"We told you to quit politics, but you disregarded our words and you forced us to kill your brother and sister. If you go on like this, we will kill another of your siblings. We are very serious and determined in this regard."
After every assassination, I would hold a press conference and I would stand erect, patient and resolved, without yielding to the blackmail. This further angered my enemies and they killed my brother Amir al-Hashemi, a high-ranking military officer in the new Iraqi army.
After losing my brothers and sister, whom I deem to be martyrs, I was left with only one brother. And I had to send him out of Iraq in order to protect him.
The assassination of my brother Amir, who was a general in the army, was very attention-grabbing in that it was performed by expert killers in broad daylight and before the eyes of many people. Twenty-five special troops affiliated with the regime and equipped with special weapons attacked his house in Baghdad. Despite this, his murder was covered up as an unsolved case!
On the other hand, after incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was appointed as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he started to exert total control over the armed forces and security affairs of various ministries. This implies that the units that are close to the government or that are part of it were involved in these assassinations.
So we can say that these assassinations were politically motivated attacks devised to ensure that I quit the political arena.
History repeated itself in December of last year. I was again a target, but in a different manner. Two days before my last visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 15, I received a latter from Nouri al-Maliki.
The letter told me to appear before the public. It criticized my decision to boycott the parliamentary sessions to be held by the Iraqi coalition, affiliated with Maliki, at 10 the next morning, and it contained implicit and explicit threats.
Having emerged strong from the blackmailing attempts that killed my brothers and sister, I wouldn't yield to this new, cheap blackmailing attempt. When I refused to take heed of his threats, I encountered slander and a number of accusations of terrorism. Thus, the victim was portrayed as the oppressor.
Furthermore, three of my bodyguards were arrested and faced probes. Under heavy torture, these poor men had no choice but to give the false confessions that they were fed by their investigators. And their investigators were well-trained police officers who resorted to brute force during the investigation. I learned that one of my bodyguards had died of torture. The fate of the others is unknown. You may refer to the reports issued by Amnesty International (AI), Humanrights.org and other organizations on these incidents.
Maliki was quick to make the official Iraqi TV channel, funded by the state, air these testimonies obtained under duress. This channel works for Maliki and broadcasts only his ideology and comments. Although the investigation was still under way and it was forbidden under the law to disclose information about an ongoing probe, Maliki would pay no heed to the constitution or the law and ordered the channel to air the fabricated claims.
If this were purely a legal matter, he would have referred it to the courts and not meddled with the process. But how can he do this when the aim is something else? Indeed, his sole intention is to banish me from politics.
Relying on God and believing that He will save His oppressed, believing servants, I sought refuge in God (God protects believers) and I did not yield to threats and blackmail. All Iraqis know my past and that I respect moral values and also seek peace. So they won't be deceived by lies and slander coming from Maliki and his cronies.
Once I was again in Maliki's hands, he resorted to hideous methods to take me away from my country and my efforts to rebuild my homeland.
When a senior delegation from Maliki's party visited Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, they conveyed Maliki's message to him. In this message, Maliki suggested Barzani should help him send me away, but Barzani strongly refused to participate and said it was unforgivable arrogance.
These are part of the story of how Maliki has relentlessly devised plots to push me out of my homeland since 2006.
I can't believe that I am exposed to all this suffering and cruelty just because of hostility from a man whose heart is rife with hatred and animosity. One day I will write a detailed article on this matter.
Now, having heard all of these facts, who can say Hashemi's case is not political, but legal? I do not think so.
My experiences taught me the real nature of the political groups in Iraq. I will not stop sticking to righteousness under every circumstance.
I am innocent of the claims made about me and God is my witness that my enemies are telling lies. I will certainly be acquitted when the truth comes out.
*Tariq al-Hashemi is the vice president of Iraq.