| by S. V. Kirubaharan
( August 12, 2014, Paris, Sri Lanka Guardian) The 5th President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator of Iraq from 1979 until 2003. He ruled Iraq with brutality, using fear and terror to stay in power. Saddam used chemical weapons against Kurds in Iraq, including gassing the Kurdish town of Halabja killing 5,000 in March 1988. Iraqi citizens were not allowed to assemble legally unless it was to express support for the government. Police checkpoints in Iraq prevented ordinary citizens from travelling across the country without government permission.
Rajapaksa was also 5th elected Executive President of Sri Lanka, used chemical weapons in the war, especially during the last stage of the war, killing thousands. Freedom of expression is denied by harassment and many media workers have been killed. Every meeting, assembly and protest against the government is always under secret surveillance and subjected to severe disruptions.
In 1988, Saddam Hussein began a campaign of extermination know as the “Anfal campaign” against the Kurdish people living in Northern Iraq. The attacks resulted in the death of at least 50,000 but a few international organizations estimated the death/disappeared to be as many as 182,000 people, many of them women and children. Most of the men were separated from their families and executed in deserts in the west and south-west of Iraq. He suppressed several movements, particularly Shi’a Muslim and Kurdish movements.
This recalls what Rajapaksa did at the end of the war. 70,000 to 140,000 Tamils were killed. Tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly people were detained in internment camps. The disappearances, summary executions and rapes were in the name of “freeing civilians from the clutches of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE”. But neither the man nor the government which “freed the civilians” could win in the elections held in September 2013 in the Northern Provincial Council.
Saddam Hussein demolished a huge number of villages, hospitals, schools, temples, churches, farms and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands people.
Rajapaksa too, demolished a huge number of villages, hospitals, schools, temples, churches and farms in forced displacements of hundreds of thousands of people in the North and East.
Mass graves under school buildings
Over 250 sites of mass graves were reported during Saddam’s regime. It was estimated that there could be 300,000 victims in these mass graves, mostly containing the remains of Shia Muslims and ethnic Kurds killed for opposing Saddam’s regime between 1983 and 1991.
One of the reasons for the huge presence of the military in the North and also in the East of Sri Lanka is to prevent the discovery of the mass graves. Many of these in the North have been hidden under new school buildings which were said to have been built as a gesture by the Ministry of Defence. The truth is that there are hundreds of civilian bodies under these buildings – mass graves!
Like Saddam Hussein, Mahinda Rajapaksa is also a fanatical leader, practising Buddhism and indirectly supporting the suppression of non-Buddhists. He banned a few organisations, including some in foreign countries.
As a sign of his consolidation of power, Saddam's personality cult pervaded Iraqi society; he had thousand of portraits, posters, statues and murals erected in his honour all over Iraq. His face could be seen on the sides of office buildings, schools, airports, and shops, as well as on Iraqi currency. He appeared in the costumes of the Bedouin, the traditional clothes of the Iraqi peasant and even Kurdish clothing, but also appeared in Western suits
As if a carbon copy of Saddam Hussein, Rajapaksa follows exactly the same practice. There is no place left in Sri Lanka where huge cut-outs and posters of him do not dominate the streets. His image appears everywhere wearing a white garment and red scarf. When he went to Geneva in 1991 he was in a Western suit.
Under Saddam Hussein's Presidency, his family members and Sunni Muslims filled the important positions of power. Nepotism prevailed in Iraq:
The sons of Saddam Hussein - Qusay Hussein was head of the elite Republican Guard; Uday Hussein had a private torture chamber and was responsible for the rapes and killings of many women. He was leader of the paramilitary group known as Fedayeen Saddam and of the Iraqi media. The brother of Saddam Hussein, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti , was leader of the Iraqi secret service, Mukhabarat.
His half brother - Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti was the leader of the Mukhabarat during Gulf War and Director of Iraq's general security from 1991 to 1996. His other half brother Watban Ibrahim al-Tikriti was senior Minister of Interior and Presidential adviser. His first cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali”, masterminded the lethal gassing of rebel Kurds in 1988.
Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid was the son-in-law and second cousin of Saddam Hussein. He married one of Saddam Hussein's daughters and held several ministerial posts - the Military Industrialisation Commission and Oil Ministry. His brother Saddam Kamel was married to another daughter of Saddam Hussein and was head of the Republican Guard.
In 1995, both defected from Iraq with their wives to Jordan. After they had been convinced to return to Iraq with their wives, they both were killed in a gun battle in Iraq.
Rajapaksa defeated Saddam
As far as nepotism is concerned, Rajapaksa has defeated Saddam Hussein and could have been entered into the Guinness book of World Records. Even in monarchic systems, or wherever nepotism prevails in any part of the world, nowhere is it as extreme, as the way the Rajapaksa family practices it in Sri Lanka.
In brief, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s eldest brother Chamal Rajapaksa is the Speaker of the Parliament; one of his brothers Gothabhaya Rajapaksa is the Defence Secretary and in-charge of urban development; another is the Minister of Economic Development; his eldest son Namal Rajapaksa is a Member of Parliament and “Jack of all ministries and master of corruption”.
Other family members holding important government positions are: his nephew, Shashindra, who is the Chief Minister of the UVA Province; Shameendra Rajapaksa (second son of the Speaker), Director of Sri Lankan Airlines; his cousin Udayanga Weeratunga, Ambassador to Russia; another cousin Wickramasuriya, is Chairman of Airport & Aviation Services and Rajapaksa's brother-in-law Nishantha Wickramasinghe is the Chairman of Sri Lankan Air Lines. The list goes on. To shorten my writing, I give you the below link for your further information.
Nepotism practiced by Rajapaksa - http://sri-lanka.theglobalmail.org/family
Saddam Hussein nationalized oil and other industries. The state-owned banks were put under his control.
According to Colombo sources, if Rajapaksa or any of his brothers were the Chief-guest at the opening ceremony of any building, it means that they have already booked certain floors of that building, for them to buy for less than the market price. From top to bottom they have shares in all profit-making enterprises in Sri Lanka and in foreign countries.
Four days after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the UN Security Council imposed an Economic sanction - a total financial and trade embargo. This lasted from 6 August 1990 until the fall of Saddam Hussein in May 2003.
The USA supported Iraq during their war against Iran. The USA gave a billion dollars' worth of economic aid, weaponry, military intelligence and training.
During the war Rajapaksa had the support of not only the USA and India but also of the whole world. This was achieved by giving false promises and misinformation.
Fate of Rajapaksas
Saddam's Iraq refused to comply with its obligations under U.N. Security Council – SC resolutions. For eight years, from 1990 to 1998 Saddam Hussein deceived, obstructed and threatened international inspectors who had been sent to dismantle, and verify the destruction of its banned programs.
Here, we are unable to compare Mahinda Rajapaksa to Saddam Hussein. Iraq is an oil-rich powerful country in the Middle East and Saddam's violations led to SC resolutions. Whereas Rajapaksa being a small fish in a small pond, his violations did not resulted in a SC resolution. On the contrary, he himself challenged the UN, USA and the European Community, refusing every proposal of inter-state institutions.
Eventually Saddam Hussein was arrested by the American forces, charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity - sentenced to death for those charges.
The fate of Mahinda Rajapaksa, his brothers and his family will be dealt with by several international investigations; on genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and corruption.