31 March 2004

Ethnic cleansing by the book

The Iraqi Interim Constitution's Article 58 provides:

(A) The Iraqi Transitional Government, and especially the Iraqi Property Claims Commission and other relevant bodies, shall act expeditiously to take measures to remedy the injustice caused by the previous regime's practices in altering the demographic character of certain regions, including Kirkuk, by deporting and expelling individuals from their places of residence, forcing migration in and out of the region, settling individuals alien to the region, depriving the inhabitants of work, and correcting nationality. To remedy this injustice, the Iraqi Transitional Government shall take the following steps:

(1) With regard to residents who were deported, expelled, or who emigrated; it shall, in accordance with the statute of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission and other measures within the law, within a reasonable period of time, restore the residents to their homes and property, or, where this is unfeasible, shall provide just compensation.

(2) With regard to the individuals newly introduced to specific regions and territories, it shall act in accordance with Article 10 of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission statute to ensure that such individuals may be resettled, may receive compensation from the state, may receive new land from the state near their residence in the governorate from which they came, or may receive compensation for the cost of moving to such areas.

(3) With regard to persons deprived of employment or other means of support in order to force migration out of their regions and territories, it shall promote new employment opportunities in the regions and territories.

(4) With regard to nationality correction, it shall repeal all relevant decrees and shall permit affected persons the right to determine their own national identity and ethnic affiliation free from coercion and duress.

(B) The previous regime also manipulated and changed administrative boundaries for political ends. The Presidency Council of the Iraqi Transitional Government shall make recommendations to the National Assembly on remedying these unjust changes in the permanent constitution. In the event the Presidency Council is unable to agree unanimously on a set of recommendations, it shall unanimously appoint a neutral arbitrator to examine the issue and make recommendations. In the event the Presidency Council is unable to agree on an arbitrator, it shall request the Secretary General of the United Nations to appoint a distinguished international person to be the arbitrator.

(C) The permanent resolution of disputed territories, including Kirkuk, shall be deferred until after these measures are completed, a fair and transparent census has been conducted and the permanent constitution has been ratified This resolution shall be consistent with the principle of justice, taking into account the will of the people of those territories.

This is, essentially, a charter for ethnic cleansing. The exchange of populations is to be effected by the Iraqi Property Claims Commission, one of those CPA organs continued by the TAL's Article 49. It is presently controlled by Ahmed Chalabi.

Trying to undo Saddam's Arabisation policies in Kirkuk governorate by population exchanges and returning Iraqis to other governorates after a generation of living in Kirkuk is, quite simply, insane. It is what happens when you invade a country with insufficient troops to effect proper levels of security. You end up negotiating with anyone who will talk to you just so that you can announce successes.

The interim constitution may be a PR success, but in terms of what it provides and what it omits, it is a bungled mishmash of bad laws and worse intentions.

A number of people have emailed asking for all these constitutional posts to be assembled in one document. I'm thinking about it.

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