Saturday, December 17, 2005

Justice Unserved - By Dima Tareq Tahboub, widow of Tareq Ayyoub, Aljazeera correspondent killed in Baghdad on the 8th of April 2003

Somewhere in a dusty drawer in the deserted bedroom that used to belong to me and my husband Tareq before his killing, lies the statement issued by the American army apologizing for what it described then as the “accident” of bombing Aljazeera office in Baghdad, which resulted in the killing of my 33 year old husband, Tareq Ayyoub,who was reporting for Aljazeera from Baghdad during the war.

Three years next April will have passed since the killing of my husband. We spent the same number of years together, three years of happy and blessed marital and paternal life that were cut short by the dark forces of American democracy.

Three years of non-stop efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, each endeavour took us from one big disappointment to another, from one dead end to another cul-de-sac.

Fascinated by Cervantes DonQuixote, I never dreamt of taking up his role in tilting the windmills of American justice which until now have proved a lost battle. Starting in Belgium, two months after the killing, I tried to sue the generals of the American Army and the Secretary of Defence, benefiting from a law on war crimes and criminals. My family and I had such hopes that time has come for our Tareq’s soul to rest in peace and for our hearts to come to terms with grief and loss. To our amazement, a month later, the law was amended to exclude leaders of state and high ranking army officers from accountability for war crimes.

Fuelled by a one and a half year old little baby girl, my daughter Fatima, I had to look for other options to pursue the case. The majority of lawyers I consulted in my country, Jordan, believed that a law suit before Jordanian courts is likely to be turned down, as Jordanian courts aren’t authorized to file cases against the United States and even if it did, the American Embassy in Jordan, the diplomatic representative of the US in Jordan, may reject to comply with any court orders or attend trials.

Foggy as the horizon was, I decided to pin the remnants of my will and hope on the greatest and oldest democracy in the world, England. Not being a British subject deprived me from attaining my human right in demanding justice for my killed husband, for me and our daughter before British law.

The journey of pain didn’t stop there, I had the opportunity of meeting with Mr. Clive Stafford Smith, who earnestly took on the case and promised to look into it. After months of studying, he levelled with me that our chances of obtaining justice or any form of indictment against the US Army are close to nothing, not because we lacked grounds, right or credibility, but because it was impossible to bring the army to justice. Still, he made a last attempt to resurrect the case and handed the documents to the Centre of Constitutional Rights in New York.

Months passed before the same old story was told to me again and again which simply summarized that I should forget the matter and suffice with the word of apology I received.

Three years and with each day passing by, our prospects in gaining justice grow less and less as such rights fall with the procession of time.

Three days passed, never a day without us declaring in everyway and place that the US bombing of Aljazeera office in Baghdad was intentional and premeditated, since Aljazeera has supplied the Pentagon with the coordinates of its office in Baghdad months before the war, but the world turned a deaf ear towards us since the voice of the victims is always low and unheard.

Three years passed and my daughter Fatima grew older with endless questions about that man in the picture frame called father.

Three years passed and not one organization took the initiative to thoroughly investigate the crime which leaves me puzzled as to the double standards of the UN which recruited a number of its highest personnel to investigate the killing of Samir Qasir, the Lebanese journalist killed in a car bomb in Beirut and done nothing on the behalf of my husband Tareq and his fellow journalists killed by the American Army on April 8th 2003.

The report published by the British Daily Mirror is an eye opener on the secret world of American political deception and the American agenda to silence all eye witnesses and opposing voices to its policies.

There is nothing new in the report except that it revealed the ugly face of the so called American freedom and democracy preached to the world by the American president.

To me, it all boils down into the killing of a promising young man, faithful husband, and loving father, the widowing of a 27 year old wife left after three years of marriage to face the world alone with growing pains, the orphaning of a one and a half year old girl who will grow with no father to read her a bed time story, to celebrate her happy occasions, to attend her graduation and party in her wedding.

This the real story behind the story, this is the true report behind the report, this our tragedy unabridged.

As years pass, I grow more convinced in what Martin Luther King once wrote: “ Law doesn’t change the heart nor restrain the heartless.”

Dima Tareq Tahboub
Widow of Tareq Ayyoub, Aljazeera correspondent killed in Baghdad on the 8th of April 2003

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