TOBY HELM - THE OBSERVER
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the international criminal court in The Hague and delivered a damning critique of the physical and moral devastation caused by the Iraq war.
Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner and hero of the anti-apartheid movement, accuses the former British and US leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction and says the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided "than any other conflict in history".
Writing in the Observer, Tutu also suggests the controversial US and UK-led action to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003 created the backdrop for the civil war in Syria and a possible wider Middle East conflict involving Iran.
"The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain," Tutu argues, "fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us."
But it is Tutu's call for Blair and Bush to face justice in The Hague that is most startling. Claiming that different standards appear to be set for prosecuting African leaders and western ones, he says the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict is sufficient on its own for Blair and Bush to be tried at the ICC.
"On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague," he says.
The court hears cases on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. To date, 16 cases have been brought before the court but only one, that of Thomas Lubanga, a rebel leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been completed. He was sentenced earlier this year to 14 years' imprisonment for his part in war crimes in his home country.
Irish Anti War Movement shows Solidarity with the South African Marikana miners
On Monday 20th August members of civil society gathered outside the South African embassy in Dublin to protest the massacre of the Marikana miners. During a strike over pay, more than 34 miners were killed when police opened fire into an un – armed crowd. Those who spoke at the protest included Brendan Archbold, Trade Union official for the Dunnes Stores strike against Apartheid, representatives from Labour Youth, the Irish Anti War Movement and the Socialist Workers Party. The protesters called for Ireland’s Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore, to condemn the massacre and immediately summons the South African ambassador to be called to account. They also called for in independent international enquiry into the murders and for an end to military violence against civilian people.
IAWM BULLETIN – 18 AUGUST 2012
1. IAWM NEWSLETTER - August 2012
2. EVENT - PROTEST
In response to the massacre of up to 50 striking platiunum miners in Marikana, South Africa a protest has been called to condemn the actions of the police firing assault rifles on virtually defenseless workers.
3. DONATING TO THE IAWM
By Ashley Smith (USA)
MOST PEOPLE associate Amnesty International with challenging torture, protesting the death penalty and agitating for the liberation of political prisoners. On top of these important campaigns, Amnesty has over the last decade opposed the Iraq war and demanded the closure of America's concentration camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
So antiwar activists in Chicago were shocked during last May's NATO Summit to find that Amnesty International USA had plastered city bus stops with ads declaring: "Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan: NATO, Keep the Progress Going!"
Worse still, Amnesty USA put on a "shadow summit" of its own during the NATO meeting, featuring Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's notorious secretary of state, who will be forever remembered for her chilling response to a question on 60 Minutes about sanctions imposed on Iraq in the 1990s. Correspondent Lesley Stahl asked, "We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."
With a veritable war criminal as one of its star speakers, Amnesty USA's shadow summit launched a campaign that, for all intents and purposes, called for the extension of NATO's "good works" in Afghanistan. Its speakers and promotional materials recycled George Bush's "feminist" justification of the invasion and occupation--that NATO would liberate women from Taliban rule.
On Wednesday 11th July the IPSC will hold a lunchtime demonstration from 1pm – 2pm outside the EU Offices (EU House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2) to raise awareness of Palestinian political and child prisoners and protest at EU silence and complicity in the face of Israeli violations of their rights.
POLITICAL PRISONERS & HUNGER STRIKERS
At present, there are a number of prisoners on hunger strike including Akram Rikhawi and Samer Al-Barq who are nearing their 90th and 50th day of hunger strike.
AKRAM RIKHAWI from Gaza was arrested by Israeli occupation forces in 2004 and sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment by a military court (these courts convict 99.74% of all accused Palestinians). Rikhawi has refused food for over 89 days, he suffers from various chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis. In spite of an independent doctor recommending examination by a lung specialist, to date this has been denied by the IPS (Israeli Prison Services) and when hospitalised recently he was shackled to his bed at all times. His request is simply that his medical condition be considered during the discussion of his request for an earlier release. Every prisoner is entitled to ask to be considered for early release when at least two thirds of the sentence has been served.
SAMER AL-BARAQ, from the village of Jayyous, near Qalqilia, has been on hunger strike for over 48 days. He has been interned by Israel for almost two years without charge or trial under the Administrative Detention regime. Baraq was assured by that he would be released after the mass hunger strike of over 2,000 prisoners came to a negotiated end, however his administrative detention order was renewed for another three months in violation of the terms of this agreement, thus forcing Mr. al-Baraq to resume his strike.