Speech by Arundhati Roy On Behalf Of The Jury of Conscience
Of The World Tribunal Of Iraq - June 24, 2005 Istanbul, Turkey.
This is the
culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq. It is of particular
significance that it is being held here in Turkey where the United
States used Turkish air bases to launch numerous bombing missions
to degrade Iraqs defenses before the March 2003 invasion
and has sought and continues to seek political support from the
Turkish government, which it regards as an ally.
All this was done in the face of enormous popular opposition by
the Turkish people. As a spokesperson for the jury of conscience,
it would make me uneasy if I did not mention that the government
of India is also, like the government of Turkey, positioning itself
as an "ally" of the United States in its economic policies
and the so-called War on Terror.
at the previous sessions of the World Tribunal on Iraq in Brussels
and New York have demonstrated that even those of us who have
tried to follow the war in Iraq closely are not aware of a fraction
of the horrors that have been unleashed in Iraq.
of Conscience at this tribunal is not here to deliver a simple
verdict of guilty or not guilty against the United States and
its allies. We are here to examine a vast spectrum of evidence
about the motivations and consequences of the U.S. invasion and
occupation, evidence that has been deliberately marginalized or
Every aspect of the war will be examined - its legality, the role
of international institutions and major corporations in the occupation,
the role of the media, the impact of weapons such as depleted
uranium munitions, napalm, and cluster bombs, the use of and legitimation
of torture, the ecological impacts of the war, the responsibility
of Arab governments, the impact of Iraqs occupation on Palestine,
and the history of U.S. and British military interventions in
Iraq. This tribunal is an attempt to correct the record. To document
the history of the war not from the point of view of the victors
but of the temporarily - and I repeat the word temporarily - vanquished.
first is that this tribunal
is a Kangaroo Court...
Now this view seems to suggest a
touching concern that in this harsh
world, the views of the U.S. government
and the so-called Coalition of the
Willing... have somehow gone
unrepresented... If in the era of the
multinational corporate media
and embedded journalism
anybody can seriously hold this view,
then we truly do live in the
Age of Irony, in an age when satire
has become meaningless
because real life is more satirical
than satire can ever be.
testimonies begin, I would like to briefly address as straightforwardly
as I can a few questions that have been raised about this tribunal.
is that this tribunal is a Kangaroo Court. That it represents
only one point of view. That it is a prosecution without a defense.
That the verdict is a foregone conclusion.
view seems to suggest a touching concern that in this harsh world,
the views of the U.S. government and the so-called Coalition of
the Willing headed by President George Bush and Prime Minister
Tony Blair have somehow gone unrepresented. That the World Tribunal
on Iraq isnt aware of the arguments in support of the war
and is unwilling to consider the point of view of the invaders.
If in the era of the multinational corporate media and embedded
journalism anybody can seriously hold this view, then we truly
do live in the Age of Irony, in an age when satire has become
meaningless because real life is more satirical than satire can
Let me say
categorically that this tribunal is the defense. It is an act
of resistance in itself. It is a defense mounted against one of
the most cowardly wars ever fought in history, a war in which
international institutions were used to force a country to disarm
and then stood by while it was attacked with a greater array of
weapons than has ever been used in the history of war.
tribunal is not in any way a defense of Saddam Hussein. His crimes
against Iraqis, Kurds, Iranians, Kuwaitis and others cannot be
written off in the process of bringing to light Iraqs more
recent and still unfolding tragedy. However, we must not forget
that when Saddam Hussein was committing his worst crimes, the
U.S. government was supporting him politically and materially.
When he was gassing Kurdish people, the U.S. government financed
him, armed him, and stood by silently.
evidence collated in this
tribunal should, for instance,
be used by the International Criminal
Court (whose jurisdiction the
United States does not recognize)
to try as war criminals George Bush,
Tony Blair, John Howard,
Silvio Berlusconi, and all those government officials, army generals,
and corporate CEOs who participated
in this war and now profit from it.
is being tried as a war criminal even as we speak. But what about
those who helped to install him in power, who armed him, who supported
him - and who are now setting up a tribunal to try him and absolve
themselves completely? And what about other friends of the United
States in the region that have suppressed Kurdish peoples
and other peoples rights, including the government
are remarkable people gathered here who in the face of this relentless
and brutal aggression and propaganda have doggedly worked to compile
a comprehensive spectrum of evidence and information that should
serve as a weapon in the hands of those who wish to participate
in the resistance against the occupation of Iraq. It should become
a weapon in the hands of soldiers in the United States, the United
Kingdom, Italy, Australia, and elsewhere who do not wish to fight,
who do not wish to lay down their lives - or to take the lives
of others - for a pack of lies. It should become a weapon
in the hands of journalists, writers, poets, singers, teachers,
plumbers, taxi drivers, car mechanics, painters, lawyers - anybody
who wishes to participate in the resistance.
evidence collated in this tribunal should, for instance, be used
by the International Criminal Court (whose jurisdiction the United
States does not recognize) to try as war criminals George Bush,
Tony Blair, John Howard, Silvio Berlusconi, and all those government
officials, army generals, and corporate CEOs who participated
in this war and now profit from it.
assault on Iraq is an assault on all of us: on our dignity, our
intelligence, and our future.
recognize that the judgment of the World Tribunal on Iraq is not
binding in international law. However, our ambitions far surpass
that. The World
Tribunal on Iraq places its faith in the consciences of millions
of people across the world who do not wish to stand by and watch
while the people of Iraq are being slaughtered, subjugated, and
information on the World Tribunal On Iraq, visit