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Ploughshares Trial Day Seven
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Thursday July 20, 2006 00:35 by court reporters
Kathy Kelly's evidence
Kathy Kelly finally gave her evidence on Monday.
She spoke quietly about the chilling effect of the sanctions that had been imposed on Iraq after the 1991 war, of the devastation caused to the country, the lack of water and electricity, the ilnesses and diseases, the lack of medical supplies due to veto, the deaths of over 500,000 children between ages 0 to 5, the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis due to sanctions (a quarter of the estimated number of Holocaust victims), the fear of the people before the Shock and Awe blitz of March 2003, how she related her first-hand experiences to the defendants, her acquaintance with Denis Halliday who had resigned as Assistant Sec General of the UN because of his disagreement with the sanctions. Mr Halliday who was sitting in the court..was pointed out by Senior Counsel Brendan Nix She described in detail the photos she had brought from Iraq which became part of the defendants' shrine
In a day of high drama, there were numerous objections raised, followed by interruption of evidence and jury retirements.
KATHY KELLY'S EVIDENCE
Tuesday 10:43 a.m.
Mr. O'Kelly asked Kathy Kelly to verify that she was from Chicago, has an Irish passport as well, and has travelled to Iraq many times since 1991. He also mentioned that, with others, she founded Voices in the Wilderness in 1996, and that the organization brought medicines and other relief to Iraq having realized that the economic sanctions didn't cause direct harm to Saddam Hussein but were instead causing children to suffer. Kathy stated that Voices in the Wilderness obtained information from UNICEF and other organizations, but also reported back, following travel to Iraq, about their own experiences. Members sometimes stayed with families in Iraq.
Asked about why she first visited Iraq in 1991, Kathy stated that she was part of a peace team encamped on the Iraq side of the Iraq–Saudi border during the first Gulf War, the Desert Storm war. The Gulf Peace Team members believed that their lives were not any more or less valuable than the lives of civilians and soldiers and that perhaps if peace activists took the same risk required of soldiers they would have a better chance of voicing opposition to the war.
Kathy returned to the United States in August, 1991.
The next time she visited Iraq was in March,1996, with Voices in the Wilderness, and after that she made regular visits (21 times) before the 2003 outbreak of the Shock and Awe bombing and invasion. Mr. O'Kelly asked Kathy when the Shock and Awe bombing began. She said that it began on March 20, 2003, but that in a sense the war had never ended. There was regular bombardment, and Kathy had witnessed some of it, in what the military called a "softening up," before the Shock and Awe campaign had even been announced.
Mr. O'Kelly asked Kathy about the length of her visits to Iraq. She said they were normally 10–12 days, but at one point she had lived in the Jummuriyah neighbourhood of Basra during the summer of 2000 for 10 weeks and that she had stayed in Iraq throughout October and November and until Christmas Eve of December, 2002, during the build-up for the Shock and Awe bombing. Mr. O'Kelly asked Kathy what she had experienced during those ten weeks. She said that people she knew felt sure they were gong to be hit by U.S. bombs but didn't know when. Many remembered the 1991 bombing and were fearful. They feared they would run out of water, that their electricity would be destroyed, their homes damaged. Some tried to dig wells, but this was a futile attempt because they couldn't get drinkable water. Many moved away from Baghdad if they could. But those who lived near military installations were especially fearful.
The U.S. Army issued a 1991 report which stated that after the first Gulf war, just six more months of economic sanctions would cause epidemic levels of water-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhus, dysentery and diarrhoea. Only 20% of the bombs dropped by the U.S. hit their intended targets in 1991, but those bombs completely destroyed Iraq's electrical grid, wiping out the water purification systems that depended on electricity.
The Judge interrupted, stating that Ms. Kelly was only to speak from her own personal experience.
Mr. O'Kelly then asked Kathy to speak about shortages in the hospitals. Kathy spoke of shortages of medicines, even to cure regular diseases, such as respiratory diseases that could turn into pneumonia if one lacked antibiotics. They lacked anesthetics for surgery. Kathy said that she visited many hospitals, each time she went to Iraq, and saw terrible shortages. Rubber gloves were being used for blood collection, …
Judge Reynolds interrupted, saying that Ms. Kelly had been called to tell about what she had told the defendants when she encountered them.
Mr. O'Kelly then asked Kathy to clarify that she had attended the Féile Bríde conference in 2003, that she had gone back to the United States at the end of December, 2002, and at the end of January she travelled to Ireland on her way back to Iraq. Kathy stated that AfrI had invited her to speak and that she had told the audience about Voices in the Wilderness, about the Iraq Peace Team, and about their decision to remain alongside ordinary people, in Iraq, who had given them so much hospitality in the past. The Iraq Peace Team members felt they shouldn't walk away from Iraqis at a dangerous time. She stated that in her opinion they bore a great responsibility at a time when there was inadequate coverage, in the U.S., of the effects of the economic sanctions. She wanted to tell people at the conference about the current situation in Iraq and about how frightened Iraqi people were. Given the shortages of electricity, medicines and water which they already experienced in Iraq, if the war caused more destruction, doctors would be unable to cope with new epidemics.
Mr. O'Kelly then asked Kathy if she spoke directly with the defendants. She said that she had spoken with Ciaron, whom she had known for many years, and that she also recalled speaking with Damien and Deirdre. She remembered talking about responsibility to raise public awareness at a grave moment.
Mr. O'Kelly asked Kathy if she had given the defendants photographs. She said that she had given them enlarged and laminated photographs. Mr. O'Kelly asked if these photographs were then used by the defendants as part of a shrine they set up and Kathy said yes, these were the photographs. She proceeded to present each of five photographs which were submitted as evidence.
The first photograph showed a smiling little girl who was exceptional because she was able to go home from the hospital. She was healthy. The photo was taken in 1996 by Rick McDowell.
The next photo showed six year old Noor, who suffocated under debris when a bomb hit her street in the Jumurriyah neighbourhood of Basra on January 25, 1999. The photo was taken by Nebil Al Jorani, a photographer working for a hotel in Basra. He was hired to photograph tourists, but there weren't many tourists in Basra at that time. The bomb that hit the street in Jumurriyah was intended to hit a fertilizer factory, but it missed the target. The same day, another bomb was fired and this one also strayed and hit a little girl, Isra, tearing her arm off, in the village of Abu Falous . The third photograph showed Noor's father holding the limp and lifeless body of another of his children. This photo was also taken on January 25, 1999 by Nebil Al Jorani.
The fourth photo was taken by Kathy's friend, Chuck Quilty, in 1996. It showed a child in an advanced stage of malnutrition
In the fifth photo, a doctor was showing a doctor with a child suffering from "wasting," or acute malnourishment. The doctor pinches the child's flesh to show how the flesh falls from the bones. Kathy stated that a friend of hers, Martin Thomas, was in a hospital ward with her and he stated, "I think I understand. It's like a death row for infants."
The Judge interrupted to instruct Ms. Kelly to speak only from her own experiences.
Mr. O'Kelly said that the defendants were aware of Madeleine Albright's statement that 500,000 children had died in Iraq. The jury may not be aware of this. Judge Reynolds asked Kathy what Madeleine Albright had said. Kathy recalled that in May of 1996 a U.S. television program called "60 Minutes" had interviewed Madeleine Albright. At the time, she was the U.S. Representative to the United Nations. Leslie Stahl, the interviewer, said to Ms. Albright, "Ms. Albright, I mean, more children have died in Iraq than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Over a half million children have died and, I mean, is it worth the price?" Ms. Albright responded, "Yes, Leslie, it's a difficult choice to make, and I'm a humanitarian person, but the price, we think the price is worth it." Leslie Stahl then asked, "Worth it?"
Mr. O'Kelly asked Kathy if she spoke to the defendants about what should be done. Kathy said that she felt they were responsible to find non-violent ways to raise the awareness of people and to help them realize that Iraqis committed no crime against us. Judge Reynolds asked Kathy what she meant by "us." "Well, I'm from the United States ," Kathy replied, "and the Iraqis hadn't done anything to hurt us."
Mr. O'Kelly asked Kathy if she was looking for volunteers to go with her to Iraq. Kathy said it was very difficult to get visas at that point, and that she was concerned that the members of their group not grow so large that they would lose control and find themselves used by the Iraqi government as human shields. She said that she hoped each person would do what they could to stop the warfare and help voice the concerns for Iraqis who otherwise might not be heard.
Mr. Devally (for the Prosecution) stated that Voices in the Wilderness was begun in 1996 to give background and raise awareness regarding the effects of economic sanctions and that the participants wished to dramatize a challenge to the economic sanctions. He said that the Féile Bride event was giving voice to concerns of the poor and that in the U.S. there had not been enough knowledge about the sanctions, wasn't that so? Kathy added that she believed that if the U.S. people had understood the effects of these sanctions they wouldn't have stood for it.
Mr. Devally asked if Kathy would agree that mention of Ms. Albright's remarks, along with the pictures she showed, would give rise to anger on the part of people who were hearing Kathy's talk. Kathy said that she believed all of the people hearing were responsible for what had happened in Iraq, not just Ms. Albright, and that part of the problem was that Ms. Albright was never challenged. At the time that she made that remark, she was the U.S. Representative to the UN. Not a single op-ed piece challenged what she said. Instead, she was raised to the highest position a woman in the U.S. had ever held, - she was made Secretary of State.
Mr. Devally then said that if sanctions were imposed by the U.N., but steered by the U.S., and if products were vetted by the U.S., wasn't it likely that the combination of pictures and callous statements would induce anger? Kathy said that she would have failed any gathering if she only caused people to feel anger. People must feel a responsibility to try and challenge the policies.
Mr. Devally said that he understood Ms. Kelly was not trying to foment hatred.
MR NIX CROSS-EXAMINES
Mr. Nix then asked Kathy if it was true that the definition of a child, according to UN researchers, was a child of five years or less. Kathy said that was true.
Mr. Nix asked what the UN had found regarding the number of people whose deaths were contributed to by economic sanctions. Kathy said that economic sanctions contributed to the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqi people. Mr. Nix remarked that this was a quarter of the Holocaust figure. Kathy agreed.
Mr Nix asked if previously Iraq had an advanced system of health care and if it wasn't a place that people from surrounding countries came to, for surgeries and other health care. Kathy said that Iraq's health care had been regarded as enviable by many people in surrounding countries. Mr. Nix then asked if the United States had not threatened to bomb Iraq back into the stone age. She said that was correct.
Mr. Nix then referred to two tapes which the defendants had mentioned. Was Kathy familiar with them. Kathy said yes, that one was called "Paying the Price." Mr. Nix asked if this was not a reference to the quotation from Madeleine Albright. Kathy said it was.
She said that John Pilger had made the film and that he had invited Mr. Denis Halliday to go with him to Iraq. Mr. Nix asked if Denis Halliday was an Irish man who, as Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, had taken over the "Oil for Food" program? Kathy said that was correct.
Mr. Nix then asked if it was true that any member of the UN could embargo every item sought by Iraq. Kathy said that was true and that sometimes it took one and one half years just to fulfill one contract under a very bureaucratic system.
Mr. Nix then asked if it was true that Denis Halliday had publicly resigned his position from the UN. Kathy said that this was true, that Mr. Halliday wanted to be able to speak publicly about his view of the economic sanctions which he later stated were genocidal.
Mr. Nix asked if the man in the pink salmon shirt (pointing to a man seated on one of the side benches) was not Mr. Denis Halliday. Kathy said that yes, that is Mr. Halliday.
MR O'HIGGINS CROSS-EXAMINES
Mr. O'Higgins then asked Kathy if it was true that under the Oil for Food program Iraqis would list items they wanted in exchange for their oil. Mr. O'Higgins clarified that the items sought were not expensive cars or luxury items, but rather items needed for indigent people including such basics as medical supplies.
Kathy stated that food and medicine were never embargoed but that Iraqis couldn't afford to buy these products when they weren't allowed to sell their oil. She noted that in 1989, Iraq had imported 90 percent of its pharmaceuticals and 70 percent of its food. They couldn't afford basic medicines and medical equipment, such as kidney dialysis machines, or medicines needed to cure chronic diseases. They also couldn't get equipment needed to rehabilitate their electrical systems or their oil refineries.
Mr. Devally, the prosecutor, interrupted to remind Mr. O'Higgins that the witness is not an expert on international law.
Judge Reynolds instructed the jury to leave.
When the jury returned, Mr. O'Higgins observed that the UN had been set up to eliminate war and establish means of peacekeeping and to accomplish this through various organizations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. He stated that these organizations had been involved in collecting raw data about what was happening in various countries and that this data was as nearly as possible considered apolitical and objective.
Mr. O'Higgins then asked if the figure given by the UN of 500,000 children under age 5 dying in Iraq was given much press coverage. Kathy responded that on August 12, Carol Bellamy, the UN coordinator of UNICEF had held a press conference to deliver these findings, but the coverage was meagre. The Wall Street Journal had devoted two sentences, and there was none from the other ten mainstream U.S. media resources. Mr. O'Higgins asked if the Wall Street Journal was known worldwide. Kathy said that was correct.
Mr. O'Higgins then mentioned the bombing of Iraq that began in 1991 and began to suggest that it did not end. Mr. Devally stood to object and Judge Reynolds asked the jury to retire.
When the jury returned, Mr. O'Higgins asked Kathy to clarify that she had experience being in Iraq in 1991 and during bombing in 1998 and that in each instance the United States had carried out the bombing. Kathy said this was true. He asked if it was true that she had shown photographs from a bombing in 1999. She said this was true.
He then asked Kathy to explain what she meant when she had referred to "Shock and Awe" bombing. Kathy began to say that this was a military term, but at that point Mr. Devally interrupted
Mr. Devally said that he was being placed in a position of appearing to attempt to prevent the jury from hearing evidence by registering what he believed to be legitimate objections. Mr. O'Higgins then asked for a ruling, in the absence of the jury, on whether or not he was entitled to pursue his questions.
Judge Reynolds asked the jury to leave
When the jury returned, Mr. O'Higgins asked Kathy what Shock and Awe refers to. Kathy said that it was a military term describing an attack that is so heavy that the enemy can't possibly respond in any way.
Mr. O'Higgins asked when this took place in Iraq. Kathy said that it began on Day 3 of the U.S. bombardment, on March 23rd, 2003
End of Kathy's testimony
The remainder of Monday was spent dealing with legal matters in the absence of the jury
(Apologies for any errors, omissions, inaccuracies or or deficiencies in the above report)