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Barcelona tribunal says Iraq resistance is justified

Published Jun 7, 2005 9:22 PM

Given the history of this city's role in the movement opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it's not surprising that Barcelona was the site of an important three-day tribunal--which ruled May 22 that many of the acts involved in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq constitute war crimes.

President of the Iraq World Tribunal,
Francois Houtard, reads the final verdict.
Left: Sharon Ceci Black,
International Action Center;
right: Carlos Jimenez Villarejo.

On Feb. 15, 2003, Barcelona, Catalonia, saw the world's biggest protest against the impending U.S. war on Iraq. Over 1.5 million people clogged the city's streets.

Close to 4 million people in Spain's various national regions marched that day. At the height of the U.S. bombing of Iraq, workers went on strike in protest.

This massive anti-war movement played a pivotal role in the defeat of Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Anzar's government in April 2004, and forced the withdrawal of Spain's troops from Iraq. It also gave enormous encouragement to the world's movement.

The May tribunal's conclusions support sovereignty for Iraq and the Iraqi people's right to resist. They call for all military contingents to immediately leave Iraq, dismantle their bases and cease repressive rule.

These conclusions were the culmination of sessions and events held in Andalucia, Asturias, Catalonia, Basque Country, Madrid, and the Region of Valencia. The Barcelona tribunal was part of the World Tribunal on Iraq--whose sessions began in Brussels, Belgium, in April 2004 and will culminate June 23-27 in Istanbul, Turkey. Sessions have been held all over Japan; in Copenhagen, Denmark; Lisbon, Portugal; Mumbai, India; Seoul, South Korea; Stockholm, Sweden; New York; Rome; and many other cities.

A delegation from Iraq--led by Iman Ahmed Khamas, an Iraqi journalist and translator--testified to current conditions in Iraq under U.S. occupation. The Iraqi delegates included oil workers, community organizers from Baghdad, a doctor who volunteered to treat the wounded and sick after the U.S. massacre in the city of Falluja, and representatives of various human-rights organizations.

U.S. tries to divide Iraqis

Yawad Mohammad Mahdi al-Khalisi, secretary general of Iraqi Foundational National Congress and imam of Al Khadimiya Mosque in Baghdad, was clear in his statements, saying "It is not the Iraqi people or the resistance who are dividing or inflicting harm on the people--it is the occupation forces that are responsible for divisions--we are one people." He was referring to supposed difference between Sunni and Shiite Moslems, and to U.S./Pentagon attempts to divide Iraqi into a weak federated government.

Dr. Intisar Muhammad Araibi brought tears to many eyes as she recounted the needless deaths in Iraqi hospitals of children who are denied medicines.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark was an honorary member of the panel. He was unable to attend but sent a videotaped presentation.

Members of the panel that judged the evidence included: Francois Houtart, Belgian sociologist and theologist, who served as president; Mercedes Garcia Aran, professor of criminal law at Barcelona University; Carlos Jiminez Villarejo, former anti-corruption prosecutor at the Spanish National Audience; Sharon Marie Ceci of the International Action Center in the United States; Pedro Martinez Montovez, Arabist, professor emeritus of Arab and Islam at the Autonomous University of Madrid; Maria Pilar Massana Lloren, member of Aturem la Guerra (Stop the War) Barcelona, PASI-CEOSI; and Jaume Saura, professor of international law at the Barcelona University and president of the Human Rights Institute of Catalonia.

Key organizers of the event, like their counterparts in the United States, are grappling with the tough question of how to revive the massive anti-war movement and how to deepen the struggle against the occupation of Iraq. Many of the issues and debates are similar. How to support the Iraqi resistance? How to bring hundreds of thousands of people back into the streets?

The Barcelona and World Tribunal on Iraq considers itself to be a contribution in this direction. It is a serious effort to document history and to expose U.S. war crimes.

The writer attended the Barcelona Tribunal as a representative and labor coordinator for the International Action Center. She served as a judge on the panel against U.S. occupation.