For immediate distribution
Date: 14 February 2010
WHY JUDICIAL ACTION?
IRAQ: 19 YEARS OF INTENDED DESTRUCTION
Having supported and participated with others in reviving the efficacy of people’s tribunals as a moral response to imperial war, we turned to — and encourage others to move towards — legal and judicial action. Why?
1. Holding the US and UK to account for crimes committed in Iraq is not the only factor but could be a key contributing factor to ending the killing of Iraqis, which appears a cornerstone of their strategy. While mainstream Western debate continues to put in question the manifest illegality of the war, nothing suggests that a sea change in US or UK policy lies ahead.
2. No change in policy or political figureheads absolves us of the moral obligation to provide redress for Iraqi victims or to establish accountability for the massive crimes committed against the Iraqi people over the past 19 years. While change will only come when accountability has been ensured, and when we fulfil our moral responsibilities and restore the foundations of global humanity, the suffering of the Iraqi people will not end until the crimes committed against them have stopped and been recognised as crimes.
3. The duplicity of the international human rights system, and the weakness of international law, should not block legal action: people the world over cannot afford that the systematic violence and destruction visited upon Iraq becomes a precedent for the 21st century via the inaction of law.
Iraq: 19 years of intended destruction
US and UK military, economic, political and cultural imperialism in Iraq is an outrage, upon Iraq, the Iraqi people, and the world. The intended destruction — or genocide — of Iraq as a state and nation has been ongoing for 19 years. It began with the imposition of the most draconian sanctions regime ever designed and that led to 1.5 million excess Iraqi deaths, including 500,000 children. Against overwhelming evidence of its catastrophic human impact, and increasing international condemnation, this sanctions regime was maintained under pressure of successive US and UK governments for 13 years.
The intended destruction — or genocide — of Iraq as a state and nation has been ongoing for 19 years. It began with the imposition of the most draconian sanctions regime ever designed and that led to 1.5 million excess Iraqi deaths, including 500,000 children Destroying Iraq included the purposeful targeting of its water and sanitation systems, despite forewarnings of the unavoidable consequences and manifest illegality of attacking the health-related facilities of a civilian population. Iraq was prohibited from rebuilding even basic civil infrastructure, and this infrastructure remains ruined after nearly seven years of US occupation.
Destroying Iraq has also included dropping, since 1990, thousands of tons of depleted uranium on Iraq, leading in some places to a 600 per cent rise in cancer and leukaemia cases, especially among children.
Destroying Iraq included 42 days of disproportionate bombing during the first Gulf War, with civilian governmental offices systematically destroyed. In 2003, having disarmed Iraq, the US and UK launched “Shock and Awe”, an air campaign that openly threatened “total destruction”. In both instances, war, where no distinction was enforced between military and civilian targets, saw the destruction of schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters, residential areas, and historical sites.
Destroying Iraq has included promoting, funding and organizing sectarian and ethnic groups bent on dividing Iraq into three or more sectarian or ethnic entities, backed by armed militias that would terrorize the Iraqi people, forcing Iraqis to seek protection by embracing their secondary sectarian or ethnic identity, or by fleeing the country. Since 2003, some 4.7 million Iraqis — one fifth of the population — have been forcibly displaced.
Destroying Iraq has included promoting, funding and organizing sectarian and ethnic groups bent on dividing Iraq into three or more sectarian or ethnic entities, backed by armed militias that would terrorize the Iraqi people Destroying Iraq has included purposefully dismantling the state by targeting and destroying state institutions, refusing to stop or stem — or by instigating — mass looting, and by engaging in ideological persecution, contrary to protected freedoms and rights and entailing “manhunting” and extrajudicial assassination, of Baathists, the entire educated class of the state apparatus, linguistic and religious minorities and Arab Sunnis, resulting in the total collapse of all public services and other economic functions and opening the way for civil strife and corruption.
Destroying Iraq has also included widespread campaigns of urbicide: destroying cities and towns and using terror in order to force Iraqis to accept the diktat of a belligerent foreign occupation. Allied with the promotion of sectarian militias and political forces, Coalition terror in Iraq has led, by credible estimates, to the violent deaths of over one million Iraqis since 2003 alone.
Destroying Iraq also has included recasting and redrafting — contrary to international humanitarian law — Iraq’s entire political environment in an attempt to render the future of Iraq dependent on US and UK strategic designs. Alongside the attempt to partition Iraq and to establish by military force a pro-occupation Iraqi government and political system, the US and UK governments have promoted and engaged in the massive plunder of Iraqi resources, attempting to privatize the property and means of wellbeing of the Iraqi nation.
Destroying Iraq has also entailed erasing Iraq’s heritage and unique cultural and archaeological history, by destroying monuments, museums, libraries and world heritage sites, and promoting chauvinism and corruption in the place of Iraq’s once advanced education system. By control of Iraqi media and promotion of violent sectarian political forces, the US and UK governments presented Iraqis with the choice between embracing allegiance to a belligerent foreign power and pre-industrial slavery at the hands of its local proxies.
Legal action and global moral responsibility
This is but the barest summary of the horrors Iraq has endured, all based on lies that nobody but cowed governments and complicit mainstream media believed. The US and UK governments instigated, supported, condoned, rationalized, executed and/or perpetuated or excused the destruction of Iraq based on lies and narrow strategic and economic interests, and against the will of their own people.
US and UK heads of government past and present — from Bush Sr to Obama, from Thatcher to Brown — have each played a key role, along with their subordinates, in the Iraq genocide. The accumulated pattern of consequences, foreknowledge, false propaganda, manipulation and manifest lies followed by systematic destructive actions on all levels, known and condoned, proves it genocide unequivocally.
The accumulated pattern of consequences, foreknowledge, false propaganda, manipulation and manifest lies followed by systematic destructive actions on all levels, known and condoned, proves it genocide unequivocally In 2003, millions worldwide were mobilized in opposition to war. In going ahead with the invasion of Iraq, the US and UK governments launched an illegal war of aggression. Allowing those responsible for the intended destruction of Iraq to escape accountability means such actions could be repeated elsewhere and that world public opinion will remain unheard. To help re-establish the rights of people everywhere, legal action is vital against those who so wilfully ignored public opinion and led their countries to a war that erased over one million lives.
In presenting a judicial challenge to impunity, our efforts stand in defence of humanity. Defending the Iraqi people promotes justice, freedom and dignity for all We are indeed before immoral and unlawful acts, contrary to the basis upon which the international order of state sovereignty and peace and security rests, and contrary to centuries of political struggle against oppression. Whereas official international justice is closed before the suffering of those that imperialism makes a target, through popular, ground-up legal action we can open a channel whereby the conscience of humanity can express its solidarity with justice for victims of imperial crimes.
In reality, the US-UK plan has failed. Against overwhelming violence, the Iraqi nation still resists. Our judicial action and call for further legal initiatives is in support of the right of resistance of the Iraqi people. It also gives notice that the violent aggression of the occupation is unsustainable, as are its lies. In presenting a judicial challenge to impunity, our efforts stand in defence of humanity. Defending the Iraqi people promotes justice, freedom and dignity for all.
When all is said, the question is not why judicial action, but rather how and when.
Ad Hoc Committee For Justice For Iraq
Dr Ian Douglas
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal, coordinator, International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq +20 12 167 1660 (English) [email protected]
Hana Al Bayaty
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal
+20 10 027 7964 (English and French) [email protected]
Abdul Ilah Albayaty
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Arabic) [email protected]
Advisory Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Spanish) [email protected]
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Dutch) [email protected]