Dear colleagues and guests:
First, Please allow me to express my gratitude to Habitat International Coalition (HIC) for giving me the chance to inform you all about Iraq’s catastrophe after the United States-led occupation.
I would like to begin with a quote I once heard from a U.S. journalist who visited Iraq last year. He said “it’s very clear that everyone and everything has abandoned Iraq, even God. There‘s no mother for Iraq, she just forgot this place and the father left with no intention of coming back.”
Such words have added to the pain that we all feel, but they also gave us the power to remind the whole world that Iraq will remain and survive no matter what. Before I start my words about Iraq I really think it is essential to mention Palestine, as the occupations of both countries represent the two sides of the same coin, and both require a deep strategy to structural transformation to resolve their problems. This does not mean that other cases do not require the same attention. However, these two cases stand out in our third millennium as anathema to an era in which human rights supposedly form the core of international relations and legitimacy.
It has been proved to the whole world that the United States-led invasion of Iraq had no legal justification. It constitutes a blatantly unlawful and unethical act of aggression that cannot be justified, particularly since, for lack of evidence, the United States could not sustain its premise that Iraq’s putative store of weapons of mass destruction called for the invasion. We observed a tacit international approval of this invasion that leaves us and our neighbors confused in a world pretending to invoke international law and legitimacy. We hear human rights organizations’ and rights defenders’ loud voices whenever innocent persons are killed elsewhere, asking for their rights and defending them. But seldom in Iraq.
Has Iraqis’ blood become so cheap or may be the cheapest on earth? We have not heard any organization denouncing or condemning the occupiers’ acts of violence. Terrifying children, women and old people; torturing and killing men; arbitrary imprisonment; using force against unarmed civilians; injuring and killing thousands of innocent people; seizing houses as guard positions; theft and robbery; destruction of historical and cultural treasures: all these represent grave breaches of international law and Geneva Conventions, as well as all human rights treaties and other relevant international public law agreements.
U.S. brutality and dictatorship have reached their peak with the Coalition Provisional Authority, installing itself to rule and manipulate the three main branches of government. What democracy and freedom are the occupiers talking about, if their own violence knows no limit wherever they go, like in Iraq Faluja, Mosul and Ramadi. All these places and others have witnessed and suffered severe destruction, while the occupiers prevent media coverage. It was the job of our human rights organizations to broadcast the true picture to the world especially after the new U.S.-installed Iraqi government decided not only to ignore the whole situation, but also bless it.
Our organizations in Iraq are still so young and new in the field, but, through their own initiative, they were able to overcome the obstacles and offer medical and human assistance and reach as many Iraqis as possible. That is despite all procedures and practices from the occupation forces and militias to prevent us and after all the international organizations were unable to offer help.
Through our own forms of social mobilization and production, assistance reached a number of Iraqis in different places as follows:
§ Resettlement of evicted people from Makhmur (around 100 families) in Haj Ali district south of Mosul;
§ Supplying medical and humanitarian assistance to around 3,000 evicted people in Tal Afar as a result of random bombing on 11 September 2004;
§ Initiative for resettlement of different sectors from Faluja and offering medical aid and humanitarian assistance. Additionally, we started a cleaning campaign in the city and prepared the hospital to receive victims.
Friends and colleagues, the role of your counterparts in Iraq can be the least described as honorable. You should be proud of them, although they are very new in the field. However, they still need your help and assistance. We are not asking for money or aid, but we are asking for moral and psychological assistance to be able to benefit from your experience and expertise. I hereby address HIC General Assembly and remain certain the Coalition members can play a vital role to save what can be saved in Iraq through the following:
1. Assisting the civil society NGOs in Iraq, (Palestine and Sudan) through training, rehabilitating and developing the staff after all our efforts with UN organizations to do so without success;
2. Embracing civil society organizations in Iraq and considering them as their local offices and staff in Iraq who can apply their plans and strategies;
3. Allowing them to participate in international conferences, workshops for capacity building and benefiting from other organizations experiences;
4. Fighting for Arab women’s rights and raising their issues at international events.
Last but no least, we hope you can really help us apply these recommendations and assist your colleagues in Iraq, so that we can feel that someone on the other side of the world understands what we are going through.
It is important to say that despite what we see in Iraq, we still feel we have a second family here among you.
Cairo, 6 September 2005
Dr. Hazim Alluhebe
Director of the Human Rights and Immigration Bureau
Mobile +964 (0)770 162–6576