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 US and UK-led occupation of Iraq;
  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 Iraq's affairs, including its oil industry, so that Iraqis can exercise their right to self-determination;
  4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on Iraq;
  5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of Iraq's resources.

We demand justice for Iraq.

This statement was adopted by the Justice for Iraq conference in London on 19th July 2008. We plan to publish this more widely in future. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters please contact us.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

For Iraqi women, America's promise of democracy is anything but liberation

Iraq's jailers learned their abuses from the allied occupiers. And under today's sectarian regime, women are under assault
A decade on from the US-led invasion of Iraq, the destruction caused by foreign occupation and the subsequent regime has had a massive impact on Iraqis' daily life – the most disturbing example of which is violence against women. At the same time, the sectarian regime's policy on religious garb is forcing women to retire their hard-earned rights across the spectrum: employment, freedom of movement, civil marriage, welfare benefits, and the right to education and health services.
Instead, they are seeking survival and protection for themselves and their families. But for many, the violence they face comes from the very institution that should guarantee their safety: the government. Iraqi regime officials often echo the same denials of the US-UK occupation authorities, saying that there are few or no women detainees. An increasing number of international and Iraqi human rights organizations reports otherwise.
The plight of women detainees was the starting point for the mass protests that have spread through many Iraqi provinces since 25 December 2012. Their treatment by the security forces has been a bleeding wound – and one shrouded in secrecy, especially since 2003. Women have been routinely detained as hostages – a tactic to force their male loved ones to surrender to security forces, or confess to crimes ascribed to them. Banners and placards carried by hundreds of thousands of protesters portray images of women behind bars pleading for justice.
According to Mohamed al-Dainy, an Iraqi MP, there was 1,053 cases of documented rape (pdf) cases by the occupying troops and Iraqi forces between 2003 and 2007. Lawyers acting on behalf of former detainees say that UK detention practices between 2003 and 2008 included unlawful killings, beatings, hooding, sleep deprivation, forced nudity and sexual humiliation, sometimes involving women and children. The abuses were endemic, allege the detainees' lawyers, arising from the "systems, management culture and training" of the British military.
These same occupation forces trained Iraqi forces. Abuses often occurred under the supervision of US commanders, who were unwilling to intervene, as the Washington Post reported:
"Of all the bloodshed in Iraq, none may be more disturbing than the campaign of torture and murder being conducted by US-trained government police forces."
In the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, detainees were handed over to Iraqi forces. This enabled them to be tortured, while occupation troops could disclaim responsibility.
Today, Iraq can boast one of the highest execution rates in the world. In a single day, 19 January 2012, 34 individuals, including two women, were executed – an act described by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay as shocking:
"Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq."
No wonder, ten years after the invasion, the Iraqi authorities are accused by US-based Human Rights Watch of "violating with impunity the rights of Iraq's most vulnerable citizens, especially women and detainees". HRW's account is echoed by a report by the Iraqi parliament's own human rights and women, family and children's committees, which found that there are 1,030 women detainees suffering from widespread abuse, including threats of rape.
Responding to these findings, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to "arrest those members of parliament who had discussed the violence against women detainees". Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has acknowledged that there are 13,000 prisoners in custody accused of terror offences, but he only mentioned women detainees in passing:
"We transferred all women prisoners to prisons in their home provinces."
Al-Shahristani's statement is one in a long list of contradictory and misleading statements by the regime's most senior officials – from al-Maliki speaking of "not more than a handful of women terrorists", to his contradictory promise that he will pardon all "women detainees who have been arrested without a judicial order or in lieu of a crime committed by some of their male relatives". That assurance was followed by parading nine women, cloaked in black from head to toe, on the official state TV channel, al-Iraqiya, as a gesture of the regime's "good will".
Protesters and Iraqi human rights organizations estimate that there are as many as 5,000 female detainees. The truth is leaking out, drip by drip. A few weeks ago, 168 women detainees were released and there were promises of another 32 waiting to be released. No one accused of torture, rape or abuse has yet been brought to justice.
And it was all supposed to be so different. That was what Iraqi women were promised.
A political quota system, established in post-invasion Iraq, was designed to ensure that at least 25% of the members of the parliament were women. That was applauded as a great achievement of the "New Iraq" – compared with 8% female representation under Ba'athist regime. But this token statistic has repeatedly been trotted out to cover up the regime's crimes against women.
In reality, the al-Maliki government has since dispensed with the quota for government posts: there is only one woman minister among 44 positions. But even this appointment contains a grim irony: the minister for women's affairs, Ibtihal al-Zaidi, didn't hesitate to announce:
"I am against the equality between men and woman. If women are equal to men, they are going to lose a lot."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many women's organisations have demanded the abolition of the ministry of women's affairs after the minister adopted a position against, rather than for, women's rights.
Human rights, including women's rights, are a litmus test for democracy. Statements by senior officials, including the prime minister himself, show that – contrary to what some Iraqis had hoped for – the "liberators" have actually set the conditions for the continuity of injustice. And that, in turn, gives rise to extremism.

Monday 25 February 2013

Iraq’s decade of catastrophe

Ten years after the invasion, it is the Iraqi people who continue to suffer the consequences, argues Mike Phipps
The US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003 had wide-ranging consequences. It provoked Britain’s largest ever demonstration, two million people on the streets in one day. More than any other event, it led to the downfall of Tony Blair and determined how history would see him: a discredited liar. It neither eliminated the threat of Al Qaeda nor made the streets of Britain safer. But it is in Iraq that the most profound consequences are still being felt.
The invasion was an unmitigated catastrophe. It left a million and a half dead, 800,000 missing and a million disabled.  It created five million refugees. “More than five million children in Iraq are deprived of "basic rights," the United Nations said in November.
 In 2004, the city of Fallujah was flattened, with around 5,000 civilians killed. The consequences of that bombardment are still being felt. Several studies reveal dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in the city. Dr Chris Busby, the co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, called this "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied". The Independent reported, “There is ‘compelling evidence’ to link the increased numbers of defects and miscarriages to military assaults, says Mozhgan Savabieasfahani,” the author of one of the reports.
Not only were the ends of this war based on lies, the means were also tarnished. The full truth about the conduct of British troops is also still emerging. Lawyers representing nearly 200 Iraqis are, ten years on, fighting in the High Court to get a judicial inquiry into years of abuse by British forces.
The Evening Standard reported on 29th January, “The allegations involve killings and torture at British-controlled detention centres between March 2003 and December 2008. The court heard of an eight-year-old girl shot dead as she played in a street with her friends in daylight. A man was also shot dead as he queued for petrol, a teacher was hooded and abused in front of his son and his subsequent death was officially described as ‘natural causes’ and there were a number of drownings.” The Observer asked: “Is Britain guilty of systemic torture in Iraq?”
The puppet government the occupation gave Iraq is also a disaster.  The US-led occupation organised electoral lists on the basis of religious affiliation. Victory meant jobs, favours and kickbacks for the group in question. Sectarianism was institutionalised by the occupation, creating a framework for future conflict.
Today the al-Maliki government routinely tortures and executes its political opponents. Mothers and sisters are frequently detained if suspects cannot be found.  “Iraq’s leadership used draconian measures against opposition politicians, detainees, demonstrators, and journalists, effectively squeezing the space for independent civil society and political freedoms in Iraq,” Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2013.
Wholesale corruption riddles public life. Iraq got $100 billion in oil revenues last year but most Iraqis still get only six hours of electricity a day. The health and education sectors are barely recovering, joblessness is over 50% and clean water is scarce. Recent floods saw raw sewage running through the streets of Baghdad.
In recent weeks, Iraqi cities have been hit by huge demonstrations against the government. These are non-sectarian, united mobilisations, with one of the main demands being an end to torture and rape in Iraq’s jails. Protests began on 25th December 2012 when more than 200,000 people demonstrated. They expanded to cities all over the country, in which hundreds of thousands participated.
They have been met with repression. Police shot dead eight unarmed demonstrators in Fallujah, but this response is only strengthening people’s resolve. “The people in Iraq cannot bear any longer to be the victims of this government assigned by the Anglo-American occupation,” observed Iraqi academic Souad Al-Azzawi.
And the occupiers? The US continues to keep a significant military presence in Iraq. It still has 80,000 Iraqi artifacts and refuses to give them back to the Iraq Museum. Like the UK, it has never paid a penny in compensation for all the havoc it wrought.
Here, ten years on, we still await the Chilcot Report into Britain’s role. 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?
Scant chance. Rather than learn the lessons of this disaster, the government seems hell-bent on invading new countries. It’s up to us to ensure that the lessons of the Iraq debacle are not forgotten.

Friday 22 February 2013

Appeal from Stockholm

Help put accountability for the destruction of Iraq´s cultural heritage on the agenda during the 10th anniversary year of the US-led invasion! Join us in supporting an international effort to bring attention to the facts by arranging candlelight vigils and by leafleting visitors outside as many museums as possible on Wednesday April 10, 2013 for a few hours. This was an initiative started by Donny George, the now deceased former Museum Director and was on many occasions repeated by organization Saving Antiquities (SAFE).  It is a tradition worth maintaining, especially in this anniversy year.   __
Let 2013 be a campaign year “For Justice and Accountability for Iraq” in all areas. The world will not forget the criminal destruction of Iraqi culture.
Contact us if you can arrange a small vigil or protest on this date in your city.
The Iraq Solidarity Association in Stockholm                                info@iraksolidaritet.se

Example of leaflet text
            Dig for culture, not for oil!
On April 10-12 2003 the national museum in Baghdad was looted as US troops stood by to protect the Ministry of Oil. Countless artifacts were stolen, most have never been returned. Valuable religious minority archives were seized and brought to the US where they remain. Numerous monuments of historical importance were desecrated and destroyed. The ancient ruins of Babylon were flattened in places to build landing pads for coalition helicopters! Much of this destruction could have been foreseen and avoided. Aghast at the destruction of one of the cradles of civilization, the French President described the situation as a “crime against humanity”. Today, a pipeline for transporting oil has been drawn under the ruins in Babylon, further threatening our world heritage. This must be stopped!
We demand:
That the UNESCO resolution adopted on protecting Iraq culture be fully implemented
That all trade in stolen artifacts be vigorously stopped and the criminal perpetrators be persecuted and
That the US, as the occupying power, be held responsible for the restoration of destroyed cultural sites and the return of stolen property.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Open letter to oil companies operating in Iraq

Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative writes (February 16th): We strongly urge that all international oil companies operating in Iraq:
1 – Respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi people over their natural resources, and noting the lack of legitimacy of their contracts, to relinquish any claims to rights over Iraqi oil.
2 – With oil companies now having taken the place of foreign troops in compromising Iraqi sovereignty, set a timetable for their withdrawal, while transferring technology to Iraq’s national oil companies.
3 – Stop exacerbating tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central Government of Iraq, by ceasing to exploit oil until a stable national accord has been achieved.
4 – Promote transparency in the oil sector in Iraq, by publishing details of all contracts.
5 – Support the passage of an Iraqi Labor Law that guarantees all Iraqi workers.
6 – Adopt clear policies to protect the Iraqi environment.
7 – Agree that the security and protection of personnel and equipment in all Iraqi oilfields should be exclusively under the authority of national Iraqi security forces.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Sectarianism, Corruption and Torture... It Is Not Worth IT

 writes for Huffington Post

When Madeleine Albright asked in May 1996 about the death of half a million Iraqi children as a result of UN sanctions, she said: "we think the price is worth it." By "it" she meant US interests, propping US hegemony, and preparing for regional military action.
But in 2003 George Bush, Tony Blair and company labelled "it" Iraqis' human rights. Bush said: "Every woman in Iraq is better off because the rape rooms and torture chambers of Saddam Hussein are forever closed." Paul Bremer, head of occupation authorities, told the world Iraqis "do not have to worry about the secret police. Those days are over."
The reality is different.
The shock and awe that the US and UK subjected Iraqis to was not just the bombardment and destruction of their infrastructure but the abuses and torture. The occupiers paved the way for their continuity.
Human Rights Watch's 2012 report noted that the human rights of Iraqis "are violated with impunity". In 2013 HRW reported Iraq's security forces' continued use of "threats, violence, and arrests of protesters and journalists" and that units from three ministries, as well as from the prime minister's office, have "secret prisons" outside the law, and that there was a "record number of executions in 2012."
The regime is consumed by sectarian, ethnic division, but above all by corruption, squandering $600 billion of oil revenue, 10 times as much as what Iraq has gained from oil for the previous 70 years. Meanwhile, thousands of US "diplomats", Security contractors, CIA operatives and Special Operations units occupy the biggest embassy compound in the region, adjoining and effectively manipulating the government in central Baghdad.
Since 2003 over one million Iraqis died by airstrikes, checkpoint shootings, mercenaries, car bombs, and suicide bombers. Only 150,000 are acknowledged. Typical of the killers is the US soldier who said: "We'd open up on anything. They even didn't have to be armed. We were keeping scores." For him, Iraqis are "not even people, you know. Like, they're not humans."
Over 44% of the regime's budget is spent on security: 800,000 army, police, Special Forces and private security contractors to protect high officials and members of the parliament. A bureaucracy that has doubled in size since 2003 swallows most of the rest: mostly a parasitic social base. Meantime households endure 18 hours without electricity, no clean water (70%) and no functioning sanitation (80%). In Baghdad, nearly two-thirds of the city's sewage still flows untreated to rivers and other waterways.
Oxfam reported in 2007 that 92% of Iraq's children have learning impediments. Kidnapping and assassination of professionals forced whoever canto flee. With hundreds of journalists killed hardly any independent foreign reporter is left inside Iraq.
As for women's rights; Mu'ta, and polygamy have taken us back a century. Mu'ta is a temporary marriage custom revived after 2003. A religious figure blesses a 'fixed term contract' for a few hours or years for a small dowry. A sanctioned form of prostitution for poor woman. Polygamy is presented as a solution to the huge number of widows.
Women are often detained to force their fleeing male relatives to surrender or admit crimes. Sexual abuses and the threats of rape are practised with impunity against both men and women. A detained Imam told a delegation of Iraqi MPs; "They forced us to talk by raping us'." Echoing US' Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004, Amnesty International describes a wing of a Baghdad's prison where "interrogators sodomized detainees with sticks and pistol barrels. Some young men said they had been forced to perform oral sex on interrogators and guards " and if not confess "threatened to rape the women and girls in their families". BBC Arabic reported the death of 34 detainees under torture in the last four months alone.
These systematic abuses are intended, but have failed to break people's will. For seven weeks now hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are demonstrating, in many cities calling for reforms and regime change.
While torture under Saddam was limited, mainly, to those who opposed the regime's unilateral rule, the occupation and subsequent Iraqi regime targeted a wide spectrum of the population. A crime designed to couple collective humiliation with intimidation and terror. We did not struggle for decades to exchange a tyranny with several fragmented tyrannies of a more barbaric nature to add to blatant theft of national wealth and lack of basic services. Those responsible for this tragedy must be held accountable.

Sunday 3 February 2013

High Court Hears of ‘Terrifying Acts of Brutality’ by British Troops in Iraq

Antiwar.com reports (January 29th): British troops that fought the US-led war in Iraq were accused in a High Court inquiry of “terrifying acts of brutality” against Iraqi civilians in a potentially “systematic” wa Lawyers representing 192 Iraqis asking for a public inquiry into British detention practices in Iraq between 2003 and 2008 submitted an 82-age document detailing the numerous allegations of abuse, including extra-judicial killings and torture.
“The court heard of an eight-year-old girl shot dead as she played in a street with her friends in daylight,” reports the London Evening Standard. “A man was also shot dead as he queued for petrol, a teacher was hooded and abused in front of his son and his subsequent death was officially described as “natural causes” and there were a number of drownings.”