Just a thought…(Updated)
When was the last time a head of state in the Middle East faced trial and execution?
The closest events that come to mind were Mossadagh in Iran and Menderes in Turkey. But they weren’t heads of state and were not put on trial for human rights offenses. I can’t think of any similar example in the Arab world. Please let me know if you do.
The last time an Arab ruler met a violent end was Sadat in 1981, right?
Other unsavory characters of the 20th century? Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Pinochet, Milosovic—none of them saw justice rendered. Mussolini was strung up by a mob.
Was Saddam’s trial and execution unprecedented in the Middle East, or even in the world?
I just remembered that right after WWI, the 'CUP' troika of Enver, Cemal and Tala'at Pashas were put on trial in Istanbul by the Ottoman authorities (under Allied occupation) for crimes that partly had to do with the Armenian 'genocide.' They were all convicted in absentia; Enver, later a Basmachist, died facing down a Bolshevik cavalry charge in modern-day Uzbekistan, while both (...I think) Tala'at and Cemal were hunted down and killed by Armenian assassination squads in Europe. Those legal proceedings in Istanbul were the first 'war crimes tribunals' of its kind in the blood-soaked 20th century.
Here are some other names from the 20th century: Ceausescu, Kabila, Franco.
UPDATE 2 (December 31st, 2006):
There is this crude Iraqi proverb:
يدور بالخرة حب رككي
Which translates to: "to go searching in sh*t for watermelon seeds"...
This proverb runs through my head every time I hear one of these 'negative' statements concerning Saddam's hanging:
-He was hanged by Shi'a thugs chanting Mahdi Army slogans.
-The trial was a farce--a kangaroo court. Victor's justice.
-It pissed off Sunni Muslims worldwide because it coincided with the Id al-Adhha, and it is illegal to execute people on religious holidays.
-Boo hoo hoo, big deal, many people are dying now.
Most of these 'begrudgers' never watched the proceedings of the Dujail trial. I remember watching the trial closely and saying to myself, "Tyrants across the Middle East must be having the runs."
Let me make this simple for all those people spewing whatever variants of the above: there is something wrong with your inner core decency if you are not moved by the sight of a horrible tyrant meeting a just end.
You can wade through the pungent slime of your muddled priorities looking for watermelons seeds; looking for flimsy justifications to begrudge the victims of this horrible tyrant their moment of solace--the moment of justice realized.
And you all sound fake: your indignation is belabored. Because it is inhumane not to be moved by this.
The story of Saddam's hanging is not about how Palestinians in Gaza wept over his demise, or the tears shed by Saddam's kinsmen at his grave.
The story is about the victims.
They feel happy, relieved. They feel closure. The restless spirits of the many dead can subside now.
Your talking-points may matter among like-minded parochial selves. History will have another take on this event: the magnitude will be judged solemnly, without cognitive dissonance.
What will matter then, when History passes judgement, is what decent people the world over feel in their gut now: Saddam's hanging is a good thing for mankind.