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Libya will raise a statue of Saddam Hussein alongside that of a national hero hanged in 1931 for leading the Libyan resistance against Italian occupation, the government said on Thursday.
“The revolutionary committees have decided to erect a statue of Saddam Hussein standing beside Omar Mukhtar on the gallows,” it said in a statement.
Libya declared three days of mourning after Saddam’s death and canceled public celebrations around the Eid religious holiday. Flags on government buildings flew at half-mast.
On the eve of Saddam’s hanging, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said the former Iraq leader was a prisoner of war who must be tried by Iraq’s invaders, the United States and Britain.
Two days after the hanging of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — an event the Vatican condemned as “tragic” — the Pope said on Monday that human rights must be put at the heart of the global struggle to end war.
Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI’s top prelate for justice issues, said the execution punished a crime with another crime, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica reported.
Several European leaders, spanning the political spectrum, questioned whether justice was served by Hussein’s execution and said it could bring further bloodshed.
“We’ve already seen in the first hours the consequences, with a predictable increase in tension and violence,” Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said from his home in Bologna.
Spain’s center-left government and right-wing opposition, which rarely agree, condemned the hanging of Hussein as well as the late dictator’s litany of abuses.
“The death penalty is not justice, it is vengeance, and so it was in this case,” Gustavo de Aristegui, a senior official with the opposition Popular Party, told the Spanish news agency EFE. “But nobody will miss Saddam Hussein.”
In Britain, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett reiterated her nation’s opposition to the death penalty but applauded the process of bringing the former Iraqi leader to trial.
“I welcome the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account,” Beckett said.
“The British government does not support the use of the death penalty, in Iraq or anywhere else,” she said. “We advocate an end to the death penalty worldwide, regardless of the individual or the crime. We have made our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their decision as that of a sovereign nation.”
But Menzies Campbell, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, said: “Saddam’s death does not vindicate in any way the ill-conceived and disastrous decision to invade Iraq. His execution does not make an illegal war legal any more than it will put an end to the violence and destruction.
“Britain’s interests will best be served by the withdrawal of our forces sooner rather than later.”
France, which was a strong opponent of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, said Hussein’s judgment and sentence were a matter for the Iraqi people.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said: “France, which advocates like all its European partners the universal abolition of the death penalty, takes note of Saddam Hussein’s execution. That decision belongs to the Iraqi people and to the Iraqi sovereign authorities. France calls on all Iraqis to look forward and to work for reconciliation and national unity. More than ever the aim must be a return to the full sovereignty and stability of Iraq.”
European politicians who are friendly to Washington stressed — carefully — their unease with the Hussein execution.
“We respect the decision, but it is known that the German government is opposed to capital punishment,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
“But on a day like this my thoughts are mostly on the many innocent victims of Saddam Hussein,” she said.
Only in Poland, where a conservative government has remained an enthusiastic ally of the Bush administration, was there unequivocal support for the execution.
“Justice has been meted out to a criminal who murdered thousands of people in Iraq,” President Lech Kaczynski’s spokesman said, according to news agencies.
Russia‘s foreign minister expressed regret over the execution and warned of deterioration in Iraq.
A Russian ultra-nationalist party staged a rally outside the Iraqi Embassy in Moscow to protest the execution, RIA Novosti reported.
India called the hanging unfortunate, with most diplomats saying it would sharpen Iraq’s Shiite-Sunni divide and destabilize the region, the Press Trust of India reported.
It would also likely inflame further anti-U.S. feelings there, the diplomats said.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said thousands of Iraqis, Iranians and Kuwaitis were overjoyed by the execution, IRNA said.
Newspapers in the Arab world and Israel reflect a combination of cynicism, anger and fear over the execution of Saddam Hussein.
Arab commentators are angry about the timing of the execution on one of the holiest days of the Muslim calendar. Some argue Washington rather than Baghdad dictated the timing and ask why Americans have not been brought to justice for all the Iraqis killed since the 2003 invasion.
Commentators in Israel fear that Saddam’s death will only lead to an increase in Iranian influence and Shia dominance in the region, posing a greater threat to the country.
EYAL ZISSER IN Israel’s MA’ARIV:
“Not only was Saddam executed but with him also died the hope that it would be possible to stabilise the situation in Iraq under Sunni domination, a state capable of checking the overflowing Shia wave threatening to pour from Iran via Iraq to the heart of the Arab world. The vacuum created following the collapse of Saddam and the collapse of the state which he headed is also dangerous for Israel, and requires a response the like of which does not exist yet.”
EDITORIAL IN EGYPT’S AL-JUMHURIYAH:
“President Bush has offered Saddam’s head as a new year’s present to the American people in the hope it may compensate him for the lost victory in Iraq and make him forget the death of 3,000 American soldiers killed in the Iraqi swamp for the sake of illusions related to oil and world hegemony. Saddam committed crimes, but executing him in a way that contravenes international and humanitarian laws, and at this time, which reflects disdain for the sentiments of millions of Arabs and Muslims, is a crime whose perpetrators will be pursued by history with rage and shame. ”
U.S. President George W. Bush said Saddam’s execution would not halt Iraqi violence, but marked the end of a difficult year.
Credits: Reuter’s; LA Times; BBC; United Press
Courtesy of AsiaNews.it
– Born in the poor al-Awja village near Tikrit, 150 km north of
Baghdad. His stepfather used to beat him often when he was a child.
October 1956 – Joins uprising against pro-British monarchy and becomes a militant of the Baath (“Rebirth”) Party.
October 1959 – A year after the overthrow of the monarchy, takes part in a failed attempt to kill Prime Minister Abdel-Karim Kassem. Flees abroad and lives in exile in
Cairo for four years.February 1963 – Returns to
Baghdad when the Baath Party seizes power in a coup. Nine months later Baathists are overthrown and he is caught and jailed. Elected deputy secretary-general of the party while in prison.
July 1968 – Saddam helps plot the coup that puts the Baath Party back in power, deposing President Abdul-Rahman Aref. He is now the party’s no.2 after General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr.
March 1975 – As vice-president of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), he signs an agreement with the Shah of Persia to ends support for an Iraqi Kurdish revolt, causing its collapse.
July 16, 1979 – Takes power after President Ahmed Hassan al -Bakr steps aside. He assumes the posts of prime minister, president of the RCC and supreme commander of the armed forces. Accuses hundreds of top politicians of the Baath party of betrayal and has them executed. During his 30 years of power, his name will feature in mosques, airports, neighbourhoods and cities. In schools, songs extolling him will be taught. His statues will be placed at the entrance of every village and his photo put up in every public office and private home.
September 22, 1980 – Self-styled leader of the Arab world, he launches war on the
Iran of the Islamic Revolution. It will last eight years, claiming 200,000 lives and leaving hundreds of thousands injured. March 16, 1988 – Iraqi forces launch chemical attack on Kurdish town of
Halabja, killing about 5,000 people.August 20, 1988 – A ceasefire is officially declared in the Iran-Iraq war. The campaign against Kurds continues. The war has emptied state coffers and leaves a debt of more than 70 billion dollars owed to other Arab states. Saddam starts thinking about how he can increase oil income.
August 2, 1990 – Launches invasion of and annexes
Kuwait, accusing it of keeping oil prices down. The UN Security Council decides to impose sanctions on
Iraq, which remain in force even after Saddam is thrown out of
Kuwait, leading to the collapse of the economy and internal power struggles.
January 17, 1991 – The United States and other countries commence air attacks on
Iraq and occupied
Kuwait. The “Gulf War” ends on 28 February with the eviction of Iraqi forces from
Kuwait. The bombardments devastate the infrastructure of the country and massacre frontline Iraqi troops (it is estimated that 150,000 were killed in a few weeks). While retreating, the soldiers set fire to oil wells causing an ecological disaster. Encouraged by the defeat of the army, Shiites revolt in southern
Iraq. But western powers do not intervene and Saddam suppresses the uprising. Then he attacks the Kurd rebels in the north, forcing millions of people to flee to the freezing mountains. Western forces intervene to protect the fugitives through air controls that prevent the soldiers’ advance.
August 1995 – The husbands of his two younger daughters leave and go into exile. Six months later they accept an amnesty and return to
Iraq. Within days, their wives divorce them and both are killed in a shootout.
October 15, 1995 – Saddam wins a presidential referendum and is elected unopposed with more than 99% of the vote.
2000 – Newly elected US president George W. Bush steps up pressure against Saddam.
Washington calls more and more persistently for “regime change”. After the attack of 11 September 2001,
Iraq will be included among the “States scoundrel”.
October 15, 2002 – New presidential election: official results show Saddam wins 100% of votes.
November 2002 – UN inspectors return to
Iraq to search for banned weapons. The country destroys some missiles and says it has neutralised anthrax reserves. Inspector Hans Blix concludes that
Iraq has collaborated and that there is no evidence of new armament programmes but he fails to convince the
United States and
December 7, 2002 – Saddam apologises for invasion of
Kuwait but blames the country’s government.
Kuwait rejects the apology. February 2003 – In first interview in more than a decade, Saddam denies
Baghdad has any banned weapons or links to al Qaeda.
March 20, 2003 – The forces of the
United States and other countries launch war against
April 9, 2003 – US forces take
Baghdad and put an end to Saddam’s three-decade rule. The dictator disappears. July 22, 2003 – Saddam’s two sons, Uday and Qusay, killed in by US soldiers in shootout in
Mosul.December 14, 2003 – Saddam is captured. A good part of
Iraq celebrates the news but violent protests break out in the area known as the “Sunni triangle”.
June 30, 2004 – Saddam is handed over to the Iraqi authorities after the ad interim government of prime minister Iyad Allawi is appointed.
October 19, 2005 – Trial opens with Saddam charged with crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shiites in Dujail in 1982 after an assassination attempt against him. He pleads “not guilty”. He will persist in questioning the legality of the trial, saying it is led by the “invasion forces”.
August 2006 – Trial starts on charges of war crimes in the “Anfal” campaign that killed tens of thousands of Kurdish villagers in 1988.November 5, 2006 – A court in
Baghdad finds Saddam guilty of crimes against humanity and sentences him to hang for the deaths of 148 Shiites in Dujail. His stepbrother and former head of the secret police, Barzan al-Tikriti, and the former chief justice of the
, Hamed al-Bandar, are also condemned.
A letter written on 5 November by Saddam Hussein has been released by the former Iraqi leader’s lawyers. Here are some key excerpts.
In the past, I was, as you all know, in the battlefield of jihad and struggle. God, exalted by He, wished that I face the same again in the same manner and the same spirit in which we were before the revolution but with a problem that is greater and harsher. Oh beloved, this harsh situation, which we and our great Iraq are facing, is a new lesson and a new trial for the people by which to be judged, each depending on their intention, so that it becomes an identifier before God and the people in the present and after our current situation becomes a glorious history. It is, above all, the foundation upon which the success of the future phases of history can be built. In this situation and in no other, the veritable are the honest and faithful and the opposing are the false. When the insignificant people use the power given to them by the foreigners to oppress their own people, they are but worthless and lowly. In our country only good must result from what we are experiencing. To the great nation, to the people of our country, and humanity: Many of you have known the writer of this letter to be faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound judgement, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the state… and that his heart is big enough to embrace all without discrimination. His heart aches for the poor and he does not rest until he helps in improving their condition and attends to their needs. His heart contains all his people and his nation, and he craves to be honest and faithful without differentiating between his people except on the basis of their efforts, efficiency, and patriotism. ‘Sacrifice’ Here I am speaking today in your name and for your eyes and the eyes of our nation and the eyes of the just, the people of the truth, wherever their banner is hoisted. You have known your brother and leader very well and he never bowed to the despots and, in accordance with the wishes of those who loved him, remained a sword and a banner. This is how you want your brother, son or leader to be… and those who will lead you (in the future) should have the same qualifications. Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if He wants, He will send it to heaven with the martyrs, or, He will postpone that… so let us be patient and depend on Him against the unjust nations. In spite of all the difficulties and the storms which we and Iraq had to face, before and after the revolution, God the Almighty did not want death for Saddam Hussein. But if He wants it this time, it (Saddam’s life) is His creation. He created it and He protected it until now. Thus, by its martyrdom, He will be bringing glory to a faithful soul, for there were souls that were younger than Saddam Hussein that had departed and had taken this path before him. If He wants it martyred, we thank Him and offer Him gratitude, before and after. ‘The enemies’ The enemies of your country, the invaders and the Persians, found that your unity stands as a barrier between them and your enslavement. They planted and grounded their hateful old and new wedge between you. The strangers who are carrying the Iraqi citizenship, whose hearts are empty or filled with the hatred that was planted in them by Iran, responded to it, but how wrong they were to think that they could divide the noble among our people, weaken your determination, and fill the hearts of the sons of the nation with hatred against each other, instead of against their true enemies that will lead them in one direction to fight under the banner of God is great: The great flag of the people and the nation. Remember that God has enabled you to become an example of love, forgiveness and brotherly co-existence… I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and making the right choice … I also call on you not to hate the peoples of the other countries that attacked us and differentiate between the decision-makers and peoples… ‘Forgiveness’ Anyone who repents – whether in Iraq or abroad – you must forgive him… You should know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defence of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein… Some of these people wept profusely when they said goodbye to me… Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any faithful, honest believer… God is Great… God is great… Long live our nation… Long live our great struggling people… Long live Iraq, long live Iraq… Long live Palestine… Long live jihad and the mujahideen. Saddam Hussein President and Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Mujahid Armed Forces [Additional note:] I have written this letter because the lawyers told me that the so-called criminal court – established and named by the invaders – will allow the so-called defendants the chance for a last word. But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence – dictated by the invaders – without presenting the evidence. I wanted the people to know this.
Here’s the newest video of the morgue scenes of Saddam’s body: