Monday, January 24, 2005

On boycotts

During the Palestinian elections earlier this month, it was mentioned on BBC WS that Hamas were claiming that people who did not go to the polls were in effect voting for them. Of course, how you vote should remain secret, but whether you vote or not is fairly public knowledge. Nobody was suggesting though that Hamas would kill Palestinians who voted. In Iraq, it's different. From  The New York Times 20 Jan 2005  ('Logistical Challenges Remain Before Iraqis Cast Ballots'):
The voter will mark at most one box on each sheet, then fold them, walk to a ballot box and drop them in. Just before, a ballot box officer, in one of the most significant steps of the day, will apply a ruddy indelible ink to one finger of the voter to prevent him or her from voting twice.

Mr. Valenzuela said that because the mark could expose a voter to insurgent violence, the commission considered using ink that could be seen only with an ultraviolet lamp. But aside from the technical pain involved, this "invisible" ink was rejected when the Iraqis on the commission said that establishing the vote as visibly untainted by fraud was the paramount consideration - even if the mark depressed turnout.
It should be remembered though that the intimidation is only affecting parts of the country, one of them being Baghdad. Even C4 News, among the usual gloom, last week showed a large rally of a Shi'a party in the south. In contrast to places where candidates cannot even reveal their names, the FT reports (22 Jan) that in Basra there is a lively political scene.


In the FT Magazine (15 Jan), Igal Sarna writes of the Palestinian Kung Fu team on its way to a competition in North Korea via China - Freedom Fighters (Link - subscribers only). On arrival in Beijing, they are asked where they are from:
"Palestine," answered the kung fu team.
"Pakistan?" asked the Chinese.
They had never heard of the place.
"Isra-eel," tried the team members. This, too, meant nothing to the policemen.


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