On behalf of those who are suffering and will continue to suffer from the human rights and health impacts of the decade of U.S.-led war, the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq seek acknowledgement and accountability for the war, as well as the war crimes and rights abuses perpetrated therein. Accountability for the toxic legacy of war must begin with acknowledgement and comprehensive, unbiased, scientific study of the problems caused by the U.S.’s use of toxic munitions and burn pits, which has resulted in drastically increased rates of birth defects, cancers and other disabilities, along with the immediate discontinuation and prohibition of the use of inhumane weapons discussed herein. Funding, assistance and resources must be provided to those servicemembers and Iraqi families who suffer as a result of their toxic exposures, including funding for medical treatment, cancer treatment centers and research and reparations for affected families.
The U.S. must fulfill its obligation to research and fully treat mental health and traumatic injuries suffered by Iraqis and U.S. servicemembers, which have resulted in an increase in suicides and violence in communities that have already suffered immeasurable loss. Further, the U.S. must respect the right to the preservation of health by providing benefits, fully funding health care, scientific studies and other support for returning U.S. servicemembers and reforming military structures that impede seeking and providing care. To this end, the military must also respect servicemembers’ right to follow their medical plan without interruption through redeployment and must guarantee their ability to get a medical discharge.
Accountability, reforms and resources are needed to address the gender-based and sexual violence in Iraq, as is accountability for the violence suffered at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S.-trained security forces. Systemic reforms and accountability are needed to end sex trafficking and to protect, re-integrate and empower the trafficked population and other survivors. Likewise, accountability is needed for the widespread and systemic sexual violence within the military, including improved services and access to justice for survivors of military sexual assault.
To stem continued human rights abuses and provide justice for past violations, the structural damages Iraq has suffered as a result of war must be addressed, including reparations to rebuild public infrastructure, cessation of the forced economic policies that have led to corruption and disintegration of Iraq’s economy at the cost of the Iraqi populace and sovereignty and providing accountability for ongoing rights violations by the regime set up and supported by the U.S. There must also be a restoration of cultural artifacts.
Finally, in the spirit of this collaborative effort between both Iraqi civilians and U.S. veterans, the undersigned organizations appeal for spaces for impact-based testimonies by affected communities to facilitate the process of recovery and reconciliation, with all affected parties able to seek care, healing and accountability without retaliation or stigma.