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.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Iraq - the killing continues

Mike Phipps finds no grounds for optimism in recent developments.

2016 began badly for human rights in Iraq. Here are some headlines from the first few weeks of the year, focusing on the crimes of ISIS.

ISIS executes 80 people by firing squad in central Nineveh - Iraqi News (January 9th).
ISIS executes 12 people for refusing to fight security forces in Mosul - Iraqi News (January 9th).
Islamic State holding estimated 3,500 slaves in Iraq, says UN - The Guardian (January 19th).
ISIS executes 9 who fled from the combat in Mosul - Iraqi News (January 20th).
Mass grave in Iraq's Ramadi holds at least 40 Islamic State victims: - Reuters (January 28th).

Buzzfeed reported on January 9th: “The United Nations released a report revealing the “staggering” levels of violence against civilians that occurred in the Iraq conflict between Jan. 1, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2015. The U.N.’s Assistance Mission to the country spoke to victims, survivors, and witnesses of violations of international human rights or humanitarian law, and concluded that the militant group ISIS continued to commit “systemic and widespread violence” that “may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.”
http://www.buzzfeed.com/franciswhittaker/7-shocking-statistics-that-reveal-the-levels-of-violence-aga#.yhL2kkD37V

Among the figures quoted in the article, the following stand out:
A total of 18,802 civilians were killed in the conflict between January 1st, 2014, and October 31st, 2015.
Between January 1st, 2014, and October 31st, 2015, 36,235 civilians were wounded.
A total of 3,206,736 people were internally displaced between January 1st, 2014, and September 29th, 2015.
An estimated 439 civilians were killed in air strikes, and hundreds more were wounded.

The last statistic underlines that not all the carnage can be laid at the door of ISIS. US air strikes continue to inflict civilian casualties, as does the shelling of the Iraqi Army. But the activities of irregulars in areas freed from ISIS control is also a major concern. Al Jazeera reported on December 4th: “Sunni Muslims are facing forced evictions, abductions, and other serious human rights abuses in areas of Iraq freed from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) control, the United Nations said. Analysts have warned that Sunni Arabs are being discriminated against in Iraq by either the Shia-led government in Baghdad or Kurdish forces in the north, helping to radicalise communities and setting back efforts to defeat ISIL.”
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/iraq-sunnis-suffer-abuse-areas-isil-151204113537273.html

A few days later, Reuters reported: “Two unpublished investigations show that the United States has consistently overlooked killings and torture by Iraqi government-sponsored Shi'ite militias.” The report documented how a Shia militia organisation under the control of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ran secret prisons and carried out systematic kidnapping and assassinations. This was covered up by both the US and Iraqi Administrations. It concluded: “Washington’s policy of expediency has achieved some of its short-term aims. But in allowing the Shi’ite militias to run amok against their Sunni foes, Washington has fueled the Shia-Sunni sectarian divide that is tearing Iraq apart.” http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/mideast-crisis-iraq-militias/

On January 28th, Niqash reported that Diyala province was undergoing “ethnic and sectarian ‘cleansing’” at the hands of Shia militias and Kurdish troops, with Sunnis not being allowed to return to their homes following the expulsion of ISIS.
http://www.niqash.org/en/articles/security/5202/Diyala-Province-Undergoing-Violent-Ethnic-and-Sectarian-Cleansing.htm

Al Jazeera also reported the mass destruction of Arab homes in northern Iraq by Kurdish forces. In what may amount to war crimes, “Kurdish forces bulldozed, blew up and burned down thousands of homes in Arab villages to avenge perceived support for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group after capturing the areas,” according to a report produced by Amnesty International.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/01/kurds-accused-razing-arab-villages-northern-iraq-160120041948445.html

A few days earlier a report by Human Rights Watch also highlighted the targeting of civilians by militias: “Kurdish and Shia Turkmen armed groups have repeatedly harmed and endangered civilians in clashes in Iraq’s Tuz Khurmatu district, in Salah al-Din province, since October 2015. The armed groups have killed, wounded, and abducted civilians and destroyed scores, if not hundreds, of homes and shops.”
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/13/iraq-ethnic-fighting-endangers-civilians

And on January 31st, Reuters reported, “The abduction and killing of scores of Sunni civilians in eastern Iraq this month and attacks on their property by Iranian-backed Shi'ite militiamen could constitute a war crime, Human Rights Watch said.”
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-abuses-idUSKCN0V90DA

Meanwhile Germany is sending more troops to Iraq, the US admit they actually concealed the real numbers of its troops stationed in the country, the Czechs are sending more materiel and Turkey is still fighting Kurdish rebels on Iraqi soil. And as War on Want’s recent report “Mercenaries Unleashed” highlighted, large numbers of unregulated private military security contractors continue to operate in the country.
http://media.waronwant.org/sites/default/files/Mercenaries%20Unleashed%2C%202016.pdf?_ga=1.131372043.5011735.1454701351

Britain too plans to continue its bombing campaign this year. Whether the start of 2017 will look any better for ordinary Iraqis is anyone’s guess.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter No 295

Iraq Occupation Focus
www.justiceforiraq.blogspot.co.uk
Newsletter No. 295
February 4th, 2016

Diyala Province Undergoing Violent Ethnic and Sectarian Cleansing

Niqash reports (January 28th): Locals in Diyala province say the area is undergoing ethnic and sectarian “cleansing”. Sunnis are not being allowed back into the multi-ethnic province, post the Islamic State.

U.S. military changes how it discloses civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria

Washington Post reports (January 26th): As the U.S. military prepares to expand its operations against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria, it has altered how and when it discloses sensitive information about when it kills civilians with airstrikes.
In recent days, U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East from its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., announced the results of investigations into 10 airstrikes “alleged to have resulted in civilian casualties and determined to be credible.” The first five were announced Jan. 15, and the second five were disclosed a week later.

Czechs to send guns, ammunition to Iraq and Jordan to fight Islamic State

Reuters report (January 25th): The Czech government voted to send guns and ammunition to Iraq and Jordan to support the fight against Islamic State, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said.

U.S. to Put 'Boots on the Ground' in Iraq to Combat ISIL

Alternet reports (January 22nd): Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the U.S. will deploy "boots on the ground" in Iraq to help local forces fight the so-called Islamic State. The policy shift is a turnaround from the Obama's White House's previous stance of not deploying combat troops in Iraq and one sure to shape the foreign policy debate in the 2016 election.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter No 294

  Ethnic Fighting endangers Civilians; now it’s Kurds and Shiites

  HRW reports (January 17th): Kurdish and Shia Turkmen armed groups have repeatedly harmed and   endangered civilians in clashes in Iraq’s Tuz Khurmatu district, in Salah al-Din province, since October  22015. The armed groups have killed, wounded, and abducted civilians and destroyed scores, if not   hundreds, of homes and shops.

  Offensive against Islamic State in Mosul unlikely in 2016: Iraqi Kurdish   deputy PM

  Reuters report (January 16th): A much anticipated campaign to recapture Iraq's northern city of   Mosul from Islamic State is unlikely to happen this year, the Kurdistan region's deputy prime minister    said, dampening hopes the militants could be driven from the country in 2016. 
 Iraqi force enters southern oil city to disarm tribal fighters
Reuters report (January 15th): Iraq has sent an armored army division and a police strike force into        southern oil city of Basra to disarm residents amid intensified feuding among rival Shi'ite Muslim       t tribes,  local officials and security sources said.

  Pentagon Admits to 8 More Civilians Killed in Iraq

Antiwar.com reports (January 15th): In a significant shift from Centcom’s long-standing policy of blanket refusals to admit to civilian deaths in airstrikes against ISIS targets, the Pentagon today issued a statement admitting to eight civilians killed in the second quarter of 2015 in 3 separate incidents.   

   Ambassador denies U.S. conducting helicopter raids in northern Iraq

Reuters report (January 10th): The U.S. ambassador to Iraq has denied reports that the United States has been carrying out helicopter raids against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq.

Continue to read Newsletter

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Iraq occupation Focus Newsletter No 293


 Iraq Occupation Focus
www.justiceforiraq.blogspot.co.uk Newsletter No. 293 January 13th, 2016

Over 52,000 Killed in Iraq during 2015

Antiwar.com reports (January 1st): Antiwar.com has found that at least 52,045 people were killed across Iraq during 2015, while at least 19,651 were wounded. The number of fatalities reported was slightly higher than in 2014, but the number of wounded was substantially lower. These figures should be taken as very rough estimates and probably low estimates at that.

Terrified families emerge from rubble after battle of Ramadi

Reuters report (January 1st): Terrified families waved white flags as they emerged from homes reduced to rubble in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, where government troops were still battling Islamic State fighters holed up, five days after the army recaptured the city center.

80% of Ramadi destroyed

Al-Araby reports (December 30th): Islamic State group retreated from Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, after eight days of fierce battles that left nearly 80 percent of the city's infrastructure destroyed.
Neighbourhoods, homes, businesses, bridges, sewers, almost everything has been either destroyed by booby-traps and explosive devices that IS had set up everywhere around the city, or by Iraqi and US-led coalition forces airstrikes and artillery bombardment, as they sought to minimise casualties in their ranks.

Iraqi PM says Turkey not respecting agreement to withdraw troops

Reuters report (December 30th): Iraq's prime minister accused Turkey of failing to respect an agreement to withdraw its troops from the country's north and its foreign minister said if forced, Iraq could resort to military action to defend its sovereignty.

Exclusive: Iraqi army needs Kurds' help to retake Mosul – Zebari

Reuters report (December 29th): The Iraqi army will need the Kurds' help to retake Mosul, the largest city under the control of Islamic State with the planned offensive expected to be very challenging in a region home to rival religious and ethnic groups, an Iraqi minister said.

Ethnic cleansing by Sunni and Shia jihadis is leading to a partition of the Middle East

The independent reports (December 27th): Sectarian and ethnic cleansing by all sides in Syria and Iraq is becoming more intense, ensuring that there are few mixed areas left in the two countries and, even if the war ends, many refugees will find it too dangerous to return to their homes.
Communities which once lived together in peace are today so frightened of each other after years of savage warfare that the more powerful sect or ethnic group is forcing out the weaker one. This pattern is repeating itself everywhere from the Sunni towns captured by Shia militiamen in provinces around Baghdad to Christian enclaves in central Syria under threat from Isis, and in Turkmen villages just south of the Syrian-Turkish border being bombed by Russian aircraft.


Of interest to readers

Al Jazeera English TV have recently aired an episode on the situation in Iraq, featuring Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the former Iraqi National Security Advisor, freely available online here http://aje.me/1uAyTM4

The publicising of this programme by Justice for Iraq does not imply support for its editorial content.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter No 292

www.justiceforiraq.blogspot.co.uk
Newsletter No. 292 January 4th, 2016
Nine Iraqi soldiers killed by 'friendly fire' in US-led coalition airstrike The Guardian reports (December 19th): Nine Iraqi soldiers have been killed by “friendly fire” from US-led coalition aircraft during an assault on an Islamic State stronghold
Extremists' New, Evil Ways With Explosives, As They Withdraw Niqash reports (December 17th): In northern Iraq, it seems that the extremist Islamic State group's new mission is to come up with as many ways to hide as many bombs as possible, in everything from cars to fridges to books
Italy deploys troops to Isis frontline to protect company repairing Mosul dam IBT reports (December 16th): Italy is to deploy troops to Iraq to defend a strategic dam from the Islamic State (Isis) group, the government has announced. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the 450-strong military contingent will secure the Mosul dam on the Tigris River, providing protection for an Italian firm that has secured a contract to repair it.
Latvia to deploy soldiers to Iraq, Mali in February Xinhua reports (December 16th): Latvian soldiers might be deployed to Iraq and Mali to participate in multinational operations in February 2016, a representative of the defense ministry told members of the parliament's defense, interior and anti-corruption committee.
France uses cruise missiles against Islamic State for first time Reuters report (December 15th): France has used cruise missiles for the first time against the Islamic State during strikes in Iraq, the Defense Ministry said.
The fate of Mosul in Turkey's hands? Al Jazeera reports (December 15th): On December 4, less than two weeks into the standoff with Moscow over the downing of a Russian jet operating in Syria, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, sent a convoy of several hundred Turkish soldiers, bolstered by tanks and armoured vehicles, deep into Iraq's territory, stirring another conflict in his country's troubled southern backyard.The incursion embittered relations between Ankara and Baghdad and increased tensions among Iraq's embattled communities. The dispute has also threatened to draw in the rest of Iraq's neighbours, who have high stakes in the war-torn nation.On Monday, some Turkish troops started leaving their camp in Iraq and moving north, a Turkish military source and a senior official said.
Iraq appeals to UN and demands Turkey withdraw troops from its northAP reports (December 12th): Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has called for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq in a national address, insisting no foreign forces are needed to fight the Islamic State group in his country
Jalawla: Iraqi city remains a ghost town after being recaptured from IsisThe Independent reports (December 12th): When the town of Jalawla was recaptured from Islamic State (Isis) many displaced families may have have harboured thoughts of returning. However, children did not return to their schools and the graffiti-covered, bomb-damaged bazaar did not reopen to great fanfare.Instead the liberators failed to agree over who would hold the town and the boarded-up shops and mosques remain closed. 

Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter No 291

Iraq Occupation Focus www.justiceforiraq.blogspot.co.uk
Newsletter No. 291 December 9th, 2015
 
Iraq summons Turkish ambassador to demand withdrawal of troops
Reuters report (December 5th): Iraq’s foreign ministry has summoned the Turkish ambassador to demand that Turkey immediately withdraw hundreds of troops deployed to northern Iraq, near the Islamic State controlled city of Mosul.
Sunnis suffer abuse in areas taken from ISIL Al Jazeera reports (December 4th): Sunni Muslims are facing forced evictions, abductions, and other serious human rights abuses in areas of Iraq freed from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) control, the United Nations said.
Gov't siege of Fallujah starving local population AlAraby report (December 3rd): Locals in the IS-controlled Iraqi city of Fallujah could soon starve to death if government forces continue a siege of the city, leaders in the city have said.
We don't need foreign troops to fight ISIL AlJazeera reports (December 2nd): Iraq has said that any deployment of foreign troops on its soil cannot happen without approval of its government.The Iraqi prime minister's comments came in response to the earlier announcement by Ashton Carter, US defence secretary, that the US will deploy "specialised" troops to Iraq to help fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Iraq UN Security Council reports (December 2nd): Iraq has been engulfed in a wave of violence with dramatic consequences for children, states the second report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Iraq, covering the period from 1 January 2011 to 30 June 2015. Killing and maiming, acts of extreme violence, the abduction of close to 1,400 boys and girls, recurrent attacks on schools and hospitals, the recruitment and use of children and sexual violence used as a tactic of war by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are a few examples of the grim reality faced by the children of Iraq.
Iraqis think the U.S. is in cahoots with the Islamic State, and it is hurting the war Washington Post reports (December 1st): On the front lines of the battle against the Islamic State, suspicion of the United States runs deep. Iraqi fighters say they have all seen the videos purportedly showing U.S. helicopters airdropping weapons to the militants, and many claim they have friends and relatives who have witnessed similar instances of collusion.Ordinary people also have seen the videos, heard the stories and reached the same conclusion — one that might seem absurd to Americans but is widely believed among Iraqis — that the United States is supporting the Islamic State for a variety of pernicious reasons that have to do with asserting U.S. control over Iraq, the wider Middle East and, perhaps, its oil.
US Special Operations Forces Expanding in Iraq to Battle ISIS CBC reports (December 1st): Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress that the U.S. would establish a special operations "targeting force" in Iraq as part of the intensified military effort to fight ISIS.
Civilian deaths reported in Iraqi army shelling Al Jazeera report s (November 30th): At least five civilians including a child have died following Iraqi army shelling on residential areas in and around the city of Fallujah, medical sources say.