rumors were rife throughout the week that saddam might be hanged today. still, nothing prepared me for news about his death in the gallows just hours ago. i was half-expecting an islam holiday (eid al-adha, feast of the sacrifice) would stall the execution until after january 7. but they did rush his execution, just before 6 am in iraq, saturday, dec. 30, 2006 to beat the start of the holiday.
perhaps best known for invading kuwait in 1991 and for resisting bush's ultimatum in 2003, saddam was executed for ordering the killing of 148 people in dujail in his own country in 1982. this he admitted during the trial, although he said it was because of a failed assassination attempt on his life. throughout his reign, he was accused of political oppression and genocides.
bbc sums up immediate reaction in one line: hated by many, mourned by few. for his victims and their families, justice came with his death. bush considers saddam's hanging a milestone in iraq's path to democracy.
but really, was justice served with his execution? will iraq finally be at peace with his passing? i don't think so.
although i did say before that death by hanging would be a fitting end to such a controversial existence, but that would be like glorifying him, giving him the end that he deserves, assuring him of a place in history. if you want justice served, i'd say it would have been better to let him rot in jail and let him die in obscurity like all other dictators. but i bet the us would not want that, since they can never be too sure that a change of government would not bring him back to power.
my fear is that his death will only escalate the tension. saddam was himself happy to die in the hands of his enemies, since that would make a martyr out of him, what with all the allegations of a sham trial and the presence of u.s. troops in iraq. it's only a matter of time before a younger breed, angered and enraged by the fate that he suffered, will take his place. and the conflict lives on.
on a personal note, news of saddam's death saddens me a bit. no, i don't idolize saddam and neither will i grieve for him. it's just that, to me, he had always been a part of world politics.
growing up, i heard stories, mostly in the form of jokes, about a terrifying man named saddam. in bisaya, we even have this parody of a christmas song: whenever i see boys and girls selling lanterns on the street / i remember saddam, namaligya ug time bomb (i remember saddam selling time bomb)...and so the song goes. as a five-year-old, i remember an uncle coming home to our province from kuwait at the height of the gulf war; he had grown thin with his beard and moustache all over his face. all i could comprehend was that a terrible man named saddam was the reason for his coming home.
now that saddam is dead, it's as if there's a missing piece in the chessboard.
incidentally, saddam's execution took place on the very same day rizal was shot exactly 110 years ago. in my previous entry about saddam, i wondered if he ever read about rizal because at the time his verdict was handed down, he requested that he be executed by firing squad. apparently, his request was denied but he did die curiously on the same day as rizal, just before sunrise i assume.
saddam, surely is a farcry from rizal. i'd be committing blasphemy if i even attempted to compare him to our national hero. while rizal died for his cause, saddam died because he wanted to save his life.
while i was writing this, dzmm erroneously reported that saddam was hanged 10 pm in iraq. the anchor quoted cnn. but cnn reported that saddam was hanged shortly after 6 am then placed "10 pm friday et" in parenthesis to indicate time in the us eastern zone. if you check al jazeera and bbc and other news outlets, they all reported saddam was hanged before 6 am, with bbc explicitly stating it was local time, meaning, the time in iraq.
interestingly, i compared how the three major international news networks reported on the execution in their websites.
us-based cnn highlighted saddam's emotions during the execution: hussein executed with 'fear in his face,' its headline read, quoting a witness. british broadcaster bbc settled for a factual account: saddam hussein executed in iraq. qatar-based al jazeera english did likewise, albeit in a more dramatic manner: saddam hanged at dawn.
cnn lead: Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator who spent his last years in captivity after his ruthless regime was toppled by the U.S.-led coalition in 2003, was hanged before dawn Saturday for crimes committed in a brutal crackdown during his reign.
bbc lead: Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been executed by hanging at a secure facility in northern Baghdad for crimes against humanity.
al jazeera lead: Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president, has been hanged, according to Iraqi and US officials.
both bbc and al jazeera said saddam was hanged just before 6 am, quoting the iraqi deputy foreign minister while cnn said it was 'shortly after 6 am,' quoting the iraqi national security adviser. they must have different watches, i assume.
cnn's 1:46 am est report, the longest among the three, centered on the celebration after, about the end of a dark era. it did not mention any negative reactions. curiously enough, it reported that bush wasn't awakened during saddam's execution albeit he was briefed about it just before retiring. it quoted the statement from the white house, and interestingly said that no americans were present during the execution.
bbc's 6:35 gmt update gave an account of the execution, reporting that us troops were on high alert for fear of backlash, then went on to say that while shias generally welcomed the development, saddam's own sunni tribe were angered by it. then it quoted bush and the uk foreign secretary, hailing the execution.
al jazeera's 6:27 mecca time report was a relatively shorter account of the execution, quoting sources which confirmed saddam's death. it quoted bush but included the part where he admitted that bringing saddam to justice will not end violence in iraq. it said that saddam was ousted by a US-led "invasion" in 2003, a term the other news outlets did not use. it reported that details about the execution were kept secret for fear of violent backlash, and hinted that it may complicate efforts to reconcile shia and sunni muslims. while cnn emphasized that saddam was convicted of crimes against humanity, al jazeera said saddam was accused of widespread oppression and genocides. it quoted saddam's letter to the iraqis, offering himself as a sacrifice. the report ended with saddam's request to his daughter that he be buried in yemen until iraq is liberated.
both cnn and bbc posted a photo of saddam with the noose around his neck just before he was executed. al jazeera carried a photo of saddam raising his hand, with his index finger pointing upward, probably taken during the trial.
which among them is the most objective?
now consider yahoo: saddam hussein executed, former dictator hanged for crimes committed during brutal regime.
simulblog with pics at: driven 2