We, the signers of this petition, call on the U.S. government to immediately stop the violent, heavy-handed tactics that are presently being employed in Iraq, most recently in the city of Ramadi (the capital of Anbar province, lying to the west of Baghdad, with a population of 400,000 people).
The United States of America has ratified the Geneva Convention, whose common article 3 prohibits the infliction of aggression, murder, injury, or abuse against civilian populations, and which is practiced internationally as a legal norm.
The U.S. military, however:
- cut off basic lifelines such as electricity, food, water, and gasoline to the city of Ramadi beginning in April, which has resulted in extreme distress for its citizens. This is in violation of Article 54, Number 1 of the First Protocol Addition to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.
- has taken control of the city of Ramadi in a campaign of fear and violence whereby houses are being attacked (in some cases by missiles), rooftops commandeered, residents killed and wounded, and pedestrians shot at. This failure to distinguish between military and civilian targets is in violation of Article 51, Numbers 2 and 4 of the First Protocol Addition to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits acts or threats of violence that are aimed at spreading terror amongst the civilian population.
- refuses to let injured individuals pass freely through its inspection checkpoints, resulting in many civilians dying from untreated wounds. This is in violation of Article 10, Number 2 of the First Protocol Addition to the Geneva Conventions, which states that all wounded, sick and shipwrecked persons shall be treated humanely and shall receive the medical care and attention required by their condition to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay.
- is targeting hospitals for attack, preventing injured citizens from receiving medical care. This is in violation of Article 12, Number 1 of the First Protocol Addition to the Geneva Conventions, which states that medical units shall be respected and protected at all times and shall not be the object of attack.
- has arrested and continues to detain seven Iraqi journalists, including those from the Reuter news service, with no credible reason. This is in violation of Article 79, Number 1 of the First Protocol Addition to the Geneva Conventions, which states that journalists engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict shall be considered as civilians within the meaning of Article 50, paragraph 1. As such, journalists maintain the civilian right of to be protected from violence and the threat thereof.
Citizens who remained in Ramadi—either because they had no economic means to leave, or because they stayed behind to take care of relatives or protect their homes—remain essentially trapped inside the city. The situation in Ramadi also comes on the heels of the attack that killed countless civilians in Fallujah, as well as repeated attacks over the past three years on the cities of Al Qaim, Haditha, Tal Afal, Samarra, Najaf, and Baghdad. Despite soaring temperatures, cities throughout Iraq also remain without electricity with the exception of brief, sporadic intervals.
The bloodshed in the country has resulted in more than 100,000 Iraq citizens being killed, in addition to over 2,500 U.S. soldiers. The U.S. strategy is succeeding only in increasing the number of enemies amongst the Iraqi population, since the resistance against the U.S. and Iraqi government becomes stronger as increasing numbers of citizens are killed and maimed.
The Geneva Convention IV, to which the United States is again a signatory, also includes the following regulations:
Article 16: The wounded and sick, as well as the infirm, and expectant mothers, shall be the object of particular protection and respect.
Article 18: Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.
Article 32: Physical suffering or extermination against civilians including murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments are prohibited, whether applied by civilian or military agents.
Regardless of the fact that the U.S. is not a signatory to the First Protocol Addition to the Geneva Conventions, this does not alter the fact that its present actions in Iraq are in violation of the international laws upon which the treaty is based.
We the signers of this petition, call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. military occupation troops from the city of Ramadi, and for the treatment of its people in line with the standards laid out in the Geneva Convention.
We call for an end to the bloodshed in Iraq, and for the immediate restoration of the human rights of its citizens.
June 25, 2006
This petition is sponsored by the Iraq Hope Network, a Japan-based network of NGOs,aid workers, journalists, lawyers, university professors and volunteers who together sponsor projects in Iraq focused on humanitarian aid, reconstruction and human rights.