By Teresa Gutierrez
NEW YORK — President George Bush — guilty of war crimes as charged. Vice President Dan Quayle, defence secretary Richard Cheney, Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Colin Powell, General Norman Schwarzkopf — they too were found guilty of 19 counts of war crimes, and crimes against peace and humanity.
More than 1500 people packed the auditorium at the Martin Luther King, Jr, High School here on February 29 for the final hearing of the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal.
The tribunal was a culmination of study and research presented in hearings and meetings held in 20 countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, south and east Asia, and in 24 US cities.
Those who came to hear were from a broad, diverse background. There were antiwar activists, trade unionists, church representatives, anti-racist leaders, elected officials, AIDS activists, and people of almost every nationality. Delegations came from 33 countries including Japan, Pakistan, Canada, Tanzania, Tunisia, Egypt, England, Spain, Germany, Italy and Norway.
They had the opportunity to view never before seen videos and photographs, hear testimony, and obtain written documentation.
Three prosecutors explained the 19 charges and introduced witnesses and experts. The first was Ramsey Clark, Commission chairperson and former US attorney general.
In the opening section, the prosecutors and witnesses presented evidence and testimony showing criminal intent in the war against Iraq. Clark pointed out how US generals' admission that they lacked interest in the number of "enemy" casualties was a blatant and racist war crime.
Clark said one of every 150 people in Britain was killed during World War II. But one of every 64 Iraqis was massacred in the Gulf War.
Mohammed Khader, a Palestinian from Baghdad, described the bombing of the civilian shelter at Al-Ameriya, confirming the charge that the US intentionally destroyed civilian life. Many cried as he described the loss of his wife and four daughters, all killed in the shelter bombing.
A videotape recording of the death and destruction at Al-Ameriya bomb shelter was shown later. Activist Joyce Chediac narrated a
video of the tragic bombing of the "highway of death", which was proof that the US-led alliance bombed the retreating Iraqi army. Both acts are war crimes in the first degree.
Active-duty GI Paul Sheehan testified on resistance to the war from within the US military. He said 8000 active-duty GIs resisted the war; 2500 filed for conscientious objector status.
In section two, Olga Mejia from Panama described the similarities between the Iraqi war and the invasion of Panama. She said US wars have created a new lost generation of children — another gross war crime against humanity.
Dick Becker, a West Coast organiser for the commission, read solidarity messages from around the world. He added that US threats against Cuba must be challenged so that no war crimes are committed against that country.
Laura Albizu Campos Meneses from Puerto Rico said the first US casualty in Iraq was a Puerto Rican. She said US history in Puerto Rico is also one of war unleashed against a civilian population.
Bill Doares, a commission staff member, said the Gulf war in 1991 had nothing to do with the liberation of Kuwait, but was waged for the same imperialist and predatory reasons as all prior interventions.
Ramsey Clark detailed a Working Paper for Peace. Among many other proposals, he called for establishing an international centre to coordinate many such commissions against US intervention.
[From NY Transfer News Service/Pegasus.]