Bin Laden has been killed?

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    Dear all,

    I have the impression that there is a lot of uncertain information around the killing of Osama Bin Laden. As in other delicate historical context the vagueness opens to parallel theories than the official one.

    It is not impossible to think that the operation of last Sunday did not bring to the killing of Bin Laden and perhaps he is being held and tortured somewhere. An alternative is that he was captured long ago and the blitz of Sunday was a way to tell a story that never really happened.

    It is hard to understand the truth when the operations of the secret services and intelligence are always so little transparent with regard to information. I have the impression that a small part of the truth has been said now but what happen with Bin Laden is far more complicated than what is being mainstreamed.

    I finally have a question. Everybody celebrates the killing of a man. I can understand he is the devil on earth for many but how do you think should react people like us that fight for human rights? And in case he is being tortured, do you think that Bin Laden could make an exception to the forbid of torture?



    Hey Christiano,

    Thank you very much for this post!

    I've been strugling all week long trying to convince people around me that this killing is quite worrying and that it would have been good for Obama to at least say that "they tried to get him alive but unfortunately he resisted"…just to reassure us that the basic rules applies to all, even the worst terrorists…

    I also wonder what is Obama's understanding of the word Justice when he says "Justice has been done"…as it looks more like private vengeance to me…

    I'm quite sad not to have heard that criticism from any personality wether the UN, NGO's or the academic world…

    And I'm affraid that what seems to be an illegal killing will be used by other leaders to justify their methods in the fight against terrorism, or against so-called terrorists like the opposition in Syria, China or others

    I'm also scared that a russian newspaper held that on the basis of this act, it now seems internationaly accepted that operations to eliminate terrorists on the soil of other countries is considered legitimate…




    In essence, I can only agree with you Sandrine. It is unfortunate that our international community is so hestitant (and divided) as to how to respond to this. Though I wouldn't recite your words Cristiano (devil on earth), Osama bin Laden is someone where I would say that it is less a matter of fairness as to what happens to him, than that it is a matter of principle. I would want the international community to reinstate that principle and ask Obama for clarity.

    (and yes, I know that the US will not give clarity here, but still)

    And the good points you made aside (the remark of Obama, what is the understanding of justice), I struggle with my own personal feelings. In some ways, I couldn't care less, because it is Osama bin Laden. But then, it is that attitude that threathens the principle of human rights. The indifference makes me a (minor) accomplice, but I lack the time or energy to make a greater contribution in this case. And also, we're back at the indifference :-s.


    Finally some good news on this issue:





    As far as I have understood, Osama bin Laden has been more like a scary comics figure for many americans (especially those who were, for example 10 year old in 2001). In a sense I understand the jubilation. The symbol for the evil is gone, but the threat of terrorism is, of course, more alive than ever.


    About the legal/political/ethical considerations, here is what Noam Chomsky thinks –

    And for some balance one should perhaps read what Cristopher Hitchens writes in response –

    In any case, I think generally this case will have deteriorating effect, because it "justifies" targetted killings by countries who are powerful enough to impose their will on others. It is well known that US has been doing drone attacks in Pakistan before and is doing it now as well.

    And here is one recent example how criminals like bin Laden should be treated –


    Hello all,

    In this relation, the UN Special Rapportuers on summary executions and on human rights and counter-terrorism issued on 6 May the following joint statement:

    6 May 2011

    Osama bin Laden: statement by the UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions and on human rights and counter-terrorism

    GENEVA – The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, have issued the following statement:

    “Acts of Terrorism are the antithesis of human rights, in particular the right to life.  In certain exceptional cases, use of deadly force may be permissible as a measure of last resort in accordance with international standards on the use of force, in order to protect life, including in operations against terrorists.  However, the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially decided punishment.

    Actions taken by States in combating terrorism, especially in high profile cases, set precedents for the way in which the right to life will be treated in future instances.

    In respect of the recent use of deadly force against Osama bin Laden, the United States of America should disclose the supporting facts to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards. For instance it will be particularly important to know if the planning of the mission allowed an effort to capture Bin Laden.

    It may well be that the questions that are being asked about the operation could be answered, but it is important to get this into the open.”


    The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Co-director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa. He is a former dean of the Faculty of Law and a former Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the same university. He has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more, log on to:

    Martin Scheinin was appointed Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights in August 2005. The mandate was last renewed by the Human Rights Council in October 2010. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity. He is Professor of Public International Law at the European University Institute in Florence. Learn more, log on to:

    OHCHR Country Page – USA:

    For more information and media requests, please contact: Ms. Pasipau Wadonda-Chirwa (Tel: +41 22 917 9252 / email: or Mr. Nikolaus Schultz (Tel: +41 22 917 9402 / email: or write to or


    Can anyone provide me with an explanation why the whole world is so convinced that Bin Laden was killed? Which real proof do we have to be so sure of that? It looks instead very logical that he is being held under torture to know more about the organisation and advertising his killing is a way to get rid of the possible trial and a capaing (for next year elections) merit for Obama.

    By the way, to follow up with the discussion above, you may be interested in the media lens analysis:  You Cannot Kill An Ideology With A Gun.


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