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.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Sue Townsend RIP

'In the build-up to the Iraq war I lost the ability to read due to diabetic retinopathy. Instead I became a close listener. I heard Blair distort and manipulate the English language so that, like Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through the Looking-Glass, for him a word "means just what I choose it to mean".
The phrase "weapons of mass destruction" was ubiquitous. You knew he was talking it up. He had been given a grain of sand by the intelligence services and didn't stop talking it up until it was a boulder, hurtling, Tom and Jerry-like, down a mountain, flattening everything in its path.
I wept tears of shame, rage, and pity as British and American planes dropped their "strategic" bombs over Baghdad. I wondered if Blair was sitting on a sofa with his family watching shock and awe. Did they share a monster bag of Revels, and could he look his children in the eye when the transmission was over? I have never recovered from the shock of that night.
I have been told my fixation with Blair and his involvement with the invasion of Iraq is unhealthy – "that was all back in the day", get over it, "move forward". But I can't. I am a professional cynic, or sceptic if you prefer, but deep inside I romanticised the qualities of this country and its government. We had a reputation in the world for the moderation of our political system, the fairness of our judiciary, and, whether entitled to or not, we marched up the hill and built a fortress on the moral high ground. That lies in ruins now.'

Sue Townsend, writing in September 2010

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Iraq Nation Destroyed, Oil Riches Confiscated. Surviving Iraqi Population Impoverished

By Asad Ismi

http://www.globalresearch.ca/iraq-nation-destroyed-oil-riches-confiscated-surviving-iraqi-population-impoverished/5375905
On the 11th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (launched in March 2003), it is important to emphasize the true motives for this attack and occupation and its horrendously destructive impact that continues today. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars stem from the needs of U.S. and Western capitalism for resources and markets.
 Capitalism has inflicted war on most of humanity for centuries to acquire the world’s resources and markets. The establishment of capitalism as a global economic system by European imperialists has killed more than a billion people, most of them in the Global South. 
Since 1945, the United States has presided over the killing of more than 46 million people in the Global South through wars and neocolonialism in order to maintain Western economic dominance. This strategy has failed. In spite of the genocide, the U.S. has declined as an economic power, which has only made it more war-like as it tries to substitute military force for economic prowess  Washington’s European partner countries are now following its descent into economic stagnation.
The U.S.-led coalition has been unable to compete economically with China and India, the rapidly rising Asian capitalist powers, which are acquiring more and more global resources and markets. The Iraq and Afghanistan invasions are wars of Western capitalist and imperial decline. The Western capitalist answer to the Asian challenge has been to launch these two wars, both of which have been aimed at the forcible acquisition of crucial oil and gas deposits, markets, and military bases, in an attempt to impose Western domination on China and India. Similar motives are behind the direct and proxy Western attacks on Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. This attempt at domination has clearly failed, as China and India continue to become increasingly powerful.   
 The major reason for the U.S. invasion in March 2003 was to get control of Iraq’s oil. A related factor was the intention of the ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to sell Iraq’s oil in Euros rather than U.S. dollars, which would have encouraged other oil producers to do the same, thereby endangering the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency, which is crucial to the U.S.’s economic viability. The genocidal invasion and preceding sanctions killed three million Iraqis, including half a million children, and totally destroyed a relatively advanced developing country whose people were largely prosperous. 
Close to five million Iraqis were displaced by the invasion out of a population of 31 million, and five million Iraqi children became orphans. Women suffered the greatest losses in education, professions, child care, nutrition, and safety. More than one-fourth of Iraq’s population died, became disabled, or fled the country as refugees.
  Yanar Mohammed is president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, headquartered in Baghdad, which is aimed at protecting and empowering Iraqi women to resist the capitalist √©lite created by the U.S. invasion. According to her, “The U.S. military’s intent was to kill at least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and that mission was accomplished. Millions of Iraqi men, women, children, and babies were killed, and 30 million people were terrorized. 
“I feel that somebody needs to be held accountable for making us lose our welfare, accountable for the millions of Iraqis who have been killed, and also for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost to illnesses and by the radiation from depleted uranium.  George W. Bush needs to go to court as a war criminal, along with all the American presidents who have served during the war on Iraq because what has happened to us in Iraq is no less than a holocaust.”
Successful Iraqi resistance compelled the U.S. to withdraw most of its forces from the country in 2011, exposing the military failure of the invasion. However, the U.S. still has not withdrawn all its forces from Iraq. Washington claims that the Iraq war has ended, but this is untrue. The insurgency in Iraq continues, with an average of 95 people being killed every week. A major bombing or shooting happens there about twice a week. Nine thousand U.S. mercenaries and hundreds of U.S. troops remain in Iraq, which also has the largest American embassy in the world staffed with 11,000 personnel. So, militarily, the U.S. is still highly involved in Iraq, training its repressive security forces and still not ruling out the re-deployment of more American troops there.
  Washington has also waged an economic war against Iraq by creating a capitalist √©lite to rule the country, represented by the puppet government it has installed which is led by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Maliki is a corrupt and brutal dictator and head of an Islamic fundamentalist party. Under U.S. dictates, much of the Iraqi economy has been privatized, which ensures that Iraqis do not benefit from their resources, especially oil, money from which now goes to U.S. and other Western multinational corporations and to the Maliki regime. 
According to Yanar Mohammed, “It is an economic war directed against millions of people in the working class, through the economies of impoverishment and of starving the people, giving them salaries that are not enough to put proper meals on the table. The U.S. has written the laws and has created the Iraqi capitalist ruling class to be their partners. 
 “This ruling class safeguards U.S. interests and makes sure that the Iraqi people will not get any of their oil. The profits go into the pockets of the Iraqi officials and British Petroleum and Halliburton, and other companies.”  
Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. This highly valuable resource has been handed over mainly to the U.S. companies ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum, to British Petroleum from England, and to Royal Dutch Shell from Holland and England. Iraq’s oil has not yet been formally privatized due to massive public opposition, but a de facto privatization has taken place.
Says oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz, “ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell were among the oil companies that played the most aggressive roles in lobbying their governments to ensure that the invasion would result in an Iraq open to foreign oil companies.  They succeeded. They are all back in [Iraq].” Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil and The Bush Agenda, adds that U.S. and other Western oil companies have landed “production contracts for some of the world’s largest remaining oil fields under some of the world’s most lucrative terms.”
 Iraq’s Oil Law, which enforces formal privatization, has not been passed by its Parliament due to massive public opposition, so instead the government has signed contracts with companies that benefit the latter immensely at a huge loss to the country.  Explains Juhasz, “The contracts are enacting a form of privatization without public discourse and essentially at the butt of a gun. These contracts have all been awarded during a foreign military occupation, with the largest contracts going to companies from the foreign occupiers’ countries.
 “It seems that democracy and equity are the two largest losers in this oil battle… The majority of Iraqis want their oil and its operations to remain in Iraqi hands. It has required a massive foreign military invasion and occupation to give the foreign oil companies the access they have achieved so far.” However, as Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, puts it: “In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W. Bush’s [military] triumph in 2003.”
According to Muttitt, the economic gains secured by the invasion for Western oil companies are not likely to last, either.  As he points out, “In 2009, the Maliki government… began awarding contracts without an oil law in place. As a result, the victory of Big Oil is likely to be a temporary one. The present contracts are illegal, and so they will last only as long as there’s a government in Baghdad that supports them.”
 Muttitt emphasizes the shaky nature of the Maliki government which, according to him, “has little control over anything.”  Under Maliki, Iraq has been ripped apart by a civil war involving both sectarian violence and nationalist resistance. In recent months, insurgents have taken control of sections of Fallujah and Ramadi, two major Iraqi cities. 
As Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and Coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, explains:
The U.S.-backed Iraqi regime is dominated by sectarian Shia Muslim parties which have discriminated against the Sunni Muslim minority [about 60% of Iraqis are Shias and 40% are Sunnis — the two major sects of Islam]. The combination of government repression and armed insurgency resulted in the deaths of nearly 8,000 civilians last year alone.
“Until the U.S. invasion, Iraq had maintained a long-standing history of secularism and a strong national identity among its Arab population, despite sectarian differences.” Sectarianism has been deliberately fostered by the U.S. in Iraq as part of its divide-and-rule strategy through which it has attempted to dominate the country.
Zunes adds that, before the U.S. invasion, even some of the war’s “intellectual architects” acknowledged that it would unleash major sectarianism: “In a December 1996 paper, prior to becoming major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be ‘ripped apart’ by sectarianism and other cleavages, but called on the United States to ‘expedite’ such a collapse anyway.”
Zunes makes clear that the Iraqi resistance to the Maliki government is largely nationalist-inspired and not sectarian: “Sunni opposition to Shia dominance does not stem from resentment at losing a privileged position in Iraqi political life under Saddam. Indeed, Saddam suppressed his fellow Sunni Arabs along with Shia Arabs. However, most of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, regardless of its feelings about Saddam’s regime, has long identified with Arab nationalism. Most of the armed resistance that emerged following Saddam’s removal by U.S. forces largely came from the Sunni Arab community. The insurgency has also targeted the Shia-dominated Iraqi government, which came to power as a result of the U.S. invasion and which many see as being puppets of the U.S.”
Before the invasion, Iraq’s oil had been nationalized for 40 years, and with it Iraq had created a welfare state for its people, providing them with free education, medical care, subsidies, and a relatively high standard of living. All these crucial gains have now been wiped out. Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq hanged by the U.S., was a brutal dictator, but he ensured that Iraq’s oil benefited its people. Maliki is a dictator, too, brought to power by the U.S, invasion, but he doesn’t provide any economic benefits to the Iraqi people and instead is involved in looting the country’s oil wealth along with multinational corporations.
As Yanar Mohammed puts it, “Under Saddam, there was a state that was taking care of the education of the people, of the health of the people, and there was a socialist economy in which the people had some ability to enjoy a prosperous life — and at this point all of that is being lost. We are learning what free enterprise is. All we see is poverty, and the government has enacted laws which prevent the organizing of workers and of unions so as to claim their rights.”
The U.S. has long considered Middle Eastern oil a vital economic and military interest, especially since it imports more than half its oil requirements. State-owned oil companies control 90% of the world’s oil reserves, while corporate oil companies control only 4%. With these reserves declining and being subject to competition from the large energy consumers China and India, an economically weakening U.S. has to turn increasingly to military options to ensure its access to oil. 
The oil factor is not just about access, but also about controlling other countries, economically and militarily.As Professor Michael T. Klare, author of Resource Wars, explains, one of the main objectives of the Bush administration in invading Iraq stems from the analysis made by Vice-President Dick Cheney in 1990, when he made clear that “Whoever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a stranglehold not only on our economy. but also on that of most of the other nations of the world.” 
So, by being the major imperialist country in the Middle East, the U.S. can attempt to maintain a stranglehold over the economies of other nations. Klare adds that control over Persian Gulf oil is also consistent with the Bush administration’s declared goal of attaining permanent military superiority over all other nations.
Bush administration officials and U.S. military leaders have admitted that the invasion of Iraq was done to take the country’s oil. These men include Paul Wolfowitz, the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary; General John Abizaid, head of the Pentagon’s Central Command which is focused on the Middle East; Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve; and Paul O’Neill, Bush’s first Treasury Secretary.  
The decision to invade Iraq was made only one month after Bush took office in February 2001, according to Ron Suskind, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the author of a book on Paul O’Neill. O’Neill revealed that, just days after Bush’s inauguration in January 2001, his advisors planned how to invade Iraq and divide up its oil wealth. According to O’Neill, Bush’s first National Security Council meeting included a discussion of invading Iraq, and Bush wanted to find a way to do this. There was even a map for Iraq’s post-war occupation, showing how the country’s oil fields would be carved up. 
U.S. and other Western oil companies had been shut out of Iraq before the invasion. In 2001, oil company executives encouraged the Bush administration to invade Iraq by warning it in a report that, as long as Saddam Hussein was in power, the U.S. would remain “a prisoner of its energy dilemma… suffering on a recurring basis from the negative consequences of sporadic energy shortages. These consequences can include recession, social dislocation of the poorest Americans, and, at the extremes, a need for military intervention.”
The report called Iraq a destabilizing influence to the flow of oil to international markets. The document was compiled by David O’Reilly, chief executive of ChevronTexaco, Luis Giusti, a director of Shell Corporation, and John Manzoni, regional president of British Petroleum.
Also benefiting from the Iraq War have been the corporations Lockheed Martin (military) and Bechtel (construction). As John Gibson, co-founder of Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) and a Lockheed Martin executive, said in 2003: “We hope Iraq will be the first domino, and that Libya and Iran will follow. We don’t like being kept out of markets because it gives our competitors an unfair advantage.” CLI was founded in 2002, also by Robert Jackson, another Lockheed Martin executive who wrote the Republican Party foreign policy platform in 2000 when George W. Bush was fraudulently “elected” President.
Jackson formed the CLI while at Lockheed, and advocated aggressively for Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. The chairman of CLI was George Schultz, former U.S. Secretary of State and a Bechtel executive. In a 2002 Washington Post article, Schultz urged the U.S. to “act now. The danger is immediate. Saddam must be removed.” The article called for an immediate attack on Iraq, stating that, “If there is a rattlesnake in the yard, you don’t wait for it to strike before you take action in self-defense.”  After the invasion, Lockheed Martin got more than an $11 billion increase in sales and contracts worth $5.6 million with the U.S. Air Force in Iraq. Bechtel was given about $3 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts.
 The website Business Pundit identifies “The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers” as being (in this order):
Halliburton (military/oil—Dick Cheney was its Chairman),
Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp (military/finance),
Washington Group International (military/oil),
Environmental Chemical (military), Aegis (military),
International American Products (electricity),
Erinys (oil/military), Fluor (water/sewage),
Perini (environmental cleanup), URS (military/environmental),
Parsons (military/construction),
First Kuwaiti General (construction),
Armor Holdings (military),
L3 Communications (military),
AM General (military),
HSBC Bank (third largest financial institution globally),
Cummins (electricity),
MerchantBridge (financial),
GlobalRisk Strategies (financial/military),
ControlRisks (military), CACI (military),
Bechtel, Custer Battles (military),
Nour USA (oil), and
General Dynamics (military).
 While these companies have collectively made billions of dollars out of the Iraq War, the country’s people have yet to obtain basic electricity and water services 11 years after the invasion. Just one of these corporations illustrates the incredible incompetence and corruption which characterized the U.S. occupation and its aftermath: “Parsons reportedly mismanaged the construction of a police academy so poorly that human waste dripped from its ceilings. Far from being an isolated incident, reports from [U.S.] federal government auditors revealed lackluster work on 13 of the 14 Iraq projects [of] Parsons. That hasn’t stopped the firm from making off with $540 million in U.S. government funds for the poorly executed reconstruction projects at Iraq’s health care centres and fire stations.
“This is the lens through which Iraqis will now see America,” remarked U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat-California). “Incompetence. Profiteering. Arrogance. And human waste oozing out of ceilings as a result.”
Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor’s international affairs correspondent and has written extensively on U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. His latest radio documentary is “Capitalism is the Crisis” which has been aired on 42 radio stations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe reaching an audience of 33 million people. For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Britain and Iraq: Business or Justice?

Eleven years after it participated in an illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, the UK is taking a different approach.

Global Research recently reported, ‘In December 2007, Major General Graham Binns, Commander of British Forces in Basra, handed illegally occupied Basra Province back to the Iraqis. However, Major General Binns, who commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003, is back in Basra with a new hat on. In the revolving door between the US and UK armies and mercenary companies, Binns, who left the army in 2010, joined Aegis Defence Services, who have been employed by the New Governor of Basra. Amongst other things, states the Major General: “Aegis will be asked to provide help with setting up specialised CCTV detection and checkpoint systems across the city, establishing a “ring of steel” security system to thwart suicide bombers.” Sounds just like old times,’ concludes the report. http://www.globalresearch.ca/basra-profiting-from-their-destruction-the-british-are-back/5364358


There’s something shameless about this that only the Brits can pull off. It’s paralleled by the Government appointment of a new Trade Representative to Iraq, Baroness Emma Nicholson, who campaigned against the Saddam Hussein regime’s abuse of human rights and was a prominent vocal supporter of the 2003 invasion to “free the Iraqi people from terrible tyranny”. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/26/the-curious-case-of-the-baroness-of-winterbourne/


Nicholson has now shifted her role from an outspoken champion of human rights to being Executive Chairman of the Iraq Britain Business Council. Addressing a conference last month, she pointed out that the country’s economy was one of the most vibrant in the world, despite the current challenging situation in some regions.

That would be Anbar Province and specifically the city of Fallujah. According to a Truth Out report by Dahr Jamail this month, ‘Doctors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city. Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.

"Ten of those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded are children," Shami said. He also said five of the dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded. "Many children have been killed in cold blood as the result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city," Shami said. "At the same time, there are many young people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-)Maliki's army has killed and burned their bodies." http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22138-iraqi-government-killing-civilians-in-fallujah


The Iraqi army refuses to allow medical supplies into the city, bombing bridges and roads to prevent their delivery. Some reports say Falluja’s general hospital has been attacked by government bombardment on eight separate occasions.

This is the  regionally “challenging situation”  to which Emma Nicholson refers. But things are pretty bleak nationally too. Iraq’s criminal justice system is corrupt and murderous: “Last year alone, 1,200 men and women were on death row, most of them sentenced after the usual pre-trial confessions under torture,” wrote Robert Fisk recently. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/confessions-beaten-out-of-suspects-executions-by-the-hundreds-how-different-is-justice-in-todays-iraq-from-the-era-of-saddam-9086297.html 169 people were executed in 2013, putting Iraq in the top three countries in the world for judicial killing.

Much of the media is sectarian and Iraq remains one of the most dangerous countries  - correction: the most dangerous country  - in the world for journalists. A new personal status law - against which women demonstrated courageously on International Women’s Day - threatens to bring back child marriage. Around one third of people  are below the poverty line. This breeds extraordinary desperation - Iraq is now a centre for human organ trafficking, female sex trafficking and child slavery. Business opportunities indeed.

Emma Nicholson understands that talk about human rights in Iraq is unfashionable now. Britain’s is a government that doesn’t care much for the human rights of its own citizens, let alone anyone else’s.

And it’s not just the government; the mainstream media is equally compliant. In the little noticed al-Sweady inquiry in London, British soldiers ten years on stand accused of the torture and murder of Iraqis in their custody. Corpses showed evidence of “eyes missing, tongues cut out, and noses cut off".  Human rights abuses - but no-one’s interested nowadays.

In January, a ‘devastating 250-page dossier, detailing allegations of beatings, electrocution, mock executions and sexual assault, has been presented to the International Criminal Court, and could result in some of Britain's leading defence figures facing prosecution for "systematic" war crimes. General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army; former defence secretary Geoff Hoon; and former defence minister Adam Ingram are among those named in the report, entitled "The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008". The damning dossier draws on cases of more than 400 Iraqis, representing "thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment". They range from "hooding" prisoners to burning, electric shocks, threats to kill and "cultural and religious humiliation". Other forms of alleged abuse include sexual assault, mock executions, threats of rape, death, and torture.’
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-devastating-dossier-on-abuse-by-uk-forces-in-iraq-goes-to-international-criminal-court-9053735.html

Much of the media may have lost interest. But ordinary people are not indifferent to these issues. There may be no official bringing to justice of the war criminals that perpetrated this catastrophic crime against Iraq, but others certainly have the appetite.

The Independent reported recently: ‘He might have quit his job immediately afterwards, but the London barman who attempted a citizen’s arrest on Tony Blair has been rewarded with a sizeable bounty for his efforts,’ reported The Independent recently. ‘Twiggy Garcia was working at Tramshed in East London when the opportunity arose to confront the former Prime Minister. As Mr Blair was dining with friends and family, the DJ turned barman laid a hand on the former Prime Minister’s shoulder and tried to arrest him for “crimes against peace..namely the decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq.” The website that inspired his actions, George Monbiot's Arrest Blair website, has now awarded him a quarter of their funds, a total of £2,222.’
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/twiggy-garcia-who-attempted-citizens-arrest-on-tony-blair-awarded-over-2000-9078074.html


A similar campaign has been launched in Australia to arrest John Howard, the conservative premier who sent troops to Iraq. This, and other initiatives, will continue, until a modicum of justice for Iraq is achieved.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Iraqi Government Killing Civilians in Fallujah

By Dahr Jamail

Fallujah doctors, residents and NGO workers accuse the Iraqi government of war crimes and crimes against humanity in its ongoing attack against the city - conducted ostensibly against al-Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Doctors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city.
Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.
"Ten of those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded are children," Shami said. He also said five of the dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded.
"Many children have been killed in cold blood as the result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city," Shami said. "At the same time, there are many young people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-)Maliki's army has killed and burned their bodies."
While the Iraqi government has not cut the city's water and electricity, doctors in Fallujah told Truthout that the Iraqi army, which they refer to as "Maliki's forces," continues to prevent medical supplies from entering the city.
Truthout spoke with another doctor from Fallujah, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals from the Maliki government. "Many houses and even the mosque near our house have been attacked, and many civilians killed and injured," the doctor said. "Many people have been killed before they could reach the hospital, which has also been targeted by Maliki's army."
The doctor and the doctor's family have been evacuated from the city, since their neighborhood was under constant, direct attack. "I am now a refugee with my brother's and sister's families in another city in Iraq, living an extremely hard life," the doctor said.
In the area where the doctor is, there are 1,300 families from Fallujah, and there are up to five families seeking refuge in a single home. "Many are living in school classrooms, with three families in each classroom," the doctor said.
"What is happening in Fallujah is a war crime," the doctor said. "Believe me that there have never been any official nor military targets attacked by Maliki's army. Civilians are the only target."
On February 14, Nickolay Mladenov, the special representative of the United Nations secretary-general in Iraq expressed his concerns about the deteriorating security situation and growing humanitarian catastrophe the people in Fallujah were facing.
"I am particularly concerned about the rapidly deteriorating conditions in Fallujah, where many residents are caught up in the fighting," Mladenov said. "The UN continues to urge for humanitarian access to the city."
According to Mladenov, "More than 60,000 families have been displaced since the fighting broke out in the Anbar province," and "the displaced families are running out of food and drinking water and suffer from poor sanitation and limited access to health care."
Other relief organizations pin the number of displaced at 300,000.
While the Iraqi government called a 72-hour truce that continued to hold at the time of this writing, people inside the city continue to suffer. They fear more fighting is to come.
Killing Civilians, Shelling Hospitals
Dr. Muhamad Al-Darraji, a Fallujah resident who founded the Conservation Center of Environmental and Reserves in Fallujah, a human rights and environmental NGO, told Truthout he believes the Iraqi government is carrying out "crimes against humanity" in Fallujah.
His group provided Truthout with much video evidence of dead and wounded civilians in the city, as well as photographs of artillery shells that had struck nearby Fallujah General Hospital.
The Iraqi army has been shelling Fallujah for more than a month, with mosques, hospitals (pictured here), and civilian homes often being hit. (Photo: Fallujah General Hospital)The Iraqi army has been shelling Fallujah for more than a month, with mosques, hospitals (pictured here), and civilian homes often being hit. (Photo: Fallujah General Hospital)
Despite the videos posted on Youtube being mostly in Arabic, footage clearly shows civilians who have been wounded or killed.
A 19-year-old pregnant woman had her leg blown off by what the family claimed was "indiscriminate shelling" by the Iraqi army, while she was in her home in northern Fallujah. Another video shows a young boy with shrapnel in his back being treated at a hospital.
More video shows the severely wounded being operated on, while other clips show damage inside Fallujah's main hospital. Footage of wounded childrenwomen and young girls is widely available online, some of it extremely graphic.
Darraji's NGO filed a formal report detailing its concerns to the International Criminal Court on February 17, 2014.
"Official" Reasons
The Iraqi ministry of interior claims that al-Qaeda's affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has taken over parts of the city. This claim has been reported widely by most mainstream media outlets.
Shami told Truthout that while Maliki is claiming that the military operation in Fallujah is to remove militants from the city, "The people he is attacking are the people of the city itself," and that "tribal rebels have taken over the city. The people of Fallujah are peaceful and only want their basic human rights, but at the same time they are defending themselves from Maliki's sectarian army attacks."
Feurat Alani, a French-Iraqi journalist with family ties in Fallujah, has reported that ISIS, while maintaining a small presence in the city, is not playing a significant role in the fighting in Fallujah.
Much has been said and written about ISIS raising its flag atop a building in Fallujah, an act that was taken to be a sign of their power in the city. Of this, Alani reported, "They took the flag down five minutes later, when ordered to by tribal leaders. This shows that the tribes control Fallujah."
Attacking Protesters
In early January, Iraqi government forces dispersed a protest camp in Fallujah, while simultaneously arresting a politician who was sympathetic to goals of the protesters, events that sparked the most recent violence in Fallujah and Ramadi.
Demonstrations have been ongoing for more than a year in protest of demands for human rights that went unheeded by the Maliki government. (Credit: Dahr Jamail)Demonstrations have been ongoing for more than a year in protest of demands for human rights that went unheeded by the Maliki government. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
However, the situation actually began far earlier. Beginning in late 2012, thousands of demonstrators gathered every Friday on the main highway linking Baghdad and Amman, Jordan, which runs by the outskirts of Fallujah.
Sunnis in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq's vast Anbar Province were enraged at the Maliki government because his security forces, still heavily staffed by members of various Shia militias, were killing or detaining their compatriots from the region, as well as across much of Baghdad. 
Angry protesters took to the streets every Friday to pray and express their anger by holding signs that read, "We demand an end to checkpoints surrounding Fallujah. We demand they allow in the press. We demand they end their unlawful home raids and detentions. We demand an end to federalism and gangsters and secret prisons!"
Fallujah residents have been complaining for more than a year about Maliki government forces conducting illegal detentions, as well as torturing and raping detainees. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Fallujah residents have been complaining for more than a year about Maliki government forces conducting illegal detentions, as well as torturing and raping detainees. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
In March 2013, one of the leaders of the demonstrations, Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, told Truthout, "Losing our history and dividing Iraqis is wrong, but that, and kidnapping and conspiracies and displacing people, is what Maliki is doing."
Jumaili admitted at the time that the Maliki government was not meeting any of their demands and feared violence if the government continued to ignore the widespread grievances of the residents of Iraq's Anbar province.
The same day Truthout spoke with Jumaili, a demonstrator was gunned down by Iraqi forces in Ramadi. At the time, Lt. Gen. Mardhi al-Mahlawi, commander of the Iraqi Army's Anbar Operations Command, said the authorities would not hesitate to deploy troops around the protest site again "if the protesters do not cooperate." 
The following day, the Maliki government warned that the area was becoming "a haven for terrorists," echoing the term the Americans used prolifically during their occupation of Fallujah.
Historical Context
When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, there was no fighting in Fallujah. Tribal leaders in the city allowed the US military to enter the city in peace.
However, the US military fired on unarmed demonstrators outside of a school that was being occupied, thus beginning resistance within the city to the US occupation.
In the wake of four US mercenaries being killed in the city in April 2004, the US military laid siege to Fallujah under the pretense of "fighting terrorism," just as the Maliki government is doing today.
Finding stiffer resistance than expected, the first siege ended after one month. Between May and November 2004, the US military bombed and shelled the city, often targeting wedding parties, funerals, civilian homes and mosques. During this time, collective punishment often was employed, cutting water, electricity and medical supplies to the city.
On November 8, 2004, the US military launched a massive siege of the city, again under the guise of "fighting terrorism," claiming that Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was in the city, despite there never having been proof he had stepped foot in the city.
According to CCERF, approximately 5,000 residents of Fallujah were killed during the second siege.
Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi recently called for a ceasefire in Fallujah. Nujaifi, who heads the Sunni Arab Mutahidoun bloc, called for a suspension of military operations across Anbar.
"The government must totally suspend its military operations in Anbar," Nujaifi said, adding that "displaced Anbar residents ... must go back to their homes."
Anbar Provincial Council official Adhal Al-Fahdaw told Asharq Al-Awsat, "There are many tribal and religious leaders who are trying to defuse the crisis to reach a solution. In light of this, we are calling for an open-ended deadline, because the solution to the Fallujah crisis will come from the tribal community, not from the military."
Meanwhile, the US government continues to ship weapons to the Maliki government to fight "Sunni Islamist militants" in Anbar province. To date, according to the Congressional Research Service, the US government has spent more than $20 billion to equip and train the Iraqi military.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Monday, 3 February 2014

US War Crimes: The Continuing Deterioration of Women’s Rights in Iraq

The following text published by the Brussells Tribunal is Haifa Zangana’s presentation to the European Parliament in Brussels on 29 January 2014.
“The regression in women’s situation is so devastating that she has reached the bottom of human needs. Just to survive.” Haifa Zangana
The National Iraqi News Agency reported on Fri 24th January that the Iraqi military’s mortar shelling the night before left 4 people dead and 32 more injured “including women and children” and Saturday’s military shelling of Falluja left 5 people dead and 14 more injured — “most of them women and children.” Falluja General Hospital was shelled as well.
Iraqi’s government assault on Anbar continues.  Maliki’s Collective punishment is called “Revenge for the martyr Mohamed” which was preceded by a campaign with the title: “Revenge for martyrs”.
And the attacks have been indiscriminate leading many civilians to flee.  – The UN refugee agency on Friday reported[1] that more than 65,000 people had over the past week fled the conflict in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in central Iraq’s Anbar province. Since fighting broke out at the end of last year, more than 140,000 people have been made homeless by fighting according to Iraq’s Ministry of Displacement and Migration.

This number comes on top of the 1.13 million people already internally displaced in Iraq and who are mostly residing in Baghdad, Diyala and Ninewa provinces.
“Many of the displaced, nonetheless, are still in desperate need of food, medical care, and other aid. As the insecurity has spread, many families who fled several weeks ago have been displaced again,” according to the UN.
The UN in Iraq has asked the government to facilitate the opening of a humanitarian corridor to reach displaced and stranded families in Anbar province. Currently, it is impossible to reach the area from Baghdad and relief agencies are using roads coming from northern Iraq.
Why am I talking about this and not about workshops for women’s empowerment and gender equality and political participation?  Because in order to fully address women’s issues and come with helpful policy suggestions, we need to address women not as separate from the rest of society, but as a part of it  together with men.
.. and allow me to read the rest of the report :
“Other areas of Iraq including Baghdad, Erbil, Kerbala, Salah-al-Din and Ninewa have witnessed the arrival of thousands of displaced people. People are reportedly without money for food and lack suitable clothing for the rainy conditions. Children are not in school and sanitary conditions, particularly for women, are inadequate.”
The suffering of the displaced is far beyond the sheer loss of a house, it is the loss of neighborhood, community; schools and health services, the feeling of safety associated with family ties and in the long run the submission to the newly manufactured identity   . The lack of one of these or the combination of all leads to extreme levels of trauma, fear, depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder[2].
The regression in women’s situation is devastating.
I will focus on violence in the public sphere and how it became so prominent that women have been forced to give up hard earned rights, such as employment, freedom of movement, abolition of polygamy, and the right to education and health services, seeking instead, protection for themselves and their families.
The occupation of Iraq in 2003 left Iraqi women in a terrible state of regression on two interrelated levels. The first level is relevant to women as citizens in an environment that lacks guarantees and protection by a credible national criminal justice system embodying international standards. This subjects women as well as men to violations of their human rights.
The second level is to do with gender-related violence in public which is particularly relevant during occupation, war and armed conflict, often providing the context for sexual abuse, rape, and trafficking of women and girls.
Iraq “remains in a state of low-level war” with nearly 9500 civilians were killed in 2013.[3] The right to life and physical security are the first casualties of the  current “ low level  war” affecting women as citizens whether the violence targets them directly (physically) or indirectly (the killing of their children or male relatives leaving them as heads of households). War and occupation have claimed over a million Iraqi lives,[4]  thus leaving behind an approx million widows and 5 millions orphans.

Widows

Widows often queue at doors of social welfare offices for months on end for their application forms to be processed or to retrieve insufficient payments. Women wander the streets “to sell cheap goods, or stand at the gates of mosques and other religious institutions with the hope of receiving some distributed items—whether blankets, clothing or food products.
The phenomenon of women begging in the streets has become commonplace in Iraq.  Invariably, the government’s response is to arrest them and throw them in prison, Instead of finding permanent solutions to lift them from this suffering.”[5]  Only 120,000 are estimated to receive State aid. A widow’s monthly aid is $85, while the average monthly rent is $210.

Employment

In the private sector only 2% of all employees are women. 10% of households are headed by females who are widowed, divorced, separated, or caring for sick spouses. They represent one of the most vulnerable segments of the population and are more exposed to poverty and food insecurity as a result of lower overall income levels. ( UNAMI fact sheet 2012)[6].
According to the IKN survey, only 14 percent of women are working or actively seeking work, compared to 73 percent for men. Those who are employed are mostly working in the agricultural sector, and women with a diploma have a harder time finding jobs: 68 percent of women with a bachelor’s degree are unemployed. [7]
This is happening while every week, an estimated $800 million is unlawfully transferred out of the country[8], while Iraqis are left deprived of basic needs.

Death Penalty

Iraq is currently host to one of the highest execution rates in the world:
1,300 prisoners are said to be on death row, women are among them[9], Some executions are carried out secretly. Under current Iraqi law, 48 offenses are subject to the death penalty.
Just in 2013, 169 people were executed, the highest such figure since the 2003 US-led invasion, placing it third in the world, behind China and Iran. On 21 January the Ministry of Justice issued a statement confirming that the authorities had executed 26 men on Sunday, making the total 38 hanged within four days. “AI  also learnt that on the same day, the presidency’s office ratified around 200 cases of people sentenced to death, paving the way for their executions to be carried out.
Most of those executed on Sunday, all of them Iraqi men, were convicted on charges of terrorism, under the draconian 2005 Anti-Terrorism Law.”[10]
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay likened Iraq’s justice system to “processing animals in a slaughterhouse.” She also mentioned that  Iraq’s justice system is “too deeply flawed to warrant even a limited use of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time,” warning that the death penalty undermines efforts to reduce violence and achieve a more stable society. Torture, sexual abuse and the threat of rape and actual rape are frequently inflicted on detainees, regardless of their gender.
This is of concern in view of the lack of trials conforming to the minimum of standards of fairness and “well documented cases of confessions being extracted under duress.”[11]
The effect of execution and holding male detainees without charge or trial for prolonged periods and often in faraway camps or prisons is disastrous on their women relatives, no matter how resilient they are,  as the entire burden of running the household has been thrust upon them.

Education

According to a 2007 Oxfam report, some 92 per cent of Iraq’s children suffer from learning impediments.[12] Most of the school buildings are in a fragile state as a result of neglect, corruption.
This results in considerable damage including lack of drinking water and toilets – the lack of access to sanitary facilities places a particular burden on girls.[13]Some primary schools are left without desks or chairs for pupils and teachers.
Parents are reluctant to send their children to school for fear of violence as a result of both military attacks and gang‘crimes, e.g. kidnapping and rape. In addition to family poverty, the distance from home to school with lack of transportation and the need to help at home constitute additional obstacles.
In the case of higher education, kidnapping and targeted assassination of over 400 male and female academics[14] have forced thousands of other academics and teachers to flee the country. Their positions are replaced by mostly unqualified teachers and academics with forged certificates and degrees.[15] Their appointment, rather than being based on qualification and merit, is based mainly on sectarian favoritism and political loyalty to the regime. The lack of professionalism and standards in education inevitably result in poor teaching and by extension academic achievement by the students.

Women’s political participation

Article 47 of the Iraqi constitution, guarantees women 25% of the members of the Council of Representatives. This quota system has been applauded by women organisations and international community as one of the great achievements of the “New Iraq”. This appraise is made regardless of how little actual difference it makes to Iraqi women in general and how it has been used as a sheer token to cover up the volume of crimes committed against women under occupation.
The irony is that even this nominal step was neglected by the present government formed in late 2010. In fact, among the 44 Ministers, there is only one woman appointed as  Minister of State for Women’s Affairs. Furthermore, The Minister, Dr. Ibtihal al-Zaidi does not believe in equality between women and men in Iraq. ”I am against the equality between men and woman”, she told a local news agency. “If women are equal to men they are going to lose a lot. Up to now I am with the power of the man in society” she explained.[16]
Most female MPs have shown little interest in women’s rights but rather focus on representing their sectarian party’s policies towards women. In essence, they duplicate whatever their fellow male MPs already advocate. Concerns ought to be raised about the significance of having a female MP. [17] DR Jenan Al-Ubaedey, a female MP, for example, has been more committed than any other male MP to justify the beating of women and polygamy.  ”[18]

The right to demonstrate

In June 2011, government-backed thugs armed with wooden planks, knives, and iron pipes, beat and stabbed peaceful protesters and sexually molested female demonstrators in Tahrir square in Baghdad as security forces stood by and watched, sometimes laughing at the victims.[19]
“The government responded to largely peaceful demonstrations with violence and to worsening security with draconian counterterrorism measures…. The government responded to increasing unrest with mass arrest campaigns in Sunni regions, targeting ordinary civilians and prominent activists and politicians under the 2005 Anti-Terrorism Law. Security forces and government supporters harassed journalists and media organizations critical of the authorities.”[20]

Gender based Violence in public space

The lack of basic security in the streets, road blocks, collapsed health systems, water contamination and the feeling of fear, anxiety and despair are factors which affect mothers. Being able to give birth safely is becoming  a privilege rather than a fundamental human right.
Roughly 38 per cent of pregnant women are anemic. Furthermore, in 2010, lack of donor funding has forced the United Nations to cut back on its humanitarian efforts in Iraq which means its food aid agency halting distributions will affect some 800,000 pregnant and nursing women and malnourished children, as well as up to 960,000 schoolchildren.[21]
The maternal mortality rate for Iraq remains the highest in the region. Of all maternal deaths, 80% can be potentially avoided by interventions during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum. 47.7% of women  reported difficulties in receiving health care from governmental health institutions due to lack of money to pay for services while for 40.6% it was  difficult to reach the service.

Birth defects

Young married women in Fallujah, West of Iraq, are increasingly reluctant to become pregnant for the fear of giving birth to monstrously deformed babies. In November 2004, US troops used white phosphorus bombs in their major offensives against the city of Fallujah.
Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and one of the authors of the An epidemiological study on Fallujah says:
“The people of Fallujah are experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukaemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after those Japanese cities were incinerated by U.S. atomic bomb strikes in 1945″[22]
Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and author of the book Pollution and Reproductive Damage, notes that increasing numbers of birth defects have also been seen in Mosul, Najaf, Basra, Hawijah, Nineveh and Baghdad. In some provinces, adds Dr Savabieasfahani, the rate of cancers is also increasing. She says:
‘Sterility, repeated miscarriages, stillbirths and severe birth defects – some never described in any medical books – are weighing heavily on Iraqi families.’[23]

Temporary marriage

On the issue of personal status law (family law), attempts of superseding the advanced 1959 law with the introduction of a sectarian version of Shari’a Islamic law were thwarted in 2004. However, in the realities of a country where laws are neither adhered to nor are respected, Iraqi civil law is also not enforced.
Subsequently, a pre-Islamic cultural practice known as Muta’a (Pleasure) permitting temporary marriages, has been revived within the Shi’a community following the footsteps of Iran where this practice is widely practiced.
Iran has been actively promoting Muta’a since the “Islamic Revolution” of 1979, as essential for a society’s sexual health. Muta’a allows a man who wishes to have sex with a woman to “marry” her in the presence of a religious figure, who acts as a Muta’a broker. The man will specify how long the marriage will last, ranging from few hours to many years.
A small mehr (dowry) will then be paid to the woman. Such marriages have no protection or guarantees for women and their offspring in Iraq. Only a man has the right to renew the marriage upon expiration—for another mehr—or to terminate it early.
Temporary marriage and unregistered marriages in civil courts are now rife especially amongst poor women in Najaf and Karbala cities, the most revered places in Shi’a Islam. The marriages are conducted mostly under the protection and encouragement of religious institutions where seminars are hosted to promote temporary marriage to women. These seminars intend to convince women that such practice is acceptable and will, in fact, benefit the women.[24] Muta’a is seen by many Iraqis as a form of prostitution despite the religious legality.

Polygamy

The other phenomenon which was  rare in Iraq and has since witnessed a comeback is polygamy; a by-product of poverty, unemployment and women’s need for economy assistance and social “protection”.
Polygamy is promoted by some officials and politicians with the support of several religious groups as a way to address the issue of ever increasing number of widowed and unmarried women. This is despite the fact that polygamy is illegal unless there are exceptional circumstances which requires a judicial authorization.
In the West of Iraq, in the province of Anbar[25]for example, the Islamic party and some officials offer money to men willing to take more than one wife. The grant ranges between 750 American dollars to take a second wife, and up to 2,000 American dollars to wed women who had been married before[26]. Charities are sponsoring second marriages as well with the support of some women organisations which see polygamy as a pragmatic step to reduce the dangers of prostitution.
However, other women and human rights organizations see polygamy as a political manoeuvre to cover up the plight of Iraq’s most vulnerable women. They argue that widows and poverty stricken women need employment and monthly social welfare (as it used to be under the Baath regime), and micro-finance projects that would help women become self-sufficient, a near impossibility even in a resource rich country like Iraq.[27]
The effects of wide spread polygamy, no matter how it is marketed, will damage what Iraqi women have been struggling to get rid of for over a century. Combined with temporary marriage, it is a huge degrading step backward.

Trafficking in persons

Although Iraq is a signatory of several UN protocols and pacts that protect human and labor rights, according to the 2011 Trafficking in persons (TiP) Report, Iraq is a source and destination country for men, women and children subjected to trafficking for begging, prostitution and organ trafficking.
For less than 16 years old girls, prices range from 30,000 US dollars; older girls attract the price of 2,000 US dollars. The traffickers are aided by sophisticated criminal networks that are able to forge documents and pay corrupt officials to remove impediments.[28] Girls as young as 10 or 12 have been trafficked from Iraq into countries including Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia for sexual exploitation.
Other victims trafficked within Iraq end up in nightclubs or brothels, often in Baghdad. The large population of internally displaced persons and refugees moving within Iraq and across its borders are particularly at risk of being trafficked. In 2013, the US State Department released a report on human trafficking in the world, According to the US report, Iraq was categorized as a hotbed of human trafficking and smuggling from all over the world[29]

Torture and sexual violence

Torture, sexual abuses and rape in Abu Ghraib and dozens of other Anglo-American camps and detention centres has continued in the hands of Iraqi forces under the control of the interior and defence ministries. These forces have been trained by US and British forces.
Detainees, in some cases, in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib scandal, were handed over to Iraqis to be tortured while occupation troops claimed no responsibility. This gave Iraqi security forces the green light to continue the torture tradition to coerce confessions that would lead eventually to the detainee’s executions under Article 4 of anti terrorism law.
The sexual nature of torture, sexual abuses, and the threat of rape have become one of the terrifying “familiar” tools, practiced with impunity, against detainees regardless of their gender. They are used to humiliate, break the will, control, and destroy deeply rooted cultural values such as honor; a value which is equally important for both men and women.
Numerous human rights reports document that women are subjected routinely to sexual abuse, torture and rape since 2003.
Women are detained for various reasons. There are women who have been arrested  for “security reasons” accused of being terrorists, terrorist’s facilitators, potential suicide bombers, and ex-Baathists. Some are taken as hostages to intimidate or force their male relatives to admit crimes that they had not committed.
On 25th January 2009, the Minister of Women Affairs Nawal al-Samarrai said women prisoners were routinely beaten, abused and in some cases raped in both US and Iraqi prisons. Many women detainees have disappeared after being arrested by US and Iraqi forces and since their families do not report the cases it is difficult to give the exact figure of women detainees.
Minister Al -Samarrai added that political parties and militias hold sway over the courts and judges. The result of both is that prisoners often remain in prison indefinitely.
Classified government documents obtained by Human Rights Watch reveal that torture is systematic. Detainees endure wide ranging abuses during interrogation sessions usually to extract false confessions. If the detainees still refused to confess, interrogators would threaten to rape the women and girls in their families”[30].
Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a 68-year-old man with dual Iraqi-UK citizenship, was held incommunicado, tortured and raped with a stick after he traveled to Iraq to secure the release of his son Omar.
Both men were beaten, suffocated, given electric shocks to the genitals, and suspended by the ankles. Torturers also threatened to rape Ramze’s first wife, who lives in Mosul, in front of him, and threatened Omar that he would be forced to rape his father if he did not confess to killings. Both men signed “confessions”.[31]

Role change

Women, have had to step out to protect their families, and to carry out the necessary daily tasks, some of which have traditionally been associated with men, such as burying the dead and searching for their missing male relatives in morgues.
Queues of women waiting for news about their detained or missing husbands, sons, fathers or brothers have become almost a fixed feature in front of prisons, detention camps, and ministries of human rights, interior or justice. Some have been without news of their loved ones for many years.
Officers often demand hefty bribes to let women visit their relatives. According to a report by the Guardian
“Iraqi state security officers are systematically arresting people on trumped-up charges, torturing them and extorting bribes from their families for their release. Endemic corruption in Iraq has created a new industry in which senior security service officers buy their authority over particular neighbourhoods by bribing politicians, junior officers pay their seniors monthly stipends and everyone gets a return on their investment by extorting money from the families of detainees.”[32]

Why Anbar

On 25 December 2012, demonstrators took to the streets in Anbar province, followed by others in several cities.  Demanding the release of women detainees   Some of the women have been tortured, raped or threatened with rape according to reports by the committee of human rights in the parliament . The regime’s various spokesmen gave out contradictory responses: from denying the existence of women detainees arrested as hostages to force the surrender of their male relatives, admitting that some “terrorist” women were arrested, promising swift release, denying rape, to finally setting up a panel of religious personalities and officials to investigate.
The regime conducted a campaign of assassination of leaders of the peaceful demonstration, and where they could, they disbanded them by force.  In Huweija, in the north of the country, 50 people were massacred.  The regime has ended the peaceful protest in all but Anbar.  In the end they resorted to link the protest to terrorism, and this is what is being carried out.

Conclusions

What Europe can and should do to help Iraqi women?

First – actions to stop the atrocities

The priority of international pressure is to ensure the current bloodshed stops, before it multiplies to a level comparable to Syria.
A public stance by the EU against social and political abuse is the best policy to fight terrorism
When Iraqi women asked about the most important issue their reply is security followed by health and education and employment.
Running workshops on political participation and democracy are great, but at time of conflict and war they are at the bottom of the list of priorities.
A Special Rapporteur should be appointed.  This is a first step to monitor the crimes committed by the sectarian corrupt regime. These must be addressed to bring an end to a state of impunity.

Second, and related point – the emphasis should be on the root causes of terrorism in government policy rather than focussing on Islamophobia and myths about foreign forces.

Ban Ki-moon in his visit to Iraq on January 14 has singled out what the protests has been demanding all along: looking at the root causes of the problems. They are sectarianism, corruption, lack of basic services, violations of human rights, increasing unemployment and organised gangs and militias flourishing under a kleptocratic government.

Third  – Stop supplying weapons to a regime which is using them against the Iraqi people.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows in its annual report a massive disregard by many states in this respect.  You cannot expect the Iraqi people to believe the West’ good intentions when faced with the underlying reality, namely Western for a government which is oppressing Iraqi civilians.

Fourth: Expose corruption and demand transparency. Where is Iraqi wealth stashed.

The Maliki government has been harvesting over $100bn a year for some time now, from the nation’s oil wealth. That amounts to on average to about $20,000 a year per Iraqi household of 7 people. The fact of the matter is that Iraqis are left deprived of basic commodities as a result of this process. The wealth is squandered or stolen, a situation illustrated by Transparency International as:
“Massive embezzlement, procurement scams, money laundering, oil smuggling and widespread bureaucratic bribery have led the country to the bottom of international corruption rankings, fuelled political violence and hampered effective state building and service delivery.”
Implementing justice is the only way to put an end to terrorism, and to allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their country and rehabilitate a cohesive social structure.
 Notes
[1] The United Nations Refugee Agency issued the following today: January 24 (UNHCR)
[2] UNHCR , January 22, 2008
[4] “A study, published in prestigious medical journal The Lancet, estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion as of July 2006. Iraqis have continued to be killed since then. The death counter provides a rough daily update of this number based on a rate of increase derived from the Iraq Body Count. The estimate that over a million Iraqis have died received independent confirmation from a prestigious British polling agency in January 2008. Opinion Research Business estimated that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 was 1,033,000.”
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq , see also ; Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey, Prof Gilbert Burnham MD a , Prof Riyadh Lafta MD b, Shannon Doocy PhD a, Les Roberts PhD , The Lancet, Volume 368, Issue 9545, Pages 1421 – 1428, 21 October 2006
[5] Iraqi Widows and Orphans Face Government Corruption, NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq,
30-11-2010
[8] IRAQ’S CORRUPTION LEGACY, Farid Farid, 3 April 2013, transparency International,
[9] Amnesty International Annual Report – Iraq – 2011.
[10] AI: Iraq: Another spike in executions with 38 hanged in last four days, AI Jan 2014
[11] Ibid
[12] Hans von Sponeck in: IRAQ:A CASE OF EDUCIDE, March 2011, Ghenthttp://www.brussellstribunal.org/Seminar/texts/en/2.pdf
[14] For List of killed, threatened or kidnapped Iraqi Academics , see;http://www.brussellstribunal.org/academicsList.htm
[15] Iraqi Newspaper Azzaman reported on 8 October 2011: “More than 30,000 Iraqi civil servants, among them high-level officials, have obtained their jobs on fake certificates and degrees, according to the parliamentary commission on integrity and transparency.”
[16] Outrage as Iraqi women’s affairs minister opposes equality for women, Kurdistantribune, February 14, 2012
[17] Iraq’s women of power who tolerate wife-beating and promote polygamy, Catherine Philp , 18 April 2005
[19] Iraq: Intensifying Crackdown on Free Speech, Protests, HRW, JANUARY 22, 2012
[21] According to Edward Kallon, the U.N. World Food Program’s representative for Iraq.http://www.aolnews.com/2010/07/19/un-forced-to-cut-food-aid-to-iraqi-women-children/
[22] Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah ‘worse than Hiroshima’, The independent, 24 July 2010.
[24] Abuse Of Temporary Marriages Flourishes In Iraq, KELLY MCEVERS, NPR, October 19, 2010
[25] Population of Anbar 1.7 million with around 130,000 widows  and unmarried women .
[26] Polygamy Promoted to Tackle Plight of Anbar’s Women, Uthman al-Mukhtar ,ICR Issue 353,
23 Sep2010
[27] Iraq toys with polygamy as solution for war widows, Roula Ayoubi, BBC, 26 January 2011
[30] Iraqis Torturing Iraqis, NY times, SAMER MUSCATI, May 4, 2010
[31] Ibid
[32] Corruption in Iraq: ‘Your son is being tortured. He will die if you don’t pay’, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad,
The Guardian, 16 January 2012


http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-continuing-deterioration-of-womens-rights-in-iraq/5367085