For the Love of Humanity: The World Tribunal on Iraq

By Ayça Çubukçu | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Constituting Multitude:
Founding a World Tribunal

Introduction

On an autumn morning in Istanbul, on October 27, 2003, twenty people were engaged in a passionate debate around a table.1 They had arrived from Jerusalem and Stockholm, from Tokyo and Tunis, from New York and Bangkok, from London and Izmir, from Copenhagen and Genoa, from Brussels, Hiroshima, and Baghdad. All had come to Istanbul for a three-day meeting. This could have been just another corporate or diplomatic conclave, one of many simultaneously taking place around the world. Yet these women and men who spoke in English—for the most part, their second or third language—these “activists”2 who were teachers, publishers, engineers, translators, lawyers, scientists, academics, NGO workers, journalists, and filmmakers had gathered together to found a global civil society tribunal. Their principal goal was to document, “for the record,”3 crimes and violations committed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and their allies during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which had begun only a few months earlier.

When the World Tribunal on Iraq’s founding meeting was taking place, no “scandal” such as the horrendous torture of Iraqis by soldiers of the United States at the Abu Ghraib prison had yet erupted. Except through journalists selected by and “embedded” within the forces of the military coalition, the world public could receive scant information about the war through mainstream media.4 At the time, the situation was still one in which, as one

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