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Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Nam by another name?


Human life is cheap, especially if it’s Asian; Iraq is further proof of America’s bizarre belief
SAURABH KUMAR | Issue Dated: May 13, 2007
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Nam by another name? Be it through outrageous, insulting statements, or just plain deathly silence, Americans are quite clear about their stand that if it comes to putting a price on life, Asians come cheap.

There are instances when the US chooses to vocalise its thoughts: like when a Condoleezza Rice will reject suggestion of genocide by Israel, calling the systematic destruction of life and property by that country the “birth pangs of a new Middle East”. A quarter of a century ago, in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy, officials of Union Carbide Ltd, the perpetrators of the crime that cost at least 3,000 Indian – or Asian – lives, offered by way of compensation an amount that would have been a 100th of what they would have paid Americans in a similar situation. Asked for the logic behind such a proposition, they merely said that the calculations had been based on India’s GDP, which was a 100th of that of the US. “Spare me your knowledge,” the judge had then said to the officials.

In the case of Iraq, though, it’s been the deathly silence of the US that speaks the loudest. According to a report of Human Rights Watch, the number of casualties in Iraq stands at 68,796. The corresponding figure last year was 34,452. The lack of transparency on the part of the Iraqi government in regard to the toll is obvious from the fact that the administration has refused to release even to the UN figures pertaining to the total number of deaths in the country since US troops first landed. Not surprising then is the fact that there are striking differences between the figures released by the Iraqi government last year and those released by Human Rights Watch, an NGO.

“The Iraqi government gave no official reason for withholding the data. But unofficially, the government expressed concern that the numbers would be used to portray the situation as ‘very grim’,” HRW spokesperson Lance Lattig said, speaking to TSI from her London office. Lattig had told a news conference in Iraq that high casualty figures would “further undermine their efforts to establish some kind of security and stability in the country.”

The fact is that it is not just the Iraqi government that has nothing to say about the war’s casualty figures. The American media that otherwise mourns the death of every US marine killed in Iraq, is disturbingly silent when it comes to dealing with the death of 20 Iraqis killed in an attack by US forces. Asian, hence expendable, is perhaps the belief of the media of the “land of the free”.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017