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National Council of Churches of the Philippines Conference Statement on Handover Sovereignty to Iraq

‘Handover’ Blurs the Truth:

Sovereignty Resides In The People!

The charade is on. Two days before schedule, the much touted June 30 “handover of sovereignty” was held by the U.S. occupiers-stealthily like a thief in the night-on June 28th, as people who oppose the U.S. war in Iraq poise to mount protests against this latest window dressing act of the United States. In secret oath-taking ceremonies and amid tight security befitting a true cabal of evildoers, “power” was formally transferred to U.S.-appointed authorities in Iraq. World reaction welcoming the “handover” as the clarion call signaling the Iraqi people’s independence belies the nature and aims of U.S. occupation of Iraq.

What the “handover” is not:

1. U.S. and the “coalition of the willing” are liberators.

George W. Bush, speaking on the “handover” from Istanbul during the NATO talks, claimed the early transfer of power proves the U.S. and allied troops in Iraq are “liberators” and that they have every intent to rebuild and establish democracy in Iraq. U.S. and allied troops in Iraq are illegal occupants. U.S. forces invaded Iraq, removed its government and imprisoned its leaders, desecrated the cultural heritage of this ancient civilization, disrupted every form of civil order, and in its place implanted a military authority whose aims are no less tyrannical than the ruler they deposed. The pretexts for the “pre-emptive” war against Iraq–possession of weapons of mass destruction and the Saddam regime’s links with the Al Qaeda–are all lies. Every justification for the rush to war-to disarm Iraq and prevent attacks on U.S. territories and interests, to liberate Iraq and bring greater freedom to the Middle East-are no more than carefully crafted alibis deliberately promoted to conceal America’s real agenda in the Middle East.

2. The U.S. handover of sovereignty affirms the will of the international community.

The U.S. ignored the United Nations when it invaded Iraq in March 2003. Through UN Security Council Resolution 1546 on the “handover” of Iraq sovereignty, the U.S. succeeded in securing legitimacy for the political institutions it established illegally in Iraq and to draw in a multinational force to do the dirty job of fighting the nationwide resistance movement in the country.

The resolution officially ends the occupation but at the same time authorizes the presence of a multinational force led by the U.S. without stipulating the date of their withdrawal. The United Nations, which remains by and large cowered by U.S. dictates, is no longer representative of the will of the international community. The U.S. acted and continues to act unilaterally against the will of the international community.

3. Iraqis will have full sovereignty.

The U.S. conceded only a vague notion of partnership with the Iraqi government whose powers under Resolution 1546 are significantly constrained. The interim government does not have control and authority over the 160,000-strong multinational force that will remain in Iraq indefinitely. Indeed, upon the transfer of power, Iraq will not become a sovereign state; it will remain a colony or a puppet state, subservient to Washington and protective of American interests. Despite the “Iraqi face” of the new government, the insurgency is bound to continue with a likelihood of developing into a civil war. The fall of Baghdad did not usher in a new and free Iraq. Far from it … Today, the people are in a turmoil so pervasive that the “handover” seems more and more a public-relations act to gain respectability for the U.S. occupation that has lost all credibility. The “transfer of sovereignty” issue has shifted the area of interest, which will likely result in diminishing the concern over the still unanswered questions regarding the invasion, the issues of human-rights violations and breaches on the Geneva Convention.

The accountabilities of the occupying power that predate the transfer of government must be restored to the frontline of debates. Among them:

1. The wanton disregard for life and human dignity shown by recent revelations of death, torture, sexual abuse and humiliation suffered by Iraqi prisoners in the hands of their American jailers.

2. The rising death toll among Iraqi civilians, especially women and children, foreign workers, Iraqi insurgents, and Coalition Forces.

3. The millions of dollars in war profits made by U.S. corporations from military contracts and the ongoing reconstruction of Iraq amidst staggering poverty and unemployment among the Iraqi population

Iraq’s transition to self-rule will be genuine only if the following conditions are met:

1. Relinquishment of all political, military and economic control of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies, and the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces and facilities from Iraq.

2. Immediate and unconditional end to all military offensives by the U.S.-led coalition against the people of Fallujah and Najaf and other areas of Iraqi resistance.

3. Full ownership by the Iraqi people of the political process of transition to self-rule.

The foreign meddlers of Iraqi affairs now find themselves in a quagmire that has claimed thousands of lives and put to waste billions of dollars in war profiteering. The violence and widespread resistance now raging in Iraq are not merely offshoots of poor strategy on the part of the coalition invaders. These are deeply rooted and indeed are natural outcomes of the unjust and self-serving ends of U.S. military aggression that seeks not to liberate people from terror but to impose the U.S. government’s imperial agenda upon the world. An end to the senseless violence gripping this country and the genuine liberation of its people are urgent tasks for the peace movement. The peace agenda is always urgent for as long as threats to life and the integrity of creation persist.

The Secretariat

PEOPLE’S FORUM ON PEACE FOR LIFE

June 29, 2004

The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on July 17th, 2004

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