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.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Iraq - the killing continues

Mike Phipps finds no grounds for optimism in recent developments.

2016 began badly for human rights in Iraq. Here are some headlines from the first few weeks of the year, focusing on the crimes of ISIS.

ISIS executes 80 people by firing squad in central Nineveh - Iraqi News (January 9th).
ISIS executes 12 people for refusing to fight security forces in Mosul - Iraqi News (January 9th).
Islamic State holding estimated 3,500 slaves in Iraq, says UN - The Guardian (January 19th).
ISIS executes 9 who fled from the combat in Mosul - Iraqi News (January 20th).
Mass grave in Iraq's Ramadi holds at least 40 Islamic State victims: - Reuters (January 28th).

Buzzfeed reported on January 9th: “The United Nations released a report revealing the “staggering” levels of violence against civilians that occurred in the Iraq conflict between Jan. 1, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2015. The U.N.’s Assistance Mission to the country spoke to victims, survivors, and witnesses of violations of international human rights or humanitarian law, and concluded that the militant group ISIS continued to commit “systemic and widespread violence” that “may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.”

Among the figures quoted in the article, the following stand out:
A total of 18,802 civilians were killed in the conflict between January 1st, 2014, and October 31st, 2015.
Between January 1st, 2014, and October 31st, 2015, 36,235 civilians were wounded.
A total of 3,206,736 people were internally displaced between January 1st, 2014, and September 29th, 2015.
An estimated 439 civilians were killed in air strikes, and hundreds more were wounded.

The last statistic underlines that not all the carnage can be laid at the door of ISIS. US air strikes continue to inflict civilian casualties, as does the shelling of the Iraqi Army. But the activities of irregulars in areas freed from ISIS control is also a major concern. Al Jazeera reported on December 4th: “Sunni Muslims are facing forced evictions, abductions, and other serious human rights abuses in areas of Iraq freed from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) control, the United Nations said. Analysts have warned that Sunni Arabs are being discriminated against in Iraq by either the Shia-led government in Baghdad or Kurdish forces in the north, helping to radicalise communities and setting back efforts to defeat ISIL.”

A few days later, Reuters reported: “Two unpublished investigations show that the United States has consistently overlooked killings and torture by Iraqi government-sponsored Shi'ite militias.” The report documented how a Shia militia organisation under the control of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ran secret prisons and carried out systematic kidnapping and assassinations. This was covered up by both the US and Iraqi Administrations. It concluded: “Washington’s policy of expediency has achieved some of its short-term aims. But in allowing the Shi’ite militias to run amok against their Sunni foes, Washington has fueled the Shia-Sunni sectarian divide that is tearing Iraq apart.” http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/mideast-crisis-iraq-militias/

On January 28th, Niqash reported that Diyala province was undergoing “ethnic and sectarian ‘cleansing’” at the hands of Shia militias and Kurdish troops, with Sunnis not being allowed to return to their homes following the expulsion of ISIS.

Al Jazeera also reported the mass destruction of Arab homes in northern Iraq by Kurdish forces. In what may amount to war crimes, “Kurdish forces bulldozed, blew up and burned down thousands of homes in Arab villages to avenge perceived support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group after capturing the areas,” according to a report produced by Amnesty International.

A few days earlier a report by Human Rights Watch also highlighted the targeting of civilians by militias: “Kurdish and Shia Turkmen armed groups have repeatedly harmed and endangered civilians in clashes in Iraq’s Tuz Khurmatu district, in Salah al-Din province, since October 2015. The armed groups have killed, wounded, and abducted civilians and destroyed scores, if not hundreds, of homes and shops.”

And on January 31st, Reuters reported, “The abduction and killing of scores of Sunni civilians in eastern Iraq this month and attacks on their property by Iranian-backed Shi'ite militiamen could constitute a war crime, Human Rights Watch said.”

Meanwhile Germany is sending more troops to Iraq, the US admit they actually concealed the real numbers of its troops stationed in the country, the Czechs are sending more materiel and Turkey is still fighting Kurdish rebels on Iraqi soil. And as War on Want’s recent report “Mercenaries Unleashed” highlighted, large numbers of unregulated private military security contractors continue to operate in the country.

Britain too plans to continue its bombing campaign this year. Whether the start of 2017 will look any better for ordinary Iraqis is anyone’s guess.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter No 295

Iraq Occupation Focus
Newsletter No. 295
February 4th, 2016

Diyala Province Undergoing Violent Ethnic and Sectarian Cleansing

Niqash reports (January 28th): Locals in Diyala province say the area is undergoing ethnic and sectarian “cleansing”. Sunnis are not being allowed back into the multi-ethnic province, post the Islamic State.

U.S. military changes how it discloses civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria

Washington Post reports (January 26th): As the U.S. military prepares to expand its operations against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria, it has altered how and when it discloses sensitive information about when it kills civilians with airstrikes.
In recent days, U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East from its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., announced the results of investigations into 10 airstrikes “alleged to have resulted in civilian casualties and determined to be credible.” The first five were announced Jan. 15, and the second five were disclosed a week later.

Czechs to send guns, ammunition to Iraq and Jordan to fight Islamic State

Reuters report (January 25th): The Czech government voted to send guns and ammunition to Iraq and Jordan to support the fight against Islamic State, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said.

U.S. to Put 'Boots on the Ground' in Iraq to Combat ISIL

Alternet reports (January 22nd): Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the U.S. will deploy "boots on the ground" in Iraq to help local forces fight the so-called Islamic State. The policy shift is a turnaround from the Obama's White House's previous stance of not deploying combat troops in Iraq and one sure to shape the foreign policy debate in the 2016 election.