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Cherie Blair in Bangladesh

By       Message Iftekhar Sayeed     Permalink
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Enter Mrs. Corleone

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In the second installment of Godfather, Mrs. Corleone leaves her husband: he was, she observed with understatement, "evil". If Cherie Blair ever had such misgivings about her spouse, she has kept them to herself. The fact that she remains married to a man who, if not by the courts, but in the court of public opinion, has been named a war criminal, testifies instead to the shared beliefs of a happily married couple.

None can fault her for such attachment: love is, after all, a many-splendoured thing. But when such a woman visits a third world country and lectures the people there on "the rule of law" and "human rights", she has gone beyond decency and humanity, and made a mockery of the deaths of over a million people in Iraq.

"I am aware that Bangladesh borders with Burma, a country which is not known as a supporter of the rule of law. And in Burma, there is a woman leader in a political party, who is being detained," said Blair, who arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Tuesday, 22nd April. "I would not like to think that Bangladesh was going along that route. I am sure that the government and the people of Bangladesh want to be applauding human rights and the rule of law" (The Daily Star, 25th April 2008, page 1).

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No one initially knew the reason for her visit, but it turned out that she was here to help one of the two arrested political leaders, Sheikh Hasina. According to the Daily Star (24th April, page 1): "Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, yesterday said she hoped for the application of the human rights principles enshrined in Bangladesh's constitution. A barrister, Cherie is currently in Dhaka as a consultant to detained former prime minister Sheikh Hasina's legal team. She visited the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday to observe the appeal proceedings of a graft case against Hasina.

The same day, Blair attended two press conferences, where she said that she wants (sic) to observe the judicial proceedings and the human rights situation in Bangladesh, which were her special areas of interest as a lawyer."

That is to say, she hoped for Bangladesh what she never hoped for her own country: respect for law, and the lives and safety of other people, especially women and children. How does she reconcile Britain going into an illegal war, invading a country that posed no threat to her own, with her moral grandstanding in a donor-controlled country like Bangladesh? Only a severely ethically challenged person could be capable of such moral jiggery-pokery.

Tony Blair privately conceded two weeks before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein did not have any usable weapons of mass destruction, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, reveals today." We know all about the Cook revelations ("Blair 'knew Iraq had no WMD'" .

According to David Stringer of the Associated press: "An early version of a British dossier of prewar intelligence on Iraq did not include a key claim about weapons of mass destruction that became vital to Tony Blair's case for war, the newly published document showed Monday." However, "Blair presented a final draft of the JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] dossier, called "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction," to parliament on Sep. 24, 2002 - a document that included the 45-minute claim.("

According to Robin Cook: "I have no reason to doubt that Tony Blair believed in September that Saddam really had weapons of mass destruction ready for firing within 45 minutes. What was clear from this conversation was that he did not believe it himself in March."

The rest is tragedy and guilt.

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Cheri Blair's comparison of Bangladesh and Burma, and by extension of Sheikh Hasina and Aung San Su Kyi, verges on the farcical. She must indeed be a terrible lawyer if she cannot master such an elementary brief.

Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia were prime ministers of Bangladesh, the former once, the latter twice. The democratic process was ended on 11th January, 2007, not by the army alone but – and this takes the biscuit – by the western donor countries and their agencies backing the army (cold war habits never die). The country narrowly averted a civil war. The democratic experiment had failed miserably. The only reason the western powers ended the murderous sixteen-year experiment was that they didn't want a fourth Muslim country – after Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan – to descend into chaos. There are no parallels with Burma whatsoever.

Since "1/11", as the day of reprieve is known in Bangladesh, the Americans and the British have consistently supported the military-backed caretaker government. Bangladesh is, after all, a colony of the western powers.

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Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English and economics. He was born and lives in Dhaka, "ŽBangladesh. He has contributed to AXIS OF LOGIC, ENTER TEXT, POSTCOLONIAL "ŽTEXT, LEFT CURVE, MOBIUS, ERBACCE, THE JOURNAL, and other publications. "ŽHe is also a (more...)

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