headlines | about |

Urgent Appeal To Save Iraq's Teachers


A little known aspect of the tragedy engulfing Iraq is the systematic liquidation of the country's academics.  Even according to conservative estimates, over 250 educators have been assassinated, and many hundreds more have disappeared. With thousands fleeing the country in fear for their lives, not only is Iraq undergoing a major brain drain, the secular middle class - which has refused to be co-opted by the US occupation - is being decimated, with far-reaching consequences for the future of Iraq.

Already on July 14, 2004, veteran correspondent Robert Fisk reported from Iraq that: "University staff suspect that there is a campaign to strip Iraq of its academics, to complete the destruction of Iraq's cultural identity which began when the American army entered Baghdad."

The wave of assassinations appears non-partisan and non-sectarian, targeting women as well as men, and is countrywide. It is indiscriminate of expertise: professors of geography, history and Arabic literature as well as science are among the dead.  Not one individual has been apprehended in connection with these assassinations.
According to the United Nations University, some 84 per cent of Iraq's institutions of higher education have already been burnt, looted or destroyed. Iraq's educational system used to be among the best in the region; one of the country's most important assets was its well-educated people.

This situation is a mirror of the occupation as a whole: a catastrophe of staggering proportions unfolding in a climate of criminal disregard. As an occupying power, and under international humanitarian law, final responsibility for protecting Iraqi citizens, including academics, lies with the United States.

With this petition we want to break the silence.
1. We appeal to organisations which work to enforce or defend international humanitarian law to put these crimes on the agenda. 

2. We request that an independent international investigation be launched immediately to probe these extrajudicial killings. This investigation should also examine the issue of responsibility to clearly identify who is accountable for this state of affairs. We appeal to the special rapporteur on summary executions at UNHCHR in Geneva.
You can sign this petition by clicking:
This petition was launched by the BRussells Tribunal and is already endorsed by CEOSI (Spain), the Portuguese hearing of the WTI, (Germany), the Swedish Antiwar committee, the IAC (USA), the International Association of Middle East Studies (IAMES), the German Middle East Studies Association (DAVO) and the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies (EURAMES), and several personalities, like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, John Pilger, Michael Parenti (see more complete list underneath).
See also the call for action underneath and more information on:

Call for action to save Iraq's Academics

1. We call upon all people, especially academics and students, to help end the silence that  surrounds the ongoing crime of the assassination of Iraqi academics and the destruction of Iraqi's educational infrastructure, and support Iraqi academics' right and hope to live in an independent, democraticI raq, free of foreign occupation and hegemony.

2. We urge that academic institutions and organisations declare solidarity with their Iraqi colleagues.

3. We urge that academics forge links between Iraqi educators, both in exile and in Iraq, and universities worldwide.

4. We urge that student organisations link with Iraqi student organisations.

5. We urge that educators mobilise colleagues and concerned citizens to take up the cause of the salvation of Iraq's intellectual wealth, by organising seminars, teach-ins and forums on the plight of Iraq's academics.

The world's academics and intellectuals must act now to save the lives of their colleagues in Iraq.

[The BRussells Tribunal, in cooperation with other organisations, has started to build a network of contacts and raise public awareness and can provide information and support to individuals and groups who wish to mobilise on this issue.  We are able to act as a depository and hub for this campaign]

Preliminary list of endorsers:
Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics, Philosophy of Language, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Linguistics & Philosophy, USA
Tony Benn, President of the STOP THE WAR COALITION, Former MP, Cabinet Minister and Chairman of the British Labour Party, UK
Eduardo Galeano, essayist, journalist, historian, and activist, Uruguay.
Hans von Sponeck (Former UN Assistant Secretary General & United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq 1998-2000 - Germany)
Howard Zinn, professor, writer, educator, and leader in nonviolent social protest, USA
John Pilger, journalist and documentary film-maker, UK/Australia
Dr. Curtis F.J. Doebbler, International Human Rights Lawyer.
Prof. Em. Francois Houtart, Director of the Tricontinental Center ? Cetri, Belgium
Prof. Immanuel Wallerstein,  Yale University, USA.
Gabriel Kolko, author and historian.
Tareq Ismael, Prof. of Political Science, University of Calgary.
Mohammed Aref, Science writer based in Surrey, UK Former advisor to Arab Science and Technology Foundation in United Arab Emirates (2000-2003) and science editor for Al Hayat newspaper in London (1988-2000).
Raymond William Baker, President of IAMES (International Association of Middle East Studies) and President of the Administrative Board of a transnational initiative to build an international university in Iraq, Global Partners for the International University of Iraq GP-IUI).
Prof. Dr. Guenter Meyer, Centre for Research on the Arab World (CERAW), University of Mainz , Germany
Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa, director Centre for Research on Globalization, Canada
Prof. Lieven De Cauter, philosopher, K.U. Leuven / Rits
Dr. Ian Douglas, Visiting Professor Political Science Department An-Najah National University Nablus, Palestine
Abdul Ilah Al-Bayaty (Writer - Iraq / France)
Haifa Zangana (Novelist - Iraq / UK)
Sabah Al-Mukhtar (President of the Arab Lawyers Association - Iraq / UK)
Dr. Imad Khadduri (Nuclear scientist - Iraq / Canada)
Sami Ramadani (Senior lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University - Iraq / UK)
Mundher Al-Adhami (Research Fellow at Kings College London - Iraq / UK)
Amir Al Ani (Sociologist - Iraq / France)
Ghali Hassan (Science and Mathematics Education Centre, Curtin University - Perth, Australia)
Niloufer Bhagwat (Vice President of Indian Lawyers Association - Mumbai / India)
Karen Parker (Attorney , Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, partners of the BRussells Tribunal - USA)
Jan Fermon (Lawyer of  Court case against General Tommy Franks in Brussels, Progress Lawyers Network - Belgium)
Amy Bartholomew (Law professor - Canada)
Ayse Gul Altinay , Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Sabanci University, Turkey
Gabriele Zamparini (independent filmmaker - Italy/UK)
Paola Pisi (College professor) Uruknet - Italy
Jeffrey Blankfort (Former editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin and currently hosts radio programs - USA)
Jeff Archer/Malcom Lagauche (Journalist - USA)
Corinne Kumar (Secretary General of El Taller International - Tunesia / India)
Dahr Jamail, independent journalist, USA.
Carlos Varea (coordinator of SCOSI - Spanish Campaign against Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq - Spain)
Joachim Guilliard (Journalist, Anti-war movement - Germany)
Sigyn Meder (Anti-war movement - Sweden)
Manuel Raposo (Anti-war movement - Portugal)
John Catalinotto (International Action Center - USA)
Charles Jenks (Chair of Advisory Board and Web Manager, Traprock Peace Center, USA)
Dr. Dahlia Wasfi M.D. (Anti-war activist, speaker, Global Exchange, Iraq / USA)
Larry Everest (Author / Journalist - USA)
Patrick Deboosere, demographer, VUB, Belgium
Hana Al Bayaty, filmmaker / journalist - Iraq / Egypt / France
Dirk Adriaensens, coordinator SOS Iraq
Prof. Jean Bricmont, scientist, specialist in theoretical physics, U.C. Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium
Prof. Pierre Klein, Professor International Law, U.L. Bruxelles, Belgium
Inge Van De Merlen, BRussells Tribunal, Belgium
Bernard Genet (Comaguer, Anti-war Committee Marseille - France)
Dr. Bert De Belder (Coordinator Intal & Medical Aid For The Third World - Belgium)
Pol De Vos (Stop USA - Belgium)
Ludo De Brabander (Vrede - Belgium)
Ernst-Peter Rahrnschopf, mathematician, Erlangen, Germany,
Siegrun Dewaldahrnschopf, Erlangen, Germany.