2005 World Tribunal on Iraq

WTI Briefing
Istanbul Session
Final Declaration of the Jury of
Conscience, WTI-Istanbul

World Tribunal On Iraq Demands Bush And Blair Indictment At International Criminal Court, WTI, August 1, 2005

To viewWTI proceedings: see Deep Dish TV: www.deepdishtv.org.

Take Action: support the findings & recommendations of the Jury of Conscience.

Read Blog from Jodie Evans, WTI, Istanbul:

June 23, 2005

Arundhati Roy, Jodie Evans and Eve Ensler at WTI in Istanbul.
Photo by: Janet Gerson

I have arrived in Istanbul, Turkey to be an International Observer at The World Tribunal on Iraq.  “This is an undertaking of historic importance”, declared Richard Falk at the press conference this morning.  Falk is a  UNESCO peace prize holder, Professor of International Law, and co-coordinator for the Tribunal's Panel of Advocates with Turgut Tarhanlž, Professor of International Law and Human Rights Law. 

I encourage you to visit the website and familiarize yourself with this event as you won't be reading about it in the media.  The press conference this morning was packed, but only with International press. I didn't find anyone from a major US media company.

"This is a culmination of tribunal sessions on the legal dimensions of The Iraq War, held in all parts of the world.  This kind of spontaneous initiative of concerned people around the world has never taken place before.  It represents an expression of what might be called ‘moral globalization,' acting on the belief that no state and no leader is above the law when it comes to matters of war and peace. It is primarily an expression of popular democracy, of ethical conscience about what is right and wrong in world politics, and an expression of resistance to what is understood around the third world as an American project to achieve world domination.” continued Richard Falk.

The WTI participants from around the world include Iraqi witnesses and experts as well as distinguished international figures such as Dennis Halliday, former Assistant to the UN Secretary General and Director of The UN Humanitarian Aid Programme, Souad Naji Al-Azzawi, Director of the Doctorate Programme in Environmental Engineering in Iraq and Phil Shiner, a human rights lawyer who has uncovered evidence that U.S. troops have tortured detainees in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Jury of Conscience is chaired by award-winning author Arundhati Roy and is comprised of 15 people from different parts of the world with different areas of expertise.  The entire list, and schedule can be viewed at www.worldtribunal.org.

The Tribunal will consist of three days of hearings investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media, as well as the destruction of the cultural sites and the environment. Istanbul hosts the culminating session of commissions of inquiry and hearings held around the world over the past two years. They have compiled a definitive historical record of evidence about the invasion and the occupation.

Many who can't attend have written letters exclaiming the importance of this gathering. I want to share one with you:

The records have to be kept, and, by definition, the perpetrators, far from keeping records, try to destroy them. They are killers of the innocent and of memory. The records are required to inspire still further the mounting opposition to the new global tyranny. The new tyrants, incomparably over-armed, can win every war - both military and economic. Yet they are losing the war (this is how they call it) of communication. They are not winning the support of world public opinion. More and more people are saying NO. Finally this will be the tyranny's undoing. But after how many more tragedies, invasions and collateral disasters? After how much more of the new poverty the tyranny engenders? Hence the urgency of keeping records, of remembering, of assembling the evidence, so that the accusations become
unforgettable, and proverbial on every continent. More and more people are going to say NO, for this is the precondition today for saying YES to all we are determined to save and everything we love

The session opens tomorrow morning with Arundhati Roy.  Please continue to watch and read and spread the word. If the governments and the United Nations are unable and unwilling to hold leaders of the world accountable, then citizens acting on behalf of civil society have the right and the duty to challenge and oppose an illegal war and practices that violate international humanitarian law.  It is, after all, in the famous words  of the UN Charter, “We the peoples of the world” who are “determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”

I write this as the House of Representatives announces the formation of an Out Of Iraq caucus with 61 founding members. News from Tom Hayden indicates that a Turkish-based news service just reported that 82 members of the Iraqi parliament have sent a letter calling for withdrawal to the leader of the 285 member body. They not only want withdrawal, they are attacking  their leadership for ignoring the Iraqi constituents and for asking the US/UN to continue the occupation. And the U.S. anti-war communities are keeping the pressure on both Congress and the media about the Downing Street Memos, which clearly reveal how the war was undertaken with the knowledge of breaking the law. 

We can feel the Bush palace of lies crumbling beneath him, but it is up to all of us to spread the word!!!!

June 24, 2005

Jodie Evans and DeeDee at 
WTI in Istanbul.

At the end of my last blog I mention hearing from Tom Hayden that members of the Iraq Parliament were asking for the US to withdraw.I asked him to check out the credibility of what he heard and below is his response: "Source is strange but credible: The Journal of Turkish Weekly, June 19, 2005. Check and see at turkishweekly.net, or IslamOnline.net

The reason it seems credible is that the letter was apparently sent by Falah Hassan Shanshal of the United Iraqi Alliance, which won the elections and is the largest bloc. It was sent to their speaker, Hajem Al-Hassani, according to Agence France-Press.

82 members is one-fourth of a 285 member parliament elected under the machinery of occupation. The Alliance platform in the January elections, I believe, called for a withdrawal timetable. US intelligence agencies worried about the possibility, and the US applied pressure to make the withdrawal conditional on winning the war, not a calendar date. So the platform, which called for a timetable, got thrown away once the new regime was installed, and instead a request was sent to the UN to continue the occupation. At that point, the 82 dissented and wrote the letter, complaining that there were no consultations with representatives". 

June 25, 2005

Click above to read Jodie Evans' interview in WTI's The Chronicle (page 2).

Today Arundhati Roy opened the Tribunal, a very long day but enormously inspiring, as we listened to truth after truth be witnessed to. I can't imagine how I can capture all of it for you. There we sat in the building that had been the mint for two Empires that had fallen, the Ottoman and Byzantine, a decayed opulence surrounding us. Reminding us that Empires end. We were also in Turkey who had refused to aid the US but had also allowed them to use their airspace. We learned of deeper reasons why England had supported and why France and Germany had refused to support, each not as clear and simple as we are led to believe. Even Turkey's duplicity was revealed, along with the complexity of the Arab world and it's political reasons for supporting and not supporting the invasion and occupation. See the transcripts for more at www.worldtribunal.org.  

Arundhati Roy opened the day with, "Let me say categorically that this tribunal is the defense. It is an act of resistance in itself. It is a defense mounted against one of the most cowardly wars ever fought in history, a war in which international institutions were used to force a country to disarm and then stood by while it was attacked with a greater array of weapons than has ever been used in the history of war." Her words set the tone for the day.

She ended with, "The assault on Iraq is an assault on all of us: on our dignity, our intelligence, and our future. We recognize that the judgment of the World Tribunal on Iraq is not binding in international law. However, our ambitions far surpass that. The World Tribunal on Iraq 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."

Later, we saw images of February 15th with over 10,000,000 activists in the streets around the world saying "NO" to war, and felt that the "NO" had not died or failed, but continued to speak here and around the world in many forms, including you on July 4th! (Don't forget to join CODEPINK in action on July 4th; for inspiration and ideas click here)

Earlier this week, Arundhati answered a question about the resistance in Iraq. She said, "What we are here to do is show another way of resistance. To tell the truth as powerfully and fully as possible, and by such truthfulness to activate the conscience of humanity to resist."

Richard Falk followed Arundhati in the opening of the conference, "This
tribunal differs from a normal court of law in the following main

  • it is an organ of civil society, not of the state;
  • its essential purpose is to confirm the truth, not to discover it;
  • its jurors are dedicated, informed, and committed citizens of the world, not neutral and indifferent individuals of the community;
  • its advocates are knowledgeable, wise and decent, but not legally trained specialists;
  • its trust for the future is not based on violence and police, but on conscience, political struggle, and public opinion.

Nevertheless, we claim for this tribunal the authority to declare the law and to impose its judgment and to hope -- hope that a demonstration of this criminality will not fall on deaf ears, but will awaken and exercise the peoples of the world to intensify their resistance to America's plans for world domination and stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people."

He spoke of what had happened in the 90's, Seattle, Puerto Allegro, and a Global understanding of what is needed. His hope was that this would move us back to that vision which was derailed by the invasion of Iraq.

The speakers were eloquent thoughtful and rich with facts. Each prepared in depth and thoughtful presentations. Overwhelming to sit through, but fabulous reading to prepare you to be active on July 4th. I encourage you to read their contributions. Each is available at www.Worldtribunal.org or www.deepdishtv.org.

 Now is the time to strengthen your voice and join us in the streets, on July 4th and in Washington DC on September 24th, we must continue to empower the voice of the people, we do that by stepping out of what we think are our comforts and continuing to say "NO". You will be emboldened by what you read in the transcripts. They will remind you of the global community to which you belong. The other world that is not only possible but also exists.

Jodie, from Istanbul.

June 26, 2005

Shocking and appalling stories of the illegalities in Iraq at the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul

The hall is abuzz with the thrill of full-page spreads on the front page of every newspaper in Istanbul, and the woman next to me smiles that we are also on the BBC.  The bank of cameras and the swarm of photographers have filled the room again this morning.  Still absent is any sign of the US media, except the cameras of Deep Dish TV.  The website got 15,000 hits from more than 100 countries.  As the spokesperson for the Jury of Conscience, Arundhati Roy said earlier in the week, "This is what resistance looks like, if we don't show those who resort to violence alternative methods, it will be one of our failings." For they have been forced to resist an illegal invasion of their country, what would we do if they didn't resist?  Our joining together to witness the facts and the experience of those living in Iraq, and to see  this jury's evaluation within a void, where there is no rule of law -- this is our act of resistance.  But it is yet another non-event in the US of A. 

The mood quickly changed from the thrills of approval as Dahr Jamail began his stories of torture in Iraq by the US military. The hall was in deep grief within moments.  He showed photo after photo of the tragedies in Iraq.  Photographs of torture and of families that have been left without aid, and the appalling conditions in the hospitals and the streets if Iraq.

A group from Japan indicated their obvious passion against the use of overpowering weapons by listing the number of illegal weapons dropped by the US/UK, and their upset with the Japanese government for agreeing to join Bush in invading Iraq.  This violated Article 9 of their constitution, to never invade another country.

Dr.Thomas Fasy of Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC took us through a report with charts and graphs describing the rise in cancer in Iraq since the use of depleted uranium during the first Gulf war, the new nuclear weapon of choice with horrific consequences. Leukemia had risen 450% in children under the age of 5 since 1990.  His testimony reminded me of 5-year-old Atarid, whom we met in Iraq before the invasion.  He had already lost all of his hair and had a very sweet smile, but couldn't get the care available to children in the US because cancer therapies were not allowed under sanctions in Iraq.  He was sent home to die and make room for those wounded from the shock and awe that was about to descend on Iraq.

Denis Halliday, who had resigned his position as UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq in protest of the Iraq sanctions completed the morning's session. He enumerated all the ways in which the UN had failed at its job, both at the level of the UN Security Counsel, the Secretary General and the members. He had watched the US destroy Iraq's potential, simply because it was no longer a useful friend, and set a pattern of militaristic aggression towards the people of Iraq that continues until today. He spoke about the rights of Iraqi self-defense and resistance to foreign military occupation, as set out in UN Charter Article 51, but added there is nothing glorious about killing, "be it of the enemy, or of one's own country men and women who decide, for whatever reason, to collaborate."

The day continued with testimony after testimony from the many brave Iraqis who came to share their stories.  By the late afternoon many of the jurors were in tears. 

We had sat yet again through nearly 12 hours of testimony. There was no question that the UK and US were guilty of an illegal, immoral and unjust war -- the case had been proven over and over. Nor was there the need to question the Iraqis' right to resist. Of course they had the right if the invasion was illegal. Instead, the question had already become: now what do we do about it?

What can we as anti-war activists in the US really do? What do you do with an administration that has degraded the rule of law, raped and maimed it?  The Tribunal was just the beginning of filling a void.  A void created because all the governing bodies that should be carrying out this task, or should have prevented the horror in the first place have been rocked to sleep, or bound and gagged.  We the people need to continue to stand up and not complain about what is lacking, but to fill the voids as citizens, citizens not just of the United States but also of the World.  We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi people. It is so amazingly obvious; we must get out of Iraq now. They will rebuild their country, it will take time, a long time, but they cannot start until we are gone.

I encourage you to go to the www.worldtribunal.org, share it with everyone you know, read the testimonies, deepen your knowledge of the facts and the stories from Iraq and join us in action on July 4th as we celebrate and remember the values of our country that are daily being trampled upon by the thugs in power.  


Arundhati was the last to speak as the World Tribunal in Iraq completed their offerings so she and the other members of the Jury of Conscience could begin the long night of deliberation and writing.  They have until 10am to complete their findings and recommendations.  We were all exhausted by the time she spoke, we had had three non-stop days of testimony.  It seemed each of us had melted away another onion skin to a new perception, everyone could feel it.  A sense of knowing had shifted, not the knowing of the information but a new way of seeing the world had emerged.  It was palpable.

Arundhati Roy had come because it was the only place to be, “What other invitation would matter to me, when we have this to attend to, this enormous bloody thing.”
She continued in response to the question of why did you come, “It's like someone who asks you when you have stopped to help someone who has been in a car wreck,  why did you stop? why didn't you keep walking like everyone else.”

She couldn't tell us what was more chilling for her, the testimony and brutal stories from Iraq, or the stories of how the business was carried out there now, and how much was being sold off and how.  “Where a country occupies another with no idea of how they are going to protect the people, but a very clear idea and plan of how they are going to loot it.”

Both Arundhati and Eve Ensler had been very affected by the testimony yesterday from Barbara Olshansky.  Barbara is one of the experts on Guantanamo prison and the Assistant Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.   Her testimony was chilling, as she describe the kinds of torture we do as the US and the places we export prisoners when we want someone else to do the dirty work.  We learned that President Bush could command anyone to be picked up anywhere on the planet, without the need for any due process of law, he just has to say they are an enemy combatant.  Arundhati ended by explaining, “The US has defined enemy combatant as anyone who harbors thoughts of resistance,”  she proudly proclaimed, “Then I for one am an enemy combatant.”  CODEPINK  will have buttons soon, as I hope we are all enemy combatants and by claiming it can expose more of the madness of King George.

Richard Falk, the spokesperson on behalf of the panel of Advocates spoke just before Arundhati to lay out some ideas for use by the committee. 
 *To let them know they do have  the right and obligation to call for those who have power to uphold the moral law. 
 *Decolonize our minds from the illusion that it is only the state that has the power to create and enforce law.    Be creative about our capacities to do this.   Rethink the nature of what civil society is capable of creating.  Great and essential purpose of this tribunal, not to discover what is the law but to confirm the truth of the illegality, immorality, and criminality.
 * Remember Nurenburg, no one is above the law, this applies to the strong as well as the weak. 

The Tribunal stands on the shoulders of a similar tribunal for Vietnam that Bertrand Russell created, Ken Coates, who know runs his foundation for Peace, reminded us that Russell “had sought to prevent the crime of silence.”   Unless we could learn from these events, they would repeat themselves, and sooner than you think, a chilling thought. 

I grabbed my Iraqi friends and we walked from the lush gardens of the palace past the Aya Sophia towards the Blue Mosque, I wanted to hear about Iraq.  They talked over each other trying to tell me everything (Jodie in pink below):

“It's hell”. 
“I was there last February, it was already hell, it was even hell 2 years ago July.”
No, that was Paradise, this is hell.”
“No, that was Hell, I saw it myself.”
“I can't live at my house, it is too dangerous as it is near CNN compound.”
“We were kept from our house for 10 days, the roads were just closed, they have bombed it 5 times, there is nothing left.”
“Half of all the streets have concrete clocks and razor wire, the rest are just blocked.”
“There is no way to get gas, except on the black market.”
“ We are not living, we are vegetating.”
What about the resistance?
“It is growing, the U.S. has fomented a breeding ground for resistance, when it is this F---ing bad, people can only resist.”
“No one trusts the United States because they made our life miserable.”
“Everyone was hopeful when they came, but it is so much worse now than under Saddam, we can't believe it.”
“Yes, the stores are full of electronic equipment but we have no electricity, or water.  You can buy bottled water, but you can't flush your toilet with bottled water,  we were without water for 8 days last month.”
“The sex workers, it is horrible, they are so young, I met 3 girls the other day.”
“What were their ages?”
“The oldest was 12, the youngest 7, they were talking about sex in a way I don't even know.”
And in the meantime they were teasing each other playfully.
“Given all you have told me, how do you keep this delightful sense of humor?”
“If I didn't, I would die.”

June 27, 2005

On June 27, 2005 the Jury of Conscience World Tribunal on Iraq presented the work of their all night deliberations. Click here to read this thoughtful and thorough analysis.  Now it is our task to join them and to get the word out.  If you can't read the testimonies, read the findings. Share them, and be emboldened by them.Join the jury by endorsing their findings and 10-point recommendation and forward this information to your friends.
– Jodie Evans, London, June 27, 2005.