Let me start by thanking WSIUI and Tahrir especially for organising this conference. As far as I know, this is the only event in the
how the events of the last 7 years are now presented in the west, and the
For conservative commentators here and in the US and even so-called liberal papers like the New York Times, the recent elections in Iraq – described as credible and plausible, it should be noted, rather than fair or free - make the entire invasion and occupation worthwhile. They bring a sense of closure to a necessary, if painful, process.
“Former President Bush’s gut instincts that this region craved democracy were always right,” wrote Thomas Friedman in a piece entitled “It’s up to the Iraqis now. Good luck.” You would think the last troops had already left, rather than 100,000
But, haven’t we been here before?
's new ruling elite show contempt for voters” Iraq
Toby Dodge writes in The Guardian (March 29th): “Those pointing to the election results as proof that Iraq has emerged from its post-invasion turmoil should take a lesson from the pages of recent history. The architects of the invasion, George Bush and Tony Blair, trumpeted the 2005 elections as a watershed moment that justified their decision to invade.”
LA Times reports (April 1st): A recently elected parliament member was in hiding after the Iraqi security forces raided his home this week on a warrant connected with a bombing case that had been settled in 2008 through a tribal mediation process. The arrest attempt was among a series of raids.
panel to bar 6 lawmakers from taking office Iraq
LA Times reports (March 30th): An Iraqi government commission said that it would bar six newly elected parliament members from office. The move would take away at least two seats from the secular Iraqiya list.
These stories were before the huge escalation in violence that began a few days ago. And they were moves made by the government itself.
Once again, Iraqis are compelled to go through these electoral processes to retrospectively justify western barbarism, fully aware that the outcome will be more violence and destruction, a further rationale for deferring
The everyday reality that occupied
State food aid package slashed – IRIN
Iraqi refugees still suffering seven years on -
1,400 checkpoints inside Iraqi capital -Azzaman
Baha Mousa inquiry: Eight or more civilians died in British custody -The Guardian
British military intelligence 'ran renegade torture unit in
' - The Independent Iraq
Marine to face court-martial in killings of 24 Iraqi civilians -LA Times
Fallujah doctors report rise in birth defects –BBC
Additionally: Research published in the American Journal of Public Health documents a tripling of leukaemia in children in the
region. War-related nerve agents and pesticides, and the widespread use of depleted uranium munitions by the Basra , are believed to be largely responsible. US
The word FRAUD is one of the most common in headlines – voter fraud, government fraud, private contractor fraud, financial fraud.
Blair Strikes Oil in
Barack Obama’s Administration has renamed its activities in the country ‘Operation New Dawn.’ Despite promising to withdraw all troops by August of this year, there remain nearly 100,000
No surprise: From Foreign Policy in Focus – A withdrawal in name only June 2009. After listing the loopholes in the State of
“Instead of sending soldiers stationed in cities home, the military has been expanding and building new bases in rural areas to accommodate soldiers affected by the June 30 deadline. And Congress just passed a war-spending bill that includes more funding for military construction inside
The point of all of this is to underline the continued relevance of our campaign Justice for
Justice for Iraq is a campaign launched at a mass meeting of anti-war activists held in London two years ago called by Iraq Occupation Focus.
It was one of a number of international initiatives inspired by the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research whose board member Hans von Sponeck was formerly UN Humanitarian Coordinator. It issued an important paper on the future of
The issues we wanted to address included:
What should happen to the tens of thousands of Iraqis, including children, still detained with no prospect of legal process? Who will clean up the cluster bombs and depleted uranium warheads, which in heavily bombarded areas such as Falluja have caused a huge increase in birth defects? How can
So we launched Justice for
We call on those states responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq to terminate their illegal and immoral war, and express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle for peace, justice and self-determination.
In particular, we demand:
1. An immediate end to the
2. Urgent action to fully address the current humanitarian crises facing Iraq's people, including help for the more than three million refugees and displaced persons;
3. An end to all foreign interference in
4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on
5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of
None of these issues have been addressed. The British government approach of Withdraw and forget, fully supported bv a pliant mainstream media, has made it difficult to generate a campaign around these essential demands. Additionally, the diminishing numbers of anti-war activists inevitably means that they will prioritise the most urgent issues.
But if Iraq as an issue is no longer capable of mobilising hundreds of thousands on the streets, there are still significant opportunities to advance our agenda – especially as we have been right on all the substantive issues.
WSIUI and IOF have built a platform of knowledge and expertise around these issues. We continue to generate and disseminate our ideas to thousands in the form of IOF’s fortnightly newsletter, our blog and website. Conferences like this, with the participation of the Stop the War Coalition are hugely important. The BRussells Tribunal is a brilliant initiative. It’s partly down to our work –your persistence – that Tony Blair remains a discredited liar, that the issue continues to make new headlines, that the government is forced to hold new enquiries.
So how do we take our campaign to the next level?
We are now in the run-up to a general election. The wars n
Tony Blair made a speech in his former constituency of Sedgefield a couple of weeks ago. He was picketed by anti-war activists. Novelist Sue Townsend, writing in The Guardian recently said she
‘ wept tears of shame, rage, and pity as British and American planes dropped their "strategic" bombs over
Neither can thousands of others who want to see Blair held to account and even tried for war crimes. We should be there every time he tries to speak in this election campaign, demanding he face prosecution for war crimes. We should call on Labour candidates to have nothing to do with him – no rehabilitation!
There are a few others worth seeking out, like Malcolm Rifkind, Conservative MP for Kensington, who headed ArmorGroup, until its recent takeover, which has made millions providing mercenary contractors in
And we should go after the corporations that have made and continue to make money out of
And we should ask all candidates – where do they stand on our demands? The millions of displaced people. The need for reparations. The prosecution – not just of a few soldiers – but those who authorised war, aerial bombardment, the torture of civilians. And we should publicise their answers – in the local press, on our blogs and websites, in press releases to the national media.
Just to say: MPs are very approachable at this time. Some are honest. Some are scoundrels. But most are ignorant. If we could get the knowledge and understanding here in this room today into their field of vision, I believe it would make a huge difference.
After the election there will be the Chilcot Report. Like previous reports, it will make criticisms of the way the war was authorised and conducted. But there must be consequences. If the war was illegal, unjustified and wrong, what about holding those responsible to account? What about compensation for the millions whose lives were disrupted and ruined? This provides a focus for public meetings, press work, legal initiatives and a range of activities that can advance our campaign.
So we have to take our ideas wherever the opportunity presents itself, developing our expertise, publicising the issues, briefing MPs, strengthening our ties with international co-thinkers and building our campaigning platform. No-one else will do this. No-one else is talking about these issues, except the people here today.
So we carry on. We may no longer have hundreds of thousands on the streets, but we have their tacit backing and goodwill. Polls show a majority of people want a complete end to military occupation and 40% are angry that it ever happened. The support for our work is real and deep-rooted. It must continue to encourage and inspire us in the struggles ahead.