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Monday, October 12, 2009

Nobel Prize puts pressure on Barack Obama and Israel, Irene Khan,

The Nobel Peace Prize was always political, in the positive sense. Barack Obama's efforts at dragging America back into multilateralism, rebuilding bridges to the Arab/Muslim world, looking for a light at the end of the Afghan tunnel, trying for peace in the Middle East, etc. can use the Nobel to overcome his detractors. No wonder they are being so bilious. Being honoured for defending the rule of law should also help him ease the U.S. from protecting Israel despite its flouting of international norms. Take the recent Richard Goldstone report that said Israel and Hamas committed war crimes in Gaza. Instead of heeding his findings, Israel and the U.S. have been slinging mud at the highly respected South African jurist and former prosecutor of war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, who also happens to be a committed Zionist.
The smear job was followed by American strong-arm tactics to derail his report from the UN Human Rights Council, the Geneva-based body that had commissioned it. Mahmoud Abbas was pressured into spearheading a postponement until March.
But the report won't go away. It has been forced onto the agenda of the Security Council for Wednesday by Libya, the only Arab state currently on the 15-member body. Even if the initiative had come from a respectable member, the outcome probably would still be the same: a U.S. veto against any meaningful action. The Goldstone report has divided the Jewish community, with many moving away from ethnic/religious/national solidarity toward fidelity with human rights, international law, truth and justice. Obama should be standing up for that as well. Nobel Prize puts pressure on Barack Obama and Israel - Haroon Siddiqui

Irene Khan: Banged to rights - The Place of the Ravens, 30km west of Baghdad, has long been of interest to civil liberties groups. The largest prison in Iraq, built in the 1960s by British contractors, has for decades generated stories of abuse, not least under Saddam Hussein, who kept as many as 15,000 people imprisoned there. But it was in 2004, when pictures of offences ranging from the grossly humiliating to murderous leaked out, that the jail's name became a byword for torture – Abu Ghraib.


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