“Diplomatic Immunity” or Murder with Impunity? And Who’s a Diplomat Anyway?
February 17, 2011 § 7 Comments
by Huma Dar
On Thursday, 27th of January, 2011, while the world was busy watching — or ignoring, as the case might be — the inspiring Egyptian Revolution, in broad daylight, in a very busy part of Lahore (Pakistan), in front of hundreds of eye-witnesses, American contractor, Raymond Davis, murders two or by some accounts even three people: Muhammad Faheem (aka Faheem Shamshad?) (age 26), Faizan Haider (age 22), and Ibad-ur-Rehman. Davis shoots the former two, who had allegedly threatened to rob him, from within his locked car, with seven bullets — each bullet expertly and fatally finding its mark. The windshield shows the piercing trajectory of the fatal bullets, but otherwise remains miraculously unshattered. Davis, then, emerges calmly from his well-equipped car (see descriptions below), shoots Faizan from the back while Faizan was running away (how “dangerous” is that?! does the excuse of “self-defence” hold when one of the victims was running away?), takes photographs and videos of both his victims with his cellphone, gets back into his car, and drives off unruffled, to flee the scene. Faizan Haider was still alive — he expired later in the hospital. What an act of “responsibility” from a “diplomat” of the self-ascribed global policeman!
Have I mentioned that Raymond Davis is not his actual name and identity as stated by Philip Crowley in his daily press briefing and he is therefore liable for forgery for obtaining a visa under a fake name? In any case, a large and furious crowd gathers to stop Davis. (See this exclusive footage from ARY News, 3:05 onwards — you’ll observe Davis enter the white Honda after the second round of shooting from outside the car, and flee while people are trying to stop him). Thanks to Lahore’s stop-and-go and heavy traffic, the people and police catch Davis just up ahead, but not before he’s made calls via satellite radio to the US Consulate. The Consulate immediately sends an SUV that allegedly proceeds to jump the median on a major road, traveling against the oncoming traffic, running over and killing yet another motorcyclist, Ibad-ur-Rehman — who was getting married in another two months. (Another version states that Davis had earlier run over Ibad, and had continued driving — the two motorcyclists, Faizan and Faheem, were trying to accost him.) The driver of the Consulate vehicle remains at large. In fact, there were reports in the media that the Pakistani Foreign Office, allegedly under President Zardari’s orders, would issue a “backdated letter notifying Raymond as ‘member of staff in US embassy, Islamabad’” — such reports were immediately denied.
Karachi Feminist (KF), who blogs at lurking in ambush, has a sharp analysis of the video Davis apparently himself secretly took (from a camera hidden on his shoes?) when he was being initially questioned, in English and Punjabi, by the Pakistani police. KF also gives critical insight into the Vienna Convention being touted for Davis’s supposed immunity. (On second thoughts: wasn’t Obama supposed to have been a Law Professor? How easily on forgets!) With KF’s permission, here is the post almost in full (you can read the complete post here):
Raymond: The Terror Suspect
by Karachi Feminist
Here is Raymond Davis being interviewed right after his arrest by the police.
This is a man who has just been involved in the homicide of three people; yet he shows little remorse, just irritation at the inconvenience of being caught. He says he is a “consultant” at the consulate, and then asks for bottled water. He is anxious and annoyed, enunciates his words to be understood, and clearly thinks it is his right and privilege to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. No doubt, his racism towards Pakistanis is psychopathic, and whatever consultancy mission he is carrying out for the consulate is not good news for the people of Pakistan. The police officers themselves are a little confused and almost wanting to give him white protocol, and then one of them reminds everyone – “he’s killed people” — I shudder at the very thought that dangerous men like him, men who act as guilt-free as he does after putting away three people — are working in diplomacy. It must be diplomacy of a very fatal kind.
If Raymond Davis were a Pakistani man consulting with the consulate in New York and was caught with multiple cellphones, telescopes, and multiple business cards in Brooklyn right after such an incident, he’d be awaiting a very chilling future of blanks walls and heavy grey doors. Pakistan would have waived immunity from prosecution in one quick phone call. He would be in a high security prison. He would be subjected to several serial, and very serious interrogations. The media would be awash with news of terror. He would within days have lost all signs of vitality. Pretty soon he’d be disoriented, he’d be asking for qiblah and halal food and the people fighting for him back home would be the fundamentalists.
But Raymond Davis just might get away because Pakistani government is weak and spineless, caught up in America’s war, and anxious for military aid, while the people of Pakistan suffer blast after blast. Just two this morning in Karachi and Hyderabad.
The case has brought lawyers out of the woodwork doing somersaults and handstands reading the Vienna Convention. Gist of the matter is, in light of his own initial revelations about his status as consultant to the Consulate, and business cards found on him revealing his association with a non existent Florida company Hyperion LLC, and as a defence department contractor — it is seriously doubtful that he was a diplomatic agent. This status is defined in the convention as including heads of the mission or a person of diplomatic rank. If he had diplomatic rank, he would have asserted his immunity right away. Regardless, he is not free from a civil lawsuit as he was acting outside his official functions. (Art, 31(c) of the Vienna Convention, 1961) — unless official functions now include sinister operations and the use of military grade knives and high capacity magazines. It is also doubtful that he is technical and administrative staff (I mean, we’re speaking of paper pushers and IT people here, no?) — and even if he were, he is not immune from civil prosecution (Art. 37) for his negligence causing a wrongful death. Whatever his status, it can not be altered secretly after the fact of the killings to avoid criminal prosecution. Also, consular officers are not protected from detention and prosecution for grave crimes under Article 41 of the Vienna Convention 1963, and murder certainly is the gravest crime of all. Other crimes include the carrying of illegal military grade weapons — also serious and grave crimes.
More importantly, he sure as hell looks like a bastard; he killed people, and he did not do it in self defence. The first two were murder, and in the third case, he was aidor and abettor to gross negligence manslaughter. Jane Perlez reported that the forensic evidence that first two of Davis’s victims were shot in the back.
The opening to the Vienna Convention reminds us of the “sovereign equality of States, the maintenance of international peace and security, and the promotion of friendly relations among nations.” It is set in the belief that these privileges and immunities from criminal and civil suits would contribute to the development of friendly relations among nations, irrespective of their differing constitutional and social systems.
None of this preamble is applicable here. In a country where private mercenary companies from the U.S. are gathering intelligence and facilitating drone attacks – where the state allows the U.S. to carry out drone attacks in violation of the law and principles of human rights, the Vienna Conventions aims and purposes, otherwise noble, forthright, and logical seem bookishly ludicrous. There is no semblance of sovereign equality between the two countries – and specially not in light of the fact that the U.S. is threatening to withhold aid until Davis is released.
Dave Lindorrf, in an investigative article, says that there “is speculation in Pakistan’s media that Davis may have been involved in some kind of covert U.S. program to actually finance or orchestrate some of the bombings that have been rocking, and destabilizing Pakistan.”
Not surprising. This is what was on him at the time of arrest:
a Glock handgun
a flashlight that attaches to a headband
a pocket telescope
a large number of cellphones
one satellite phone
a collection of batteries
bucketloads of bullets for the Glock and Beretta
a load of M-16 shells
an array of high-capacity magazines for the handguns
In the 1830s, the Talpurs had failed to take note of the significance of the surveying instruments carried by the traveler Alexander Burns who made it down the Indus – and later paved the course for the invasion of Sindh. In contrast, Davis’s instruments are overtly violent. We should demand an explanation for each one of his instruments….
There are few opportunities like this – this case has given us a chance, yet again, to demand answers – and demand that terrorism, of the Ray Davis type, and otherwise, be stopped. Enough madness!
The parents of Faheem, a victim of Raymond Davis, before burying their young son, placed Faheem’s dead body on a major public road, and loudly demonstrated their grief and demanded justice. Then, on February 6, 2011, Shumaila, the reportedly 22-year-old (in some reports, 18-year-old) widow of Muhammad Faheem, who had barely been married for six months, committed suicide after taking rat poison. Apparently she valiantly refused the American offer for resettlement in the US or financial compensation — her only demand was justice, and she despaired of obtaining the same from the powers that be. The police and doctors both confirmed that Shumaila’s last statement at her deathbed expressed the fear that America would be successful in obtaining the release of her husband’s murderer without trial, and that she would be denied justice, as also reported by the BBC.
Raymond, sometimes back one of your senators said that Pakistanis are very cheap, they can be bought for a bottle of whisky, they can sell their mothers. Yes that may be true about those who are out in the market to get a price. [Shumaila] has proved that poor have their conscience living, they won’t trade off. (My emphasis)
Perhaps those “who are out in the market to get a price” — the corrupt Pakistani elites who have had no compunction selling their soul, the rights of their fellow citizens, and their country shred by shred, are rightly shuddering in fear. A supposedly “powerful federal minister very close to President Asif Ali Zardari” is reported to have said:
“We are not in a position to oblige the US because this matter is now sub-judice and the Lahore High Court has included the name of Raymond Davis in the Exit Control List. If we will do anything in violation of the court orders, then the court will summon us for contempt and we are sure that the people of Pakistan will come out on the roads against us and our fate will be worse than Hosni Mubarak.”
Zardari and Company: your fate, Mubarak, and Zine al-Abidine, all await you!
Shumaila: may your courage awaken the souls slumbering around us, and may your sacrifice for justice achieve its fruition!
laazim hai keh ham bhi dekheNge
woh din keh jis ka wa’ada hai
jo lauh-e-azal meN likha hai
We shall witness!
Certainly, we, too, shall witness
The day that has been pledged
The one engraved on the slate of eternity