The Iran-Contra Pardons, Government Under the Law

The editorial "The Iran-Contra Pardons," Dec. 29, deals with a serious and embarrassing matter having to do with either ignorance or blatant disregard of the conduct of government under the law.

The executive branch had, in the Iran-contra case, ignored the applicable laws of the land. To pardon those involved sent a very negative message to the citizenry from the nation's highest office: Laws are made to be broken.

Good citizenship does not grow from such leadership. The nation has seen too much flouting of the law from government leaders. Being among the most highly visible citizens of this country, elected members of our federal government, must reestablish a work ethic embracing a strong, legal, honest, and moral example if this nation is to be guided toward the strengths needed to survive. Wayne A. Lawson, Bellevue, Wash.

The power of pardon granted to the president by the United States Constitution to prevent or relieve punishment for a crime (except impeachment) is serious business. Pardon is not absolution of the crime. It is not a reward for political allies. The recent decree by President Bush is just that. Withholding information or lying to Congress is a crime - not a policy difference. John R. Graves, Washington India's culture of intolerance

In the aftermath of the Ayodhya riots earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao announced that he would rebuild the Muslim Babri Mosque destroyed by fanatical Hindu fundamentalists. The implication is clear: The mosque would be rebuilt on the very spot where it once stood.

As stated in the Events column, "Further religious strife," Dec. 29, Mr. Rao's announcement on Dec. 28 that the government would buy land elsewhere in Ayodhya and build both a Hindu temple and a Muslim mosque, falls short of justice for Muslims. This comes as little surprise to Muslims, Sikhs, and other minorities who have long lived under Hindu India's culture of intolerance.

I can speak for Sikhs when I say that we can live without such intolerance. India is not one nation but a conglomerate of nations held together by the nexus of oppression. The facade of Indian secularism and democracy has crumbled, exposing the true face of the theocratic, fundamentalist Hindu state of India. India's oppression of minorities only fosters instability in South Asia. Freedom for all would solve this problem. Gurmit Singh Aulakh, Washington, President, Council of Khalistan

The paper should be commended for publishing the article "Indian Report Sees Police Role in Violence," Dec. 29, on the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Center's report on the police violence on Indian Muslims in the wake of the destruction of the Babri Mosque.

I must emphasize that the police do not see Muslims as fellow citizens but rather as enemies from across the borders. Innocent Muslims have been murdered by the police and parliamentary forces. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have indicated that the Indian administration has purposely concealed atrocities committed against Muslims. It is time for governments and people everywhere to bring direct pressure on India to stop the wholesale killing of fellow Indians. Aliya Sultana, Watertown, Mass.

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