Iraq Unmasks the American State

Interesting analysis, this, courtesy The Business of Emotions.  Long, but well worth the read.

I was particularly interested in these points about “America’s emotional and moral malaise” before the writer launches into how the Iraq Resistance shows the American State for what it is.

America’s Emotional and Moral Malaise
The explanation of Bush’s hold on the United States developed in The Business of Emotions over the past few years, can be summarized thus:

1. Without authentic emotions, the vital connection between thinking and feeling is lost and the ability to act, morally and politically, for oneself and for others, is compromised…

2. People who lack emotional authenticity are incapable of recognizing its absence in others…

3. People who lack authentic emotions are susceptible to the predations of emotional marketers…

4. Thinking without feeling, talking without meaning…

Thanks to

Iraqi Refugees Forced into Prostitution

I guess oil is soooo important that women and girls lives don’t really matter to GWB & Co…

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2701324.ece
The Independent on Sunday ~~ June 24, 2007
’50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution
Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are
being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria
By Nihal Hassan in Damascus

It’s Monday night in a dingy club on the outskirts of the Syrian
capital. Two dozen girls are moving half-heartedly on the dance floor,
lit up by flashing disco lights.

They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but
the girls’ make-up can’t disguise the fact that most are in their
mid-teens. It’s a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but
this is the sex business, and it’s booming as a result of the war in Iraq.

Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A
Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats
it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of
girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayasthey wear
outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.

To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over
the Gulf region – many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more
conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me
here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.

Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare
midriff and tattoos, tells me she’s 16. She has been working in this
club since fleeing to Syria from Baghdad after the war. She doesn’t
like it, she says, “but what can we do? I hope things get better in
Iraq, because I miss it. I want to go back, but I have to look after
my sister”. Zahra points to a thin, pubescent girl with long black
hair, who seems to be dancing quite happily. Aged 13, Nadia started in
the club two months ago.

As the girls dance suggestively, allowing their breasts to brush
against each other, one winks at a customer. But these girls are not
just providing the floor show – they have paid to be here, and they
need to pick up a client, or they’ll lose money. If successful,
they’ll earn about $60, equivalent to a month’s wages in a factory.

There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women
whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working
legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how
many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi
women’s group Women’s Will, puts the figure at 50,000.

I met Fatima in a block of flats operating informally as a brothel in
Saida Zainab, a run-down area with a large Iraqi population. Millions
of Shias go there every year, because of the shrine of the prophet
Mohamed’s granddaughter. “I came to Syria after my husband was killed,
leaving me with two children,” Fatima tells me. “My aunt asked me to
join her here, and my brothers pressured me to go.” She didn’t realise
the work her aunt did, and she would be forced to take up, until she arrived.

Fatima is in her mid-20s, but campaigners say the number of Iraqi
children working as prostitutes is high. Bassam al-Kadi of Syrian
Women Observatory says: “Some have been sexually abused in Iraq, but
others are being prostituted by fathers and uncles who bring them here
under the pretext of protecting them. They are virgins, and they are
brought here like an investment and exploited in a very ugly way.”

Further viewing: Nihal Hassan and Nima Elbagir’s report will appear on
‘More 4 News’ at 8pm tomorrow

Censure sets back democracy & rights for Afghanistan’s People

Does anyone get the fact that by supporting the military action in Afghanistan they are now supporting the reversal of democratic rights and freedoms?

Human Rights Watch has responded to the censure of outspoken Parliamentarian, Malalai Joya:

Afghanistan: Reinstate MP Suspended for ‘Insult’

Censure of Malalai Joya Sets Back Democracy and Rights

(New York, May 23, 2007) – The Afghan parliament should immediately reinstate Malalai Joya, a member suspended for criticizing colleagues, and revise parliamentary procedures that restrict freedom of speech, Human Rights Watch said today.

On May 21, 2007, the Lower House of the Afghan parliament voted to suspend Joya for comments she made during a television interview the previous day. It is unclear whether Joya’s suspension will run until the current parliamentary session ends in several weeks or whether she will be suspended for the remainder of her term in office, which ends in 2009. In addition to her suspension from parliament, several legislators have said that Joya could be sued for contempt in a court of law.

“Malalai Joya is a staunch defender of human rights and a powerful voice for Afghan women, and she shouldn’t have been suspended from parliament,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Joya’s comments don’t warrant the punishment she received and they certainly don’t warrant court proceedings.”

Male Military Vets Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

This is US data, but it makes one wonder how Canadian veterans fare in this regard.  Surely we are better placed to prevent such horrific statistics, by simply being a less militaristic culture than our southern neighbours. Mind you, with Harper and Hillier at the helm, we may be doomed to echo the patterns of the USians.  From AlterNet: War on Iraq:

Why Male Military Veterans Are Committing Sexual Assault at Alarming Rates

By Lucinda Marshall, AlterNet. Posted May 25, 2007.

A recent DOJ report found that vets are twice as likely to be jailed for sexual assault than non-veterans.

A recent study by the Department of Justice found that military veterans are twice as likely to be incarcerated for sexual assault than nonveterans. When asked about the finding, Margaret E. Noonan, one of the authors of the study, told the Associated Press, “We couldn’t come to any definite conclusion as to why.” The intrinsic and systemic connection between militarism and violence against women, however, makes this finding far from surprising.

Sexual violence has been a de facto weapon of war since the beginning of the patriarchal age. Raping and assaulting women is seen as a way to attack the honor of the enemy, and women have always been the spoils of war. The result is that many types of violence against women are exacerbated by militarism, including the indirect effects on civilian populations both during hostilities and after the conflict ends and soldiers go home. These include:

  • Rape/sexual assault and harassment both within the military and perpetrated on civilian populations
  • Domestic violence
  • Prostitution, pornography and trafficking
  • Honor killing

Read the rest of the article

Tory MP defends Karzai?

What follows is an excerpt from the letter my MP, Dave Batters, sent in response to my concerns about the deaths of Canadians in Afghanistan. As you read, keep in mind that it was Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s Parliament that voted a woman, duly elected to serve in the Parliament, out of it.

We also recognize that important progress is being made in Afghanistan because of the sacrifices of those serving in the Canadian Forces. Under the Taliban, Afghanistan had no free elections, women had no rights, and most Afghan children were denied the opportunity of basic public education. Because of Canada’s important role:

* Over five million children have been enrolled in school, one-third of whom are girls
* Free and fair elections, backed by a national constitution, have allowed 10 million Afghans to have their voices heard and their interests represented
* A new Canadian-led project is enabling 1,500 women to develop home-based fruit and vegetable gardens to supplement family diets and generate income
* Medical attention is now accessible to 77% of the population, up from only 10% in 2001, and 7.2 million children vaccinated against polio
* 4000 houses and shelters have been constructed
* 63,000 soldiers have been disarmed and demobilised and 334,000 mines have been defused and removed.

I assure you that the work of our Armed Forces with NATO in Afghanistan has helped to enrich the lives of millions of Afghan citizens and safeguard Canada against the threat of terrorists. I would encourage you to consider what the world has gained from the sacrifice of these brave men and women in uniform.

When Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai visited Canada’s House of Commons on September 27, 2006, he thanked our country’s soldiers for their work and the sacrifices they have made. He stated: “If the greatness of a life is measured in deeds done for others, then Canada’s sons and daughters who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan stand among the greatest of their generation.”

Regarding a diplomatic solution, clearly this is always the preferred means of resolving conflict. However, the Taliban are extremists and murderers who show no regard for human rights and the rule of law. I have attached a list of atrocities recently committed by the Taliban to illustrate why a diplomatic solution is probably not feasible or achievable in dealing with this radical group.

Wars are never entered into easily and we take our commitment in Afghanistan very seriously. It is important that Canada leave the local population better off than when we began our operations and that we ensure that Afghanistan remains a responsible participant in the international community. Our Conservative government will continue to support our troops as they work for the advancement of human rights and security in Afghanistan and around the world.

Interesting spin, isn’t it? How an elected official of one country can condone the creation of a culture of fear in another country and call it advancing human rights is completely and utterly beyond me.

BRING OUR TROOPS HOME!

Afghan Parliament Ousts Female Lawmaker

Oh, look, Steve! See what we’re supporting in Afghanistan? I thought someone said that our troops are there to help women and girls.

HA! BRING THE TROOPS HOME!!!

Afghan Parliament Ousts Female Lawmakerhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6649078,00.html
*Monday May 21, 2007 12:01 PM*
*Afghan Parliament Ousts Female Lawmaker*
*By RAHIM FAIEZ*
*Associated Press Writer*

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament voted
Monday to oust an outspoken female lawmaker who has enraged former
mujahedeen fighters now in President Hamid Karzai’s U.S.-backed government.

The lawmaker, Malalai Joya, compared parliament to a stable full of animals
in a recent TV interview.

The video clip was shown in parliament on Monday, and angry lawmakers voted
to suspend her from the body, said Haseb Noori, spokesman for the
parliament. No formal vote count was held, but a clear majority of lawmakers
voted for her suspension by raising colored cards, Noori said.

A parliament rule known as Article 70 forbids lawmakers from criticizing one
another, Noori said.

Joya, 29, said the vote was a “political conspiracy” against her. She said
she had been told Article 70 was written specifically for her, though she
didn’t say who told her that.

“Since I’ve started my struggle for human rights in Afghanistan, for
women’s rights, these criminals, these drug smugglers, they’ve stood against
me from the first time I raised my voice at the Loya Jirga,” she said,
referring to the constitution-drafting convention.

It was not immediately clear if she could appeal against her ouster.

Joya, a women’s rights worker from Farah province, rose to prominence in
2003 when she branded powerful Afghan warlords as criminals during the Loya
Jirga.

Many of the commanders who fought occupying Soviet troops in the 1980s still
control provincial fiefdoms and have been accused of human rights abuses and
corruption. After ousting the Soviets, the militias turned on each other in
a brutal civil war that destroyed most of the capital, Kabul.

Some faction leaders, like former President Burhanuddin Rabbani and Abdul
Rasul Sayyaf, a deeply conservative Islamist, have been elected to
parliament. Others, like northern strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, were
appointed by Karzai.

Sayed Alami Balkhi, a lawmaker from the northern province of Balkh, said the
speaker of the upper house of parliament sent a letter to the lower house on
Sunday saying that Joya had humiliated and attacked both houses.

“If the lower house does not take a decision about her, we will take a
decision,” Balkhi quoted the letter as saying.

Joya’s outspoken ways have earned her many enemies in Afghanistan. In
February, during a rally to support a proposed amnesty for Afghans suspected
of war crimes, thousands of former fighters shouted “Death to Malalai
Joya!”

Last May, Joya called some lawmakers “warlords” in a speech at parliament,
prompting some parliamentarians to throw water bottles at her. A small
scuffle broke out between her supporters and detractors, and Joya later told
The Associated Press in an interview that some lawmakers threatened to rape
her as payback.

Joya said Monday that if she couldn’t remain in parliament, she would fight
against “criminals” independently. She said if anything were to happen to
her – a reference to a possible assassination attempt – that “everyone
would know” that the people she has criticized like Rabbani or Sayyaf would
be responsible.

“I’m not alone,” Joya told reporters. “The international community is
with me and all the Afghan people are with me.”

Updated to add a link to liberal catnip’s post regarding Peter McKay’s ridiculousity on this issue.

Canadian-led campaign unites women’s organizations on six continents

On the first anniversary of P’n’P entering the Blogosphere comes a call to sign on to the Nairobi Declaration:

Drafted by representatives of women’s rights organizations from six continents and endorsed by leading international human rights advocates including Stephen Lewis, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, the Nairobi Declaration is founded on the experiences of women and girl survivors of sexual violence and the expertise of activists and jurists who are helping them rebuild their lives. At the Declaration’s core is the belief that justice for women and girl survivors of sexual violence will never be achieved if reparations programs are not informed and directed by those they are meant to serve. The Nairobi Declaration aims to correct the systemic flaws of national Truth and Reconciliation initiatives and existing reparation schemes and to inform those being developed by the International Criminal Court.The Nairobi Declaration asserts that reparation programs must go beyond mere compensation and restitution. According to the Declaration, adequate reparation and remedy must:

  • Empower women and girls, support their efforts to rebuild trust and relations and foster their participation in social reconstruction. Decision-making about reparations must include victims as full participants.
  • Address social inequalities and discrimination in existence prior to conflict, which lie at the root of violence against women and girls in times of conflict.
  • Promote social justice and encourage the transformation toward a fair and equal society.
  • Emphasize the importance of truth-telling in order to allow women and girls to move ahead and become true citizens. Abuses against women must be named and recognized in order to raise awareness about these crimes and violations, to positively influence a more holistic strategy for reparation and measures that support reparation, and to help build a shared memory and history.

Reparations should provide women and girls with the tools to rebuild their lives not as they were prior to war or conflict, but in ways that address and transform sociocultural injustices and structural inequalities that predate the conflict,” says Ariane Brunet, coordinator of the Coalition for Women’s Human Rights in Conflict Situations. “Women and girls’ right to reparation is not only about restitution, compensation and access to judicial redress, it is about women playing an active role in repairing the social fabric and building afresh a just and equal society.”

The Nairobi Declaration is the first stage in a long-term international campaign on gender reparation. It is intended as a tool to be implemented by States, multilateral agencies, regional agencies and national entities, such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.

Read the Nairobi Declaration

Sign the Nairobi Declaration

Regressive Cons

Over here you’ll find Law Prof Lorraine Weinrib’s piece, reprinted with permission from the Law Times. It’s an article about Harper and his Justice Minister addressing the Charter’s 25th anniversary. Here’s a sample from it:

Conservatives cling to the old Bill of Rights

Stephen Harper overlooks courts’ role in interpreting Charter.

Dateline: Tuesday, May 15, 2007

by Lorraine Weinrib

Monday, 14 May 2007 The 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Charter, in mid-April, presented the rare opportunity for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to join with many others in expressing their views of the Charter, its place in our constitutional order, and the effect it has had on Canada in its first quarter century.

Neither took advantage of invitations to the formal academic and professional events held to mark the occasion, where they might have presented an expansive account of their views. Their limited comments in the House of Commons in question period are therefore all we have. These statements, despite their brevity, reveal quite a lot.

2475ad.jpgBoth Harper and Nicholson offered partisan responses to questions seeking a comment marking the occasion. Nicholson, for example, stressed that the Conservative party “has an enviable record with respect to human rights in our country” and needed no “lessons from anybody in this Parliament on the subject of human rights.”

He cited the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights and the extension of the franchise by Conservative governments to women and Aboriginal Canadians, indeed the full extension of the franchise, as elements of that “proud history.”

As to his own government’s accomplishments, he noted the federal victims’ ombudsman, stable funding for legal aid, and action on the Chinese head tax. He concluded by noting, “We did things that the Liberal party was never able to get done.”

Harper also took a partisan stance. He stressed the difference between his government, which actually promoted rights, and the Liberal record, which he described as catering to lawyers’ concerns and pocketbooks.

Like his minister of justice, the prime minister referred to the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights as the legislated beginning of Canadian human rights protection. He then cited a long list of his own government’s accomplishments and summed up in these words: “The government is acting on rights, unlike the record of that government which did not get the job done.”

His examples were noteworthy: protecting the rights of women and children from acts of criminality, extending the right to vote for the Senate, fixing the historic injustice of the Chinese head tax, the Air India inquiry, the residential schools agreement, and signing on to the United Nations declaration on the rights of the disabled.

These statements tell us a lot about the government’s official position on the Charter.

First and foremost, according to Harper and Nicholson, the Charter fulfils itself through legislation and government action, not through Charter litigation and judicial rulings. Many of the comments described were made in response to criticism of the government’s cancellation of the Court Challenges Program. In that context, the emphasis on this government’s aversion to lawyers’ concerns and lawyers’ work is significant.

Second, Harper and Nicholson consider the Charter’s subject matter to be “human rights” broadly conceived, rather than “constitutional rights” as embodied in its particular guarantees, principles and institutional arrangements….

The poor get poorer and the rich, richer

What most living in poverty already know:  they’re getting poorer.  And, what we suspected: the rich are getting richer.

“Average family market income among the 10% of families with the highest incomes rose by 22% from 1989 to 2004. Meanwhile, among the 10% of families with the lowest incomes, it fell by 11%.”

http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/070511/d070511b.htm

And who is that predominates in that lowest income category?  Yes, women.  And we can thank both the Libs and the Cons for that.  What a great legacy, eh?

Grrrr….
See also:

http://www.statcan.ca/bsolc/english/bsolc?catno=11F0019MIE2007298

http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2007298.htm

http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/11F0019MIE/11F0019MIE2007298.pdf

Thanks to Luke at B’n’R for the heads-up.