biology and chemistry but preferred the study of psychology and education. In fact she had prepared for a career teaching developmentally disabled children. Aafia Siddiqui had lived in the US for more than 10 years, married here and borne her children here. She carried the family standard as she engaged in teaching and preaching Islam as the clearest and brightest truth and supporting Muslim Charities in war zones like Croatia and later, Afghanistan; sending Qur ’ans to prisoners and teaching children at an impoverished inner city mosque. But something has gone terribly wrong to bring our heroine to this terrible pass. And it will only get worse. Returning to the present story, common sense would indicate it would have been very difficult for this small continued next page


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battered woman to have lifted and fired a powerful automatic rifle. The least amount of compassion would indicate that even if she did take the gun, even if she managed to fire the high power automatic rifle without being knocked to the ground, the action would have been in the service of escape rather than a murderous rampage. However, there is no forensic evidence whatsoever that she held the gun or fired it. No one was shot except the prisoner herself. There were no bullet holes in the walls or ceiling of the small room, and no shell casings recovered from the floor. There were no fingerprints on the gun, and there was no gunpowder on the prisoner’s hands or the curtain in front of her. [Court Documents] Yet a year later, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national who never should have been extradited from Afghanistan to the US in the first place, a bright, well educated person with a PhD from Brandeis University, now incapable of a consistent description of where she had been for the past 5 years, incapable of recognizing her own son, was convicted of separate counts of attempted murder and assault for every American in the room, sentenced to 86 years in prison and incarcerated in Carswell Medical

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Center in Texas. According to Cornell University Legal Information Institute , under Federal law: the maximum sentence for manslaughter Sources: The Express Tribune: Wikileaks Aafia’s Incriminating Purse Court Document, USA vs. Aafia Siddiqui, Document #256 ( Aafia Siddiqui’s testimony to FBI agents at her bedside while in Bagram hospital after her surgery ) Sentencing, USA vs. Aafia Siddiqui, Document #314 Case Summary, 1:08-cr-00826-RMB USA v. Siddiqui, “Count 1: Conspiracy ( with whom? ) to Kill A US Citizen [] Count 4: Violent Crime/Drugs/ Machine Gun (!) (Use of a firearm during crime of violence (?) “ — Emphasis and red comments interjected are mine. Definitions from Findlaw.com Attempt to Commit Murder or Manslaughter Protection of Officers and Employees of the United States

Assaulting Resisting or Impeding Certain Officers or Employees *** Armed Career Criminal Act (Terrorism Enhancement) Other crimes in 18 U.S.C. Cornell LII: Trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor Cornell LII: Violence at International Airports Cornell LII: Manslaughter Cornell LII: Threatening the President Cornell LII: Assaulting a Supreme Court Officer Cornell LII: Helping Al Qaeda develop a nuclear weapon

11 April, 2013 Judy Bello is currently a full time activist, she is active with The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, and with Fellowship of Reconciliation Middle East Task Force. Source: Countercurrents.org

INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL OF BANGLADESH IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORY By Abdullah al- Ahsan Bangladesh has recently captured headlines in international media outlets thanks to its International War Crimes Tribunal (ICT) which has started delivering verdicts on what it calls crimes committed in 1971 when Bangladesh was born out of a bloody war. These verdicts have ranged from death sentence to life imprisonment. The Tribunal seemed to have expedited the process as if it was meeting some deadline. This has been evidenced in a Skype conversation between the chief judge of the tribunal who later resigned

and a lawyer of Bangladeshi origin in Europe. These conversations were first reported in the The Economist of London (December 12, 2012). A Bangladeshi daily later published the full text of these conversations. The latest verdict sparked serious violence throughout the country and the government had to deploy the army to control the situation. The Economist (March 9, 2013) reported that, “According to Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human-rights watchdog, more than

100 people died between February 5th and March 7th in what it called a “killing spree” by law-enforcement agencies on the pretext of controlling the violence. At least 67 people were killed after the court awarded the verdict of death by hanging to Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, one of the leaders of Jamaate-Islami, Bangladesh’s biggest Islamic party, for the murder, abduction, rape, torture and persecution of his countrymen. continued next page


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A number of political leaders including the opposition leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Party is in alliance with the government, have expressed the fear that this could push the country toward an all-out civil war. The situation has deteriorated further because of the participation of two opposing groups: one known as Shahbaghi Movement and the other Hefazati Islam. While the former consists of arch secularists, the latter represents people of deep religious orientation. Both seem to be adamant in their opposing demands upon the state. All these developments raise many questions: What sort of crimes the tribunal is addressing? War crimes? What kind of war? Civil war? War of independence? Liberation war? Who fought whom? Who are these people who are being tried by ICT? When were these crimes committed? Who committed them? Why has this tribunal been constituted 42 years after the 1971 war? Are there political motives behind this? Let us consider these questions. What are the crimes that the tribunal is addressing? The tribunal claims to address the alleged crimes committed in the former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), which in 1971 was under military rule. Allegations against the Pakistani military range from premeditated murder to organized rape: from denial of civil, political and human rights to humiliation

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and persecution. Although the Pakistan military’s actions were highlighted and strongly condemned by the international community and the media, nobody was held responsible for those alleged crimes. Initially the government of Bangladesh listed 195 officers of the Pakistan armed forces for these violations, but charges were dropped in an agreement between governments of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan in 1974 in an accord called the Simla Agreement. What is noteworthy is that nobody determined the intensity of these crimes. Even the government of Bangladesh never conducted any enquiry examining the extent of atrocities and determining the number of people killed or women raped in 1971. The government of Pakistan prepared a report on the basis of official correspondence between its Eastern Command and its armed forces General Headquarter, (GHQ) and on soliciting witnesses from all walks of life who were directly or indirectly involved in the tragedy. According to this report, authored by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court at that time, Justice Hamoodur Rahman, himself a Bengali, approximately 26,000 persons had been killed in the conflict. Some Bangladeshi sources put the figure at 3 million. This fantastic claim does not seem to include the pro-Pakistani and non-Bengali elements killed in the conflict. Based on eye witness accounts and media reports the Norway based Peace Research Institute, which has the reputation of collecting information on the number of deaths in such conflicts since 1900; put the figure of death toll in the entire conflict at 58,000. One American/ Indian scholar, Sarmila Bose in her recent book Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War (2011, Columbia/Hurst), has studied the subject academically and has challenged the pro-Bangladeshi narratives. Since its publication Bangladeshi government and its supporters are scoffing at her. But

A R T I C L E S the fact remains that to date Bose’s work is one of the most reliable accounts of the 1971 war. Background of the Conflict In order to address questions related to 1971 one needs to take a long view of history. Bangladesh seems to have achieved independence from two different “colonial powers” in a span of only 25 years. Although today’s Bangladesh and Pakistan achieved independence from the British rule in 1947 and established one nation, the area that constitutes Bangladesh today came under British East India Company (EIC) rule in 1757 while most areas that constitute Pakistan today came under British imperial rule after 1857. During the first one hundred years the EIC crushed the local Muslim aristocracy and promoted the Hindu community through its divide and rule policy. The British patronage of the Hindu community created what has been called the 19 th century Bengal renaissance and a large Bengali Hindu middle class. On the contrary, very few Muslim aristocrats survived in Bengal to send their children to faraway places such as Aligarh where Muslims had established an institution for European education. As a result the new Pakistani civil service in 1947 was dominated by non-Bengali elites although Bengalis constituted the majority population in independent Pakistan. Non-Bengali elites had no desire to address questions of historical disadvantages that East Pakistan had suffered. Another noteworthy phenomenon of this period was the division of Bengal in 1905 by the new Viceroy in order to create more opportunities for Muslims and establish a university in Dhaka. The Hindu community fiercely opposed the creation of a new Muslim-majority province of East continued next page


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continued from page 8 Bengal. The British yielded to the pressure and the new province was dissolved.The Bengali Muslims responded to the middle class-led Hindu animosity by organizing in 1906 the All India Muslim League in Dhaka – the political party that established Pakistan in 1947. The Bengal Muslim League scored a convincing victory against the Indian National Congress in the 1930s and it was a Bengali leader who moved the Pakistan Resolution in 1940. Pakistan, in a vital sense, was thus a gift of Bengali Muslims for the Indian Muslim community.

In independent Pakistan however, soon the democratic process collapsed and the military and civil bureaucrats took control of governance. The role of Bengalis in achieving independence of the country was not only ignored; they were denied their political and economic rights. The gap between the two wings of Pakistan widened. The first national elections were held 23 years after independence in which all national political parties were almost wiped out. East Pakistan-based Awami League, led by Shaikh Mujibur Rahman, campaigned for economic and financial self-determination and won all seats but two in East Pakistan with an overall majority at the national level. The vested interests in West Pakistan took serious note of this and began conspiring against the Awami League forming government at the center. Although national political parties such as the Muslim League and Jamaat-i-Islami expressed their unreserved support for transfer of power to Awami League, military and regional political leaders formed a coalition against the Awami League. Military dictator General Yahya Khan and political leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto put up a facade of negotiation with Shaikh Mujibur Rahman for about a month, only to prepare for the ultimate showdown against the democratic

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forces in East Pakistan. Eventually the central government took military action on 25 March 1971, creating terror in Dhaka and forcing millions to flee to India for safety. Many proindependence elements in East Pakistan responded by attacking non-Bengali civilians in various parts of the territory; the struggle for economic selfdetermination turned out to be an allout civil war.

A R T I C L E S Pakistan through political struggle. Almost every family was divided along these political lines. In this fundamental sense the conflict was a classic civil war until it culminated with India’s declaration of war against Pakistan.

The General Character of the War and the International Media Pakistani authorities not only took military action to prevent the democratic forces, they also arrested Shaikh Mujibur Rahman leaving the party in disarray. Most other leaders fled to neighboring India which was waiting for an opportunity for decades to dismember Pakistan. The exiled leaders of Awami League declared the formation of an independent government of Bangladesh, while a significant number of Bengali speaking members of the Pakistan armed forces declared a war of liberation against Pakistani military authorities. The international media was merciless against Pakistan, exaggerating the atrocities of the Pakistan military and totally ignoring the equally brutal killings of pro-Pakistani civilians and non-Bengali East Pakistanis. As for the war, the fighting continued for about 8 to 9 months with the participation from both sides of society. There were the Awami Leaguers and left-wing activists who were willing to greet India’s invasion of Pakistan to facilitate their independence. But there were many among the liberation fighters who were reluctant to accept India’s military assistance and wanted to fight their own war. Then there were those who wanted to solve the problems of political and economic inequality between the two wings of the country within the framework of a united

Culmination of the War and Post Independent Bangladesh India officially attacked Pakistan in early December claiming that Pakistan had attacked India on several fronts. At the end of the war Pakistan’s Eastern Command surrendered and India took more than 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war. Later, in 1974 India signed an accord with Bangladesh and Pakistan under which Pakistani POWs were released unconditionally with indemnity for Pakistani military personnel against any future trials. Within four years of Bangladesh independence, in August 1975, some Bangladeshi military officers assassinated Shaikh Mujibur Rahman and his family. The mutineer received a hero’s welcome in the streets of Dhaka since Mujib had earlier introduced a new constitution establishing a one-party dictatorship with a provision to ban all independent newspapers. Another important motivation for the coup was the general perception that Mujib had surrendered Bangladesh’s sovereignty to India. Since then Bangladesh has been governed both by civilian and military administrations but tension still remains between proIndian and Bangladeshi nationalist forces. Why Has the Issue been raised now? This is the most appealing question continued next page


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continued from page 9

in the context of the current political situation in Bangladesh. The general election is due within a year and the current administration seems to be worried about its prospects of winning. Most independent observers believe that the Awami League government wants to eliminate the opposition coalition through this trial. The government also knows very well that it would be impossible to convict these accused had the judiciary been independent and impartial. That is why

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the government has ignored persistent demands of the international legal community to adhere to internationally recognized norms of justice and due process. It is obvious that these politically-motivated trials will have no legitimacy whatsoever given the way the ICT has been conducting itself so far. From among members of the international community only Turkey and a number of NGOs including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and International Bar Association have raised voices about the

A R T I C L E S legitimacy and impartiality of this tribunal. The faster the rest of the international community joins in, the better it is for international peace and security. 23 April, 2013

Dr. Abdullah al- Ahsan is the Vice President of JUST and also the Deputy Dean and Professor of History, International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University Malaysia.

THE ECONOMY: UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP (PART I) By Marjonie Kelly

How cooperative are leading the way to empowered workers and healthy communities Pushing my grocery cart down the aisle, I spot on the fruit counter a dozen plastic bags of bananas labeled “Organic, Equal Exchange.” My heart leaps a little. I’d been thrilled, months earlier, when I found my local grocer carrying bananas—a new product from Equal Exchange—because this employee-owned cooperative outside Boston is one of my favorite companies. Its main business remains the fair trade coffee and chocolate the company started with in 1986. Since then, the company has flourished, and its mission remains supporting small farmer co-ops in developing countries and giving power to employees through ownership. It’s as close to an ideal company as I’ve found. And I’m delighted to see their banana business thriving, since I know it was rocky for a time. (Hence the leaping of my heart.) I happen to know a bit more than the average shopper about Equal Exchange, because I count myself lucky to be one of its few investors who are not worker-owners. Over more than 20 years, it has paid investors a steady and impressive average of 5 percent annually (these days, a coveted return). Maneuvering my cart toward the

dairy case, I search out butter made by Cabot Creamery, and pick up some Cabot cheddar cheese. I choose Cabot because, like Equal Exchange, it’s a cooperative, owned by dairy farmers since 1919. At the checkout, I hand over my Visa card from Summit Credit Union, a depositor-owned bank in Madison, Wis., where I lived years ago. Credit unions are another type of cooperative, meaning that members like me are partial owners, so Summit doesn’t charge us the usurious penalty rate of 25 percent or more levied by other banks at the merest breath of a late payment. They’re loyal to me, and I’m loyal to them.

through a profoundly different and virtually invisible world: the cooperative economy. It’s an economy that aims to serve customers, rather than extract maximum profits from them. It operates through various models, which share the goal of treating suppliers, employees, and investors fairly. The cooperative economy has dwelled alongside the corporate economy for close to two centuries. But it may be an economy whose time has come.

On my way home, I pull up to the drive-through at Beverly Cooperative Bank to make a withdrawal. This bank is yet another kind of cooperative— owned by customers and designed to serve them. Though it’s small—with only $700 million in assets, and just four branches (all of which I could reach on my bike)—its ATM card is recognized everywhere. I’ve used it even in Copenhagen and London.

Something is dying in our time. As the nation struggles to recover from unsustainable personal and national debt, stagnant wages, the damages wrought by climate change, and more, a whole way of life is drawing to a close. It began with railroads and steam engines at the dawn of the Industrial Age, and over two centuries has swelled into a corporation-dominated system marked today by vast wealth inequity and bloated carbon emissions. That economy is today proving fundamentally unsustainable. We’re hitting twin limits, ecological and financial. We’re experiencing both ecological and financial overshoot.

With this series of transactions on one afternoon, I am weaving my way

If ecological limits are something continued next page


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continued from page 10 many of us understand, we’re just beginning to find language to talk about financial limits—that point of diminishing return where the hunt for financial gain actually depletes the taxand-wage base that sustains us all. Here’s the problem: The very aim of maximum financial extraction is built into the foundational social architecture of our capitalist economy—that is, the concept of ownership. If the root of government is sovereignty (the question of who controls the state), the root construct of every economy is property (the question of who controls the infrastructure of wealth creation). Many of the great social struggles in history have come down to the issue of who will control land, water, and the essentials of life. Ownership has been at the center of the most profound changes in civilization—from ending slavery to patenting the genome of life.

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claimed dominion over women, other races, laborers, and the earth itself. In the 20th century, we were schooled to believe there were essentially two economic systems: capitalism (private ownership) and socialism/communism (public ownership). Yet both tended, in practice, to support the concentration of economic power in the hands of the few. Emerging in our time—in largely disconnected experiments across the globe—are the seeds of a different kind of economy. It, too, is built on a foundation of ownership, but of a unique type. The cooperative economy is a large piece of it. But this economy doesn’t rely on a monoculture of design, the way capitalism does. It’s as rich in diversity as a rainforest is in its plethora of species—with commons ownership, municipal ownership, employee ownership, and others. You could even include open-source models like Wikipedia, owned by no one and managed collectively.

Throughout the Industrial Age, the global economy has increasingly come to be dominated by a single form of ownership: the publicly traded corporation, where shares are bought and sold in stock markets. The systemic crises we face today are deeply entwined with this design, which forms the foundation of what we might call the extractive economy, intent on maximum physical and financial extraction.

These varieties of alternative ownership have yet to be recognized as a single family, in part because they’ve yet to unite under a common name. We might call them generative, for their aim is to generate conditions where our common life can flourish. Generative design isn’t about dominion. It’s about belonging—a sense of belonging to a common whole.

The concept of extractive ownership traces its lineage to AngloSaxon legal tradition. The 18th century British legal theorist William Blackstone described ownership as the right to “sole and despotic dominion.” This view—the right to control one’s world in order to extract maximum benefit for oneself—is a core legitimating concept for a civilization in which white, property-owning males have

We see this sensibility in a variety of alternatives gaining ground today. New state laws chartering benefit corporations have passed recently in 12 states, and are in the works in 14 more. Benefit corporations—like Patagonia and Seventh Generation— build into their governing documents a commitment to serve not only stockholders but other stakeholders, including employees, the community,

A R T I C L E S and the environment. Also spreading are social enterprises, which serve a social mission while still functioning as businesses (many of them owned by nonprofits). Employee-owned firms are gaining ground in Spain, Poland, France, Denmark, and Sweden. Still another model is the mission-controlled corporation, exemplified by foundation-owned companies such as Novo Nordisk and Ikea in northern Europe. While publicly traded, these companies safeguard their social purpose by keeping board control in mission-oriented hands. If there are more kinds of generative ownership than most of us realize, the scale of activity is also larger than we might suppose—particularly in the cooperative economy. In the United States, more than 130 million people are members of a co-op or credit union. More Americans hold membership in a co-op than hold shares in the stock market. Worldwide, cooperatives have close to a billion members. Among the 300 largest cooperative and mutually owned companies worldwide, total revenues approach $2 trillion. If these enterprises were a single nation, its economy would be the 9th largest on earth. Often, these entities are profit making, but they’re not profit maximizing. Alongside more traditional nonprofit and government models, they add a category of private ownership for the common good. Their growth across the globe represents a largely unheralded revolution. 28 February, 2013 Part II of this article will be published in the June 2013 JUST Commentary. Marjorie Kelly is a fellow with the Tellus Institute in Boston and director of ownership strategy with Cutting Edge Capital. Source: YES! Magazine


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The International Movement for a Just World is a nonprofit international citizens’ organisation which seeks to create public awareness about injustices within the existing global system. It also attempts to develop a deeper understanding of the struggle for social justice and human dignity at the global level, guided by universal spiritual and moral values. In furtherance of these objectives, JUST has undertaken a number of activities including conducting research, publishing books and monographs, organising conferences and seminars, networking with groups and individuals and participating in public campaigns. JUST has friends and supporters in more than 130 countries and cooperates actively with other organisations which are committed to similar objectives in different parts of the world.

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Just Commentary May 2013  
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