Istanbul, 27 June, 2005 - With a Jury of Conscience from 10 different countries hearing the testimonies of 54 members of the Panel of Advocates who came from across the world, including Iraq, the United States and the United Kingdom, this global civil initiative came to an end with a press conference at the Hotel Armada where the chair of the Jury of Conscience, Arundathi Roy, announced the Jury’s conclusions.
The Jury defined this war as one of the most unjust in history: ‘The Bush and Blair administrations blatantly ignored the massive opposition to the war expressed by millions of people around the world. They embarked upon one of the most unjust, immoral, and cowardly wars in history. The Anglo-American occupation of Iraq of the last 27 months has led to the destruction and devastation of the Iraqi state and society. Law and order have broken down completely, resulting in a pervasive lack of human security; the physical infrastructure is in shambles; the health care delivery system is a mess; the education system has ceased to function; there is massive environmental and ecological devastation; and, the cultural and archeological heritage of the Iraqi people has been desecrated.’
On the basis of the preceding findings and recalling the Charter of the United Nations and other legal documents, the jury has established the following charges against the Governments of the US and the UK:
• Planning, preparing, and waging the supreme crime of a war of aggression in contravention of the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Principles.
• Targeting the civilian population of Iraq and civilian infrastructure
• Using disproportionate force and indiscriminate weapon systems
• Failing to safeguard civilians during military activities and the occupation period thereafter
• Using deadly violence against peaceful protestors
• Imposing punishments without charge or trial, including collective punishment
• Subjecting Iraqi soldiers and civilians to torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment
• Re-writing the laws of a country that has been illegally invaded and occupied
• Willfully devastating the environment
• Actively creating conditions under which seriously degrade the status of Iraqi women
• Failing to protect humanity’s rich archaeological and cultural heritage in Iraq
• Obstructing the right to information, including the censoring of Iraqi media
• Redefining torture in violation of international law, to allow use of torture and illegal detentions
The Jury also established charges against the Security Council of United Nations for failing to stop war crimes and crimes against humanity among other failures, against the Governments of the Coalition of the Willing for collaborating in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, against the Governments of Other Countries for allowing the use of military bases and air space and providing other logistical support, against Private Corporations for profiting from the war, against the Major Corporate Media for disseminating deliberate falsehoods and failing to report atrocities.
The Jury also provided a number of recommendations that include recognising the right of the Iraqi people to resist the illegal occupation of their country and to develop independent institutions, and affirming that the right to resist the occupation is the right to wage a struggle for self-determination, freedom, and independence as derived from the Charter of the United Nations, we the Jury of Conscience declare our solidarity with the people of Iraq and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the coalition forces from Iraq.
The Istanbul session of the WTI lasted three days and presented testimony on the illegality and criminal violations in the U.S. pretexts for and conduct of this war. The expert opinion, witness testimony, video and image evidence addressed the impact of war on civilians, the torture of prisoners, the unlawful imprisonment of Iraqis without charges or legal defence, the use of depleted uranium weapons, the effects of the war on Iraq’s infrastructure, the destruction of Iraqi cultural institutions and the liability of the invaders in international law for failing to protect these treasures of humanity.
The session in Istanbul was the culminating session of commissions of inquiry and hearings held around the world over the past two years. Sessions on different topics related to the war on Iraq were held in London, Mumbai, Copenhagen, Brussels, New York, Japan, Stockholm, South Korea, Rome, Frankfurt, Geneva, Lisbon and Spain.
They have compiled a definitive historical record of evidence on the illegality of the invasion and occupation that will be recorded in a forthcoming book.