Why Iraq needs a court of truth and reconciliation now
Jun 27, 2012
from the article by Faris Harram in niqash:
Recently I read the arrest warrant that was issued against [Iraqi Vice President] Tariq al-Hashimi on Interpol’s website. It’s difficult to know whether the man is innocent or guilty and we will all have to wait until Iraqi courts issue a verdict. But reading the warrant made me think about the golden opportunity that Iraq after 2003, when the nation had the chance to really redress the cultural imbalances created during the rule of [former Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein.
When Hussein was caught and arrested very few Iraqis spoke out to suggest a reconciliation process. Such a process would have opened the door for Iraq’s elite - intellectuals, academics, sociologists, psychologists, economists and even clerics - to initiate a unique debate.
Even though it would have taken only one decision by Parliament to set this up, it didn’t happen and we lost a golden opportunity to purge Iraqi souls and answer our society’s desires for retribution and revenge, desires that still exist today – even six years after Hussein’s execution.
....Look closely at the reasons behind the tidal wave of sectarian violence that swept the country after 2003 and we find much of these revolve around unresolved issues such as: “the oppressors didn’t ever do penance”. The victims didn’t ever get justice or even an opportunity to air their feelings publicly, so they longed for revenge and became part of the war games.
Today [Vice President] al-Hashimi stands accused of a number of crimes. If he is convicted, the Iraqi people fear they will never get the chance to question him properly because of the prevailing atmosphere of hatred, corruption and fear and because of the social chasms that divide the Iraqi people themselves. And if it turns out that al-Hashimi was the victim, then there are concerns that those who made him into the victim will simply get away with it.
Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that we could really use a court of truth and reconciliation today. Until that happens though, one can only mourn the fact that, as yet, the Iraqi government doesn’t seem to have considered such an institution a valuable option – which it would be, especially in this era characterized by cultural and academic illiteracy and ignorance.