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November 2010 choose your language: FRANCAIS NEDERLANDS ESPAÑOL ARABIC
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CONTENT OF THE
BEYOND THE WIKILEAKS “REVELATIONS” - by Dirk Adriaensens, speaker at the seminar
AIMS OF THE INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR
BRAIN DRAIN IN IRAQ - by Basim Al Janabi, speaker at the seminar
LETTER TO TONY BLAIR - by Hans von Sponeck, speaker at the seminar
STATE-ENDING - by Raymond Baker, speaker at the seminar
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE SEMINAR
SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE OF THE SEMINAR
REASONS TO SUPPORT THE SEMINAR
PARTNERS-COORGANIZERS OF THE SEMINAR
FIRST PARTNERS-ENDORSERS OF THE SEMINAR
WEBSITE OF THE SEMINAR
THE BRUSSELLS TRIBUNAL
is an international network of intellectuals, artists and activists, who denounce the logic of permanent war promoted by the American government and its allies, affecting for the time being particularly one region in the world: the Middle East. It started with a people’s court against the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and its role in the illegal invasion of Iraq, but continued ever since. It tries to be a bridge between the intellectual resistance in the Arab World and the Western peace movements
The United Nation's Human Rights Council in Geneva reviews the human rights record of the United States on November 5, 2010, on the occasion of the Ninth Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), November 1 to 12, 2010. The following is the presentation given by Dirk Adriaensens in the "Special Information Session of Extra-territorial Abuses of Human Rights by the United States" on November 3.
BEYOND THE WIKILEAKS “REVELATIONS”:
Dismantling the Iraqi state
Just days after the devastating attacks of 9/11 Deputy Defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz declared that a major focus of US foreign policy would be “ending states that sponsor terrorism”. Iraq was labelled a “terrorist state” and targeted for ending. President Bush went on to declare Iraq the major front of the global war on terror. US forces invaded illegally with the express aim to dismantling the Iraqi state. After WWII focus of social sciences was on state-building and development model. Little has been written on state-destruction and de-development. We can now, after 7 years of war and occupation, state for certain that state-ending was a deliberate policy objective.
The consequences in human and cultural terms of the destruction of the Iraqi state have been enormous: notably the death of over 1,3 million civilians; the degradation in social infrastructure, including electricity, potable water and sewage systems; over eight million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance; abject poverty: the UN Human rights report for the 1st quarter of 2007 found that 54% of Iraqis were living on less than $1 a day; the displacement of minimum 2.5 million refugees and 2.764.000 internally displaced people as to end 2009. One in six Iraqis is displaced. Ethnic & religious minorities are on the verge of extinction. UN-HABITAT, an agency of the United Nations, published a 218-page report entitled State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent. Today, that percentage has risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers.
Destroying Iraqi education
The UNESCO report “Education Under Attack 2010 – Iraq”, dated 10 February 2010, concludes that “Although overall security in Iraq had improved, the situation faced by schools, students, teachers and academics remained dangerous”. The director of the United Nations University International Leadership Institute published a report on 27 April 2005 detailing that since the start of the war of 2003 some 84% of Iraq's higher education institutions have been burnt, looted or destroyed. Ongoing violence has destroyed school buildings and around a quarter of all Iraq’s primary schools need major rehabilitation. Since March 2003, more than 700 primary schools have been bombed, 200 have been burnt and over 3,000 looted. Populations of teachers in Baghdad have fallen by 80%. Between March 2003 and October 2008, 31,598 violent attacks against educational institutions were reported in Iraq, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE). Since 2007 bombings at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad have killed or maimed more than 335 students and staff members, according to a 19 Oct 2009 NYT article, and a 12-foot-high blast wall has been built around the campus. MNF-I, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police units occupied more than 70 school buildings for military purposes in the Diyala governorate alone, in clear violation of The Hague Conventions. The UNESCO report is very clear: “Attacks on education targets continued throughout 2007 and 2008 at a lower rate – but one that would cause serious concern in any other country.” Why didn’t it cause serious concern when it comes to Iraq? And the attacks are on the rise again, an increase of 50%, as these statistics show:
(On the 20th of March 2008, Reporters Without Borders reported that hundreds of journalists were forced into exile since the start of US-led invasion.)
Eliminating the Iraqi middle class
Running parallel with the destruction of Iraq’s educational infrastructure, this repression led to the mass forced displacement of the bulk of Iraq’s educated middle class — the main engine of progress and development in modern states. Iraq’s intellectual and technical class has been subject to a systematic and ongoing campaign of intimidation, abduction, extortion, random killings and targeted assassinations. The decimation of professional ranks took place in the context of a generalized assault on Iraq’s professional middle class, including doctors, engineers, lawyers, judges as well as political and religious leaders. Roughly 40 percent of Iraq's middle class is believed to have fled by the end of 2006. Few have returned. Up to 75 percent of Iraq's doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated. Twenty thousand of Iraq’s 34,000 registered physicians left Iraq after the U.S. invasion. As of April 2009, fewer than 2,000 returned, the same as the number who were killed during the course of the war.
To this date, there has been no systematic investigation of this phenomenon by the occupation authorities. Not a single arrest has been reported in regard to this terrorization of the intellectuals. The inclination to treat this systematic assault on Iraqi professionals as somehow inconsequential is consistent with the occupation powers’ more general role in the decapitation of Iraqi society.
Destroying the Iraqi culture and erasing collective memory
All these terrible losses are compounded by unprecedented levels of cultural devastation, attacks on national archives and monuments that represent the historical identity of the Iraqi people. On America’s watch we now know that thousands of cultural artefacts disappeared during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. These objects included no less that 15.000 invaluable Mesopotamian artefacts from the National Museum in Baghdad, and many others from the 12.000 archaeological sites that the occupation forces left unguarded. While the Museum was robbed of its historical collection, the National Library that preserved the continuity and pride of Iraqi history was deliberately destroyed. Occupation authorities took no effective measures to protect important cultural sites, despite warnings of international specialists. According to a recent update on the number of stolen artefacts by Francis Deblauwe, an expert archaeologist on Iraq, it appears that no less than 8.500 objects are still truly missing, in addition to 4.000 artefacts said to be recovered abroad but not yet returned to Iraq. The smuggling and trade of Iraqi antiquities has become one of the most profitable businesses in contemporary Iraq.
The attitude of the US-led forces to this pillage has been, at best, indifference and worse. The failure of the US to carry out its responsibilities under international law to take positive and protective actions was compounded by egregious direct actions taken that severely damaged the Iraqi cultural heritage. Since the invasion in March 2003, the US-led forces have transformed at least seven historical sites into bases or camps for the military, including UR, one of the most ancient cities of the world and birthplace of Abraham, including the mythical Babylon where a US military camp has irreparably damaged the ancient city.
Destroying the Iraqi state
Rampant chaos and violence hamper efforts at reconstruction, leaving the foundations of the Iraqi state in ruins. The majority of Western journalists, academics and political figures have refused to recognise the loss of life on such a massive scale and the cultural destruction that accompanied it as the fully predictable consequences of American occupation policy. The very idea is considered unthinkable, despite the openness with which this objective was pursued.
It is time to think the unthinkable. The American-led assault on Iraq forces us to consider the meaning and consequences of state-destruction as a policy objective. The architects of the Iraq policy never made explicit what deconstructing and reconstructing the Iraqi state would entail; their actions, however, make the meaning clear. From those actions in Iraq, a fairly precise definition of state-ending can be read. The campaign to destroy the state of Iraq involved first the removal and execution of the legal head of state Saddam Hussein and the capture and expulsion of Baath figures. However, state destruction went beyond regime change. It also entailed the purposeful dismantling of major state institutions and the launching of a prolonged process of political reshaping.
Bremer's 100 orders turned Iraq into a giant free-market paradise, but a hellish nightmare for Iraqis. They colonized the country for capital - pillage on the grandest scale. New economic laws instituted low taxes, 100% foreign investor ownership of Iraqi assets, the right to expropriate all profits, unrestricted imports, and long-term 30-40 year deals and leases, dispossessing Iraqis of their own resources.
This desecration of the past and undermining of contemporary social gains is now giving way in occupied Iraq to the destruction of a meaningful future. Iraq is being handed over to the disintegrative forces of sectarianism and regionalism. Iraqis, stripped of their shared heritage and living today in the ruins of contemporary social institutions that sustained a coherent and unified society, are now bombarded by the forces of civil war, social and religious atavism and widespread criminality. Iraqi nationalism that had emerged through a prolonged process of state-building and social interaction is now routinely disparaged. The regime installed by occupation forces in Iraq reshaped the country along divisive sectarian lines, dissolving the hard-won unity of a long state-building project. Dominant narratives now falsely claim that sectarianism and ethnic chauvinism have always been the basis of Iraqi society, recycling yet again the persistent and destructive myth of age-old conflicts with no resolution and for which the conquerors bear no responsibility. Contemporary Iraq represents a fragmented pastiche of sectarian forces with the formal trappings of liberal democracy and neo-liberal economic structures. We call this the divide and rule technique, used to fracture and subdue culturally cohesive regions. This reshaping of the Iraqi state resulted in a policy of ethnic cleansing, partially revealed by the Wikileaks files.
The Wikileaks documents
The Wikileaks documents, first made public on 22 October 2010, show how the US military gave a secret order not to investigate torture by Iraqi authorities discovered by American troops.
The data also reveal how hundreds of civilians were killed by coalition forces in unreported events, how hundreds of Iraqi civilians: pregnant women, elderly people and children, were shot at checkpoints.
There are numerous claims of prison abuse by coalition forces even after the Abu Ghraib scandal. The files also paint a grim picture of widespread torture in Iraqi detention facilities. Two revelations await the reader of the Wikileaks section dealing with civilian deaths in the Iraq War: Iraqis are responsible for most of these deaths, and the number of total civilian casualties is substantially higher than has been previously reported.
The documents record a descent into chaos and horror as the country plunged into so-called “civil war”. The logs also record thousands of bodies, many brutally tortured, dumped on the streets of Iraq.
Through the Wikileaks files we can see the impact the war had on Iraqi men, women and children. The sheer scale of the deaths, detentions and violence is here officially acknowledged for the first time.
A thorough research of these documents will give us a further insight into the atrocities committed in Iraq. The Wikileaks logs can serve as evidence in courts. They are important material for lawyers to file charges against the US for negligence and responsibility for the killing of thousands. A fair compensation for the families of the victims and the recognition of their suffering can help to heal the wounds. In the first official US State Department response to the massive WikiLeaks release of these classified Iraq War documents, spokesman P.J. Crowley shrugged off the evidence that US troops were ordered to cover up detainee abuse by the Iraqi government, insisting the abuse wasn’t America’s problem. This response is infuriating. The perpetrators of this violence and those who ordered the soldiers to turn a blind eye when being confronted with torture and extra-judicial killings should be convicted for war crimes. The US and UK forces and Governments clearly refused to fulfil their obligations under international law as a de facto occupying power.
However, these logs reveal only the 'SIGACT's or Significant Actions in the war “as told by soldiers in the United States Army”: the reports of the “regular” US troops. The logs contain nothing new, they merely confirm and officialize what the Iraqis and un-embedded Western observers have been trying to convey to the public for years. While all of the press is now reporting the Wikileaks story, few media outlets are going back to their own coverage and acknowledging how they have failed to honestly report about the crimes.
What these 400.000 documents do not reveal is the US involvement of “irregular troops” in Special Operations, counter-insurgency war and death squads activities. When will the documents of the “dirty war” be revealed? The BRussells Tribunal, monitoring this horrendous invasion and occupation since 2003, is convinced that the leaked logs only scratch the surface of the catastrophic war in Iraq. What we can extract from the Wikileaks documents is only the tip of the iceberg. It is time to take a dive into the troubled waters of the Iraq war and try to explore the hidden part of the iceberg.
It became clear after the invasion in 2003 that the Iraqi exile groups were to play an important role in the violent response to dissent in occupied Iraq. Already on January 1st 2004, it was reported that the US government planned to create paramilitary units comprised of militiamen from Iraqi Kurdish and exile groups including the Badr brigades, the Iraqi National Congress and the Iraqi National Accord to wage a campaign of terror and extra-judicial killing, similar to the Phoenix program in Vietnam: the terror and assassination campaign that killed tens of thousands of civilians.
The $87 billion supplemental appropriation for the war in November 2003 included $3 billion for a classified program, funds that would be used for the paramilitaries for the next 3 years. Over that period, the news from Iraq gradually came to be dominated by reports of death squads and ethnic cleansing, described in the press as “sectarian violence” that was used as the new central narrative of the war and the principal justification for continued occupation. Some of the violence may have been spontaneous, but there is overwhelming evidence that most of it was the result of the plans described by several American experts in December 2003.
Despite subsequent American efforts to distance US policy from the horrific results of this campaign, it was launched with the full support of conservative opinion-makers in the USA, even declaring that “The Kurds and the INC have excellent intelligence operations that we should allow them to exploit… especially to conduct counterinsurgency in the Sunny Triangle” as a Wall Street Journal editorial stated.
The Salvador Option
In January 2005, more than a year after the first reports about the Pentagon’s planning for assassinations and paramilitary operations emerged, the “Salvador Option” hit the pages of Newsweek and other major news-outlets. The outsourcing of state terrorism to local proxy forces was regarded as a key component of a policy that had succeeded in preventing the total defeat of the US-backed government in El Salvador. Pentagon-hired mercenaries, like Dyncorp, helped form the sectarian militias that were used to terrorize and kill Iraqis and to provoke Iraq into civil war.
In 2004 two senior US Army officers published a favourable review of the American proxy war in Colombia: “Presidents Reagan and Bush supported a small, limited war while trying to keep US military involvement a secret from the American public and media. Present US policy toward Colombia appears to follow this same disguised, quiet, media-free approach.”
It reveals the fundamental nature of “dirty war”, like in Latin America and the worst excesses of the Vietnam War. The purpose of dirty war is not to identify and then detain or kill actual resistance fighters. The target of dirty war is the civilian population. It is a strategy of state terrorism and collective punishment against an entire population with the objective to terrorizing it into submission. The same tactics used in Central America and Colombia were exported to Iraq. Even the architects of these dirty wars in El Salvador (Ambassador John Negroponte and James Steele) and in Colombia (Steven Casteel) were transferred to Iraq to do the same dirty work. They recruited, trained and deployed the notorious “Special Police Commandos”, in which later, in 2006, death squads like the Badr Brigades and other militias were incorporated. US forces set up a high-tech operations centre for the Special Police Commandos at an “undisclosed location” in Iraq. American technicians installed satellite telephones and computers with uplinks to the Internet and US forces Networks. The command centre had direct connections to the Iraqi Interior Ministry and to every US forward operating base in the country.
As news of atrocities by these forces in Iraq hit the newsstands in 2005, Casteel would play a critical role in blaming extrajudicial killings on “insurgents” with stolen police uniforms, vehicles and weapons. He also claimed that torture centres were run by rogue elements of the Interior Ministry, even as accounts came to light of torture taking place inside the ministry headquarters where he and other Americans worked. US advisers to the Interior Ministry had their offices on the 8th floor, directly above a jail on the 7th floor where torture was taking place.
The uncritical attitude of the Western media to American officials like Steven Casteel prevented a worldwide popular and diplomatic outcry over the massive escalation of the dirty war in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, consistent with the “disguised, quiet, media-free approach” mentioned before. As the Newsweek story broke in January 2005, General Downing, the former head of US Special Forces, appeared on NBC. He said: “This is under control of the US forces, of the current Interim Iraqi government. There’s no need to think that we’re going to have any kind of killing campaign that’s going to maim innocent civilians.” Within months, Iraq was swept by exactly that kind of a killing campaign. This campaign has led to arbitrary detention, torture, extra-judicial executions and the mass exodus and internal displacement of millions. Thousands of Iraqis disappeared during the worst days of this dirty war between 2005 and 2007. Some were seen picked up by uniformed militias and piled into lorries, others simply seemed to vanish. Iraq’s minister of human rights Wijdan Mikhail said that her ministry had received more than 9,000 complaints in 2005 and 2006 alone from Iraqis who said a relative had disappeared. Human rights groups put the total number much higher. The fate of many missing Iraqis remains unknown. Many are languishing in one of Iraq's notoriously secretive prisons.
Journalist Dr. Yasser Salihee was killed on June 24th 2005 by an American sniper, so-called “accidentally”. Three days after his death Knight Ridder published a report on his investigation into the Special Police Commandos and their links to torture, extra-judicial killings and disappearances in Baghdad. Salihee and his colleagues investigated at least 30 separate cases of abductions leading to torture and death. In every case witnesses gave consistent accounts of raids by large numbers of police commandos in uniform, in clearly marked police vehicles, with police weapons and bullet-proof vests. And in every case the detained were later found dead, with almost identical signs of torture and they were usually killed by a single gunshot to the head.
The effect of simply not pointing out the connection between the US and the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade militia, the US-backed Wolf Brigade and other Special Police Commando units, or the extent of American recruitment, training, command, and control of these units, was far-reaching. It distorted perceptions of events in Iraq throughout the ensuing escalation of the war, creating the impression of senseless violence initiated by the Iraqis themselves and concealing the American hand in the planning and execution of the most savage forms of violence. By providing cover for the crimes committed by the US government, news editors played a significant role in avoiding the public outrage that might have discouraged the further escalation of this campaign.
The precise extent of US complicity in different aspects and phases of death squad operations, torture and disappearances, deserves thorough investigation. It is not credible that American officials were simply innocent bystanders to thousands of these incidents. As frequently pointed out by Iraqi observers, Interior Ministry death squads moved unhindered through American as well as Iraqi checkpoints as they detained, tortured and killed thousands of people.
As in other countries where US forces have engaged in what they refer to as “counter-insurgency”, American military and intelligence officials recruited, trained, equipped and directed local forces which engaged in a campaign of state-sponsored terror against the overwhelming proportion of the local population who continued to reject and oppose the invasion and occupation of their country.
The degree of US initiative in the recruitment, training, equipping, deployment, command and control of the Special Police Commandos made it clear that American trainers and commanders established the parameters within which these forces operated. Many Iraqis and Iranians were certainly guilty of terrible crimes in the conduct of this campaign. But the prime responsibility for this policy, and for the crimes it involved, rests with the individuals in the civilian and military command structure of the US Department of Defense, the CIA and the White House who devised, approved and implemented the “Phoenix” or “Salvador” terror policy in Iraq.
The report of the Human Rights Office of UNAMI, issued on September 8th 2005, written by John Pace was very explicit, linking the campaign of detentions, torture and extra-judicial executions directly to the Interior Ministry and indirectly to the US-led Multi-National Forces.
The final UN Human Rights Report of 2006 described the consequences of these policies for the people of Baghdad, while downplaying their institutional roots in American policy. The “sectarian violence” that engulfed Iraq in 2006 was not an unintended consequence of the US invasion and occupation but an integral part of it. The United States did not just fail to restore stability and security to Iraq. It deliberately undermined them in a desperate effort to “divide and rule” the country and to fabricate new justifications for unlimited violence against Iraqis who continued to reject the illegal invasion and occupation of their country.
The nature and extent of involvement of different individuals and groups within the US occupation structure has remained a dirty, dark secret, but there are many leads that could be followed by any serious inquiry.
In January 2007, the US government announced a new strategy, the “surge” of US combat troops in Baghdad and Al-Anbar province. Most Iraqis reported that this escalation of violence made living conditions even worse than before, as its effects were added to the accumulated devastation of 4 years of war and occupation. The UN Human Rights report for the 1st quarter of 2007 gave a description of the dire conditions of the Iraqi people. The violence of the “surge” resulted i.e. in a further 22% reduction of the number of doctors, leaving only 15.500 out of an original 34.000 by September 2008. The number of refugees and internally displaced has risen sharply during the period 2007-2008.
Since Interior Ministry forces under US command were responsible for a large part of the extra-judicial killings, the occupation authorities had the power to reduce or increase the scale of these atrocities more or less on command. So a reduction in the killings with the launch of the “security plan” should not have been difficult to achieve. In fact, a small reduction in violence seems to have served an important propaganda role for a period until the death squads got back to work, supported by the new American offensive.
The escalation of American firepower in 2007, including a five-fold increase in air strikes and the use of Spectre gun-ships and artillery in addition to the “surge” was intended as a devastating climax to the past 4 years of war and collective punishment inflicted upon the Iraqi people. All resistance-held areas would be targeted with overwhelming fire-power, mainly from the air, until the US ground forces could build walls around what remained of each neighbourhood and isolate each district. It’s worth mentioning that General Petraeus compared the hostilities in Ramadi with the Battle of Stalingrad without qualms about adopting the role of the German invaders in this analogy. Ramadi was completely destroyed as was Fallujah in November 2004.
The UN Human Rights reports of 2007 mentioned the indiscriminate and illegal attacks against civilians and civilian areas and asked for investigations. Air strikes continued on an almost daily basis until August 2008 even as the so-called “sectarian violence” and US casualties declined. In all the reported incidents where civilians, women and children were killed, Centcom press office declared that the people killed were “terrorists”, “Al Qaeda militants” or “involuntary human shields”. Of course, when military forces are illegally ordered to attack civilian areas, many people will try to defend themselves, especially if they know that the failure to do so may result in arbitrary detention, abuse, torture, or summary execution for themselves or their relatives.
Forces involved in “Special Operations”:
Another aspect of the “surge” or escalation appears to have been an increase in the use of the American Special Forces assassination teams. In april 2008 i.e. President Bush declared: ”As we speak, US Special Forces are launching multiple operations every night to capture or kill Al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq”. The NYT reported on 13 May 2009: “When General Stanley McChrystal took over the Joint Special Operations Command in 2003, he inherited an insular, shadowy commando force with a reputation for spurning partnerships with other military and intelligence organizations. But over the next five years he worked hard, his colleagues say, to build close relationships with the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. (…) In Iraq, where he oversaw secret commando operations for five years, former intelligence officials say that he had an encyclopaedic, even obsessive, knowledge about the lives of terrorists, and that he pushed his ranks aggressively to kill as many of them as possible. (…) Most of what General McChrystal has done over a 33-year career remains classified, including service between 2003 and 2008 as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, an elite unit so clandestine that the Pentagon for years refused to acknowledge its existence.” The secrecy surrounding these operations prevented more widespread reporting, but as with earlier US covert operations in Vietnam and Latin America, we will learn more about these operations over time.
- An article in the Sunday Telegraph in February 2007 pointed towards clear evidence British Special Forces recruited and trained terrorists in the Green Zone to heighten ethnic tensions. An elite SAS wing, called “Task Force Black”, with bloody past in Northern Ireland operates with immunity and provides advanced explosives. Some attacks are being blamed on Iranians, Sunni insurgents or shadowy terrorist cells such as Al Qaeda.
- the SWAT teams (Special Weapons and Tactics), extensively used in counter-insurgency operations. The mission of SWAT is to conduct high-risk operations that fall outside the abilities of regular patrol officers to prevent, deter and respond to terrorism and insurgent activities. It was reported that “The foreign internal defense partnership with Coalition Soldiers establishes a professional relationship between the Iraqi Security and Coalition forces where the training builds capable forces. Coalition soldiers working side-by-side with the SWAT teams, both in training and on missions.” On 7 October 2010 the Official website of US Forces in Iraq reported that “The Basrah SWAT team has trained with various Special Forces units, including the Navy SEALs and the British SAS. The 1st Bn., 68th Arm. Regt., currently under the operational control of United States Division-South and the 1st Infantry Division, has taken up the task of teaching the SWAT team.”
- the Facilities Protection Services, where the “private contractors” or mercenaries, like Blackwater, are incorporated, are also used in counter-insurgency operations.
- the Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF), probably the largest special forces outfit ever built by the United States, free of many of the controls that most governments employ to rein in such lethal forces. The project started in Jordan just after the Americans conquered Baghdad in April 2003, to create a deadly, elite, covert unit, fully fitted with American equipment, which would operate for years under US command and be unaccountable to Iraqi ministries and the normal political process. According to Congressional records, the ISOF has grown into nine battalions, which extend to four regional "commando bases" across Iraq. By December 2009 they were fully operational, each with its own "intelligence infusion cell," which will operate independently of Iraq's other intelligence networks. The ISOF is at least 4,564 operatives strong, making it approximately the size of the US Army's own Special Forces in Iraq. Congressional records indicate that there are plans to double the ISOF over the next "several years."
Conclusion: the “dirty war” in Iraq continues. Even as President Barack Obama was announcing the end of combat in Iraq, U.S. forces were still in fight alongside their Iraqi colleagues. The tasks of the 50,000 remaining US troops, 5,800 of them airmen, are “advising" and training the Iraqi army, "providing security" and carrying out "counter-terrorism" missions.
According to the UN Human Rights report, upon a request for clarification by UNAMI, the MNF confirmed that “the US government continued to regard the conflict in Iraq as an international armed conflict, with procedures currently in force consistent with the 4th Geneva Convention” and not that the civil rights of Iraqis should be governed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights laws, because this would have strengthened the rights of Iraqis detained by US or Iraqi forces to speedy and fair trials. The admission that the US was still legally engaged in an “international armed conflict” against Iraq at the end of 2007 also raises serious questions regarding the legality of constitutional and political changes made in Iraq by the occupation forces and their installed government during the war and occupation.
When the public revelations of abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison created a brief furor in the world, the ICRC, Human Rights First, AI, HRW and other Human Rights groups documented far more widespread and systematic crimes committed by US forces against people they extra-judicially detained in Iraq. In numerous human rights reports they established that command responsibility for these crimes extended to the highest levels of the US government and its armed forces.
The forms of torture documented in these reports included death threats, mock executions, water-boarding, stress positions, including excruciating and sometimes deadly forms of hanging, hypothermia, sleep deprivation, starvation and thirst, withholding medical treatment, electric shocks, various forms of rape and sodomy, endless beatings, burning, cutting with knives, injurious use of flexicuffs, suffocation, sensory assault and/or deprivation and more psychological forms of torture such as sexual humiliation and the detention and torture of family members. The ICRC established that the violations of international humanitarian law that it recorded were systematic and widespread. Military officers told the ICRC that “between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake”.
All these facts are well known, but only the lower ranks in the Army were mildly punished. The “Command’s Responsibility” report revealed that the failure to charge higher ranking officers was the direct result of the “key role” that some same officers played “in undermining chances for full accountability”. By delaying and undermining investigations of deaths in their custody, senior officers compounded their own criminal responsibility in a common pattern of torture, murder and obstruction of justice. Senior officers abused the enormous power they wield in the military command structure to place themselves beyond the reach of law, even as they gave orders to commit terrible crimes. It was in recognition of the terrible potential for exactly this type of criminal behaviour that the Geneva Conventions were drafted and signed in the first place, and that is why they are just as vital today.
Nevertheless, the responsibility for these crimes is not limited to the US army. The public record also includes documents in which senior civilian officials of the US government approved violations of the Geneva Conventions, the 1994 Convention against Torture and the 1996 US War Crimes act. The United States government should thus be held accountable for this terrible tragedy it inflicted upon millions of Iraqi citizens and should be forced to pay appropriate compensations to the victims of its criminal policy in Iraq.
We learned that on Tuesday the 26th of October the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Iraq and the United States to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killings in the Iraq conflict revealed in the Wikileaks documents. We are very surprised by this statement. Does the High Commissioner think it is appropriate for criminals to investigate their own crimes? Wijdan Mikhail, the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights in Iraq has called for putting Julian Assange on trial instead of investigating the crimes. And since the Obama administration has shown no desire to expose any of the crimes committed by US officials in Iraq, an international investigation under the auspices of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is necessary. Different Special Rapporteurs should be involved: i.e. the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. A Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq should be urgently appointed.
Although the U.N. did not authorize the invasion of Iraq, it did “legalize” the occupation a posteriori in UNSC resolution 1483 (22 May 2003), against the will of the overwhelming majority of the world community, that didn’t accept the legality or the legitimacy of that UN resolution. And it was during the occupation that the war crimes brought to light by WikiLeaks took place. As should the U.S., the U.N. has the moral and legal duty to respond.
The world community has the right to know the complete and unbiased truth about the extent and responsibilities of American involvement in Iraq’s Killing Fields and demands justice for the Iraqi people.
We appeal to all states to ask the US about all these crimes against the Iraqi people during the UPR on the 5th of November.
We also demand that procedures be set up to compensate the Iraqi people and Iraq as a nation for all the losses, human and material destruction and damages caused by the illegal war and the occupation of the country lead by the US/UK forces.
Dirk Adriaensens ,
,Member of the BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee
Note: this presentation contains information available in the public domain, it is compiled of several official reports, press articles, BRussells Tribunal witness accounts, Max Fuller’s articles on the counter-insurgency war (http://www.brussellstribunal.org/FullerKillings.htm) and two books:
Cultural Cleansing in Iraq, of which Dirk Adriaensens is co-author (Pluto Press, London, ISBN-10: 0745328121, ISBN-13: 978-0745328126) and
International Seminar on the
Defending education in times of war and occupation
march 9 - 10 - 11 2011 Ghent University
The aim of the seminar is
to draw international attention to the ongoing criminal violence against
Iraqi academics, to situate this violence within the wider dynamics of
the ongoing occupation of Iraq, and to work towards practical remedies.
(more information about
the seminar: click
(more information about the seminar: click here)
organization of Ghent University, Middle East and North Africa Research
Tribunal in cooperation with
International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies,
and with the support of
International Council for Middle East Studies and
Association for Middle East Studies.
Association for Middle East Studies.
Under US occupation, Iraq’s intellectual and technical class has been subject to a systematic and ongoing campaign of intimidation, abduction, extortion, random killings and targeted assassinations. Running parallel with the destruction of Iraq’s educational infrastructure, this repression has led to the mass displacement of the bulk of Iraq’s educated middle class. The consequences for Iraq’s social, economic and political reconstruction are grave.
Now, in the eighth year of a US occupation that shows few signs of ending, the BRussells Tribunal and the Middle East and North Africa Research Group (MENARG) of the Ghent University call for renewed attention to the situation of Iraqi higher education and academic life, stressing its importance to the rebuilding of the country, and the well-being of its people.
This seems particularly urgent given the devastating impact of the occupation upon key sectors such as higher education and research.
Accordingly, the urgent task of the proposed seminar is not only to give reasons for the destruction of Iraqi academia, but also to propose ways of rebuilding it, highlighting both the duty of international organizations to respond, and the responsibility of educators around the globe to show solidarity with their Iraqi colleagues.
Only Iraqis can rebuild
Iraq: Only their competence, integrity and independence can guarantee
Iraq’s sovereignty, and ensure a peaceful and prosperous future. Iraq’s
educators are vital to this future.
|DAHR JAMAIL, Independent Journalist/Author: Through the Ghent Seminar, the BRussells Tribunal will lay the groundwork upon which real cases for war crimes committed by the U.S. government in Iraq can be built|
IRAQI QUALIFICATIONS IMMIGRATION…..WHOM BENEFIT???
Iraqi history has never seen the scientific qualifications immigration, as it has seen after the American invasion in 2003, almost after the killing, snatching operations, which happened against the doctors, professors, scientists in different specializations, the surveys indicated that around 3000 professors have been immigrated, most of them are the west universities graduators and in unique specializations. Also around 300 professors have been killed by occupation forces and armed militias hands.
And because of this immigration and the diathesis a lot of scientific sections and high studies in Iraqi universities have been closed, which guide to reduce the educational and practical qualification, and that is a part of arranged strategy practiced by the occupation since the invasion as a target to put the Iraqis dawn and to destroy Iraq and to create an obstacles to prevent Iraq rebuilding.
In addition to , and because of the incorrect scientific rules in acceptation through giving the facilities for the religious parties nominees and drop some acceptation conditions as qualifications, age conditions, etc…, the certificates, scientific documents forgery subject became an easy game. In addition to the opening of universities which are all over the world, that the study easily continued there by claiming relationship , and this kind of universities doesn’t depend on the correct scientific rules, even the student complete the fees he will be able directly to have certificate degree, without looking to his background , and the most students in these universities are the Iraqis decision makers , as the Parliament members, the leaders in the authority parties in order to have the leading positions considering that they are universities graduators and fully qualified to the positions conditions.
In the other hand, the compulsory immigration for the scientific qualifications which was managing the educational establishments before the occupation that worked to put unqualified people instead of them whom are related to denomination parties is the main reason behind all of these problems that the high studies in Iraq suffered, and there are many side effects which inflected on scientific, economic, social, political fields, for example, on the scientific level, the process of empty the country from these experiences is a scientific disaster for the country future, so the country stay handicapped and distant of development.
In the economic field, it is a money failure for Iraq, because Iraq paid a lot of money on these qualifications to prepare them. In addition to the political role for the first class brains that Iraq lost. In the social level and after the Iraqi universities were a crucible for all the community levels and religions to melt down, today it’s became a rich place for the denomination and category isolation.
In the governmental issues we heard many governmental voices raise to the necessity of backing for these qualifications to Iraq to benefit from their experiences, but its not more than a political and media actions only, because there is no truly scientific steps on the reality to encourage their to back, even the people whom back, they were clash with the bureaucracy, favoritism and intermediary and they couldn’t be able to have the positions that suitable with their specializations that led them to leave the country again.
BASIM AL JANABI
Dr. Basim Al-Janabi is professor Political science at Baghdad University. He gained his doctorate after the occupation and nearly missed his defence of thesis due to being in detention. He left Iraq in 2006 and lives in Amman, keeping close contacts with his colleagues. He is working on a proposal for teacher training with colleague at college of education at Baghdad University.
Dear Mr Blair,
You do not know me. Why should you? Or maybe you should have known me and the many other UN officials who struggled in Iraq when you prepared your Iraq policy. Reading the Iraq details of your "journey", as told in your memoir, has confirmed my fears. You tell a story of a leader, but not of a statesman. You could have, at least belatedly, set the record straight. Instead you repeat all the arguments we have heard before, such as why sanctions had to be the way they were; why the fear of Saddam Hussein outweighed the fear of crossing the line between concern for people and power politics; why Iraq ended up as a human garbage can. You preferred to latch on to Bill Clinton's 1998 Iraq Liberation Act and George W Bush's determination to implement it.
You present yourself as the man who tried to use the UN road. I am not sure. Is it really wrong to say that, if you had this intention, it was for purely tactical reasons and not because you wanted to protect the role of the UN to decide when military action was justified? The list of those who disagreed with you and your government's handling of 13 years of sanctions and the invasion and occupation of Iraq is long, very long. It includes Unicef and other UN agencies, Care, Caritas, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the then UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and Nelson Mandela. Do not forget, either, the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in protest in Britain and across the world, among them Cambridge Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI) and the UK Stop the War Coalition.
You suggest that you and your supporters - the "people of good will", as you call them - are the owners of the facts. Your disparaging observations about Clare Short, a woman with courage who resigned as international development secretary in 2003, make it clear you have her on a different list. You appeal to those who do not agree to pause and reflect. I ask you to do the same. Those of us who lived in Iraq experienced the grief and misery that your policies caused. UN officials on the ground were not "taken in" by a dictator's regime. We were "taken in" by the challenge to tackle human suffering created by the gravely faulty policies of two governments - yours and that of the United States - and by the gutlessness of those in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere who could have made a difference but chose otherwise. The facts are on our side, not on yours.
Here are some of those facts. Had Hans Blix, the then UN chief weapons inspector, been given the additional three months he requested, your plans could have been thwarted. You and George W Bush feared this. If you had respected international law, you would not, following Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, have allowed your forces to launch attacks from two no-fly zones. Allegedly carried out to protect Iraqi Kurds in the north and Iraqi Shias in the south, these air strikes killed civilians and destroyed non-military installations.
I know that the reports we prepared in Baghdad to show the damage wreaked by these air strikes caused much anger in Whitehall. A conversation I had on the sidelines of the Labour party conference in 2004 with your former foreign secretary Robin Cook confirmed that, even in your cabinet, there had been grave doubts about your approach. UN Resolution 688 was passed in 1991 to authorise the UN secretary general - no one else - to safeguard the rights of people and to help in meeting their humanitarian needs. It did not authorise the no-fly zones. In fact, the British government, in voting for Resolution 688, accepted the obligation to respect Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
HANS VON SPONECK
Count Hans-Christof von Sponeck, a former UN assistant secretary general, joined the UN Development Program in 1968 and worked in Ghana, Turkey, Botswana, Pakistan and India, before becoming Director of European Affairs in Geneva. He was appointed the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq in October 1998. Count Sponeck resigned from this position in February 2000 in protest of international policy towards Iraq. He teaches at the University of Marburg and serves in a range of NGO boards in Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and Italy. Author of the book A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanctions Regime in Iraq, Berghahn Books, Providence, 2006.
I was a daily witness to what you and two US administrations had concocted for Iraq: a harsh and uncompromising sanctions regime punishing the wrong people. Your officials must have told you that your policies translated into a meagre 51 US cents to finance a person's daily existence in Iraq. You acknowledge that 60 per cent of Iraqis were totally dependent on the goods that were allowed into their country under sanctions, but you make no reference in your book to how the UK and US governments blocked and delayed huge amounts of supplies that were needed for survival. In mid-2002, more than $5bn worth of supplies was blocked from entering the country. No other country on the Iraq sanctions committee of the UN Security Council supported you in this. The UN files are full of such evidence. I saw the education system, once a pride of Iraq, totally collapse. And conditions in the health sector were equally desperate. In 1999, the entire country had only one fully functioning X-ray machine. Diseases that had been all but forgotten in the country re-emerged.
You refuse to acknowledge that you and your policies had anything to do with this humanitarian crisis. You even argue that the death rate of children under five in Iraq, then among the highest in the world, was entirely due to the Iraqi government. I beg you to read Unicef's reports on this subject and what Carol Bellamy, Unicef's American executive director at the time, had to say to the Security Council. None of the UN officials involved in dealing with the crisis will subscribe to your view that Iraq "was free to buy as much food and medicines" as the government would allow. I wish that had been the case. During the Chilcot inquiry in July this year, a respected diplomat who represented the UK on the Security Council sanctions committee while I was in Baghdad observed: "UK officials and ministers were well aware of the negative effects of sanctions, but preferred to blame them on the Saddam regime's failure to implement the oil-for-food programme."
No one in his right mind would defend the human rights record of Saddam Hussein. Your critical words in this respect are justified. But you offer only that part of this gruesome story. You quote damning statements about Saddam Hussein made by Max van der Stoel, the former Dutch foreign minister who was UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iraq during the time I served in Baghdad. You conveniently omitted three pertinent facts: van der Stoel had not been in Iraq since 1991 and had to rely on second-hand information; his UN mandate was limited to assessing the human rights record of the Iraqi government and therefore excluded violations due to other reasons such as economic sanctions; and his successor, Andreas Mavrommatis, formerly foreign secretary in Cyprus, quickly recognised the biased UN mandate and broadened the scope of his review to include sanctions as a major human rights issue. This was a very important correction.
Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, who in the years of sanctions on Iraq was his country's permanent representative to the UN, is not mentioned in your book. Is that because he was one of the diplomats who climbed over the wall of disinformation and sought the truth about the deplorable human conditions in Iraq in the late 1990s? Amorim used the opportunity of his presidency of the UN Security Council to call for a review of the humanitarian situation. His conclusion was unambiguous. "Even if not all the suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war."
Malaysia's ambassador to the UN, Hasmy Agam, starkly remarked: "How ironic it is that the same policy that is supposed to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction has itself become a weapon of mass destruction." The secretary general, too, made very critical observations on the humanitarian situation in Iraq. When I raised my own concerns in a newspaper article, your minister Peter Hain repeated what the world had become accustomed to hearing from London and Washington: it is all of Saddam's making. Hain was a loyal ally of yours. He and others in your administration wrote me off as subjective, straying off my mandate, not up to the task, or, in the words of the US state department's spokesman at the time, James Rubin: "This man in Baghdad is paid to work, not to speak!"
My predecessor in Baghdad, Denis Halliday, and I were repeatedly barred from testifying to the Security Council. On one occasion, the US and UK governments, in a joint letter to the secretary general, insisted that we did not have enough experience with sanctions and therefore could not contribute much to the debate. You were scared of the facts.
We live in serious times, which you helped bring about. The international security architecture is severely weakened, the UN Security Council fails to solve crises peacefully, and there are immense double standards in the debate on the direction our world is travelling in. A former British prime minister - "a big player, a world leader and not just a national leader", as you describe yourself in your book - should find little time to promote his "journey" on a US talk show. You decided differently. I watched this show, and a show it was. You clearly felt uncomfortable. Everything you and your brother-in-arms, Bush, had planned for Iraq has fallen apart, the sole exception being the removal of Saddam Hussein. You chose to point to Iran as the new danger.
Whether you like it or not, the
legacy of your Iraq journey, made with your self-made GPS, includes your
sacrifice of the UN and negotiations on the altar of a self-serving
alliance with the Bush administration. You admit in your book that "a
few mistakes were made here and there". One line reads: "The
intelligence was wrong and we should have, and I have, apologised for
it." A major pillar of your case for invading Iraq is treated almost
like a footnote. Your refusal to face the facts fully is the reason why
"people of good will" remain so distressed and continue to demand
accountability. - Hans von Sponeck
Hans von Sponeck
For all the misinformation and outright lies of the Bush administration, that infamous “mission accomplished” banner contained a terrible truth: the American-led invasion of Iraq aimed to destroy the Iraqi state, and the Iraqi state -- and so much more -- was indeed destroyed. In the wake of the invasion museums were looted, libraries burned, and academics murdered, all part of undermining the cultural foundations of the modern Iraqi state, all part of a deliberate policy of “state-ending”. Mission accomplished. Iraq was destroyed at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives lost, the displacement of millions, and the destruction of one of the world’s great cultural centers.
Historians who write the history of our time will surely rank the American destruction of Iraq as one of the great crimes of the early 21st century. It is disconcerting, therefore, that the full measure of the devastating consequences of that criminal invasion and occupation has yet to register.
Why has it been so hard to come to terms with the consequences of the calculated destruction of Iraq? When the mind numbs, it is important to understand why. I would like to suggest four explanations:
First, the Western rhetoric of a War on Terror, by rationalizing the depredations of empire, fosters a public will to ignorance: protect us from the evil doers but don’t tell us what’s happening over there in strange places;
Secondly, the sheer magnitude of the deliberately imposed human misery, the scope of the cultural destruction, and terrible scale of the killing makes what happened to Iraq and Iraqis literally unimaginable;
Thirdly, despite our 21st century awareness of what Hannah Arendt famously identified as ”the banality of evil”, it is almost impossible to conceive of the planning and execution of such destruction and killing in any manner other than as a massive conspiracy – Iran, sectarian death squads, CIA, Mossad -- rather than as a declared and openly pursued foreign policy objective;
Fourthly, the intoxication of mainstream Western social sciences with their developmental and liberationist illusions of empire has made systematic social scientific inquiry into an international crime of this magnitude -- the calculated destruction of a functioning state and the degradation of its cultural and human foundations -- all but impossible.
is something blinding about destruction on so terrible a scale,
something just too painful about debating methods for calculating the
number of slaughtered innocents when the figures almost immediately take
us into the hundreds of thousands of human souls.
The mind closes down, or so it seems.
That may be one of God’s mercies but it is one that must be
resisted. - Raymond Baker
- Raymond Baker
Raymond William Baker
Professor of International Politics at Trinity College USA and American University Cairo, past president of the International Association of Middle Eastern Studies, governing board member of the World Congress of Middle East Studies. Founding member of International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies USA / Egypt
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THE SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE OF THE GHENT SEMINAR
RUDDY DOOM, Professor Ghent University
PATRICK DEBOOSERE, Professor Brussels University
SAAD JAWAD, Professor and pas president of Iraq's professors association
FRANCOIS HOUTART, former senior advisor to the President of the United Nations General Assembly
SOUAD AL-AZZAWI, former Professor at Baghdad University
TAREQ ISMAEL, Professor at Calgari University
DENIS HALLIDAY, former humanitarian coordinator in Iraq
ZUHAIR AL SHAROOK, former President of Mosul University
IMAD KHADDURI, former member of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission
OMAR K.H.AL-KUBAISSI, Head of Postgraduate Department at Ibn Al Bitar Hospital Baghdad
JEAN BRICMONT, Professor at the Université catholique de Louvain
CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, former member of the US House of Representatives
MOHAMMED AREF, former advisor to Arab Science & Technology Foundation
HANS-CHRISTOF VON SPONECK, former humanitarian coordinator in Iraq
The Spanish Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI) fully supports the Ghent Seminar for the following reasons:
- This seminar is the continuation of a work that CEOSI, together with the BRussells Tribunal and the IAON, started in 2006 at the Madrid International Seminar on the Assassination of Iraqi Academics and Health Professionals. It was the first public condemnation of the situation. This seminar concluded with a resolution of the Conference of Chancellors of the Spanish Universities. Since then, we have been investigating and condemning every single killing of Iraqi academics we have information about it. Now, at Ghent, we have the opportunity to work together to develop new actions and study in depth the actual situation as well as practical solutions.
-The Ghent Seminar should serve to reveal the truth about the Minister of Higher Education, who in an immoral and irresponsible way has been calling upon Iraqi academics in exile to return to Iraq when the result of their coming home is their death, as we have seen in last two examples. The saddest reality is that the Iraqi academics assassins have still total impunity and at the same time, according to our information, sectarian militias keep the Iraqi universities control.
CEOSI also likes to encourage other organizations to work together to save the lives of Iraqi academics, who are still in great danger, and to rebuild the educational system on a non-sectarian basis, taking into account that,
-It is a deathtrap to think that the situation in Iraq has improved, hence the importance of this courageous initiative.
- To help Iraqi Academia it is essential, first and foremost, to analyze in depth the present-day situation of Iraqis Higher Education, as it was stated by UNESCO (185 EX/35, August 30, 2010).
ICMES, The international Council for Middle East Studies
EURAMES, European Association For Middle Eastern Studies
CEOSI, Campaña Estatal contra la Ocupación y por la Soberanía de Iraq
PERDANA GLOBAL PEACE ORGANISATION
IRAQI CONTEMPORARY STUDIES AWARDS
INTAL, International action for liberation
KLFCW, Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War
- CEOSI thinks the Ghent seminar is a great opportunity to share campaigns and projects to work together. We will present our lasts field of work project: A dossier in cooperation with the University of Sussex to produce a baseline report on the actual situation of Iraqi Higher Education. Besides, we have created a new blog (http://iraqiacademicsunderattack.wordpress.com/ ), an open meeting point to contact and discuss on this issue with Iraqi academics and all the organizations involved in this field.
For all these reasons we fully support this initiative of paramount importance to expose the real situation of Iraqi Academia.
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ON THE WESBITE
PARTITION BY CENSUS
statement of The BRussells
Tribunal October 8 2010