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 witnessing together the facts, the experience of the lives in Iraq, and an evaluation by this jury in the void of 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 in moments. He showed photo after photo of the tragedies in Iraq. Photographs of torture and the families that have been left without aid, the conditions in the hospitals and the streets if Iraq.
A group from Japan with an obvious passion against the use of overpowering weapons listed the numbers 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 about the rise in cancers 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. So he was sent home to die and make room for the 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 finished the first morning session. He enumerated all the ways the UN had failed at their 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, since 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. The question was no longer, "Are the US and UK guilty of an illegal, immoral, and unjust war." That case had been proven over and over. Nor was it the right of the Iraqi to resist, of course they had the right if the invasion was illegal. The question had already become, "Now what do we do about it?"
Were we as anti-war activists in the US really resisting? And if not what would have to change? 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 fill the voids as citizens, citizens not just of the United States, but of the world.
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 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 by the thugs in power. www.codepinkalert.org