Tuesday, October 18, 2005

15 Years of War On the Iraqi People

These photos show the real price of war:
one million dead and one million refugees

In 1990 the United States imposed economic sanctions on the country of Iraq. They were supposed to be a non-violent means to force Iraqi troops from Kuwait. But during the ensuing Gulf War the U.S. bombed and deliberately took out 96% of Iraq’s electrical capacity. (1)

This had a predictable, disastrous effect on Iraq’s water and sanitation. The New England Journal of Medicine reported epidemics of water-borne diseases and concluded that from January to August 1991, the 'excess' deaths of Iraqi children came to 46,900.(2)

These facts were available from very credible sources, yet they were virtually unknown to most Americans. If I could get the issue of economic sanctions on Iraq into a U.S. court of law, I believed the facts would be heard and the disaster of these sanctions might be ended.

In 2002 I got my wish. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a $10,000 administrative fine against me for traveling to Iraq to bring medicine to children without asking them for approval. (3)

Under what conditions should the government prevent a citizen from bringing medicine to relieve suffering and save lives? Common sense and decency says there must be a very good reason. OFAC has never offered any. The Geneva Convention actually prohibits restrictions, stating that parties to the treaty "shall allow free passage of medical and hospital stores ... even if the latter is its adversary." (4)

This seemed like a clear-cut instance of the U.S. government violating the Geneva Convention. After all, even the U.N. sanctions had never included or restricted medicine. How could the government lawyers possibly respond? And how could the judge justify the violation?

Based on legal arguments that the Geneva Convention is not "self-executing" and that I do not have a "private right of action" against the federal government, on October 22, 2004, Judge Robart ruled that "The Medicine Restriction is a valid exercise of authority ..." (5)

But what about the consequences of this policy of bombing a country's infrastructure, re-imposing draconian sanctions that prevent it from being able to feed it's people, and then restricting the free passage of medicine to children, even when hundreds of thousands of them die as a result. When does this come to constitute the crime of genocide?

At the stage we were at in our legal case against the federal government, Judge Robart had to consider that all of our claims were true since we had not yet been given an opportunity to present evidence to support them. How did the Judge rule on a policy that arguably came to constitue genocide against the Iraqi people?

Here is Judge Robart's ruling from his decision of October 22, 2004: "Although the United States has ratified part of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, it also provided that the Convention creates no 'substantive or procedural right enforceable by law by any party in any proceeding.'" (emphasis added) (6)

We are currently appealing this decision to the Ninth Circuit Appellate Court. We might have a decision by the end of this year. Still, whatever the Ninth Circuit rules, there is important clarity that is coming out of this legal process for me ... and, I hope, for others as well.

There has been a denial of the right to life for half a million Iraqi children -- simply because they are Iraqi and we wanted to coerce their leader. So far we have not yet managed to have this human-rights violation weighed on the scales of justice of our legal system.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

STOP THE WAR COALITION

See link below:
http://stopwar.org.uk/Bennletter.htm

Submission:
We allege that the breaches committed by the UK Government and the USA in coalition partnership during the period 2002 - 2005 outlined as a selection in summary are as follows:-
1 Crimes Against Peace: Planning and Conducting an Aggressive War using deceit, including deliberately falsifying reports to arouse passion in support of this war .
2 Failure to ensure public order and safety by disbanding the army and police of Iraq, without properly replacing those functions.
3 Extensive destruction of service infrastructure, including drinking water, sewage systems, telephones and electricity supply, with grave consequences to the inhabitants of Iraq, especially in hospitals.
4 Deliberate damage to hospitals and medical facilities and personnel including the shooting up of Red Crescent ambulances, and prevention of movement of ambulances.
5 Failure to prohibit looting and arson resulting in the despoliation and pillage of museums, libraries, archaeological sites, hospitals, administrative buildings and state records.
6 Failure to respect cultural property including the use of the Babylon archaeological site as a military camp.
7 Economic exploitation of occupied territories by orders of The Provisional Coalition Administration to the benefit of foreign interests, including the use of Production Sharing Agreements, and IMF rules, even
though warnings were made by the Attorney General that these may be construed as contrary to International Law.
8 Seizing botanical assets by Provisional Coalition Administration Order 81, which ends the prohibition of private ownership of biological resources, and introduces foreign monopoly rights over seeds.
9 Political persecution by initially sacking all Baath Party members, thereby very severely reducing the administrative and professional class who had been obliged to be members.
10 Religious persecution: US Defence Secretary memo of 2 December 2002 sanctioned the use of religious humiliation against detainees.
11 Use of cable ties as a restraint to detainees' wrists causing injury and unnecessary suffering .
12 Use of hooding detainees, wilfully causing mental suffering, especially when used for prolonged periods, or when combined with assault.
13 Use of dogs as a means of obtaining information authorised by US Defence Secretary memo of 2 Dec 2002.
14 Forcing detainees to stand for many hours as a means of obtaining information authorised by US Defence Secretary memo of 2 December 2002, and practised at Abhu Ghraib and other US prisons.
15 Sexual and bodily humiliation of detainees, including rapes, and stripping naked for long periods.
16 Aggressive patrolling with indiscriminate mass arrests of males, including 14 year olds, indiscriminate destruction of property, and invasion of women's' quarters contrary to tenets of the Koran.
17 Killing and wounding treacherously by indiscriminate shooting at check points, strafing of groups of obvious civilians, and disproportionate use of force in residential areas.
18 Degrading treatment of detainees by marking foreheads and bodies with indelible marker pens as a means of identification and control.
19 Use of cluster bombs on grounds of military expediency. As well as being munitions causing random unnecessary suffering by steel spicules, incendiary and depleted uranium bomblets, a large number don't explode, effectively becoming land mines.
20 Use of depleted uranium shells, on the grounds of military expediency, causing a very long term legacy of radioactive damage to the environment, cancers and birth defects.
21 Use of white phosphorous (WP) chemical munitions.
22 Collective penalties in Fallujah during the first assault of April 2004 when 1,000 Iraqis including 600 women and children were killed.
23 Evacuation of Fallujah, ( a city nearly the size of Cardiff) in preparation for a second disproportionate assault in November 2004, which employed the use of starvation and thirst on an entire population, targeting of hospitals, medical staff and ambulances, indiscriminate shooting of non combatants and destruction of private and state property
24 Failure to keep a proper record of POW names and locations.
25 Failure to treat POWs humanely, especially those held in the open in the sun.
26 Abolition of Habeas Corpus: holding an estimated 30,000 prisoners without charge or trial over an indefinite period:
27 Failure to record Iraqi deaths and injuries with consequent failure to determine proportionality or medical requirements of survivors. Also causing unnecessary suffering to relatives of the deceased.
28 Unilaterally holding that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to certain actions, especially to the use of private security contractors, and mercenaries and to the detention of certain types of enemy combatants.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for The BRussels Tribunal
see:

http://www.brusselstribunal.org/

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harold Pinter
Winner Of The Nobel Prize in Literature 2005 - 12/07/05

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11239.htm

Harold Pinter - Nobel Lecture
Art, Truth & Politics

A MUST READ

4:10 PM  

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