By Mairead Maguire
The long awaited Chilcot report (5 years) on the Invasion of Iraq will finally be released on 6th July, 2016.
The Report is to be welcomed and the hope expressed that this inquiry will tell the truth of what happened to the Iraqi people and clarify the UKs involvement, through an official Government recognition of facts of the wars, sanctions and invasion of Iraq and for transparency, accountability and reparation to be paid to the Iraqi people by the UK Government who participated in these illegal and immoral genocidal wars.
The story of what was done to the Iraqi people by UK and Western allies is shocking and deeply disturbing.
The two wars, the imposition of economic sanctions, causing the slow deaths of thousands of people, were indeed crimes against humanity, war crimes, breaking all international obligations and conducted with no respect for human life or the Iraqi people’s rights.
The UK/USA acted unilaterally ignoring the principal of multilateralism and irrespective of the enormous opposition to war against Iraq, articulated by millions of people around the world.
The invasion was carried out by US/UK NATO forces on the basis of a ‘lie’ that Iraq had nuclear weapons and was a threat to the US.
The foreign policy of the US/UK governments were for regime change and about Iraqi oil; the methods used were genocidal sanctions, wars and invasion/occupation of Iraq. The ‘shock and awe’ bombings of unarmed civilians by US/UK/Allied forces was not about bringing democracy and human rights to Iraq, it was about regime change, oil, imperial power, arms sales and total destruction of the infrastructure. It was to force the country into total submission by starving Iraq’s women and children.
And it was about arrogance and superiority of the UK, US and allies as they set aside international law and institutions of world order by their hegemony in a new era of dedication to the ‘war on terror’.
Anti-war and peace campaigners and people marched in their millions around the world to say ‘No to war’.
Today, millions of world citizens whose pleas for peace and dialogue were totally swept aside by governments continue to say that US/UK Governments and allies were wrong, and on their behalf the say ‘We are sorry’and ‘Please forgive us’ for the war crimes committed against the Iraqi people.
The truth of the injustice perpetrated by the UK invasion of Iraq, about the mass murder of innocent Iraqi children through sanctions, their families, homes, food chain destroyed, bombs dropped with depleted uranium, white phosphorus dropped on civilians and land, destruction of infrastructure, torture, invasion, occupations, renditions, extra judicial murders, theft of oil and resources, needs to be told in the hope that justice will be done and reparation for such injustice be made.
I personally witnessed the horrors of war and sanctions when I visited Iraq in 1999 after the first Gulf War and during the economic sanction regime put on by the West. Our peace delegation visited hospitals where children lay slowly dying in agony with no pain medication, from malnutrition and preventable diseases.
Doctors pleading with us to help get the sanctions lifted to save their people. Over one million Iraqi children under the age of five died as a result of economic sanctions put on by UK and western Governments.
During meetings with Iraqi government officials we were repeatedly told that they wanted to enter into dialogue with UK/US governments and diplomats to save Iraq from invasion but no dialogue was being pursued, only a Western imperial war agenda for power and control.
UN officials told us that Iraq had no weapons of mass destructions and Iraq was not a military threat to anyone outside of Iraq.
The tragedy of Iraq is that with a political will by UK/USA governments to solve the problem through dialogue and diplomacy so many millions of Iraqi lives as well as the lives of UK and US soldiers could have been saved. There was (as there always is) an alternative to violence and war and Iraq was yet another war that did not need to be fought).
I personally would like to see the report contain an admission of war crimes and an apology to the people of Iraq so that the ground will be set for healing, forgiveness, peace and reconciliation in a country now being tragically torn apart by violence, sectarianism and war.
Iraq can be assisted on the long road to peace by the UK Government if it decides to tell the truth and say ‘We are sorry’ ‘Please forgive us’. The UK should contribute wherever possible to the building of peace and reconciliation in Iraq.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate
20th June, 2016 www.peacepeople.com
Further report on Iraqi Peace Delegation ‘The Iraq War and Its Consequences’ – Thoughts of Nobel Peace Laureates and Eminent Scholars’ Edited by Irwin Abrams and Wang Gungwu