War Crimes Tribunal comes at crucial time

Peter Gilbert

New York - On Aug. 26, leaders of the global anti-war movement, expert witnesses, GI resisters and activists will gather in New York to consider overwhelming evidence of the criminal atrocities committed by the Bush administration against Iraq and the people of the world.

The Iraq War Crimes Tribunal, inspired by the World Tribunal on Iraq that has held sessions in many countries, comes at the beginning of a week of demonstrations against the Republican National Convention. They send a message to the resistance here and across the globe that it is the obligation of people here in the U.S. to end this nightmare. Tribunal testimony will identify that only the resistance in Iraq, coupled with mass actions directed against governments that support the occupation, offers any real possibility for stopping it.

The tribunal takes place as the resistance in Iraq is reaching new levels. U.S. troops have failed to pacify any part of the country. The resistance has managed to shell even the U.S. command center in Baghdad's fortified "green zone."

On Aug. 16, a National Conference in Baghdad, the latest attempt of the U.S. and its puppet government led by Iyad Allawi to achieve legitimacy, broke down. In a surprise to the U.S., many of the conference's hand-picked representatives declared support for the resistance and called for an end to the assaults on the people of Najaf. A combination of the heroism of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and the overwhelming disaffection of all Iraqis with the occupation has so far prevented U.S. forces from using their weapons of mass destruction to destroy the city and conquer it.

"The tribunal offers an opportunity to explain to the world why the Iraqi people have the right to resist and people here should stand in solidarity with them," says International Action Center co-director Sara Flounders, an organizer of this tribunal. ruling-class parties--Republicans and Democrats--conspire to repress anti-war dissent. The tribunal offers a unique opportunity to show the anti-war movement and the population in general that the war and occupation are criminal and that the Iraqis' right of resistance deserves international mass support."

A series of hearings in the afternoon will show that the Bush administration and all who support them are criminals. Testimony from former UN official Denis Halliday will show how the U.S. planned and prepared over a decade for this crime against peace, as will Hana al Bayaty, an organizer from the BRussels Tribunal that focused on how the U.S. planned the war over many years. The complicity of the Democratic Party and the UN with the Bush admin istration in these atrocities makes them both co-conspirators in the aggression.

Eyewitness Baghdad, Falluja

Eyewitnesses will give firsthand accounts of how the Pentagon has targeted Iraqi civilians. Jo Wilding, a British woman, was fired upon while driving an ambulance during the siege of Falluja. Maria Rosa PeƱarroya Miranda and Javier Barandiaran gathered interviews with wounded Iraqis during the worst of the missile attacks in Baghdad in March and April of last year.

International reports about Africa, East Asia and Latin America will show that this aggression follows a pattern of U.S. behavior. Iraq is no exception. John Parker visited Sudan after the Pentagon destroyed a medicine factory with missiles in August 1998. Ben Dupuy will speak for the Haitian movement PPN. Teresa Gutierrez covers Latin American struggles for the International Action Center. Others will speak on Palestine and Iraq.

Global leaders in the anti-imperialist movement will share experiences combating their own countries' participation in the "Coalition of the Willing." These include Manik Mukherjee from the All-India Anti-Imperialist Front, Yong Mi Yang from South Korea, Dennis Brutus of the anti-apartheid movement and others. AFSCME District Council 1707 President Brenda Stokely, ANSWER steering committee member Larry Holmes and others will address resistance here at home, including demands to restore funding for social programs instead of diverting money for racist war and occupation, and the preparation of the Million Worker March in October.

Other hearings will air testimony from previous tribunals around the world. Reporters include: Fili pino activist Romeo Capulong, who is an expert on international law and was chief prosecutor at the World Tribunal on Iraq held in Kyoto; Joachim Guilli ard, a leading analyst and opponent of sanctions and organizer of the German tribunal; and Professor Akira Maeda and others who organized the Japanese tribunal.

There will be hearings focused on the use of illegal weapons, the sanctions and other crimes against civilians and culture.

GI resisters in contact with the group SNAFU will be speaking, along with families of GIs and representatives from the newly formed Iraq Veterans Against the War. They are expected to urge the anti-war movement to support GIs who refuse illegal orders. Fernando Suarez, whose son Jesus Suarez was one of the first U.S. troops to die in Iraq, will be part of this hearing.

The tribunal will conclude with an evening plenary session where hundreds of participants will hear former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, as chief prosecutor, charge Bush et al. Witnesses will present a concise version of the testimony collected during the hearings and previous tribunals. A more complete list of speakers and panelists can be found on the website www.PeopleJudgeBush.org.

Following the tribunal, participants will execute the verdict by joining the week of resistance to the RNC in the streets of New York. Hundreds of thousands are expected to demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the world, saying no to racist war and demanding to bring the troops home now.


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