14 April, 2003
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission - AHRC
Worse than tyranny is colonialism; worse than dictatorship is anarchy
The people of Iraq have endured a war of great cruelty in the name of their liberation. What they now get is not liberation but colonialism, which is worse than tyranny and war combined. Having been offered no part in all this, other than as a cheer squad, people have responded by grabbing whatever they can. It may be all they will get for a long time to come.
As Iraq is subjected to colonial rule and its society collapses, it rightly deserves the world's attention. However, the international community is confused and uncertain about how to react. This condition must be overcome, lest another great nation be dragged into anarchy by tyranny, and war. A number of present dangers must be recognized.
First, colonial powers always depend upon pre-existing elite groups. The 'decapitation' of the Iraqi regime is only symbolic. The head done away with, the body will be reborn under a new one. For the most part, the same persons will benefit under the 'liberators' as did under the despots. The gulf between they and the rest of the population will persist.
Secondly, talk of timeframes for rebuilding Iraq has little meaning to people who cannot survive from day to day. This is the majority of the population, those who suffered the most under tyranny, the most under sanctions, and now, the most under growing lawlessness and impending colonial rule. Where are these people in all this talk about regime change? As limited social safety nets are completely destroyed, and as more hands go out for what little assistance may become available, these people will fall deeper into poverty and despair. They are the ones whose rights will have to be defended against the new regime, yet to date they and their needs have been virtually unnoticed.
Thirdly, a crisis that has left even hospitals looted cannot be easily or artificially overcome. In the short term, order may be restored by the rule of the gun, but Iraqi society will have been greatly shaken by this period of chaos. For confidence also to be restored will require the opening of truly participatory avenues allowing the people to make decisions for themselves. Under the present circumstances, this is impossible. No colonial regime either can or will voluntarily open the way to genuine change. Democratization only comes when colonial rule is ended.
The great movement that arose across the world in opposition to this war is a bright light in a bleak landscape. It shows that people everywhere are increasingly aware of the massive danger it has posed to all of us. That this war was fought in spite of such protest speaks to the veracity of this concern. Now more than ever this movement must continue to be active. Much will depend upon its vigilance in opposing the new colonial regime in Iraq.
The people of the United States especially owe a duty to the people of Iraq, as to the people of the world. Will they allow their country to be a colonizer? Will they allow their government to manipulate and obstruct Iraqi efforts to rebuild their country? Will they allow it to continue on its path of global domination by and for the super rich? Will they not try to revive the spirit of Jefferson, Lincoln and the other great democrats in their history?
Of greatest concern to all Americans should be the damage suffered by their own democracy. Never have their First Amendment rights been so seriously threatened. With the tumbling of one statue, never has the deception been so complete. The American people's right to know the truth has been trivialized by the fictional legitimization of a war that has massively violated international law and threatened the United Nations. Are the American people now prepared to live in a society where their First Amendment rights are seriously undermined?
The events unfolding in Iraq require our strenuous concerted involvement. In standing up for the rights of people there we are standing up for our own rights. In resisting colonialism there, we are protecting our own freedom. Let us all rise to the challenge.
Asian Human Rights Commission - AHRC, Hong Kong
Asian Human Rights Commission
Unit D,7 Floor,16 Argyle Street
Mongkok Commercial Centre
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR