SHAFAQNA – If I was to bring Iraq’s war against the terror of Daesh to one moment in time I must say that the desperate cry for help of a Yazidi MP before parliament remains etched in my mind. On her face I saw such despair, such bewilderment and anger before the world’s apathy … her cries brought the reality of this conflict down to its very essence: an attack on our collective humanity.
This terror Daesh armies speaks is no more rooted in religion that it is anchored in political supremacism. At its core Daesh is the rejection of people’s right to be. Forgive me if I err a little here but there is a certain irony to Daesh’s rejectionism when its ideologues have long cursed Shia Islam for its alleged rejection of the early Caliphs.
One may ponder over which rejection stands in opposition of Islamic principles, when the Quran reads that in “religion there shall be no compulsion” inferring therefore that freedom of choice and the right to disagree are God given, and should never be denied – nevermind abrogated.
But that would be for another conversation …
As I write these lines Iraq is reclaiming its land and its communities away from Daesh miasmas. As a people are spoken to freedom again certain media outlets have toed an interesting line since they are deploring the alleged mistreatment of Daesh militants by the hands of the Iraqi authorities as they await trial.
While of course Justice demands that all people be treated fairly before the law – regardless of the crimes they may have committed, so that accountability be weighed objectively, we may want to consider the context in which Iraq finds itself, and the degree of restraint Baghdad had to exercise given the crimes Daesh mercenaries perpetrated.
Before we cry over those dire conditions Daesh prisoners now live in, we may want to recall how they, themselves held communities captive … We may want to consider the grave many abuses Daesh inflicted upon Iraq so that the will of its ideologues be asserted. We may want to also appreciate the calls for revenge Iraqis have let out after so many of their sons and daughters were sacrificed to the fury of Daesh’s Wahhabism.
Who are we to pass judgement upon the pain of a people when we cannot possibly fathom the nightmare they experiences in their flesh? Are we that arrogant and haughty that we can ask of Iraqis what we would never ask ourselves? Was it not US President Donald Trump who suggested all terrorists be bombed into oblivion and disappeared from existence? Was it not the UK and the US which defended drone attacks in the name of national security?
Morality is hard to sell when one stands his or her hands bloodied by the blood of the innocent …
In a report that wants itself objective but really screams of hypocritical grandstanding the Sun wrote: “WE REALLY WANT TO DIE” Hundreds of ‘ISIS jihadis infected with diseases are crammed into tiny Mosul prison cells in 45C heat after being captured by Iraqi forces”
Somehow I cannot bring myself to emphasised with Daesh militants’ pain. While I do not wish them to suffer unnecessarily … my faith commands that I see in all people my own humanity, I am fully aware of Iraq’s logistical limitations when it comes to “handling” war prisoners. Let’s not cry foul play and decontextualise Iraq’s war on Terror. Let’s not play demagoguery when no tears is being spent on Yemen genocide … Let’s just not!
I’d like to stress that other powers may have chosen to handle such “legal issue” rather differently and NOT offer prisoners the courtesy of a trial.
And yes I find the Sun’s insinuations more than a little unpalatable.
The Sun writes: “Prisoners who were interviewed by the AP insisted they were innocent.
One, who said he was a civil servant, claimed: “You won’t find ten real (ISIS members) among these guys.
“And all of them have spent more than six months here. Since I got here eight months ago, I’ve only seen the sun once.”
He also claimed two prisoners had died in the packed holding cell, adding some prisoners “have pus coming out of their wounds. Once they go to the hospital, they come back with amputated legs or arms”.
Another inmate said: “We really want to die. None of us have received any visitors, relatives, family members. They don’t even know where we are.””
I chose here not to comment … somehow nothing I could offer by way of words will ever truly encompass how sickening such a false display of human empathy makes me feel.
If we should never excuse an evil by arguing another, or justify a crime by invoking that which was committed against us, CONTEXT is required before we pass judgement. CONTEXT is what we still lacking as we consider Terror and the misery Iraqis were put through under Daesh’s blade.
Another point I would like to make before I take my leave is the edict Ayatollah Ali Sistani published so that Iraq be spared the ignominy of another bloodbath.
Iraq’s top Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani has advised the country’s security forces against mistreating the ISIS terrorists held as prisoners. Ayatollah Sistani has dismissed the concept of exacting revenge on ISIS terrorists taken captive. The senior cleric said the terrorists and their accomplices captured by Iraqi troops in Mosul should not be mistreated or tortured. He said the mistreatment of Daesh/ISIS captives is religiously and legally forbidden. Ayatollah Sistani also noted that the captives must be handed over to the Judiciary, and stressed the need to protect the lives of citizens.
Such news of course was brushed under the proverbial rug so that well-meaning journalists could instead slam the Iraqi authorities over their perceived laggings.
I’m sorry but I’m not buying into THAT narrative. Instead I hand my hat off to all Iraqis to have shown such restraint before those who shown none to them.
By Catherine Shakdam – Director Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies