Agenda 2001

Related links:

More info

Agenda 2001 - Paremos la guerra

Repression by the 'Force of Law'. The Reflection of the Imperialist Project and the Post-September-11-World on Liberties in Jordan

Hisham Bustani

17 October, 2001, CSCAweb

On Monday, October 8, 2001, the Jordanian government issued the Temporary Law # 54 for the year 2001 -a law amending the Penal Law-, thus completing the massacre of public liberties in Jordan, and transforming this Arab country which has the longest confrontation line with the Zionist enemy, into a Police state by the force of law.

It is now possible to throw what's left of political opposition in jail under various head-lines, to continue the vivid scheme to fragment even the most reactionary of social formations to easily pass the programs of Globalisation and Imperialism, to continue considering "peace" with the Zionist enemy a "strategic choice" even after the rise of Ariel Sharon to the top of the Zionist political pyramid, a man infamous for his "Transfer of Palestinian Refugees and the Establishment of a Palestinian State in Jordan" Project, his unequalled massacres in Sabra, Shatilla and others, and his military repression of the second heroic Intifada of our brethren in Palestine. All of this will be facilitated by the force of Law, but what law is that??

After the dismissal of the Jordanian Parliament in June, the political authorities postponed the parliamentary elections until September of next year (2002). Many analysts believe that this step came as a "preventive measure" to avoid tackling the issues of the Intifada, the peace with the Zionist enemy, and anti-normalisation in wide-spread election campaigns, since these issues are the "every day news" that Jordanians tackle continuously. And in the aftermath of the September 11 events, it seems that the Jordanian parliament will be dismissed for a long period!

With these measures (the dismissal of parliament and the postponement of elections), the political authority have violated the constitution, a violation that adds up to a series of constitutional violations that started on the eve of October 6, 2000, when the Prime Minister issued a decree banning all marches and demonstrations in response to those that erupted throughout Jordan in support of the Intifada, and demanding the departure of the Zionist embassy.

Thus, the political authority have deliberately created a political and legislative vacuum in Jordan, giving itself absolute un-monitored authority, and started passing temporary laws in an unconstitutional mechanism. Paragraph 1 of article 94 of the constitution states: "when the parliament is unconvinced or dismissed, the government, with the approval of the king, has the right to put temporary laws in matters that need necessary attendance without delay, or need the spenditure of undeleted expenses that cannot be postponed..[and these temporary laws] should not violate this constitution". And since the current temporary laws that tacle public liberties (the temporary elections law for 2001, the temporary law amending the state security court law for 2001, the temporary general gatherings law for 2001, the temporary law amending the penal law for 2001) did not come to resolve matters that needs necessary attendance without delay, nor to address the spenditure of undeleted expenses that cannot be postponed, nor are they in accordance with the Jordanian constitution which preserves private and public liberties in its articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, it is clear that these laws are not just "bios in the interpretation of the constitution" as the tamed official opposition claims, but its a frank violation and disregard to it.

Now lets go through some items of these temporary un-constitutional laws:

- The temporary law amending the state security court law for 2001 gives the security forces a period of 7 days to detain an individual before referring him to the general prosecutor! And more dangerously, it gave the prime minister the authority to refer any case he wants to the state security court!!

- The temporary general gatherings law for 2001 bans any general meeting, gathering, or march except if it had a written permission from the government to be applied for 3 days earlier of the event. The law considers the decision of the government (wether positive or negative) final! It also empowered the government to dismiss any gathering or march by force if the event diverted from its specific goals!! The law also considered those applied for the event legally responsible if there was any disturbance to public security or order or if any damage occurred to individuals or private or public property!!

- The temporary law amending the penal law for 2001 has put a vague and broad definition to "terrorism", diverted all "offenders" in the fields of publishing and press to the state security court instead of civil courts, allows imprisonment of persons who "write or air speeches through any media or publish news in any other publication considered harmful to national unity; instigating criminal action; sowing seeds of hatred and malice [!!]; inciting divisions among members of the society; instigating acts of religious and racial fanaticism; insulting the dignity of individuals, their reputation or personal freedoms; disrupting society's basic norms by promoting deviation from what is right [!!!]; committing acts of corruption or publishing false information or rumours; inciting people to organise strikes or sit-ins; holding public meetings in a manner that violates the provisions of the law; or committing any act considered harmful to the state's reputation and dignity"!!!. It also allows for "permanent or temporary closure" of publications that carry "false or libellous information that can undermine national unity or the country's reputation".

Publishers and chief editors of publications carrying articles that incite "strikes, illegal public assemblies or the undermining of public order" will be subject to fines of up to JD5,000 and prison sentences of up to three years, or both. The amendments also entail prison terms of between one to three years for anyone who "produces verbal, written or electronic messages or pictures or caricatures to His Majesty the King, or used any of the aforementioned material in a manner insulting the King's dignity or implying such" or "uses any form of media and makes it public". The law also incriminates the same acts above if directed towards "Her Majesty the Queen, the Crown Prince or any Regent".
Lets look at the picture with precision.

The Jordanian political authority's choices are the complete opposite to popular demands and interests, and are in paradox even with the declared minimum national constants it has committed itself to maintain, i.e.:

- The persistence of putting "peace" with the Zionist enemy as a strategic choice for Jordan even in the presence of Sharon and his "transfer" projects that represent a direct threat to Jordan.

- The acceleration of transforming Jordan into a "Free Zone" for Imperialism and Globalisation via the continual adoption of the World Bank recipes which already privatised vital pillars of the Jordanian economy, introduced foreign "strategic partners" into it, raised the prices of petrol, paved the way for the establishment of many sweatshops (80 US$/month for a 12 hr/day work) in "Industrial Free-Zones" with Zionist partners.

- And finally, the acceptance of the political authority in Jordan to be part of America's cherries team in its aggression on Afghanistan and Central Asia, an attack which will most likely expand horizontally to hit Iraq, and possibly other Arab countries, and will put these cheers into a very embarrassing position.

This makes the political authority feel threatened and afraid of the consequences of its current un-masked policies, which makes it adopt an un-masked police-state methods to minimize these consequences.

Therefore, and because the political authority in Jordan struggles hard to portray itself as a "rising democracy", a "stable country" and a "state of law" in order to attract tourists, foreign investors and foreign capital, the political authority is trying to put some make up on its ugly face: "temporary laws" instead of martial laws, "postponed elections" instead of no elections, and "organising democracy" instead of abolishing it. All this is done through a Technocrat government, where the Prime Minister is a known economist, the Interior Minister is an ex-university professor, and the Minister of Justice is the son of the head of first (and last) democratically-approved party-led government (1956), a government that lasted a few months, afterwhich it was dismissed and marshal laws declared until 1989!!!

All this make-up and complexity in tackling such issues, shows that what to come is greeter. It also puts a huge burden on the official opposition which, until now, have failed to stand in the face of this tyranny, moreover, it has contributed to it when it agreed within the last 12 months to cancel marches and gatherings on the orders of the Minister of Anterior, the Governor or others. It also gave legitimacy to the unconstitutional temporary laws when the Islamic "opposition" asked for permission for a gathering on September 7, 2001 according to the new temporary law of general gatherings, and, for the sake of "good-will", their gathering was permitted despite a one-year-old ban. The traditional official opposition will be short of even "disturbing" the political authority, and it is in my view that they should step aside, paving the way for a new, radical, un-compromising opposition.