Text of speech by Vice President of Iraq Tariq Al-Hashimi, Brussels, October 17, 2013:
Let me first express my sincere thanks for some of the EU Parliament members for raising their concern about the situation in Iraq. Inviting me to speak to you proves your objectivity to seek evidence and listen to all parties involved in the crisis, and not only listen to the official view of the government which firmly holds power and media in the country. I am here today to tell you about what is really going on in Iraq now. I want to share with you some of the horrible facts that you cannot find in your daily newspapers or other media channels.
Iraq, which was supposed to be freed from dictatorship ten years ago and to be rebuilt as a democratic nation with your support as the free world of the international community, is now sinking into another form of dictatorship and authoritarianism; but this time also with the support of some members of the international community which were deceived and misled by the current ruling regime.
It is no secret anymore that Iraq is now held hostage by the current Prime Minister Noori Almaliki and his ruling party. Our experience with this government has dashed all hopes that Iraq will become a fully functioning democracy based on the rule of law.
As you all well know that terrorism exists in many parts of the world, why is it increasing in Iraq despite of the huge allocated budget for the security? Terrorism expands where there are feeding elements like injustice, poverty, corruption, and discrimination. I will show you how Almaliki helps the spread of terrorism in the country.
I am not exaggerating if I say that Iraq has never witnessed in its modern history, a government as worse as the current one. After eight years under this government, Iraq has been deteriorating in public services, social justice, transitional democracy, development, judiciary, national peace, security, and last but not least, foreign policy. Almaliki has not only become a threat to the future of Iraq, but also a danger to the unity of the country and stability in the region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Because of the time tight limit, I will be very brief and I will be pleased to provide you with detailed information afterwards or answer any question in your minds. I can only mention now some issues about human rights, security, governance, and foreign policy.
I am sure that you have been following up and expressed your concerns for the news and reports about the human rights situation in Iraq which were issued by international organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The actual situation is much worse as reports are short in covering unreachable secret prisons spreading in the Green Zone and military camps.
Just few days ago, the government executed 42 people on terrorism charges. The astonishing thing here is that some of the inmates have already been found “not guilty” by judicial authorities and were waiting to be released. Their families were expecting their arrival at home any moment, but unfortunately they only received their dead bodies.
Does that help end terrorism in the country?
This government executed so far 132 people this year. Iraqi Ministry of Justice confirmed that there are thousands queuing up for execution.
Can you explain to me why all these death penalties are against one sect or ethnic group? We did not hear of any execution of a member of Shiite death squads, simply because they are from the same sect of the Prime Minister.
We have to admit of the fact that: there is ethnic and religious cleansing in the country…
I am not the only one who claims this. UN human rights Chief Navi Pillay has recently harshly criticized Iraq’s criminal justice system and accused Iraqi authorities of “numerous convictions based on confessions obtained under torture and ill-treatment, a weak judiciary and trial proceedings that fall short of international standards.”
More than a hundred of my office staff are still under detention and being tortured, some of them already died of torture. Several others have been sentenced to death. Their families are being blackmailed by security officers to release their sons in return of paying tens of thousands of dollars. Although all the international organizations condemned these mock trials and called for halting these biased proceedings, the government authorities seem indifferent and are so determined to execute them soon.
We need the support of the international community to stop this disaster.
Ladies and gentlemen,
My case is politically motivated and the charges are absolutely fabricated. Nevertheless, I now express my readiness to return to Baghdad immediately to face all the charges against me and my staff in case the EU guarantees a fair trial. I am strongly confident of my and their innocence; and these accusations are totally made-up.
For the record, in 2006 I lost my two brothers and sister in separate terrorist assassination attacks by death squads in one year. The government security authorities did not arrest any of the criminals and I never asked for revenge.
How can I be now accused of terrorism?
I was the first high-ranking official to break the locks of the secret prisons in 2008 and uncovered the various types of tortures against innocent people.
Yes, what I am facing now is only a consequence and a fulfillment of the government’s threats to me few years ago to stop me from doing my duty in advocating human rights and supporting justice in the country.
On the other hand, the freedom of speech has become a critical issue in Iraq. Hundreds of journalists have not been only the targets of terrorist groups but also to the government’s terrorism. AlBaghdadia TV Channel has recently been forced to shut down and the government confiscated all its equipment just because the channel was successful in exposing all government corruption files to the public.
As for the security, it has been increasingly deteriorating during the last two years in the country especially in the capital, Baghdad. UN reports said more 5000 people died and tens of thousands injured in violent attacks this year.
And when we want to investigate the responsibility for such horrible security collapse, the PM says that he cannot be held accountable although he is the Commander in Chief, and the acting Minister of Defense, and the acting Minister of Interior, and the acting Minister of National Security and the Head of Intelligence.
Security situation is declining although security forces are constantly growing and reached more than 1.5 million personnel now whereas the Iraqi population, excluding Kurdistan is only 25 million people. Moreover, the annual security budget takes more than 25 percent of the annual budget which is usually higher than 100 billion USD.
Five days ago in a TV interview, the PM announced that that his 20-year old son took armed forces and raided the residence of a businessman in the green zone because he embezzled 100 million USD, and has hundreds of silencer guns in his house and illegally occupies tens of properties in the capital. Till now, we do not know what official title his son has in the country to have such kind of power.
I should admit that the government security forces were successful in one mission: in curbing the peaceful protests which called for their rights. The well-known and latest example is in Haweeja city on April 23, 2013, killing and injuring hundreds the demonstrators.
Governance and Corruption:
As for governance and corruption, I need long hours to cover part of this file.
Local and foreign investors and businessmen usually say that the main obstacle to come to Iraq is the poor government effectiveness, marred by corruption and political interference. They consider poor governance more dangerous than security. Since April 2003, Iraq spent more than 630 billion USD in addition to more than 30 billion dollars from donor countries, while 30 percent of the population still live under poverty line, millions still spend their nights in full darkness because of power cut, thousands of pupils study on the floor in mud-made schools, and millions have no access to drinkable water in most provinces.
Iraq now ranks no (175) of the most corrupt countries in the 182 countries surveyed, as indicated by Transparency International. For the fifth year, Baghdad is considered the most dangerous place in the world to live in. UNDP recent report says that an average Iraqi must pay at least four bribes per year.
You must have heard of the corruption scandals by senior aides to the Prime Minister. The former Minister of Trade Mr. Falah Alsudani, who is a senior member of the PM’s political party, was officially accused and convicted of corruption. He is now free and living peacefully in London. The Ministry of Interior refused to ask the Interpol to arrest him.
The corruption of this government caused also the death of thousands of Iraqis as in the big scandal of purchasing technically-proved inefficient bomb-detection devices from a company in the UK. Iraq bought a device with 40 thousand USD while the actual cost is 20 USD.
Ironically speaking, the British authorities arrested the businessman and sentenced him to 10 years in jail and proved that these devices are faked, while Iraqi security authorities still insist that they are well functioning and still used at checkpoints all over the country, and consequently car bombs can pass freely to kill more Iraqis.
As for the country’s sovereignty, needless to say, Iraq has completely fallen under the grip of Iran and follows its instructions and takes them as orders. A clear-cut example of this in the way the Iraqi government deals with the unarmed Iranian exile dissidents- Mujahidi Khalq, who are supposed to be protected by the international law. They were under several attacks by the Iraqi security forces, killing hundred and injuring likewise figures. This happened in complete violation of the international law. Iraq has no interest but the main objective is to satisfy Iran, no more.
Another example of Iran’s influence and control of Iraq is the latter’s decision to open its skies to supply weapons, ammunition and hostile equipments to the Syrian dictator regime to further oppress its people. Iraq has become an air corridor and the main route for Iranian military aid to Asad’s government.
It is necessary to mention here that the Iraqi government obeys Iran not because of Iran’s political or military power. It is simply because of the religious obligation. Officials of this government, headed by the PM, believe that it is their religious duty to follow the instructions of the Iranian Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamani.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Violence and terrorism in my country are by in large Iraqi-made and not imported from outside the country. They are the results of injustice, discrimination and arrogant and failing policies of the current prime minister. He is lying when he says that the uprising against the dictatorship in Syria fuels violence in Iraq. His view is purely sectarian and politically motivated. All army leaders say that they have full control of the Iraq-Syrian border.
Today I am here to invoke you in the names of the principles and values you believe in your countries, the principles of human rights, women rights, democracy, good governance, transparency, rights of minorities, I categorically ask you to protect these principles and values in my country.
History will definitely write about your noble and brave efforts to help the people of Iraq. We do not want our children to suffer what we have been through.
Iraq now is literally at a critical crossroads and the Almaliki’s policies are dragging my country into a sectarian civil war. I am appealing to you to interfere and help us before it is too late.
The political process is at deadlock and the democratic institutions are paralyzed. All national efforts to bring back confidence among the politicians have failed.
Most politicians in Iraq now believe that an immediate action is needed by deep engagement from the international community. The best solution to end this crisis is by doing the following:
1- The resignation of Almaliki’s government,
2- Forming a care-taker technocratic government,
3- Holding a national conference but under the umbrella of the international community, where all the Iraqi key political players meet to review the last 10-year political process, identify challenges and loopholes, and then agree on a joint roadmap for reform and change in the country.
I want also to ask those countries, especially the United States, which still blindly support the current Prime Minister who keeps deceiving the international community by giving false reports about the situation in the country and never fulfills his promises, I ask them to reconsider their stands and help build a real and well-established democracy in Iraq.
I know that the EU is deeply engaged in its economic problems, but just to remind you that the entire world is indebted to Iraq because it was one day the cradle of civilizations. ….. Thank you very much