Posted by Sadie from ? (22.214.171.124) on Monday, August 04, 2003 at 3:21PM :
Peace groups launch International Occupation Watch Center in Iraq
Press Release, International Occupation Watch Center
4 August 2003
Website of the International Occupation Watch Center, found at www.occupationwatch.org
July 8, 2003 -- On Wednesday, July 9, an international delegation of peace and human rights groups announced the launching of an International Occupation Watch Center in Baghdad. The Center will monitor the activities of the coalition military forces and foreign corporations, provide the international community with reliable, independent information through a new website www.occupationwatch.org, support local efforts to improve the lives of the Iraqi people and move toward Iraqi self-rule, and host international delegations coming to Iraq to get a first-hand view of the impact of the occupation.
"During our stay, it has become evident that the occupation forces are so poorly managing reconstruction efforts that they have squandered the goodwill Iraqis had for toppling Saddam Hussein,” says Medea Benjamin of the US-based United for Peace and Justice, one of the coalitions setting up the Center. “In 120 degree weather, millions of Iraqis are suffering from a severe shortage of electricity and water, appalling sanitation conditions and a dysfunctional economy. Perhaps most disturbing of all, they are living in a state of insecurity and lawlessness that keeps millions, especially women, locked inside their homes in a state of fear. This is not their idea of liberation.”
This Center will be a first-ever joint effort by the international peace and human rights movement. It is supported by a diverse advisory board of academics, writers, journalists and human rights advocates. Its sponsors include the US coalition United for Peace and Justice (www.unitedforpeace.org), the Asian-based Focus on the Global South, the international group Arabs Resisting Globalization, the European-based Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation, and the Italian group Bridges to Baghdad.
“We have grave concerns about the heavy-handed and secretive way the occupation forces are operating, such as hand-selecting a new Iraqi Governing Council without a transparent process,” says Ted Lewis of the human rights group Global Exchange. “We are also determined to investigate alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions, including due process in the treatment of prisoners, indiscriminate use of force, and restrictions on Iraqi people’s right to free speech.”
The center will also investigate foreign corporate activity in Iraq, with a particular emphasis on the use of Iraqi oil resources. The center will monitor contracts obtained by corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel and their track record on the ground in Iraq. The international delegation will deliver to Iraqis several letters from communities around the world that have been negatively affected by these corporations. Finally, the center will actively support the creation of independent Iraqi organizations such as human rights, media and environmental groups, groups that promote women's rights, and independent trade unions.
"This is a critical effort of friendship and solidarity from the international community, as opposed to the aggression and occupation of the occupying forces," says Iraqi professor and Advisory Board member Kamil Mahdi. "That is why my colleagues and I are giving it our full support."
For more information, see link below.
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