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Three articles on the World Tribunal on Iraq


Wren Osborn <[log in to unmask]>


Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>


Fri, 15 Jul 2005 21:34:31 -0700





text/plain (560 lines) , text/enriched (809 lines)

Is this the beginning of what George Monbiot advocates in his
_Manifesto for a New World Order_?
Would that it were!!!

Wren Osborn

         The World Speaks on Iraq
         By Richard Falk
         t r u t h o u t | Perspective

         Friday 15 July 2005

         The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) held its final session in
Istanbul June 24-27 - the last and most elaborate of sixteen
condemnations of the Iraq War held all over the world in the last two
years in Barcelona, Tokyo, Brussels, Seoul, New York, London, Mumbai
and other cities. The Istanbul session used the verdicts and some of
the testimony from the earlier sessions; this cumulative nature of the
sessions built interest among peace activists, resulting in this final
session having by far the strongest international flavor. This
cumulative process, described by organizers as "the tribunal movement,"
is unique in history: Never before has a war aroused this level of
protest on a global scale - first to prevent it (the huge February 15,
2003, demonstrations in eighty countries) and then to condemn its
inception and conduct. The WTI is one expression of the opposition of
global civil society to the Iraq War, an initiative best understood as
a contribution to "moral globalization."

         The WTI generated intense interest in Turkey, Europe, the Arab
world and on the Internet but was ignored by the American mainstream
media. Here in Istanbul, the WTI was treated for days as the number-one
news story. There are several explanations for this, starting with
near-unanimous opposition to the Iraq War in Turkey. More relevant were
the vivid connections between Turkey and the war - physical proximity,
an array of adverse effects and, more dramatic, a contradictory
government posture: the refusal of the Turkish Parliament in 2003 to
give in to US pressure to authorize an invasion of Iraq from Turkish
territory, while the Prime Minister allowed the continuing use of the
huge US air base at Incirlik for strategic operations during and after
the war.

         The WTI was loosely inspired by the Bertrand Russell tribunal
held in Copenhagen and Stockholm in 1967 to protest the Vietnam War,
which documented with extensive testimony the allegations of
criminality associated with the American role in Vietnam. The Russell
tribunal featured the participation of Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de
Beauvoir and other notable European left intellectuals. It relied on
international law and morality to condemn the war but made no
pretension of being a legal body, and its jury contained no
international law experts.

         Of course, a tribunal of this sort is immediately criticized on
one hand as a kangaroo court that ignores the other sides of the legal
and political argument and, on the other, is treated as a meaningless
use of a courtroom format since there is neither an adversary process
nor enforcement powers. In my view, these criticisms reveal a
misunderstanding of the undertaking. To be sure, the WTI is not an
organ of the state and cannot count on its judgments being implemented
by such state institutions as police or prisons. Rather, the WTI is
self-consciously an organ of civil society, with its own potential
enforcement by way of economic boycotts, civil disobedience and
political campaigns. And on the substantive issues of legality, it is
designed to confirm the truth of the widely held allegations about the
Iraq War, not to discover the truth by way of political, legal and
moral inquiry and debate. It proceeds from a presumption that the
allegations of illegality and criminality are valid and that its job is
to reinforce that conclusion as persuasively and vividly as possible.
The motivations of citizens to organize such a tribunal do not arise
from uncertainty about issues of legality and morality but from a
conviction that the official institutions of the state, including the
United Nations, have failed to act to protect a vulnerable people
against such Nuremberg crimes as aggression, violations of the laws of
war, and crimes against humanity. It is only because of such
institutional failures in the face of ongoing suffering and abuse like
that in Iraq that individuals and institutions made the immense
organizational effort to put together this kind of transnational civic
tribunal. We should also recall that the Nuremberg Tribunal's enduring
contribution was not finding out whether the Nazi regime had committed
the crimes alleged but documenting its criminality.

         The decision of the WTI was rendered by a fifteen-member Jury
of Conscience, chaired by Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, and composed
of prominent activists from around the world. Two Americans, David
Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and Eve Ensler,
of Vagina Monologues fame, were jury members. The jury also included
Chandra Muzaffar, Malaysia's leading human rights advocate and noted
author, as well as two internationally respected Turkish intellectual
personalities, Murat Belge and Ayse Erzan.

         A Panel of Advocates - coordinated by Turgut Tarhanli, dean of
the Bilgi Law School in Istanbul, and myself - organized the fifty-four
presentations offered to the jury. The advocates came from a wide range
of backgrounds, and the presentations included some incisive analyses
of international law issues by such respected world experts as
Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics; Amy Bartholomew of
Carleton University, Ottawa; Barbara Olshansky, Assistant Legal
Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who made a gripping
presentation of the gruesome record of abuse of detainees and prisoners
held by the US Government since 9/11; two former assistant secretary
generals of the UN (Denis Halliday & Hans von Sponeck), both of whom
had resigned in the 1990s to protest the genocidal effects of UN
sanctions in Iraq. There were accounts of the devastation and cruelty
of the occupation by several seemingly credible eye-witnesses who had
held important non-government jobs in pre-invasion Iraq; a moving
presentation of why he turned against the Iraq War by Tim Goodrich, a
former American soldier and co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the
War; and overall assessments of how the Iraq War fits into American
ambitions for global empire by such renowned intellectuals as Samir
Amin, Johan Galtung, and Walden Bello. Their presentations combined an
acute explanation of the strains on world order arising from predatory
forms of economic globalization with the view that the US response to
9/11 was mainly motivated by regional and global strategic aims and
only incidentally, if at all, by antiterrorism.

         After compromise and debate, the jury reached a unanimous
verdict that combined findings with recommendations for action. Its
core conclusion condemned the Iraq War as a war of aggression in
violation of the UN Charter and international law, and determined that
those responsible for planning and waging it should be held criminally
responsible. George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney,
Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz were listed in the jury verdict by
name. Less predictably, the UN was faulted for failing to fulfill its
responsibilities to protect member states against aggression. One
recommendation supported the rights of the Iraqi people to resist an
illegal occupation, as authorized by international law. Further
recommendations specified that US media be held responsible for
contributing to the war of aggression, that American and British
products associated with corporations doing business in Iraq - like
Halliburton, British Petroleum, and Bechtel - be boycotted, and that
peace movement activists around the world urge the withdrawal of all
foreign forces from Iraq. The verdict was framed as a moral and
political assessment of the Iraq War, and relied on the guidelines of
international law to lend legal weight to its essentially political and
moral conclusions. The jury's view of international law accords with a
nearly unanimous consensus of international law experts outside the
United States and Britain.

         Arundhati Roy imparted the prevailing spirit of civic
dedication and moral leadership in a press statement at the end of the
final session. Her words summarize the experience for many of us: the
WTI "places its faith in the consciences of millions of people across
the world who do not wish to stand by and watch while the people of
Iraq are being slaughtered, subjugated and humiliated."

         War in Iraq Violates International Law
         By Tom Krebsbach
         The Seattle Post-Inteligencer

         Friday 15 July 2005

         More than two grueling years have passed since US and coalition
forces stormed into the sovereign nation of Iraq. Still there has been
little discussion in this country about the legal standing of the

         Perhaps that is because most Americans are reluctant to admit
this inconvenient but certain fact: The United States/United Kingdom
invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a war of aggression, a crime against the
peace as defined by the Nuremberg Principles.

         Various legal experts employed by the coalition governments
will dispute this. But their arguments are incredibly weak and are not
taken seriously by an overwhelming majority of scholars of
international law in the world. These independent legal scholars, such
people as Sean Murphy of George Washington University, Mary Ellen
O'Connell of Ohio State University and Philippe Sands of University
College London, all hold that the invasion was a blatant violation of
international law.

         There are only two cases in which a nation or group of nations
can legally undertake armed intervention against another nation: in
self-defense against an armed attack or if the United Nations Security
Council authorizes a coalition of nations to intervene militarily to
maintain peace and security in the world.

         Contrary to what the Bush administration would like the world
to believe, the invasion of Iraq can be justified neither on the basis
of self-defense nor because it was sanctioned by the Security Council.

         These are the facts that outline the legal status of the war:

         * The primary grievance against Iraq was the claim that it had
weapons of mass destruction and ongoing illicit weapons programs.

         * The UN weapons inspection team was invasively and thoroughly
determining whether such weapons or weapons programs existed in Iraq.

         * The UN Security Council was not willing to grant authority to
invade Iraq while the UN inspection team was handling the illicit
weapons problem peacefully.

         * President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq anyway, in
contravention of the UN Security Council and the UN Charter. Without
Security Council authorization, the invasion was illegal and must be
classified as a war of aggression.

         Should Americans be concerned about international law? It is
quite clear that Bush has little regard for it. Yet, the United States
was founded on the basis of the rule of law. Article VI of the
Constitution states that treaties, which this country has signed and
ratified, are the "supreme law of the land."

         The UN Charter is such a treaty, and it was created in large
part because of the efforts of this country following World War II. For
this country to so egregiously transgress the charter's prohibition on
the use of force is not only a violation of international law, it is a
violation of our Constitution and a repudiation of much of what this
country stands for.

         A thoughtful person does not require the US Constitution or the
UN Charter to understand the monstrosity of this invasion. Common sense
and decency should tell us that launching an unprovoked invasion of
another country, even one ruled by a man as nefarious as Saddam
Hussein, is simply mass murder. What of the tens of thousands of
innocent Iraqis who have died as a result of this military incursion?
Did anyone ask them if they were willing to sacrifice their lives in a
risky attempt to install democracy in their land?

         Whether Americans realize it or not, the integrity of the
United States has been dealt a serious blow. This country can no longer
be regarded as a nation that stands upon the legal and moral high
ground. There is little doubt people of most countries now regard us as

         In an effort to regain our lost integrity, it is time we hold
accountable, through impeachment and prosecution, the leaders who
planned and launched this disastrous and criminal war.

         Tom Krebsbach of Brier is a Vietnam veteran.


         (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving the included information for research and
educational purposes. t r u t h o u t has no affiliation whatsoever
with the originator of this article nor is t r u t h o u t endorsed or
sponsored by the originator.)

July 6, 2005


"The best relationship with our viewers is no longer one of
parent-child but
of consenting adults trying to piece together the best picture of the
world." (Roger Mosey, head of BBC TV news)

"A good case can be made that propaganda is a more important means of
control in open societies like the United States than in closed
like the late Soviet Union... This system of thought control is not
centrally managed... It operates mainly by individual and market
with the frequent collective service to the national interest arising
common interests and internalised beliefs." (Edward Herman)

World Tribunal? What World Tribunal?

Media Lens has detected a recent shift in media reporting. It is hard to
quantify, but there is a palpable uneasiness amongst media
professionals at
the increasing rise of the 'blogosphere' and internet-based
media sites. Joe and Jo Public are increasingly aware that the news and
commentary distributed by the BBC, ITN, Channel 4 news and the liberal
broadsheets, are protecting major war criminals in London and

A blanket of almost total media silence covers Bush and Blair's crimes
Iraq, and their support for relentless corporate exploitation around the
globe. These war criminals continue to be presented as world-straddling
father figures who could "solve" poverty in Africa and so become the
figureheads of a "great generation".

Consider that virtually the entire British media ignored the
of the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul from June 24-27. Modelled on
Bertrand Russell's tribunal on the US invasion of Vietnam, the tribunal
consisted of hearings into numerous aspects of the invasion and
of Iraq. A jury of conscience from ten different countries listened to
testimony of 54 advocates. This jury declared the war one of the most
in history:

"The Bush and Blair administrations blatantly ignored the massive
to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They
upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history. The
Anglo-American occupation of Iraq of the last 27 months has led to the
destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and
have broken down completely, resulting in a pervasive lack of human
security; the physical infrastructure is in shambles; the health care
delivery system is a mess; the education system has ceased to function;
there is massive environmental and ecological devastation; and, the
and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people has been desecrated."
Tribunal on Iraq, 'Press Release about Jury Statement,' June 27, 2005,

The jury presented 13 findings against the US and UK governments that

* Planning, preparing, and waging the supreme crime of a war of
in contravention of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg

* Targeting the civilian population of Iraq and civilian infrastructure.

* Using disproportionate force and indiscriminate weapon systems.

* Failing to safeguard the lives of civilians during military
activities and
during the occupation period thereafter.

* Using deadly violence against peaceful protestors.

The jury also levelled charges against the security council of the
Nations for "failing to stop war crimes amongst other crimes". It also
charged "private corporations for profiting from the war" and accused
corporate media of "disseminating deliberate falsehoods and failing to
report atrocities". (ibid.)

Veteran activist Walden Bello, reporting from Istanbul, pointed in
particular to the "combination of eyewitness accounts that made clear
a shadow of doubt that the siege of Fallujah in November 2004 was a
case of
collective punishment". (Bello, 'The Perfect Storm: the World Tribunal,'
June 28, 2005;

Bello noted, too, that the tribunal clearly showed the extent of "the
western media's participation in the manipulation of public opinion".

At a press conference after the tribunal, jury chairperson Arundathi Roy
said: "If there is one thing that has come out clearly in the last few
it is not that the corporate media supports the global corporate
project; it
+is+ the global corporate project."

This is a perfect summation indicating why corporate crimes rarely
in the corporate media. A newspaper database search on July 5 revealed
only one newspaper - the small-circulation Morning Star - had reported
the Tribunal. There was nothing in the Guardian, the Observer, the
Independent, the Independent on Sunday, the Financial Times, the Times
any of the other 'watchdogs of democracy'. There were also zero
mentions at
BBC news online. Although Media Lens is unable to monitor all
television and
radio news bulletins, we are not aware of any broadcast reports of the

The level of professional media discipline required to fail to report
an important event is truly remarkable. But then, as we have frequently
noted, this is standard practice when 'our' crimes are under scrutiny,
rather than the crimes of official 'enemies'.

Violent And Barbaric US Soldiers

BBC news director Helen Boaden was pressed by several Media Lens
readers -
acting of their own volition, an uncomfortable thought for some in the
media - just why the BBC had ignored all the evidence of Bush and
war crimes presented at the World Tribunal on Iraq. She replied:

"We've covered the issues discussed many times and will continue do so,
though we did not cover this - not least for logistical reasons."
(Email to
Media Lens reader, June 29, 2005)

Readers may well be scratching their heads, wondering how they managed
miss all of these BBC reports covering the G8 leaders' culpability for
crimes. You may also be wondering why the BBC, one of the world's most
lavishly-funded news corporations, could not manage even one short item
Istanbul on any of its flagship news programmes.

Regular readers may recall that Boaden has already declared publicly
"you can be certain that if we had proof of [US war crimes], it would be
leading every bulletin." (Email to Media Lens, May 19, 2005)

But despite the copious evidence presented at the World Tribunal in
Istanbul, the BBC maintains a stoic refusal to report US/UK atrocities
war crimes.

However, the BBC can no longer maintain, for example, that there is no
evidence of napalm use by US forces in Iraq. It is now on the official
record that the US +has+ deployed an updated form of napalm - and that
officials even lied about it to Britain (See: Colin Brown, 'US lied to
Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war,' The Independent, June 17, 2005;
Andrew Sparrow, 'Parliament misled over firebomb use,' Daily Telegraph,
20, 2005; Richard Norton-Taylor, 'US misled UK over Iraq fire bombs,'
Guardian, July 1, 2005).

We have seen no BBC bulletin leading with - or even mentioning - the
appalling issue of napalm use by "coalition" forces in Iraq.

Nor have we seen any mention of the urgent humanitarian crisis in the
western Iraqi cities of Haditha and Al-Qa'im, an area that is home to
300,000 people, where hospitals have been attacked and damaged by US
Eyewitnesses, including medical personnel, claim that US soldiers
the Geneva Convention and international law by preventing civilians from
accessing healthcare. US forces also prevented food and medication
Haditha and Al-Qa'im and targeted the cities' two main hospitals,
staff and ambulances. According to Dr. Salam Ismael, general secretary
the Doctors for Iraq Society:

"Eyewitnesses reported at least one patient being shot dead in his bed
on a
hospital ward. Doctors were prevented from assisting patients and
in need. A number of doctors and medical personnel were killed in the
and others were arrested by US forces in the hospital. They were later
released, along with the hospital manager who was detained for two days.

"The huge military operations in the area have caused widespread damage
an unknown number of civilians were killed and injured during the

"Video footage shot by doctors shows a badly damage medical store in the
Haditha hospital and damaged surgical theatres. The medical store
medicine and equipment for all hospitals and medical centres in the
west of
Iraq. Staff and patients say the damage was carried out by 'by violent
barbaric US soldiers.'" (Ismael, 'Iraqi hospitals attacked and damaged
by US
forces,' July 2, 2005;

Reports of brutal "coalition" attacks on Iraqi hospitals, however, are
deemed unsuitable for British audiences of mainstream media, including
'impartial' BBC.


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and
respect for
others. When writing emails to journalists, we strongly urge readers to
maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to Helen Boaden, director of BBC news,
Email: [log in to unmask]

And Roger Mosey, head of BBC television news:
Email: [log in to unmask]

And Mark Byford, deputy director-general
Email: [log in to unmask]

Ask why the BBC is failing to cover the many reports of alleged US war
crimes in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq. Why did the main BBC news
programmes ignore the recent World Tribunal on Iraq? When has the BBC
reported on Bush and Blair's culpability for war crimes?

Please copy your emails to the following:

Pete Clifton, BBC news online editor
Email: [log in to unmask]

Mark Thompson, BBC director general
Email: [log in to unmask]

Michael Grade, BBC chairman
Email: [log in to unmask]

Ask the following newspaper editors why they ignored the recent World
Tribunal on Iraq:

Martin Newland, editor of the Daily Telegraph:
Email: [log in to unmask]

Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of the Independent and Independent on
Email: [log in to unmask]

Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger:
Email: [log in to unmask]

Observer editor, Roger Alton:
Email: [log in to unmask]

Financial Times editor, Andrew Gowers:
Email: [log in to unmask]

Please send copies of all emails to us at: [log in to unmask]

This is a free service. However, financial support is vital. Please
giving less to the corporate media and donating more to Media Lens:

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