Meeting seeks justice for Iraq

An increase in deaths in Iraq from internal fighting and bombing doubled in 2013 from a year earlier, reaching levels unseen since 2008. In early January, the Nouri al-Maliki regime launched an attack on demonstrators in Falluja and Ramadi, using the alleged presence of al-Qaida as a pretext and asking for U.S. military aid.

It is more than appropriate now for those who opposed the 2003 invasion to fight for reparation payments from the war criminals who invaded and occupied Iraq. The following notice from the Bertrand Russell Tribunal explains what is being done to accomplish this. In the U.S., the International Action Center is supporting this effort, as are others.

“The International Association of Democratic Lawyers, a nongovernmental organization having consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, will hold its 18th Congress in Brussels, Belgium, April 15-19, 2014. This Congress will be the number one meeting, networking and exchange opportunity for hundreds of legal activists throughout the world.

“Two days of this Congress will be dedicated to several commissions on topics and themes in which legal activists worldwide are involved. In partnership with IADL the BRussells Tribunal will organize a commission on April 16-17 about ‘Accountability and Justice for Iraq.’

“The aggression against Iraq, launched by the ‘Coalition of the Willing,’ under the command of the U.S. and Britain, was not just immoral, it was properly illegal and fits the Nuremberg definition of a Crime against Peace. Such a war should have its legal consequences for the aggressors and rights for the victims under international law.

“To date, no official has been brought to justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and for waging a war of aggression, the supreme international crime. We have to change that equation. All those who are responsible for the invasion of Iraq should be held accountable for the destruction of the country’s infrastructure, its economic and social structures, its historical past and its health and education.

“Reasonable legal experts should work towards the goal of making reparations to the Iraqi people, who have been so deeply affected by this war and its aftermath and they should bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Developing a ‘roadmap’ for justice

“The BRussells Tribunal intends to bring together international legal experts and activists who will explore the possibilities for legal actions against those responsible for the war of aggression against Iraq. Participants will also share their experiences about past and present legal procedures and will discuss the different forms of legal action.

“In participation with the International Anti-Occupation Network (IAON), the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalize War, the Geneva International Center for Justice and other humanitarian organizations, we will try to develop a legal roadmap that can be used by law professionals and activists worldwide.

“The Coalition’s military operations, including massive attacks on cities like Falluja, and the counter-insurgency policy, led to substantially increased mortality and massive displacement, affecting millions of people. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or maimed, families have been destroyed, displaced, and forced into refugee status all over the world. Iraq’s education system has been destroyed and its society deconstructed.

“The sectarian political process, organized by the occupying powers, has created a failed state characterized by the complete collapse of all public services, and systematic violations of all aspects of human rights, including the right to life. The U.S. deliberately provoked various factions in Iraqi society in order to divide and rule the country. An ancient, deeply rooted culture has been destroyed, brutalized, thrown into chaos.

“People’s tribunals, citizens’ arrests and other forms of activism may represent the conscience of the world community and should be deemed necessary in the absence of implementation of international law, but that’s not enough.

“Legal action is essential and can take many forms: universal jurisdiction, defending Iraqi victims in court, seeking arrest warrants when former U.S. politicians want to travel outside the U.S., etc.

“We cordially invite you to join us in Brussels in April. If we want to restore the respect for international law; if we want international law to be enforceable; if we want to ensure the legal rights of the victims of illegal aggressions, Iraq should be high on the agenda of lawyers and human rights organizations.”

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