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World Tribunal On Iraq - Culminating Session - Istanbul 23.-27. Juni 2005
27th June 2005, İstanbul
In February 2003, weeks before war was declared on Iraq, millions of
people protested in the streets of the world. That call went unheeded.
No international institution had the courage or conscience to stand up
to the aggression of the US and UK governments. No one could stop them.
It is two years later now. Iraq has been invaded, occupied, and
devastated. The attack on Iraq is an attack on justice, on liberty, on
our safety, on our future, on us all. We the people of conscience
decided to stand up. We formed the World Tribunal on Iraq, to demand
justice and a peaceful future.
The legitimacy of the World Tribunal on Iraq is located in the collective conscience of humanity. This, the Istanbul session, was the culmination of a series of 20 hearings held in different cities of the world focusing on the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
We the Jury of Conscience, from 10 different countries, met in Istanbul. We heard 54 testimonies from a panel of advocates and witnesses who came from across the world, including from Iraq, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The World Tribunal on Iraq met in Istanbul from 24-26th of June 2005. The principal objective of the WTI is to tell the truth about the Iraq war as clearly as possible, and to draw conclusions that underscore the accountability of those responsible and underline the significance of justice for the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein’s crimes against his people are not the focus of this Tribunal. We believe it is up to the Iraqi people to investigate these crimes in an independent and free trial.
1. The reasons given by the US and UK governments for the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003 have proven to be false. The real motive was to control and dominate the Middle East. Establishing hegemony over the Middle East serves the goal of controlling the world’s largest reserves of oil and strengthening the position of the US’s strategic ally Israel.
2. Blatant falsehoods about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and a link between Al Qaeda terrorism and the Saddam Hussein régime were manufactured in order to create public support for a “preemptive” assault upon a sovereign independent nation.
3. Iraq has been under siege for years. The imposition of severe inhuman economic sanctions at the end of the first Gulf war in 1991; the establishment of no-fly zones in the Northern and Southern parts of Iraq; and the concomitant bombing of the country were all aimed at degrading and weakening Iraq’s human and material resources and capacities in order to facilitate its subsequent invasion and occupation. In this enterprise the US and British leaderships had the endorsement of a complicit UN Security Council.
4. In pursuit of their agenda of empire, the Bush and Blair blatantly ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history.
5. The Anglo-American occupation of Iraq of the last 27 months has led to the destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and order have broken down completely, resulting in a pervasive lack of human security; the physical infrastructure is in shambles; the health care delivery system is a mess; the education system has ceased to function; there is massive environmental and ecological devastation; and, the cultural and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people has been desecrated.
6. The occupation has intentionally exacerbated ethnic and confessionnal divisions in Iraqi society, with the aim of undermining Iraq’s identity and integrity as a nation. This is in keeping with the fam liar imperial policy of divide and rule.
7. The imposition of the UN sanctions in 1991 caused untold suffering and thousands of deaths. The situation has worsened after the occupation. At least 100,000 civilians have been killed; 60,000 are being held in US custody in inhuman conditions, without charges; thousands have disappeared; and torture has become virtually routine.
8. The privatization, deregulation, and liberalization of the Iraqi economy has transformed the country into a client economy that serves the Washington Consensus. The occupying forces have also accomplished their primary goal of acquired control over the nation’s oil.
9. Any law or institution created under the aegis of occupation is devoid of both legal and moral authority. The recently concluded election, the Constituent Assembly, the current government, and the drafting committee for the Constitution are therefore all illegitimate.
10. There is widespread opposition to the occupation. Political, social, and civil resistance through peaceful means is subjected to repression by the occupying forces. It is the brutality of the occupation that has provoked a strong armed resistance and certain acts of desperation. By the principles embodied in the UN Charter and in international law, the popular national resistance to the occupation is legitimate and justified. It deserves the support of people everywhere who care for justice and freedom.
II. Findings and Charges
On the basis of the preceding findings and recalling the Charter of the United Nations and other legal documents quoted in the appendix, the jury has established the following charges.
A. Against the Governments of the US and the UK
1. Planning, preparing, and waging the supreme crime of a war of aggression in contravention of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles.
Evidence for this can be found in the leaked Downing Street Memo of 23rd July, 2002 in which it was revealed that: “military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy.” Intelligence was manufactured to willfully deceive the people of the US, the UK, and their elected representatives.
2. Targeting the civilian population of Iraq and civilian infrastructure, by intentionally directing attacks upon civilians and hospitals, medical centers, residential neighborhoods, electricity stations, and water purification facilities in violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), Articles 7(1)(a), 8(2)(a)(i), and 8(2)(b)(i). The complete destruction of the city of Falluja in itself constitutes a glaring example of such crimes.
3. Using disproportionate force and indiscriminate weapon systems, such as cluster munitions, incendiary bombs, depleted uranium (DU), and chemical weapons. Detailed evidence was presented to the Tribunal by expert witnesses that leukemia had risen sharply in children under the age of five residing in those areas which had been targeted by DU weapons.
4. Failing to safeguard the lives of civilians during military activities and during the occupation period thereafter, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Articles 13 and 27, and the ICC Statute, Articles 7 (1)(a) and 8(2)(a)(i). This is evidenced, for example, by “shock and awe” bombing techniques and the conduct of occupying forces at checkpoints.
5. Using deadly violence against peaceful protestors, beginning with, among others, the April 2003 killing of more than a dozen peaceful protestors in Falluja.
6. Imposing punishments without charge or trial, including collective punishment, on the people of Iraq, in violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Geneva Conventions, and customary international law requiring due process. Repeated testimonies pointed to “snatch and grab” operations, disappearances, and assassinations.
7. Subjecting Iraqi soldiers and civilians to torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the ICCPR, other treaties and covenants, and customary international law. Degrading treatment includes subjecting Iraqi soldiers and civilians to acts of racial, ethnic, religious, and gender discrimination, as well as denying Iraqi soldiers Prisoner of War status as required by the Geneva Convention. Abundant testimony was provided of unlawful arrests and detentions, without due process of law. Well known and egregious examples occurred in Abu Ghraib prison as well as in Mosul, Camp Bucca, and Basra.
The employment of mercenaries and private contractors to carry out torture has served to undermine accountability.
8. Re-writing the laws of a country that has been illegally invaded and occupied, in violation of international covenants on the responsibilities of occupying powers, in order to amass illegal profits (through such measures as Order 39, signed by L. Paul Bremer III for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which allows foreign investors to buy and takeover Iraq’s state-owned enterprises and to repatriate 100 percent of their profits and assets at any point) and to control Iraq’s oil. Evidence listed a number of corporations that had profited from such transactions.
9. Willfully devastating the environment, contaminating it by depleted uranium (DU) weapons, combined with the plumes from burning oil wells, as well as huge oil spills, and destroying agricultural lands. Deliberately disrupting the water and waste removal systems, in a manner verging on biological-chemical warfare. Failing to prevent the looting and dispersal of radioactive material from nuclear sites. Extensive documentation is available on air, water pollution, land degradation, and radiological pollution.
10. Actively creating conditions under which the status of Iraqi women has seriously been degraded contrary, to the repeated claims of the leaders of the coalition forces. Women’s freedom of movement has been severely limited, restricting their access to education, livelihood, and social engagement. Testimony was provided that sexual violence and sex trafficking have increased since the occupation of Iraq began.
11. Failing to protect humanity’s rich archaeological and cultural heritage in Iraq, by allowing the looting of museums and established historical sites and positioning military bases in culturally and archeologically sensitive locations. This took place despite prior warnings from UNESCO and Iraqi museum officials.
12. Obstructing the right to information, including the censoring of Iraqi media, such as newspapers (e.g., al-Hawza, al-Mashriq, and al-Mustaqila) and radio stations (Baghdad Radio), targeting international journalists, imprisoning and killing academics, intellectuals and scientists.
13. Redefining torture in violation of international law, to allow use of torture and illegal detentions, including holding more than 500 people at Guantánamo Bay without charging them or allowing them any access to legal protection, and using “extraordinary renditions” to send people to torture in other countries known to commit human rights abuses and torture prisoners.
B. Against the Security Council of United Nations
1. Failing to protect Iraq against a crime of aggression.
2. Imposing harsh economic sanctions on Iraq, despite knowledge that sanctions were directly contributing to the massive loss of civilian lives and harming innocent civilians.
3. Allowing the United States and United Kingdom to carry out illegal bombings in the no-fly zones, using false pretense of enforcing UN resolutions, and at no point allowing discussion in the Security Council of this violation, and thereby being complicit and responsible for loss of civilian life and destruction of Iraqi infrastructure.
4. Allowing the United States to dominate the United Nations and hold itself above any accountability by other member nations.
5. Failure to stop war crimes and crimes against humanity by the United States and its coalition partners in Iraq.
6. Failure to hold the United States and its coalition partners accountable for violations of international law during the occupation, and giving official recognition to the occupation, thereby legitimizing an illegal invasion and becoming a collaborator in an illegal occupation.
C. Against the Governments of the Coalition of the Willing
Collaborating in the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
D. Against the Governments of Other Countries
Allowing the use of military bases and air space, and providing other logistical support, for the invasion and occupation.
E. Against Private Corporations
Profiting from the war with complicity in the crimes described above, of invasion and occupation.
F. Against the Major Corporate Media
1. Disseminating the deliberate falsehoods spread by the governments of the US and the UK and failing to adequately investigate this misinformation. This even in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary. Among the corporate media houses that bear special responsibility for promoting the lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, we name the New York Times, in particular their reporter Judith Miller, whose main source was on the payroll of the CIA. We also name Fox News, CNN and the BBC.
2. Failing to report the atrocities being committed against Iraqi people by the occupying forces.
Recognising the right of the Iraqi people to resist the illegal occupation of their country and to develop independent institutions, and affirming that the right to resist the occupation is the right to wage a struggle for self-determination, freedom, and independence as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, we the Jury of Conscience declare our solidarity with the people of Iraq.
1. The immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the coalition forces from Iraq;
2. That coalition governments make war reparations and pay compensation to Iraq for the humanitarian, economic, ecological, and cultural devastation they have caused by their illegal invasion and occupation;
3. That all laws, contracts, treaties, and institutions established under occupation which the Iraqi people deem inimical to their interests, should be considered null and void;
4. That the Guantanamo Bay prison and all other offshore US military prisons be closed immediately; that the names of the prisoners be disclosed, that they receive POW status, and receive due process;
5. That there be an exhaustive investigation of those responsible for crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity in Iraq, beginning with George W. Bush, President of the United States of America; Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; and other government officials from the coalition of the willing;
6. That we initiate a process of accountability to hold those morally and personally responsible for their participation in this illegal war, such as journalists who deliberately lied, corporate media outlets that promoted racial, ethnic and religious hatred, and CEOs of multinational corporations that profited from this war;
7. That people throughout the world launch actions against US and UK corporations that directly profit from this war. Examples of such corporations include Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle, CACI Inc., Titan Corporation, Kellog, Brown and Root (subsidiary of Halliburton), DynCorp, Boeing, ExxonMobil, Texaco, British Petroleum. The following companies have sued Iraq and received “reparation awards”: Toys R Us, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Shell, Nestlé, Pepsi, Phillip Morris, Sheraton, Mobil. Such actions may take the form of direct actions such as shutting down their offices, consumer boycotts, and pressure on shareholders to divest.
8. That soldiers exercise conscience and refuse to enlist and participate in an illegal war. Also that countries provide conscientious objectors political asylum.
9. That the international campaign for dismantling all US military bases abroad be reinforced.
10. That people around the world resist and reject any effort by any of their governments to provide material, logistical, or moral support to the occupation of Iraq.
We, the Jury of Conscience, hope that the specificity of these recommendations will lay the groundwork required for a world where the international institutions will be shaped and reshaped by the will of people and not fear and self-interest, where journalists and intellectuals will not remain mute, where the will of the people of the world will be central, and human security will prevail over state security and corporate profits.
Appendix: List of Legal Documents
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
The Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1952)
The Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)
The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1963)
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)
The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979)
The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984)
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998)
The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950)
The American Convention on Human Rights (1969)
The Code of Conduct for the Armed Forces of the United States of America (1963)