Time to prosecute Bush and Blair as War Criminals

Abu Ghraib – the defining moment of the US occupation

It’s hard to believe that it is 10 years ago that Tony Blair, a war criminal who, if there were any justice, should have been hanged alongside George Bush, used the pretext of WMD in order to invade Iraq.

No one pretends that the previous ruler, Saddam Hussein was any angel.  Not supririsngly he had been installed with the help of the CIA in 1969.  But can anyone seriously argue that an estimated 1.5 million deaths later that anything worthwhile was achieved?  The country has been split in 3, sectarian warfare between Shiite and Sunni was deliberately stirred up by the US as part of the old imperial ‘divide and rule’ tactic (with help from the West’s good friends Al Quaeda).   Torture is institutionalised in Iraq today and as the article below demonstrates, the rate of executions exceeds even that of Saddam’s Iraq.

British troops carried out an orgy of beatings, murders and torture, as did their American counterparts.  Abu Ghraib was merely the tip of the iceberg.  Extraordinary rendition (Syria wasn’t too beyond the pale for people to be rendered to) and waterboarding merely became features of the US civilising mission.

For those who have any illusions in the British Labour Party, one only has to note that Ed Milliband, its current vacuous leader, has used Blair as an ‘adviser’.  As long as the Labour Party is incapable of disowning its previous leader, by expelling him from membership, the LP should be treated as a pariah.

Tony Greenstein

Blair is portrayed as the grim reaper by demonstrators

Iraq Announces 21 Executions in a Day

January 31, 2013, 9:31pm
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFP) — Iraq has executed 21 people convicted of terror-related charges, including three women, on the same day, a spokesman said on Tuesday, bringing to 91 the number of people executed so far this year.

The executions come despite a call from the UN’s human rights chief for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Iraq, amid concerns over the lack of transparency in court proceedings.
“The justice ministry carried out 21 executions against those condemned of terrorist charges, including three women terrorists,” Haidar al-Saadi said in a text message. He did not give any further details.

British prisoner being accorded the usual treatment under international law

A justice ministry official said the executions were carried out on Monday morning.

Iraq has carried out several mass executions in 2012, including one in which 14 people were put to death on February 7, and another in which 17 were executed on January 31.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed shock earlier this year at the number of executions, criticising the lack of transparency in court proceedings and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty.

“Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed, this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day,” she said in January.

Pillay voiced concern over a “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.”

In June, Amnesty International also condemned the “alarming” increase in executions in Iraq.
It also called on authorities to “refrain from using the death penalty, commute the sentences of all those on death row, believed to number several hundred, and declare a moratorium on executions.”

Justice for Iraq
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.  

Abuse – British army’s investigations into Iraq deaths to be reopened

The Guardian reports (January 30th): Fresh investigations have been ordered into the deaths of several prisoners who died under suspicious circumstances in British military custody in Iraq, lawyers from the Ministry of Defence told the high court.

British troops in Basra

The disclosure comes as the MoD faces a legal challenge to its refusal to hold a public inquiry into a series of alleged human rights violations following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including hundreds of claims that include unlawful detention, torture, and murder.

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

Abu Mousa – the Iraqi captive that British army scum kicked to death

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” way. 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.”

Iraq Announces 21 Executions in a Day

Why Iraq is Revolting

Brussells Tribunal reports (January 27th): Journalists obtained a list of 34 names of detainees who died in prison after being tortured, within three months in 2012. The list is a formal document from the Ministry of Justice, requested by the Human Rights Committee in the Iraqi Parliament. Most of these prisoners had no autopsy reports from the Forensic Medical Department.

Hussein Al-Shahristani, the Deputy Prime Minister of Energy and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee that was formed to study the demands of the demonstrators visited one of the women prisons in Baghdad. Al-Shahristani found out that there was a female inmate who was there for six years and her case was never submitted to court. She was arrested because her son was suspected to be involved in terroristic activities. A few days ago, Noori Al-Maliki assured that the government would never allow arresting the mother, the wife, the son, or the sister instead of the wanted husband or father, and that everyone is responsible for his / her own crime. That is a lie, one more to be added to Nouri’s credentials.

30,000 Iraqis languish in prison, more than half of them without trial

Azzaman reports (February 7th): Iraqi jails hold 30,000 inmates, 17,000 of them languish there without trial,’ according to Deputy Prime Minster Husain Shahristani.

Privileges of New Democratic Iraq: Rape & Torture of Innocent Women in Maliki’s Prisons

Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi writes for Brussells Tribunal (February 6th): Mothers, sisters, daughters and wives have been unjustly detained, tortured or raped, simply because they do not know the whereabouts of the men in their families. Thousands of women have been detained with no legal accusations. Some of them are imprisoned with their infants and children in unbearable prison conditions just because Maliki claims that their husbands, brothers, or fathers have committed an act of terror.


Sunni sheikh to al-Maliki: Hand over soldiers behind shootings or ‘face losses’

CNN reports (January 26th): Thousands of mourners turned out in Falluja, hours after a powerful Sunni sheikh called on Iraq’s Shiite prime minister to hand over soldiers responsible for killing anti-government protesters in Anbar province or face “losses among their ranks.

The warning came as reports emerged that four soldiers were killed and four were abducted after security forces fired on a Sunni anti-government protest in Falluja.

Protesters call for Iraqi PM’s ouster

Dawn reports (February 1st): Tens of thousands of Iraqis gathered in Sunni-majority parts of the country in rallies against Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki, a week after eight demonstrators were shot dead amid a dire political crisis.

Thousands demonstrated in Fallujah, just west of Baghdad, where the killings took place at the hands of the army, railing against their alleged marginalisation at the hands of Iraq’s Shia-led authorities.
“We want the fall of the regime — no negotiations,” proclaimed one banner in the town.

Fallujah Revisited

Haifa Zangana writes for Counterpunch (January 31st): It took the British government five weeks to take note of the mass demonstrations in Iraq. The events centre on Fallujah, west of Baghdad, one of the main cities where mass protest is mounting by the day.

The first shooting, resulted in 5 death and about 40 injured is clearly video-recorded. The second ended with 2 soldiers killed and 3 abducted. In the chaos of claims by an ever changing official narrative and statements by a committee of investigators these two incidents are often deliberately handled together with potential for escalations. Now the withdrawal of army and federal police units from Fallujah, and the assigning of security to local police announced by the Defence Ministry spokesman immediately after the shooting on Friday 25 January may well not be implemented as a result of the chaotic political and security breakdown in the country.

Iraqi demonstrations mark the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq
ICSSI reports (January 18th): 10 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, 2013 is witnessing Iraqis’ overwhelming desire for change. Massive demonstrations and sit-ins denouncing the current government and its policies are ongoing in many places in the west and north of Iraq including Ramadi and Fallujah in Al-Anbar governorate; Samara in Salah al-Din governorate, Kirkuk in Kirkuk governorate and Mosul in Nimewa governorate. At the same time, there is a growing political crisis as opponents of current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demand an end to political sectarianism and reform of the Iraqi system of justice.

Amid Iraqi protests, hackers hit Maliki’s website
Reuters report (February 2nd): Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is facing protests from Sunni Muslims, an oil dispute with the Kurdistan region and turmoil in his own government. Now hackers have attacked his website to brand him a tyrant.

Demonstrations in Fallujah
Al-Ahram reports (February 6th): Tens of thousands of Iraqis rallied in the city of Fallujah to mark “Loyalty to the Martyrs of Fallujah Friday”, a tribute to nine protesters shot dead in the city the Friday before.

Daily life

Journalist arrested in Iraq for taking photos

The Guardian reports (January 31st): A French-Australian journalist has been under detention in Iraq for a week for allegedly taking pictures in a restricted area in Baghdad’s southern Dora district.
Police said that Nadir Dendoune – who was working for the French monthly magazine Le Monde Diplomatique – lacked the necessary government permits for taking photographs.

As murder rate drops, flood levels rise and inundate Baghdad with raw sewage
The Independent reports (February 3rd): Torrential rain caused floods all over Baghdad last week. It was not a pleasant sight: as the city’s ageing sewage system failed to cope, streets filled with murky grey water that smelled and looked as if it was heavily polluted with raw sewage. Upriver, the Tigris rose 15 feet in five hours, the highest it had been for 50 years, and dozens of villages were inundated.
For all Iraq’s immense oil income – $100bn last year – there are beggars on every street corner. “We produce over three million barrels of oil a day, so where is the money?” said a friend. This is the endlessly repeated refrain of Iraqis trying to understand why they have to live with only six hours of electricity a day and why half the population are unemployed or underemployed.

A Broken Justice System

HRW reports (January 31st): 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.

Sectarianism, Corruption and Torture… It Is Not Worth IT

Haifa Zangana writes for Huffington Post (February 7th): 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.

Unreported Afghanistan

US: Act to Protect Children in Conflict
HRW reports (February 5th): The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report and recommendations to the US government on February 5, 2013. The committee said it was “alarmed” at reports of the deaths of hundreds of children from US attacks and air strikes in Afghanistan since the committee last reviewed US practices in 2008. It also expressed “deep concern” at the arrest and detention of children in Afghanistan, laws that exclude former child soldiers from securing asylum in the US, and presidential waivers to US laws that have allowed governments using child soldiers to receive US military assistance.

US forces have detained hundreds of children in Afghanistan, holding many of them for over a year with inadequate access to legal assistance, education, or rehabilitation services. Children under 18 have been detained with adults, contrary to international standards. Although most of these children have been transferred to Afghan custody, Human Rights Watch expressed concern that such children may be subject to torture. UN reports have documented torture of numerous children by Afghan security forces.

Upcoming events

5th April 2013 A Day in Iraq
14:00-21:00, Bolivar Hall, Grafton Way, London W1T 5DL
Confirmed speakers:
Dr. Ghanem Wahida, an expert on Iraq’s ancient history
Dr Sawsen Al Assaf, Lecturer in political science and author
Dirk Adriaensense, Brussell’s Tribunal
Dr. Dora Carpenter- Latiri, University of Brighton
Ian Sinclair, author and journalist
Milan Rai, Justice not Vengeance
Dr. Lutz Oette, Redress
Rashad Salim, Iraqi Artist.

See Analyst Özpek: Maliki’s actions might drive Iraq into more conflict