World Tribunal on Iraq tastes success
From June 23 to 27, the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) was held in Istanbul, Turkey. Over twenty people's tribunals including the Japan-based International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq (ICTI) and others in the USA, the UK, Belgium, India, Tunisia, South Korea and other countries dispatched delegates to the WTI to consolidate the activities at the respective tribunals. Participants representing more than 100 countries denounced the Iraq war and the occupation in a gesture of international unity.
It was the first time in history for a people's tribunal of this scale - gathering participants from around the globe - to take place, in the process creating an international network. The gatherings evidenced the robust energy of anti-Iraq war movements around the world.
The WTI strongly recommended the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, reparations and compensations, persecution of war criminals including Bush, Blair and other coalition leaders, and pursuit of the responsibilities of the United Nations that allowed and continues to allow the invasion and occupation of Iraq as well as the responsibilities of multinational companies and the media. Concerned global citizens have not become tolerant of the occupation of Iraq and associated war machine.
Voices also growing in the USA for troop withdrawal
Even in the USA, support for the occupation policy is falling considerably.
For the first time since the beginning of the war, an opinion poll (June 13 Gallop Poll) indicated that a majority, or 69%, of the public demands the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. The US Congress also received a resolution submitted by a group of bipartisan Congresspersons calling for a specific date for US troops to withdraw from Iraq.
On June 28, in an address marking the one-year anniversary of the "transfer of sovereignty" to an "Iraqi Interim Government," Bush said, "we will stay in the fight until the fight is won," declining to fix a specific withdrawal date. However, it will be difficult to continue the war and occupation against surging discontent among Americans at home.
While indispensable for the continued occupation of Iraq, the new military recruits are drastically decreasing in number resulting in US forces' failure to meet its recruitment goals for the last four consecutive months. In April, the US Army, the core component of the US occupation forces, achieved only 58% of its recruitment goal. An increasing number of parents are saying "No" to Army recruiters' operations on the premises of their children's high schools. The number of deserters is also increasing, having totaled 6,000 since the start of the war. A sense of weariness about the war in Iraq is now spreading across the US.
The United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), one of the biggest anti-war coalitions in the US, and other peace organizations have called for mass nationwide actions on September 24 demanding the withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraq. Now, the anti-war movements have entered a phase to drive the Bush administration and its allies engaged in the occupation into a corner.
Solidarity with Iraq Freedom Congress
We must promote solidarity with the Iraqi Civil Resistance, now developed into the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC), to enable international anti-war movements to demonstrate their power again and end the occupation as soon as possible.
The obstacle that has deadlocked anti-Iraq war actions and blocked the perspective from participants is the rampant Islamist attacks (with car/suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks) claiming indiscriminate civilians, women and children as their victims.
In the difficult circumstances in Iraq, the IFC is struggling to end the occupation, to reconstruct Iraq as a humane civil society, to restore the human rights of women, and to overcome serious unemployment issues. We can revitalize the global anti-occupation movements by publicizing the existence and activities of the IFC.
IFC representatives, including one of the student members from Basra University, are visiting Japan at the end of July. A Civil Resistance solidarity committee based in France will join as well as representatives of the UFPJ. Hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, let us spread solidarity with the IFC and enhance our movement for the immediate withdrawal of the Japan Self-Defense Forces troops and all occupation forces. (July 4)