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'REISISTANCE IS JUSTIFIED'

War Crimes Tribunal finds Bush & Co. guilty

By Deirdre Griswold
New York

The people in the audience doubled as judges at the Iraq War Crimes Tribunal, held here Aug. 26 in the Martin Luther King Auditorium.

After hearing and discussing the charges for six hours, the 500 attendees had no doubt about the verdict: "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" they roared.

In a just world, President George W. Bush and his fellow conspirators would then have been led off in handcuffs. But the audience didn't expect that. They know it will take a sustained struggle to end U.S. imperialism and its crimes around the world, of which the brutal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are but the latest example.

Sara Flounders of the International Action Center, who co-chaired the tribunal, explained that it aimed to continue and strengthen the resistance to war and occupation, both in the targeted countries and here in the United States.

A 19-point indictment of Bush and other top officials in his administration and at the Pentagon had been drawn up by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, founder of the IAC. The full indictment and other details of the tribunal can be found at www.peoplejudgebush.org. The indictment was read at the opening of the tribunal with dramatic flair by IAC activists Emelyn Tapaoan, Imani Henry and Stephanie Nichols.

No one watching the news can be ignorant of the U.S. military's high-tech onslaught against the cities, towns, markets and mosques of Iraq. Even pro-war media like Fox News can't help but show U.S. tanks firing heavy weapons and U.S. planes dropping deadly bombs on crowded neighborhoods. All this in a small country thousands of miles away that has never attacked or threatened the United States.

The indictment showed precisely why these acts are more than vicious and reprehensible: They are war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity, as these terms have been defined in international conventions since World War II.

Reports from other world tribunals

Many of the speakers reported on the work of tribunals held around the world.

Professor Akira Maeda of Japan described hearings in Manila, Philippines, on U.S. bombings of civilians in Afghan istan and Pakistan.

Koichi Inamori, a prosecutor for tribu nals in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, reported on the campaign against deploying Japan ese troops to Iraq.

Joachim Guilliard told of plans in Ger many to focus on German complicity in the Iraq war.

Ayca Cubukcu, an organizer of the World Tribunal on Iraq held in New York this May, explained that the judging of the United States for war crimes will culminate in March 2005 with a final tribunal session in Istanbul, Turkey.

A close-up view of the Iraqi struggle came from Hana al-Bayati, an Iraqi-French documentary film maker who worked on the Brussels, Belgium, Tri bunal. Referring to fighting in Najaf, Falluja, Sadr City and other areas under U.S. attack, she said, "We have to support the resistance," explaining that it is "a fight for the people to control their own resources." She placed the Iraqi resistance in the context of the movement against globalizing corporations.

After describing how unity is being forged by many sectors of the Iraqi population--"leftists, Islamists and Baathists"-- al-Bayati concluded that "whatever course they take is legitimate because they are occupied by a foreign power."

Khadouri al-Kaysi, an Iraqi living in the United States, described the horrors of everyday life for his relatives in Basra. Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, a retired Iraqi engineer, said that 100,000 Iraqis have passed through U.S. detention centers like Abu Ghraib and that "everything now is worse than under Saddam Hussein."

In person and on videotape, the tribunal heard from resisters in the U.S. military, past and present. Dustin Langley of Support Network for an Armed Forces Union said the movement must "shock and awe the war criminals in Washing ton," and explained why young men and women have an obligation to resist committing war crimes.

Fernando Suarez, whose son Jesus was one of the first GIs to die in Iraq, said: "I'm here because Bush broke the law in Iraq. My son died of an American cluster bomb. Bush doesn't own this country. You have the power to stop this."

In a filmed interview, Pvt. Brandon Hughey explained he was seeking asylum in Canada because "I can't go kill people in a war my government cannot justify."

Gerry Condon, who spent time in Canada as a Vietnam War resister, said the Canadian Labor Council--equivalent of the AFL-CIO here--has taken a stand supporting U.S. resisters today.

Maria Rosa Peñarroya and Javier Barandiaran, from the Spanish state, gave precise testimony representing dozens of interviews conducted in Baghdad hospitals with Iraqi civilian victims during the bombing attacks of March-April 2003.

Jo Wilding, who drove an ambulance in Falluja for five days during a U.S. siege of the city, told how U.S. forces shut down the main hospital, cut off water and electricity, and fired on her ambulance, hitting a woman in premature labor.

The deliberate destruction of Iraq's infra structure was described by Denis Halli day, who resigned as head of the United Nations "Oil for Food" program. In a video interview, he called the sanctions against Iraq "genocide."

Dennis Brutus, who fought South African apartheid, said: "We have the right to resist the occupation charade of transfer of authority to a puppet government created by the U.S. This is not true sovereignty." Brutus called Washington "the principal agent of terrorism all over the world."

"So long as imperialism exists, the possibility of war is there," said Manik Muk herjee of the All-India Anti-Imper ialist Front, which has organized mass demonstrations against the Iraq war. He called for international coordination in the struggle against imperialism.

Practically no country is untouched by U.S. aggression. This has laid the basis for an international movement.

Yoomi Jeong of the Korea Truth Com mis sion explained how "what's happening in Iraq today happened in Korea 50 years ago."

Ben Dupuy of Haiti's National Popular Party talked of his country's two-centuries- long resistance to French and U.S. imperialism.

Teresa Gutierrez of the New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five told how the Venezuelan people now chant, "Hold on Iraq, the world is rising."

Lamis Deek of Al Awda described the resistance of Palestinian prisoners now on hunger strike against U.S.-backed Israeli repression.

John Parker, West Coast IAC organizer, questioned the imperialists' motives in Sudan. In 1998, he visited the pharmaceutical plant there that was destroyed by U.S. missiles.

In a fiery speech, AFSCME District Council President Brenda Stokely invited the anti-war movement to be part of the massive workers' mobilization to take place on Oct. 17 in Washington. Known as the Million Worker March, it will "offer a space for the voice of the people to identify the real enemy."

All this took place as New York was under siege by tens of thousands of police preparing for protests at the Republican National Convention. The hundreds attend ing the tribunal had to wait in long lines to pass police-imposed security checks. Larry Holmes of the ANSWER steer ing committee announced that the next day there would be an emergency news conference at City Hall to demand free access to the streets and parks of the city.

Ramsey Clark, founder of the IAC, then put the question to the audience: "The U.S. government spends more on the military than all others on earth--all in the service of corporate wealth. It is a clear and present danger to the planet. This assault on Iraq is beyond question a war of aggression, which the Nuremberg trials said was the supreme crime. How do you vote?"

The answer was loud and clear.

Reprinted from the Sept. 9, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper

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