January 31, 2006
Dr Kamal Said Qasir, also known as Kamal Berzenji, was kidnapped by the agents of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) on October 26, and given a 30 years prison sentence by a special security court after a trial lasting just one hour on December 19. His crime: writing two "insulting" articles about the scandals of the KDP and Kurdish Regional Government President, Massoud Barzani which were aired on Internet on July 14 and August 25.
Qadir was born in a small village in south of Hawler in southern Kurdistan and he immigrated to Austria in 1978 where he became an Austrian citizen. He studied law at the Vienna Law School. He was obliged to flee Kurdistan after the "liberation" of Iraq by the Americans because he demanded more democracy and the respect of human rights in southern Kurdistan. When he was kidnapped, he had undertaken research in the field of constitutional law in Vienna but he had gone back to Kurdistan in order to set up a monitoring group about human rights. He also intended to pursue legal action against the KDP and so reveal the crimes of the Barzani family.
Muted protests by the Americans over his jailing are belied by the fact that Kurdish leaders, KDP and UPK all told, are known to rounding up their opponents and throwing them in secret jails with the active assistance of US military forces. What Qadir had exposed : " (the Kurdish leaders have not) "transform Iraqi Kurdistan into a model democracy for Iraq or even for the Middle East, because instead the Kurdish parties transformed Iraqi Kurdistan into a fortress for oppression, theft of public funds and serious abuse of human rights like murder, torture, amputation of ears and noses, and rape. All this was conducted under American protection because the Kurdish parties and others in the region, know too well that all privileges and gains achieved since 1991 by the Kuridsh parties were impossible without direct American backing and support." And in program over Radio Free Europe Indeed, he added: "The members or the (Kurdish) security services…try to make a business out of their powers by accusing and arresting anybody whom they think they could blackmail and extract money from" …."One of the reasons of that war (the war between the two parties in 1990) is business and profit making by some Kurdish warlords on both sides. Some of them grew millionaires by confiscating and stealing the property of his fellow Kurdish brothers".
The public relations firm Russo, Marsh and Rogers (RM&R), a neocon press group, instrumental in spreading the myth that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, has portrayed the Kurdistan as a model of democracy for Iraq, haven of prosperity, ripe for Western and Israeli investments. "Of all different groups in Iraq that have a vision of the future, the vision of the Kurds is closest to ours. It is important to recognize that the Kurds are not hostile to the West...The Kurds would like the rest of the country to look at the Kurdish region and see it as a model for the rest of the country".
Yet, "democracy" in Iraq resembles rather a kleptocracy whose members are above the law and can do without the right of free speech, key tenet of any democratic institution. In his article "The Winner and the Loser in the Iraq’s new constitution", Dr Qasir described the conditions under which the Iraqi Constitution had been drafted : "The overthrow of the former Iraqi regime did not occur by Iraqi hands; and that the foreign forces, which had achieved the regime overthrow under the banner of "Liberation of Iraq from tyranny and oppression" became itself forces of occupation which does not differ in its behaviour, practices and actions to any other force of occupation in history. Thus, the democratic process which was subsequently forced upon by the forces of occupation carries no-Iraqi fingerprints that increase the doubt amongst the Iraqis to the true impetus behind this process".
Dr Qasir includes in his criticism "federalism" which he believes is a cover for massive corruption:"(Their) ( KDP and UPK) power and privileges cannot be maintained without a federalist Kurdish entity which cannot be scrutinized by the federal government of Baghdad. On the other hand, as a sovereign state, the Iraq state will guarantee the Kurdish leadership protection from the interferences by the neighbouring countries ….In addition, Iraqi Kurdistan has great wealth in natural resource which the Kurdish leadership wishes to convert into its private and personal property. This cannot be achieved unless the current Kurdish cartels ruled the Kurdish region itself and alone, as it is the case at the moment".
He refuses to see the Sunnis as fanatics of the former regime: "There are those who accuse Iraqi Sunnis of partnering the old regime in suppressing the Shia and Kurds. This in my opinion is a false accusation because dictatorship does not know religions, sects and/or ethnicity: only allegiance to the dictator himself. It is a true fact that some of the closest to the former Iraqi dictator were Kurds, Shias and Christians; indeed many Kurds who were loyal to the former regime were involved in the genocide crimes in the Al Anfal operation against the Kurds".
Amnesty International has learned that Dr Qasir has been tortured and with what we know of the cooperation of US forces with torturers, this piece of news is rather disturbing. The "Minister of Human Rights " of the Kurdistan Regional Governement, Ihsan Nuri, confirms that he "can rot and die in jail" . Furthermore, the extent of any American pressure on the Kurds over someone so opposed to the US occupation remains a puzzle.
and Al Quds (31/12/20059