Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Iraq News Update

New Genocide Charges against Saddam Hussein “Sweeping in Scope”

April 5, 2006

Following yesterday’s reports that Saddam Hussein would be charged with genocide, media reports indicate that these new charges are of great significance to the former Iraqi dictator’s trial.

According to the Boston Globe:

“The trial could prove far more complex and sweeping in scope than the ongoing Dujail case, which involves the massacre of at least 148 Shi'ite townspeople in 1982. That trial is scheduled to resume today with further testimony from Hussein.”

“The Anfal campaign was launched, in part, as retribution for an alliance between Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers and Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war, according to a 1993 Human Rights Watch Report on Anfal. But investigators also say the campaign, which destroyed 2,000 villages, was part of a widespread ethnic cleansing effort, to rid swaths of the northern province of Kurds.”

“Still pained by muted global outrage during the Anfal campaign, many Kurds have eagerly anticipated the exposure the genocide case would generate. But it was unclear yesterday whether the trial would have to be delayed until the conclusion of the Dujail case.”

“Hussein has a right, under Iraqi law, to attend both trials.”

Click here to read the whole story.

Iraqi Democracy Not a High Priority in U.S Budget

April 5, 2006

President George W. Bush has pledged to “transform Iraq into a beacon of democracy in the Middle East.” At the same time, Washington Post staff writer Peter Baker wrote today, his administration is cutting back funding for major organizations that are trying to carry out his vision by building democratic institutions such as political parties and civil society groups.

According to the Washington Post article:

“The administration has included limited new money for traditional democracy promotion in budget requests to Congress. Some organizations face funding cutoffs this month, while others struggle to stretch resources through the summer. The shortfall threatens projects that teach Iraqis how to create and sustain political parties, think tanks, human rights groups, independent media outlets, trade unions and other elements of democratic society.”

“"The commitment to what the president of the United States will say every single day of the week is his number one priority in Iraq, when it's translated into action, looks very tiny," said Les Campbell, who runs programs in the Middle East for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, known as NDI.”

“The president's supplemental Iraq spending request includes just $10 million for democracy promotion, and his proposed budget for fiscal 2007 asks for $63 million, a fraction of the tens of billions of dollars spent each year on Iraq. But officials argue that other funds in effect further the same goal. For instance, the administration targeted $254 million for enhancing the rule of law by creating a fair judiciary and a humane prison system.”

Click here to read the whole article

Massive Exodus of Iraqi Civilians from Mixed Sunni-Shiite Areas a Troubling Sign
April 2, 2006

The war in Iraq has shifted in scope and now tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing from mixed Sunni-Shiite areas in and around Baghdad. According to American commanders and Iraqi officials the divide between the two sects is constantly growing.

According to the New York Times:

“The nature of the Iraq war has been changing since at least the late autumn, when political friction between Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs rose even as American troops began implementing a long-term plan to decrease their street presence. But the killing accelerated after the bombing on Feb. 22 of a revered Shiite shrine, which unleashed a wave of sectarian bloodletting.”

“The Iraqi public's reaction to the violence has been dramatic. Since the shrine bombing, 30,000 to 36,000 Iraqis have fled their homes because of sectarian violence or fear of reprisals, say officials at the International Organization for Migration, based in Geneva. The Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration estimated that at least5,500 families have moved, with the biggest group being 1,250 families settling in the Shiite holy city of Najaf after leaving Baghdad and Sunni-dominated towns in central Iraq. The families are living with relatives or in abandoned buildings, and a crisis of food and water shortages is starting to build, officials say.”

To read the full story, click here.


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