Saturday, February 12, 2005
International Law Professor: No Legitimacy comes from voting under occupation
by Aldo Bernardini (Professor of International Law at the University of Teramo, Italy)
According to Salim Lone, former direcotr of the press office of the deceased UN representative in Iraq, Vieira de Mello, "the elementary principles of the holding of the elections were so barely respected that if this vote took place in Syria or Zimbabw, the US and Great Britain would be the first to denounce them" (The Guardian, 31 January, 2005).
The enthusiastic media campaign had nevertheless been launched, and everyone, critics included, after the precipitous fall of the declared affluence to the polls in Iraq from 72% to 60% (but the Mossad speaks of 45%), we are awaiting the revealed truth, unchecked and probably forever uncontrollable: perhaps we will never know how many Iraqis really deposited their ballots (not to mention the true results versus nullified or empty ballots). According to Il Messaggero of 2 February, "there are not even real data on the percentage of voters". But even if it was approximately true, the acclaimed number wouldn't change things in any major way. The doubt still remains that the system of lies on the Iraqi tragedy (weapons of mass destruction and all of the other inventions) could be even more symptomatic today. The political use of the vote could have a tragic effect: the affirmed percentages of voters were foretold in a certain sense, finding the essential fundamental base in the ethnic-confessional division of the three principal components of the Iraqi population (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds). The effect could be the division of the country and a "civil war" (in reality, among the resistants for independence and the foreign occupiers and collaborationists).
Beyond simple data, the scarce credibility and the lack of legitimacy of the elections descents from several factors. Elections in a country in war or at any rate occupied by military troops are in themselves improbable under any point of view: they are destined by definition to obtain the result that is desired by the occupying force, when faced with "an executive power that has been nominated by the occuping super-power" and therefore a puppet government (Valli in la Repubblica of 31 January). If one then comprehends that Iraq has not been destroyed and that the Resistance incarnates the continuity of the State, it also constitutes a very serious international unlawfulness according to the Geneva and Hague Conventions. Materially, there has been no true liberty for the voters: if one thinks of the example of "at least 700 polling stations, in the high risk cities, had been transferred at the last moment, completely taking the people by surprise, outside the inhabited centers. And the voters were accompanied by busses and trucks" (la Repubblica, 31 January). Or, how in the same date and paper, as witnessed by Ansaldo for a polling station in northern Iraq: "The head of the family makes a complete survey of the family members, the ballots in view. Then he himself votes for all of them". Considering then that rather than electoral certificates the ration cards distributed by Saddam were used, the idea of blackmail is credible: "If you don't vote, you won't get your food ration" (Liberazione, 2 February). Above all, there had been no real dialectic between lists and candidates (who were almost always secret) and the electoral base, which was requested by this type of election: whoever voted had done so only on the basis of preconstituted belonging to a certain group, and in this case, it is better to say that what was done was a sort of survey. For as much as we know, then, of the polling places distributed throught the territory, there was no true check of this and no authentic verification (not to mention international observers who were substantially absent) was possible: not in the polling places actually opened nor of the length of time they were opened for, nor of true affluence, nor if there by chance were cases of multiple voting on behalf of single individuals (it is certainly not the finger stained with indelible ink that will impede collusion and complicity), nor is it possible to verify the results of the vote, which we are still awaiting.
Here is the evaluation of Valli, on 1 February: "A vote desired by the occupying power, consented by 160 thousand foreign soldiers stationed throughout national soil"; and that of the New York Times of 31 January: "yesterday's elections haven't represented a brilliant example of democray at all. We are faced with a tragically misinformed electorate. The majority of the voters have in fact voted "blindly". Almost none of the 7,700 candidates made an electoral campaign or had made their candidacy known. This is not democracy. This is a formula to guarantee that the war continues".
Let us not forget that the seats in Parliament and the Central Electoral Commission itself are all entrusted to the occupiers and are in controlled by the collaborationists. The Commission nominated by the former US governor Bremer, among other things, had only admitted the parties and lists who support the "government".
The fundamental negative juridical element is that the entire electoral process was run within the prefigured channels of the former governor with his ordinances 92, 96 and 97 which are all in vigour and are non-modifiable by the puppet Iraqi power. But what is worse is the binding of a substantially colonial occupation, with especially the economy bieng subject to the occupying powers and with the norms of the Constitution which links the Iraqi armed forces (puppet) to the collaboration with the occupiers, remains in vigour and is substantially unmodificable: all of this is guaranteed by 160,000 soldiers of the occupation. To whom, immediately following the "elections", the "Iraqi Authorities" have as expected asked for the permanence of the US military.
Beyond considerations of the possilbe effect of a "civil war", no legitimisation is given to elections in conditions of occupation. The Resistance to occupying forces is legally legitimate, and it is centred on the Baath party which had prepared itself before the aggression and it seeks to claim full political and economic independence of Iraq, which is undoubtedbly compromised by the collaborationists.
Published in "Il Centro" of Pescara, 6 February 2005
translated by Mary Rizzo