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Thread: World Tribunal On Iraq To Commence Today

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    World Tribunal On Iraq To Commence Today

    World Tribunal On Iraq To Commence Today

    23 Jun 2005

    23rd June, 2005, Istanbul "The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) has been convened to bring international law to bear on America" aggressive behaviour around the world, with particular emphasis on the Iraq war. This represents an historic attempt by the people of the world to hold states and their leaders responsible for severe violations of international law. The Tribunal has both symbolic and substantive significance as a step toward the establishment of global democracy,' said Richard Falk, UNESCO peace prize holder and Professor of International Law, at a press conference held today at Darphane-i Amire in Topkapi Palace Grounds. The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) will start tomorrow, June 24, at 09.00 am.

    Professor Richard Falk is the co-coordinator for the Tribunal's Panel of Advocates together with Turgut Tarhanl?, Professor of International Law and Human Rights Law. Speakers at the press conference also included Hilal Küey and Hulya Üçp?nar from the Izmir Bar Association and Müge Sökmen from the WTI Coordination. The Tribunal will be launched by a concert at the same venue tonight at 20.30 with renowned artists from Turkey as well as Omar Bashir from Iraq.

    The WTI participants from around the world include Iraqi witnesses and experts as well as distinguished international figures such as Dennis Halliday, former Assistant to the UN Secretary General and Director of the UN Humanitarian Aid Programme, Souad Naji Al-Azzawi, Director of the Doctorate Programme in Environmental Engineering in Iraq and Phil Shiner, a human rights lawyer who has uncovered evidence that U.S. troops have tortured detainees in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Jury of Conscience is chaired by award-winning author Arundathi Roy and is comprised of 15 people from different parts of the world with different areas of expertise.

    The Tribunal will consist of three days of hearings investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media, as well as the destruction of the cultural sites and the environment. The session in Istanbul is the culminating session of commissions of inquiry and hearings held around the world over the past two years (1). They have compiled a definitive historical record of evidence about the invasion and the occupation.

    The Istanbul session of the WTI will summarize and present further testimony on the (il)legality and criminal violations in the U.S. pretexts for and the conduct of this war. The expert opinion, witness testimony, video and image evidence will address the impact of war on civilians, the torture of prisoners, the (un)lawful imprisonment of Iraqis without charges or legal defense, the use of depleted uranium weapons, the effects of the war on Iraq's infrastructure, the destruction of Iraqi cultural institutions, and the liability of the invaders before international law for failing to protect these treasures of humanity.

    The organisers of WTI have extended an invitation on the17th of May to U.S. President George W. Bush as well as the U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to attend the Tribunal and present their case. No reply has been received as of today.

    A United States television network, Deep Dish TV, will provide a global broadcast of the World Tribunal on Iraq. Deep Dish is offering all media outlets a free one hour program for television or audio downlink each of the four days of the conference (2).

    The official web site for WTI will be offering live audio and video streaming of the Tribunal hearings in addition to the daily updates.

    1. Sessions on different topics related to the war on Iraq were held in London, Mumbai, Copenhagen, Brussels, New York, Japan, Stockholm, South Korea, Rome, Frankfurt, Geneva, Lisbon and Spain

    2. Satellite Downlink Coordinates and Times for free rebroadcast:
    June 24, 2100 - 2200 GMT / 1700 - 1800 US (ET) / 0000 - 0100 Turkish Time (6/25)
    June 25, 2100 - 2200 GMT / 1700 - 1800 US (ET) / 0000 - 0100 Turkish Time (6/26)
    June 26, 2100 - 2200 GMT / 1700 - 1800 US (ET) / 0000 - 0100 Turkish Time (6/27)
    June 27, 1000 - 1100 GMT / 0600 - 0700 US (ET) / 1300 - 1400 Turkish Time (6/27)

    Europe and the Middle East - Eutelsat WI, Transponder B3
    U.S ? Galaxy 10R, Transponder 9K, Slot A.
    For More Information Contact:
    Deep Dish TV - tel: 212 473 8933 - email: -

    You can click to read Richard Falk's statement at press conference

    For more information and interview requests please contact:
    Tolga Temuge, International Communications and Media Coordinator, on +(90) 533 644 4687 or,
    WTI Office in Istanbul, + (90) 212 244 7370 or,
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    What Do the American People Know and When Did They Know It?
    From the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul


    A profound sense of disappointment with the American people greeted me here in Istanbul where the final session of the World Tribunal on Iraq, investigating and documenting war crimes in Iraq, modeled on the Bertrand Russell Vietnam War Tribunal of 1967, is convening. The mood is the opposite of what I encountered here and elsewhere after the anti-war demonstrations of 2002 and 2003. Back then, enormous sympathy for victims of 9/11, and respect for a people who took to the streets to try to stop their government from committing acts of aggression before the invasion had even begun, had generated admiration and warmth toward Americans, if not their government. After all, people said, Bush stole the 2000 election. And, look, they would point out, Americans are trying to stop him. Americans are good people with a bad government -- just like everywhere else -- they would declare, and curse Bin Laden and Bush in one swift, contemptuous breath.

    Now, however, I get confused looks, pained questions, and heads shaking quietly in disbelief and disappointment. Don’t the American people know, I am asked, again and again. Explain please, they persist, how, after the publication of pictures from Abu Ghraib, Bush got re-elected? Don’t the American people watch the news from Iraq? Where did the protests, the outrage, the uproar go?

    This is not just a sad turn of events; it is a profoundly dangerous situation for the American people. Mass murder of civilians is rarely the work of lonesome nuts operating totally outside of societal norms and beliefs. On the contrary, scratch the surface of most of the horrors of the twentieth century, and you will find a cold, cruel belief that the victims brought it upon themselves. Everyone shakes their head and loudly condemns the atrocity once the bodies are cold and deep under the earth; however, a close examination of the events as they occurred often reveals that there was an implicit and explicit turning of hearts and faces away from the people who ended up slaughtered. The perception of indifference and complicity of the American people to the crimes committed by their government is obviously not a good development.

    Let me try to be even more blunt: if there had been another attack on American soil around or after the February 15, 2003 protests, I believe that Islamist terrorism would take a nosedive in legitimacy in the Middle East. Let alone being able to recruit would-be militants willing to kill civilians, such groups would find it difficult to try to defend themselves from the people of the region who would want to tear them from limb to limb. But now, I fear, many people would shrug, with sadness for sure, if America were to be attacked again. Of course, most people do not wish such catastrophe upon the American people, but there seems to be a growing level of indifference and dislike towards Americans because they are perceived to have turned away from the crimes of their government. And this is a made-in-heaven environment for recruitment for terrorist groups. Just as our recruiters find it harder and harder to find volunteers for the U.S. military, their recruiters, I sense, are finding it easier and easier. It is, after all, a connected situation, a see-saw of legitimacy.

    At first I tried explain my questioners about the corporate control of media and the lack of grassroots organizations, but, honestly, it all rings a bit hollow. In the shops, on the buses and the ferries, and among the participants of the Tribunal, everywhere, people persist: don’t they have Internet; don’t they have alternative media; is nothing reported about Iraq at all? What on earth is up? I also tried to tell people about the stubborn remains of the anti-war movement, of the many people who oppose the war and find it hard to find a way to register their opposition, of the disregard for public opinion this administration has shown, the attempts at alternative media, organizing, congressional hearings… It was clear from the way my comments were received that it all sounded like I was making excuses for a people who have indeed, at least for the moment, seem to have shut out the systematic torture and the brutal occupation out of their minds and hearts.

    I realized I needed to do something else. I needed to talk about things apart from the general positive things you can say about most any country -- that there are people who remain committed to justice and peace, even during the hardest of times. I needed to explain that are almost-singularly and deeply American challenges to the shameful acts of this administration. That what we are witnessing is also a struggle between different American values, and the results are far from certain.

    I started telling people about Navy Lt. Commander Charles Swift.

    Lieutenant Commander Swift, a military lawyer, you see, was assigned to defend Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who served as a driver for Osama bin Ladin. Hamdan was charged before the kangaroo military commissions set up by the Pentagon to try to provide a sense of legitimacy to the detentions in Guantanamo and elsewhere. People like Mr. Hamdan were charged first with the hopes that, finding it impossible to mount a plausible defense, they would plead guilty, in return for reduced time. Their participation, it was hoped, would make the process appear somewhat acceptable, if not perfect.

    Commander Swift and other military lawyers, however, put a stop to that charade. They launched a vigorous defense, going all the way up to the Supreme Court -- even filing lawsuits in civilian courts in their own names on behalf of their clients who have no such access. They challenged every aspect of the process, from the judges, to the rules of evidence, to the tribunals themselves. They maintained that their clients had the right to presumption of innocence, just like everyone else, and that the charges against them would have to proven, not assumed. (In fact, Mr. Hamdan maintains he was just a driver for hire trying to make a living.)

    Cmdr. Swift and others persisted, and remarkably, they have torn apart the whole sham -- very deservedly so. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld produced a stunning loss to the administration as Judge James Robertson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that President Bush “had both overstepped his constitutional bounds and improperly brushed aside the Geneva Conventions in establishing military commissions to try detainees at the United States naval base here as war criminals.” Cmdr. Swift and other military lawyers have been traveling at home and abroad, openly and loudly denouncing the military commission system as illegitimate, unfair and unacceptable.

    People gasp with disbelief as they ponder these American career military lawyers, randomly assigned to defend people their government has designated as terrorists and locked up without charges, during a process clearly designed to provide not justice but a fig-leaf show-trial, taking on the executive branch so boldly and openly. How many countries, I ask, produce men of such integrity in their armed forces who would actually defend Osama Bin Ladin’s driver as a client innocent until proven guilty? Would you, I ask? Yes, there is a very ugly, cruel side to U.S. foreign policy and imperialism, but there is also this.

    I also remind people about the Taguba report, produced by Filipino-American Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, son of Sgt. Tomas Taguba, who had escaped from Japanese custody in the Bataan Death March during World War II, but was retired from the U.S. army without recognition -- receiving a Bronze star and a Prisoner of War medal only at the age of eighty. I tell people that it seemed as if this son had remembered the racism, cruelty and discrimination his father had encountered in his military career --and from the Japanese forces during the war-- when writing that bold expose of the wrongs in Abu Ghraip. And this man, I remind people, is a general in the U.S. army. He chose not to produce a cover-up that would surely please some of his superiors, and brush the moral wrongs he discovered back under the carpet. This too is America, I say.

    Lastly, I remind people of the many Americans who have traveled to this Tribunal to join the world in holding their government accountable. From lawyers here from Center for Constitutional Rights and groups, to women of CodePink who showed up in hot pink skirts and t-shirts with anti-war slogans, to folks from Deep Dish TV who have arrived here with their equipment in order to provide a global broadcast, to renowned academics like Richard Falk who gave a deeply moving opening speech, to the many alternative media journalists struggling to carry these voices back home, Americans are a well-represented contingent. This too is a face of America, I say. I hope that face perseveres, people respond. I do too, I say, I do too.

    I also hope we can do more than hope.

    Zeynep Toufe will be blogging from the World Tribunal on Iraq at her blog,
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Culminating Session Of World Tribunal On Iraq Starts In Istanbul

    Published: 6/24/2005

    ISTANBUL - Culminating session of the ''World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI)'' started in Istanbul's historical building of Darphane-i Amire on Friday.

    Making opening remarks of the culminating session, Arundhati Roy, spokesperson of the Jury of Conscience, said, ''the testimonies at the previous sessions of the WTI in Brussels and New York have demonstrated that even those of us who have tried to follow the war in Iraq closely are not aware of a fraction of the horrors that have been unleashed in Iraq.''

    ''The Jury of Conscience at this tribunal is not here to deliver a simple verdict of guilty or not guilty against the United States and its allies. We are here to examine a vast spectrum of evidence about the motivations and consequences of the U.S. invasion and occupation, evidence that has been deliberately marginalized or suppressed. This tribunal is an attempt to correct the record. To document the history of the war not from the point of view of the victors but of the temporarily - and I repeat the word temporarily - vanquished,'' she said.

    Roy noted, ''let me say categorically that this tribunal is the defense. It is an act of resistance in itself. It is a defense mounted against one of the most cowardly wars ever fought in history, a war in which international institutions were used to force a country to disarm and then stood by while it was attacked with a greater array of weapons than has ever been used in the history of war. Second, this tribunal is not in any way a defense of Saddam Hussein. His crimes against all Iraqi people cannot be written off in the process of bringing to light Iraq's more recent and still unfolding tragedy. However, we must not forget that when Saddam Hussein was committing his worst crimes, the U.S. government was supporting him politically and materially. Saddam Hussein is being tried as a war criminal even as we speak. But what about those who helped to install him in power, who armed him, who supported him, and who are now setting up a tribunal to try him and absolve themselves completely?''

    Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the Panel of Advocates, Richard Falk said, ''the WTI is remarkable for two principal reasons: WTI bears witness to the depth and persistence of the popular mobilization of people throughout the world in opposition to the Iraq War. Such a mobilization against a particular war has never occurred before on such a scale. It started with the massive street demonstrations before the war on Feb. 15th 2003 in which some 11 million people took part in 80 countries and more than 600 urban communities. The second reason for claiming historical significance on behalf of WTI relates to this initiative of, by, and for citizens to hold leaders accountable for severe violations of international law, especially in relation to matters of war and peace.

    ''Of course, this tribunal does not pretend to be a normal court of law with powers of enforcement. At the same time, it is acting on behalf of the peoples of the world to uphold respect for international law. The U.S. government told a pack of lies in its feeble attempt to find a legal justification for the invasion of Iraq. The WTI will expose these lies by presenting evidence and testimony,'' he stressed.

    Falk noted, ''this tribunal differs from a normal court of law in the following main respects: it is an organ of civil society, not of the state, and its essential purpose is to confirm the truth, not to discover it.''

    ''The United States justifies every abuse by pointing to the September 11th attacks. These attacks, even if they are what is claimed, do not justify aggression against states or the torture of individuals,'' he said.

    Falk added, ''it should also be observed that Turkey is an appropriate site for this culminating session of the WTI since Turkey stands at the crossroads between the old European geopolitical core and the Third World periphery. It was Turkey's proudest moment when its parliament refused the request of the US Government to mount the invasion of Iraq from Turkish territory; this represented an expression of an increasingly robust democratic process here in Turkey.''

    Speaking at the first session on ''The Role of International Law and Institutions'', Hans von Sponeck, former coordinator of the United Nations Humanitarian Aid Program for Iraq, said, ''the United Nations Secretariat acquiesced when the United States and Britain, two founding members of the United Nations, insisted in the Security Council on an economic sanctions regime that caused a human tragedy. The United Nations Secretariat remained mute when these same governments dropped out of the international community to unilaterally mount an illegal invasion into Iraq. In the history books of the United Nations the handling of the Iraq conflict by the Security Council will be recorded as a massive failure of oversight responsibility.''

    He eulogized the Turkish parliament's decision to reject deployment of U.S. soldiers in Turkey, and use of Turkish ports and airports by the United States to transport military personnel and equipment to Iraq.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    'Tribunal' accuses US, Britain of warcrimes in Iraq

    By Ayla Jean Yackley
    Updated: 12:48 p.m. ET June 24, 2005

    ISTANBUL - International anti-war advocates accused the United States and Britain on Friday of committing war crimes in the invasion and occupation of Iraq in a symbolic "tribunal" in Turkey's largest city.

    Former U.N. officials, legal experts and human rights activists said they convened the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), to examine whether the 2003 invasion was an "illegal aggressive war". It has no binding authority and no officials were present to defend the U.S.-led war. A "verdict" is due on Monday.

    U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair declined invitations to appear at the tribunal.

    "The war and occupation challenges us to face the threat to international law by the actions of the U.S. and UK," said British international human rights lawyer Phil Shiner.

    "The International Criminal Court (should) fulfil its functions to make those responsible for these war crimes and crimes against humanity accountable through principles of individual criminal liability," he said.

    The lack of U.N. support for the war and "disproportionate" use of military force had violated international law, he said.

    The U.S. and British governments have argued Iraq's suspected breach of U.N. resolutions on weapons of mass destruction had made the invasion legal and necessary.

    Some panel members also took the U.N. to task.

    "The United Nations failed in preventing unjust economic sanctions, an illegal war and carnage under occupation," said Hans von Sponeck, U.N. assistant secretary-general until 2000.

    "The U.N. remained mute when (the United States and Britain) dropped out of the international community to unilaterally mount an illegal invasion into Iraq," he said.

    The proceedings consisted of presentations by opponents of the war to a "jury of conscience".

    A U.S. official criticised a lack of open debate at the tribunal.

    "The statements of the organisers have indicated that this is not a two-way discussion," said the official, who was not present at the proceedings.

    Arundhati Roy, India's Booker Prize-winning novelist, deflected criticism the tribunal amounted to a kangaroo court.

    "Questions have been raised that this tribunal represents only one point of view," she said. "This would suggest the views of the U.S. government have somehow gone unrepresented. (We) are aware of the arguments in support of the war."

    Organiser Richard Falk of Santa Barbara University in California said NATO member Turkey was chosen to host the WTI because of its 2003 refusal to permit its ally to invade Iraq from its soil, but Turkey also bore blame for allowing the U.S. military to use its bases before and after the war.

    "This tribunal will show that such complicity engages legal responsibility for Turkey and other governments in the region that support directly or indirectly such aggressive warmaking."

    Despite close diplomatic and military links, relations between the two countries have been fraught since the war.

    A survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre this week showed only 23 percent of Turks have a favourable view of the United States, compared to 52 percent in 2000.

    © Reuters 2005. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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