First of all: Please read the 2006 May 24 Action Pack.
For March 30, 2004, worldtribunal.org organised this hearing: The Danish government decided Denmark’s participation in the Iraqi war and has decided Danish permanence during the Coalition’s occupation of Iraq.
We have found this decision unacceptable seen from political and moral standpoints and arranged therefore a hearing in Copenhagen on the 30 th of March 2004.
Two questions were in particular highlighted:
1. The responsibility of the Danish government for the participation in the war – a question that was also raised during the hearing called for by the Danish parliament.
2. The responsibility of the Danish government for the occupation of Iraq and the political, economic, moral as well as the international law situation the Coalition has fostered and of which the national media and politicians have been very little outspoken.
The hearing should be seen as link in a wider link of hearings and tribunals arranged in many countries worldwide. Presently, a hearing in Great Britain has focused on the aspects of international law while a hearing in Brussels focused on USA’s new policy of building up a global emporium.
Later, hearings will take place in Hiroshima, New York and Germany, amongst others, while the concluding hearing will take place in Istanbul. Material on these hearing can also be found on the web-address mentioned above.
Since the Danish hearing, the situation in Iraq has developed. An insurrection against the occupying forces, against the almost 30.000 members of private armies and security companies as well as against privatisation has heavy impact on the media covering of events. Presently there are reports on joint meetings between sunni-muslims, shia-muslims and Kurds – the insurrection is developing. The USA is using “its ironist”, as it’s said, and the sufferings of the Iraqi people are considerable.
During the hearing the question of Iraqi prisoners and detainees in American and other prisons and camps of the Coalition was highlighted. At last, the media in the USA have published facts and on top brought terrible pictures of the treatment of prisoners by the Coalition. The US government and parts of the media tries to present these awesome conditions as something exceptional and rare but it is possible to substantiate that ill-treatment of prisoners more likely is the norm. Such conduct is not only the responsibility of the individual soldier – such practice is first and foremost the responsibility of the military and the governments involved. But when the Danish hearing was held, we were the only ones in Denmark using the reports from Amnesty International.
The first justification of the Coalition for the war: the existence of weapons of mass destruction and an Iraqi connection with Al Quada terrorist has for long been disproved. The USA, Great Britain and Denmark now adhere to another explanation: that the war was launched in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein and to ensure democracy and human rights in the country. Given today’s situation is this justification for the war further from the reality than ever and during the hearing the 30 th of March some of the hindrances existing in the Iraq policy of the Coalition and especially the USA were highlighted. As a last justification for the war the Coalition proclaims that Saddam Hussein didn’t cooperate acceptably with the UN – an assesment the UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is treating with scepsis and besides it is an assertion that can’t be appraised objectively. For instance, does Denmark cooperate sufficiently with the UN?
THE AGENDA OF THE HEARING
The responsibility of the Danish government
Mediator: Annelise Ebbe
9.00 – 9.15: World Tribunal on Iraq
9.15 – 10.10: What is the legal platform for the war against and the occupation of Iraq?
Ole Espersen , professor International Law, University of Copenhagen
10.10 – 11.05: Is the privatisation of Iraq’s economy by the occupation forces consistent with International Law?
Bengt-Åke Lundvall, professor Economy, Claus Haagen Jensen, professor Public Law, both University of Aalborg
11.05 – 12.00: Does the occupation forces by its treatment of prisoners/detainees infringe International Law and Human Rights?
Susanne Thorbek, Cultural Sociologist, dr. Phil
12.00 – 13.00: Lunch
13.00 – 13.55: The coalitions control of NGO’s in Iraq
Lone Lindholt, senior researcher, Institute for Human Rights, Copenhagen
13.55 – 14.50: The ethic – political perspective
Peter Kemp, professor philosophy, Head of Center for Ethics and Law, Copenhagen
14.50 – 15.45: Questions from the participants
After each presentation of approx. 40 min., fifteen was given to raise factual questions from the audience and a panel summing up. The panel consisted of Ole Espersen, Claus Haagen Jensen and Peter Kemp.
In the hearing participated 150-200 people and the discussion was very engaged though nobody present defended the policy of the Danish government. Among the questions discussed were:
• Should Denmark withdraw from Iraq?
• Should the UN be reformed in order to legalise humanitarian interventions?
• What’s the responsibility of the Danish government – given its rather limited influence?
• Was international law also violated by former humanitarian wars not sanctioned by the UN?
• Is reconstruction just a nice metaphor for forced privatisation of Iraq’s economy?
• Can the treatment of the Iraqi prioners and detainees be justified by the “difficult situation” confronting the USA and the Coalition?
• Is the rather hopeless situation in Iraq a result of a total lack of planning and real understanding of the Iraqi reality among the American (and other) “hawks”?
We do thank the participants for their support of the Hearing.
The Hearing is supported by The Peace Foundation, 1 of May Foundation,The Grasroot Foundation and more than 5o persons.
The Commitee for an Iraq Hearing ( Jan Birket-Smith, Annelise Ebbe, Toni Liversage, Susanne Thorbek, Knud Vilby, Tim Whyte ) and The Danish Peace Council.