Saddam should be tried by Iraqis, says York prof

York History Professor Thabit Abdullah appeared on Hamilton’s CH Television and Toronto’s CityPulse24-TV Dec. 15 to comment on the capture of Saddam Hussein and the future of Iraq. Abdullah, an Iraqi who teaches Middle Eastern history at York, lived under Baath Party oppression along with members of his family and completed his recently published book, A Short History of Iraq, in Syria as US troops invaded his homeland in March. Abdullah’s remarks were carried throughout the day on both stations, and on Toronto’s CITY-TV.

Abdullah told CityPulse24’s Ann Rohmer that the Iraqi people needed to see the former dictator tried in their country to aid in the healing process after 35 years of terror. He said the proceedings should be fully televised so Iraqis could hear Saddam answer for his regime’s brutal reign. At the same time, however, he noted that the Iraqi people share some of the responsibility for Saddam’s reign, particularly the large segment which cooperated with the Baath Party.

On how Saddam should be tried for his crimes, Abdullah said it should be an Iraqi court but acknowledged the need for support from the international community. When Rohmer asked for his candid opinion on whether Saddam should be executed, Abdullah admitted he was biased in the matter and, after a moment’s thought, said the former Iraqi president should be punished “according to Iraqi law”. He then noted that, under current statutes, Saddam’s crimes are punishable by death.

Sue the U.S.?

Charles Gastle, partner in the Toronto law firm of Shibley Righton LLP and former part-time instructor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and Todd Weiler, professor at the University of Windsor Law School, co-authored an article on Iraq’s reconstruction in The Globe and Mail Dec.16. They contend that Canadian companies may sue if they are excluded from bidding on Iraq contracts. Gastle and Righton, both trade-law specialists, maintained that the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of the U.S. refusal may provide the basis for a lawsuit against the United States. They noted that Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement permits claims to be brought against the US by Canadian companies in matters concerning government procurement where such companies have been treated in a manner inconsistent with minimum standards of international law.

An emotional screening

Cheran Rudhramoorthy, a York University sociology professor who experienced brutality during the civil war in his native Sri Lanka, was on hand for the screening at Toronto City Hall of a new CBC miniseries, “Human Cargo”, that unmasks Canada’s refugee claimant process, reported the Toronto Star Dec. 16.  “I witnessed civil war and human rights violations. It just evoked all my memories,” he said during a break. Also among the 200 guests at the screening of the fictionalized series was Professor Sharryn Aiken of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies and the Faculty of Law, Queen’s University. “It is very compelling and moving,” she told the Star. “It puts a human face on the refugee and migrant experience. These are just some of the countless experiences anyone who works with refugees sees on the front line every day.”