Marking the 15th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a human and civil rights organization issued a renewed demand for reparations for survivors of the war and said a "new, global anti-war movement is needed more than ever."
In its statement released Monday, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) calls attention to the ongoing human costs of the war as well as the lack of punishment government officials and corporate entities have faced for atrocities they committed in Iraq.
The "illegal war" that began in 2003, the group says, "provided the platform for mass civilian casualties, war crimes, and a vast boon to corporations seeking to profit from war-making—with almost complete impunity to this day."
"A new, global anti-war movement is needed more than ever, and central in it must be the leadership of Iraqis in devising a reparations process.""Groups like ISIS emerged from U.S.-fomented sectarianism and came together in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. Less visible but no less damaging are the ongoing trauma and health issues experienced by those exposed to the fighting, as well as a growing refugee crisis, even as the Muslim Ban impedes many U.S.-created refugees from seeking asylum in the U.S."
Though President Barack Obama purportedly ended the war in 2011, it did not, in fact, end. And CCR points out that the U.S. is continuing airstrikes against ISIS—strikes that "have resulted in far greater civilian casualties than even reported."
Nevertheless, the group says, "The hardships have not stopped activists in Iraq from fighting for justice and for progressive issues, even in the face of overwhelming circumstances. As they carry on in calling for change, we join them, and demand reparations and accountability for the U.S.'s actions in Iraq. A new, global anti-war movement is needed more than ever, and central in it must be the leadership of Iraqis in devising a reparations process."
CCR's statement comes a day after a network of progressive organizations hosted a video conference because "the threat of war affects us all, and the call for peace must come from everywhere."
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The Global Call for Peace featured foreign policy experts and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "People in my country, the United States, and all over the world are sick and tired of spending billions and billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, war planes, missiles, bombs, and tanks," Sanders said.
"Our job together, in each of our countries, is to bring our people together around an agenda that calls for peace, not war; development, not destruction," he said.
"Our role as the global community that opposes wars means bearing witness to crimes committed by the U.S. war machine, or because of it. Our role is to expose how ugly and destructive war is."Raed Jarrar, Middle East and North Africa Advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, added, "While the possibility of war with North Korea looms, we must discuss the human cost of war."
According to some estimates, the number of Iraqis killed since the invasion may top one—or possibly two—million. Beyond those casualties, Jarrar added, "The war has really destroyed Iraq. The U.S. war also affected the rest of the region, whether it's the flood of millions of Iraqi refugees to neighboring countries, or whether it is the spread of sectarian politics that were introduced by the US in Iraq in 2003 that are now setting the rest of the region on fire."
"Our role as the global community that opposes wars means bearing witness to crimes committed by the U.S. war machine, or because of it. Our role is to expose how ugly and destructive war is," he said.
"It's hard for the anti-war movement to succeed on its own," he added, "but if we build an intersectional movement, we can build power, and we can win."