Revenge Killings in Najaf
Two former Ba’athists have been killed in the Shi’ite city of Najaf, in what appear to be revenge killings for their role in Saddam Hussein’s old regime.
On Friday, gunmen killed Ali Qassem al-Tamimi, the district mayor of Najaf’s al-Furat neighborhood, as he was shopping with a friend in downtown Najaf, according to Lt. Raed Jawad Abdel Saada.
Early Saturday, two assailants riding by on a bicycle opened fire on former provincial party official Damiyah Abbas and her son as they were leaving their home.
The 5-year-old boy was killed instantly, and Abbas was hospitalized in critical condition, according to another police officer, Lt. Raed Abbas.
Damiyah Abbas was believed to have participated in putting down a 1991 Shi’ite uprising against the government of Saddam.
Al-Tamimi’s position would have involved him acting as an informer, reporting to Baath Party officials in Baghdad on the political activities and jobs of residents.
Now, some readers consider these killings no bad thing. But I say this: Revenge killings, while part of the culture, are a recipe for disaster.
To those who look on with satisfaction at the vigilante justice meted out to these people, I say this: You are encouraging the destruction of Iraq as a country. You are encouraging its collapse into warring factions that will make the current chaos appear like a pre-game warmup. There can be no justice at the hands of a mob, for such “justice” breeds fear, suspicion and hatred. And God knows there’s enough of that in Iraq right now. Many Sunnis already feel scared and insecure about their role in the new Iraq. These murders will drive already frightened Sunnis into the arms of the insurgents and will lead to civil war.
No, it’s better to let the courts — whatever form they may take — deal out justice. A mob is the basest form of human organization, and anyone who’s been one knows how terrifying they can be. Even a happy mob is a frightening thing. A society’s judiciary, however, can represent its best angels. A well-functioning bench represents the ultimate triumph of the forces of civilizations over the rule of nature, red in tooth and claw. It represents the faith citizens place in the power of the state to be fair and impartial, allowing them to forgo the freelance pursuit of justice.
If you who cheer the deaths of Ba’athists at the hands of a mob truly want a democratic Iraq, one that respects the human rights of _all_ the peoples of that country, you’ll work for and encourage an Iraqi justice system that is fair, transparent and independent, for such an institution would mean in Iraq the United States will have done its job well. It would mean America will have left behind faith in the rule of law, something Iraqis have never had. An independent and fair judiciary would lead Iraq’s citizens to genuinely respect the Iraqi state, instead of living in a republic of fear.
These acts of violence should be condemned, regardless of whether they’re perpetrated by Shi’ite, Sunni or Kurd. To do otherwise is to dishonor the birthplace of civilization.