This letter by the NGO Coalition on Human Rights was sent to the editors of the Fiji Times and the Fiji Sun in regards to the assassination of Osama bin Laden on Friday May 13 2011.

Title: Be the change

Dear Editor,

The actions of the Obama administration seem to suggest that the so called War Against Terror had always been the War Against Osama.

For a country that preaches the value for democracy, human rights and adherence to international law to others, it is quite unbelievable that US President Obama, whose presidential campaign was ‘Be The Change’, could violate the basic tenets of these concepts when it suits him.

We fully support Rev. Akuila Yabaki’s comments (F/T 10/05) that Osama bin Laden is an idea and not, not just a person and that the current frenzy of hate is uncalled for when justice is secured through killing without the court of law.

What ‘change’ was President Obama’s campaign promising? So far his actions seem no different from that of former Present George Bush Jr.’s decision to invade Iraq, assassinate Saddam Hussein and kill so many others in the process. Or is this ‘Justice, American-style’?

“Real justice”, as renowned human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson recently said, “with an arrest, trial and sentence would have been difficult, but should it not at least have been attempted?”

Perpetrators of crimes, no matter how atrocious, need to be brought to justice and that can only be done through a court of law. This is precisely one of the reasons why the International Criminal Court was created in The Hague - to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

As the Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights, we believe that the action undertaken by the US is totally unacceptable.

It is a slap on the face of all those citizens around the world who have been engaging in peaceful demonstrations in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom.

The global news media seem to be revelling at the assassination and this is extremely worrying. Maybe today’s news media should start practicing peace journalism which has been developed from research that indicates that all too often news about conflict has a value bias toward violence. Aside from bringing us objective news, we believe that it is the responsibility of journalists and media organisations to promote peace, dialogue and understanding; and to confront militarism in all its forms.

The current one-sided anti-Osama news reporting needs to stop. There are many sides to each story and it’s about time we heard them all.

Shamima Ali
NGO Coalition Chair


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