Son and heir-apparent to Gaddafi still held by militias after nearly two years
A disagreement between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the current Libyan government has highlighted the crises that have worsened during the post-Gaddafi era in the North African state of Libya. Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the martyred leader of Libya, has been held nearly two years by a militia group in Zintan in the western region of the country.
Seif was captured after the United States and NATO supported rebels had seized control of the capital of Tripoli and the city of Sirte, which held out for eight months against rebel attacks and a massive bombing campaign that resulted in 26,000 sorties and 9,600 airstrikes between March 19 and October 31 of 2011. In addition to Seif al-Islam, thousands of people are still being held illegally inside the country.
During the course of the war against Libya, the ICC initiated a perfunctory “investigation” into alleged human rights violations and crimes against humanity. The charges which resulted from these ICC activities were related to the Libyan government’s defense against the western-backed rebels and the U.S.-NATO airstrikes which caused an estimated 50,000-100,000 deaths and the displacement of two million Libyans and foreign nationals.
Libya prior to the war had the most prosperous state in Africa with living standards that rivaled those in western industrialized states. The political system of Jamahiriya, which was based on local governing councils, provided food, housing, land, medical services and education as part of the social rights inherited by the Libyan people.
Today, since the toppling of the previous government, Libya has become a source of instability and economic underdevelopment both domestically and regionally. Armed militias roam the cities and countryside carrying out atrocities against civilians.
With the failure of the General National Congress (GNC), the new political system inside the country, to provide security and social services to the majority of the Libyan people, it will be impossible for Seif al-Islam to receive any semblance of justice relying on the almost non-existent criminal justice structures. Access to legal advice, bond hearings and a reasonable method of determining the legitimacy of the charges being brought against Seif al-Islam and other political prisoners inside Libya is completely absent.
Even during 2012, when a delegation of ICC legal observers visited Seif al-Islam who was being held by the militia, several of their personnel were detained by the rebels. It was only through international pressure that these individuals were released.
ICC Orders Rebel Government to Handover Seif al-Islam
After determining that the legal and political system in Libya cannot provide the necessary resources for a trial, the ICC has demanded that the GNC and the militia group holding Seif al-Islam hand him over to the international body based in The Hague. The GNC government in Libya has rejected this decision and has launched an appeal against the entire process.
“We will give what is needed to convince the ICC that Libya is capable of conducting a fair trial in accordance with international standards,” Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani told the official GNC news agency. “Libya will appeal the decision … A team of Libyan and international experts is working on preparing the appeal.” (Telegraph, UK, June 3)
This challenge by the post-Gaddafi regime in Libya is taking place at the same time that the African Union (AU) recently condemned the role that the ICC is playing on the continent. At the AU Jubilee Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in May, a draft resolution was discussed which would have called for the withdrawal of African states from the Rome Statute, the document which provided the legal basis for the creation of the ICC.
What eventually was agreed upon at the AU Summit was, in the case of Kenya, that the ICC should remand the case back to Nairobi for resolution. AU Commission Chair, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stated that since Kenya had adopted a new constitution and held internationally-supervised elections, then the country should be allowed to address the charges brought by the ICC against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
Charges against President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto stemmed from the post-election violence in Kenya during 2007-2008 where over 1,000 people were killed. Both Kenyatta and Ruto have pledged to cooperate with the ICC which has refused to drop the charges or follow the recommendations from the AU Summit.
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW), which also played a role in attempts to isolate the Libyan government under Gaddafi, issued a statement supporting the ICC position saying that the GNC regime should abide by their wishes. However, HRW has said very little about the gross human rights violations being carried out by the western-backed regime in Tripoli or the imperialist states that routinely abuse civilians in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
Both the ICC and the GNC regime in Libya have no right to place Seif al-Islam on trial. The ICC is clearly biased against African governments and rebel leaders who are their sole preoccupation. It is the role of the ICC in Africa through its attacks against the leaders of Sudan, Libya and Kenya that has drawn such harsh criticism by the AU.
Imperialist leaders and their allies have not been targeted for investigation or prosecution by the ICC despite all of the well-documented war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the U.S., Britain, France, Israel and various NATO states. The ICC has been utilized to bolster imperialist aims and objectives internationally and this is being carried out while the U.S. and other western states are not even signatories to the Rome Statute and are therefore exempt from review by the ICC.
The only real just settlement of the legal crises in Libya would come from a popular movement for the removal of the current regime and the holding of internationally-monitored elections where a government of the people could be created. Since the war in 2011, those loyal to the Jamahiriya have been banned from the political process.
Within the new political dispensation even those who were former members of the Gaddafi government have been forced to resign by legislative action that was prompted by armed actions from various rebel militias. Even though these individuals had long turned their backs on the Libyan people and joined the counter-revolution sponsored by the U.S. and NATO, they have still been forced to leave any positions of putative authority inside the country.
Short of a people’s revolution in Libya, Seif al-Islam and the thousands of other political prisoners should be released and given an option to take up residence in a third country where their safety could be ensured. The western-backed GNC rebels are actively hunting down former members of the Gaddafi government who have taken refuge in Niger, Mauritania, Egypt, South Africa and other African states.
The political atmosphere inside Libya is turning violently against the U.S.-backed GNC forces. Attacks have been carried out against the U.S. compound in Benghazi last September as well as other diplomatic outposts from the Western European nations that participated in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government in 2011.
Developments in Libya illustrate clearly the bankruptcy of U.S. and NATO foreign policy in Africa. The imperialists have nothing to offer the people of Africa and other parts of the world except poverty, internal divisions, political chaos and perpetual insecurity and war.
I can claim to have had a small hand in instigating the legal complaint to the International Criminal Court by the Comoros Islands against the murders by Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmara. The Washington Post writes:
In a filing, lawyers from the Istanbul-based law firm Elmadag argued that the events that took place on the Mavi Marmari should be considered as having occurred on the territory of Comoros.
As though this were in any sense a matter of dispute. That crimes committed on any ship outside of territorial waters are under the jurisdiction of the flag state of the ship, is both customary international law of ancient standing and a fundamental provision of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Ships shall sail under the flag of one State only and, save in exceptional cases expressly provided for in international treaties or in this Convention, shall be subject to its exclusive jurisdiction on the high seas.
The Comoros Islands are a tiny state off the East coast of the continent. They are part of the disgraceful system where small or failed states lease out their shipping registers – often corruptly – to western companies who run them, enabling major shipping owners to evade safety, conditions, qualifications and pay regulations of more serious states. Liberia has been the most notorious example. The Comoros government therefore deserves huge congratulation for taking its flag state responsibility so seriously, and so bravely, in taking on Israel.
It is a responsibility Turkey deliberately shed just before the Mavi Marmara was attacked.
There is, in this regard, as I reported from my meetings with organisers and bereaved families of the Mavi Marmara in Izmir two years ago, something extremely disturbing about the case of the Mavi Marmara:
Shortly before sailing, the registration was switched from Turkey to the Comoros Islands. This exempted Turkey from the responsibility of jurisdiction. It also made discussion at NATO much easier for the US; if the Israelis had attacked in international waters a ship flying the flag of a NATO state, that would have been a much more difficult thing for the alliance to ignore.
It turns out that the change was made at the insistence of the Turkish Ministry of Transport. They carried out a number of inspections of the Mavi Marmara prior to the Gaza trip and made repeated demands for changes: mattresses and cushions had to have more modern, fire resistant foam. Internal walls had to be upgraded for fire resistance. Whatever changes were then made, the Ministry found new faults. In the end, the Ministry had said that the Mavi Marmara would be impounded unless it changed its registration, as it could not meet the safety requirements for a Turkish flagged ship.
The strange thing is that the Mavi Marmara had been Turkish flagged for years, and had been running tourist cruises out of Istanbul. None of the faults the Ministry found resulted from any changes, yet none had apparently been a problem on past inspections. The family told me that, before the Mavi Marmara sailed, they had been in no doubt the Turkish government had been deliberately obstructive and had forced the change of flag.
Part of the Turkish state was insistent on giving the Mavi Marmara no protection. You have to ask the question, did these people know in advance the Mavi Marmara was to be attacked? The fatal shootings on board were mostly not random - they were targeted shots to the head of selected people. If Israel had planned this, how long in advance, where did they get their intelligence on who was aboard? If they had assistance from within the Turkish state, of course the Turkish state would want to ensure they did not have legal responsibility over the killings.
Let me be plain. I am not accusing the current government of Turkey. But they inherited a bureaucracy and political establishment riddled, especially at the most senior levels, with ultra-nationalists and relatives and connections of the Turkish military. The Turkish Foreign Office in particular is notoriously ultra and completely penetrated and corrupted by Israel. The Turkish government has had a most difficult job in changing the direction of the country without provoking violent nationalist reaction. That has been a process; and the result is that those apparently in power did not in reality get control of all the levers of power at once.
We are a long way yet from knowing the full truth about the Mavi Marmara: and Israel is not the only place to look.
The United Nations General Assembly vote on regulation of the international arms trade purports to be a modest step away from violence in the world, but is in fact the very opposite. The newly approved Arms Trade Treaty is conceived and designed as a facilitator of war by its main sponsor, the United States.
At the core of the treaty is a ban on arms exports to countries that are under U.N. embargoes, or that are accused of promoting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But such language is only a tool of war in the hands of the U.S. The cold fact is that, since the establishment of the United Nations to this very day, the United States and its allies, clients and proxies have been the worst perpetrators of crimes against humanity. From Vietnam to East Timor to Guatemala to Iraq to Somalia and to Congo, the U.S. has caused the deaths of well over ten million people over the past 60 years.
In the 21st century, in a cruel joke on humanity, the mass murderers in Washington put on their “human rights” hats and declared themselves to be the international community’s protectors against so-called “rogue” nations. The doctrine of “humanitarian military intervention” was inflicted on the world. It was not coincidental that each of those nations designated as rogue violators of human rights were also at the top of Washington’s hit list for regime change. Haiti was attacked and occupied, its sovereignty stolen under the auspices of the UN, for supposedly “humanitarian” reasons. Libya was bombed for seven months and plunged into a race war, under the “humanitarian” umbrella. The Democratic Republic of Congo has lost six million people at the hands of U.S. humanitarian policy. Let us one day be saved from the fatal embrace of the humanitarian superpower, who has made human rights a weapon of mass destruction.
The newly minted international Arms Trade Treaty, like humanitarian warfare and that racist mockery of an International Criminal Court, is simply another device to strip nations targeted for U.S. attack of the ability to defend themselves.The immediate targets are Syria, Iran, and North Korea, which is why they voted against the treaty. Twenty-three other countries abstained, including Russia, China and India. They understand that this treaty is not about limiting warfare, but about making nations into outlaws, to be more easily subdued by the United States. In a stroke of supreme cynicism, America and its allies argued that non-state actors – like their jihadist proxies waging a war of terror against Syria – should not be subject to the treaty, because “national liberation movements” should be able to protect themselves. What shameless hypocrisy! The U.S. and Europe now sing the praises of national liberation movements, after having killed tens of millions to stifle the national aspirations of most of the world’s people.
But, that is no more insane than Washington posing as a force for peace. Not only is the U.S. the top arms exporter in the world, but 8 of the top 10 war-profiteering corporations on the planet are American. On the lips of U.S. presidents, arms control is bogus, human rights is a sham, and words of peace are actually weapons of war.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
A UN human rights inquiry has called on Israel to remove all Jewish settlers from the West Bank and cease expansion. The report said the settlements violate international law, and are an attempt to drive out Palestinians through intimidation.
”Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions,” the report read, adding that Israel must immediately begin to withdraw all settlers from the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).
The inquiry prompted a strong reaction from Israel who slammed the report as biased.
“The Human Rights Council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel. This latest report is yet another unfortunate reminder of that,” said spokesman Yigal Palmor in a statement.
The 1949 Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of a civilian population into an occupied area – such an act could constitute war crimes if brought before the International Criminal Court. Following the UN’s de facto recognition of Palestine last December, Israel announced plans to build thousands of homes in the OPT.
In response, Palestine wrote to the UN warning that Israel’s planned expansion into the occupied territories would lead to more war crimes being committed.
The UN investigators interviewed over 50 people who were driven from their homes. They described how their livelihoods were destroyed and their land was confiscated, and how they were subjected to continuous violence from Jewish settlers.
“The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand,” said the report.
The report has the potential to significantly worsen the UN’s already-strained relationship with Israel, particularly after Israeli representatives failed to appear at a UN human rights review two days ago.
The Israeli government has repeatedly ignored international condemnations of its settlements in the occupied territories, and continues to bar the entry of a Human Rights Council probe to assess the impact of the settlements. Israel has insisted that the organization is biased in favor of the Palestinians, and claimed that historic and biblical ties justify its claim to the territories.
Summary executions and mass human rights abuses targeting innocent civilians in Mali are being perpetrated by soldiers loyal to the dubious Malian regime in a campaign supported by the United Nations, the new socialist French government, and the Obama administration. According to human rights groups and witnesses on the ground, the atrocities are increasing as the number of murdered victims continues to rise — eerily reminiscent of similar tragic interventions in Libya, Syria, and the Ivory Coast.
The regime ruling southern Mali out of the capital city of Bamako, which seized power in a military coup last year led by a U.S. government-trained officer, is currently attempting to recapture the northern regions of the country. The vast swath of territory in the north was declared independent last year by a group of historically oppressed nomadic Tuareg rebels armed with weapons obtained from the recent Western-backed war on Libya.
Islamic fighters with various loyalties joined the fight against the corrupt central government, too — providing a half-baked excuse for the UN, the French government, Obama, and various African despots to enter the fray on behalf of the illegitimate regime in the south. After the UN Security Council purported to “authorize” an international invasion on behalf of the coup-installed regime, forces from France openly began their military campaign earlier this month under the guise of fighting “Islamic extremism.”
Obama, the U.K. government, and a motley assortment of African tyrants — most of whom continue to be propped up with Western taxpayer money — quickly joined the battle as well. But within days of the military operation to crush rebels in the north, disturbing reports of gross human rights violations perpetrated by Western-backed forces began to emerge from across the region.
“This series of grave abuses confirms the concerns that we have been expressing for several weeks,” said President Souhayr Belhassen with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a Paris-based umbrella group representing more than 160 organizations around the world. “These acts of revenge together with the extreme tensions that exists between the communities constitute an explosive cocktail leading us to fear that the worst could happen, especially in the context of the reconquering the North.”
According to FIDH, which said it is “very alarmed by the increasing number of summary executions and other human rights violations committed by Malian soldiers,” an immediate investigation is needed. The umbrella organization said an independent commission should be established to assess the scope of the crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. The group said it had already confirmed dozens of reports of extrajudicial murders in various towns, and that other reported atrocities were still being investigated.
Even in Bamako, where the corrupt regime styling itself the “government” of Mali is based, ethnic Tuaregs who have nothing to do with the secession movement in the north are being brutalized. According to reports, their homes are being invaded and plundered. Simply failing to produce valid identification documents is apparently justification enough to brutalize or even murder the victims.
“These abuses undermine the legitimacy of the operation to restore territorial integrity and must be prosecuted by the national justice, and if required, by the International Criminal Court which opened an investigation on the situation in Mali on 16 January,” FIDH Honorary President Sidiki Kaba said in a statement, urging French and Malian authorities to investigate the lawlessness and criminal terrorization of victims. [...]
While the press has been largely barred from conflict areas by the French government, even establishment journalists have documented the slaughter by UN-backed forces. A Reuters reporter, for example, “saw at least six bodies in two areas of the Walirdi district of Sevare. Three of them were lying, partly covered in sand, near a bus station and showed signs of having been burned. Three more had been thrown into a nearby well.”
Witnesses who spoke to the Associated Press but asked to remain anonymous gave vivid accounts of the atrocities being perpetrated by the Malian regime, which, again, has the full force of the Obama administration, the UN, and the socialist government in France behind it. According to the sources, Malian soldiers were massacring anyone suspected of having ties to the rebels in the north.
“They gathered all the people who didn’t have national identity cards and the people they suspected of being close to the Islamists to execute them and put them in two different wells near the bus station,” one of the witnesses was quoted as saying by the AP. After being dumped in the wells, Malian troops poured gasoline on the bodies and set them ablaze, probably to conceal the evidence of their crimes.
The coup regime in Bamako has denied the accusations, saying it ordered its officers to “respect human rights.” However, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, when asked about whether he knew of the abuses being perpetrated by the “government” his forces are supporting in Mali, said: “There’s a risk” that the atrocities are occurring, but that it was up to the Malian regime to stop it. … Full article
On 18 November 2012, on the fifth day of the Israeli military offensive “Pillar of Defence” against Gaza, a war bulletin reported 72 people killed, including 19 children, 670 wounded, most of them women and children. That day, the Israeli air force bombed a three-storey building in Nasser Street, Gaza City, wiping out an entire family.
I was, like every day, at Shifa hospital. Suddenly ambulances brought the bodies of the young victims of the brutal attack:
Ibrahim Al Dalu, 11 months old
Jamal Al Dalu, 6 years old
Yousif Al Dalu, 5 years old
Sara Al Dalu, 3 years old
Even their mother died: Samah Al Dalu, 22, and their father, Mohammed Al Dalu, 28. The children’s Aunt also died, Ranin Al Dalu, 22, and the second aunt, Yara Al Dalu, 17, whose body was found just after 4 days in the rubble of the building. And also the two grandmothers died, Suhila Al Dalu, 75, and Tahina Al Dalu, 48. The bombing of the building of the Al Dalu family also hit a building next door, where two people were killed: Mzanar Abdallah, 20, and Amina Mznar, 80. A whole family was wiped out. The bombing took place on the entire three-story building which was completely destroyed.
Shifa hospital, 19 November 2012, bodies of the young victims. By the bodies, Yasser Saluha, the brother of the children’s mother.
On Monday, December 3rd, 2012, I had the opportunity to talk to the brother of the father of the children, Abdallah Jamal Al Dalu (20 years old). He talked about that night. “I was out with my father to to get food, when I received a call where I was told that my house had collapsed. I was shocked.” Abdallah and his father lived in the same building where he lived with the rest of his family.
In Gaza extended families often live together in the same building. Abdallah and his father are the only survivors of the Al Dalu family. All the other members of the family died under the rubble.
“I went home, I saw it destroyed, I could not speak,” continued Abdallah, crying. “My whole family was in the house. Then I went to the hospital and saw the bodies, it was a disaster.” Abdallah’s eyes were reliving what they had seen that afternoon.
Four days after the bombing Palestinian bulldozers excavating the rubble found the bodies of the children’s father, Mohammed Jamal Al Dalu and aunt, Yara Al Dalu.
Now Abdallah and his father are renting another house. They do not have beds to sleep in or the necessary living facilities, nor do they have clothes to wear.
Abdullah has asked us to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate what happened. “Children and women were killed in this massacre.”
Before leaving, I entered another building of the brothers of Mohammed Jamal Al Dalu, and Ahmal Jamal Al Dalu. Ahmal was not in Gaza during the war, but in Turkey, where he lives with his wife and family. “We want justice”, said Ahmal. “We want justice more than financial aid, because the money can go. What has happened is not a mistake, it is a crime. It is inhuman. It is not the first crime, crimes have been repeating for 64 years. We live without water, without electricity. It’s enough. ”
I translated his words in the darkness of the building while a friend lit up my notebook with only the light of the phone, and I said goodbye with a promise to stay in touch.
Our task now is to ensure that these crimes are not forgotten and that the Al Dalu family receives justice by bringing what happened to the International Criminal Court.
Photo of Abdallah Jamal Al Dalu, the brother of Mohammed Jamal Al Dalu
The Al Dalu family bombed home
The Al Dalu family bombed home
The building next to the Al Dalu house bombed, in which two people died, Mzanar Abdallah, 20, and Amina Mznar, 80. The old woman was in a wheelchair and was in the kitchen at the time of the bombing. Her wheelchair was found in the rubble. See more photos here.
Civilian Infrastructure Targeted by Israeli Military
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) claims vast military gains from its targeting of hundreds of sites in Gaza, including substantial civilian property, during “Operation Pillar of Cloud,” the intensive 8-day bombing the IDF initiated on November 14, 2012. But Palestinian witnesses deny that fighters were present or that rockets had been or were being launched from many of the sites the IDF bombed. Palestinian witnesses also deny the claims of any other military advantage to Israel from the attacks. They say the intent of Israeli political and military leaders was to do exactly what Israeli forces actually did: destroy civilian property and punish and traumatize the civilian population of Gaza.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post last March, Yaakov Katz reported the IDF desire “to do some periodic ‘maintenance work’ in Gaza and to mow the lawn, so to speak, with regard to terrorism, with the main goal of boosting its deterrence.” Thus, the IDF graphically admitted the political goal that requires periodic attacks, destroying Palestinian civilian property, and killing Palestinian civilians.
Evidence was collected by members of a US and UK delegation who were in Gaza from November 27 to December 3. Members viewed destruction throughout the Gaza Strip and interviewed Palestinian witnesses. They found substantial evidence of violation of international humanitarian law with regard to attacks on civilians and civilian property.
An independent and impartial investigation and prosecution is needed to establish the guilt or innocence of those responsible. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) or, if that approach is blocked, another tribunal established by the General Assembly under Article 22 of the UN Charter, may initiate such an investigation. If the investigation shows evidence of violations, the perpetrators should be prosecuted–including those Israeli political and military leaders who ordered the violations. Otherwise their immunity is likely to allow further violations.
Not waiting for the ICC to initiate its investigation, the Palestine Center for Human Rights is calling for establishment of a commission composed of prominent attorneys and jurists to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation in the coming weeks and issue a report on its findings.
International humanitarian law
International humanitarian law (IHL) establishes rules for armed conflict and military occupation with the purpose of minimizing civilian suffering and casualties.
These rules apply to a country engaged in an occupation of territory not its own. They apply to states and non-states alike. Thus, the rules apply to both Israeli and Palestinian military forces in territory occupied by Israel, including the Gaza Strip. Although Israel withdrew its illegal settlers from Gaza in 2005, Israeli military forces retain control over the territory, including its airspace and its land and sea borders. The Israeli military conducts periodic military operations with drones and F-16s and conducts military incursions on a regular basis. Israeli naval forces regularly intercept and shoot at Palestinian fishermen. Israeli forces along the border regularly shoot at farmers attempting to work their land in Gaza along the border with Israel.
As occupying power, the rules provide Israel with an obligation to protect Palestinian civilians and Palestinian civilian property. While the Israel government may use police power to preserve order and protect its own population, its right to use military force in occupied territory is restricted, as described in an article by Noura Erakat, “No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
The rules protect not just civilians but also civilian property and other civilian infrastructure. Under the rules, a civilian building or other civilian property might conceivably be a legitimate military target–but only if it is being used for a military purpose and no other method is possible. Each such facility must be assumed to be civilian object–and therefore off limits as a military target–unless and until evidence is shown that the building is actually being used for a military purpose and that the attack is a military necessity.
For example, the Hague Convention IV of 1907 regarding the Laws and Customs of War on Land provides in Article 23, “it is especially forbidden . . .(g) To destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.” Article 25 provides, “ The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.”
In its advisory opinion on the wall, the International Court of Justice found that the Fourth Geneva Convention was applicable to occupied Palestinian territory. The convention provides in Article 53: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” Although Israeli withdrew its illegal settlers in 2005, Gaza is still considered under the control of Israel and remains occupied territory.
Even if evidence is found that a building is being used for a military purpose and the attack is the only way to accomplish the military objective, an attack on the building is still unlawful if the injuries to civilians or damage to civilian infrastructure is expected to be disproportionate to the anticipated military advantage from the attack. The principle is part of customary law that applies to all nations. Protocol I of the Geneva Convention defines this requirement:
“With respect to attacks, the following precautions shall be taken: (a) those who plan or decide upon an attack shall: . . . (iii) refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.”
Ownership or use of a building by a government or by a semi-governmental authority that is engaged in military combat is not sufficient to legitimize an attack. The criteria of actual military use, necessity, and proportionality must be met before any attack on the building can be launched. Otherwise the attack violates International Humanitarian Law.
Government buildings were closed and evacuated
Government authorities in Gaza ordered all government buildings, including ministries, police stations, schools, and other facilities, closed and evacuated as Israeli military actions escalated around the time an Israeli rocket extra-judicially executed the leader of the military wing of the Hamas movement, Ahmed al Ja’bari and his bodyguard on November 14. The closure of government facilities extended even to prisoners locked up in a jail at one police station in Gaza City visited by one of the authors–the prisoners were all released and told to return when the Israeli attacks ended and a real cease fire was in place.
Police stations and government ministries and offices are not inherently legitimate military targets. Police and most government officials are civilians, regardless of their political views, religious affiliation, or party affiliation. If a police station or a government building is not being used for military purposes, an attack on the police station or ministry is a violation of international humanitarian law.
Furthermore, collective punishment of civilians and reprisals against civilians and civilian property are both forbidden by international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention provides in Article 33: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. . . Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”
Thus, the civilian population may not be punished by loss of a building or other civilian infrastructure because of the acts of certain resistance fighters. The attack on the building can only be justified if the attack is to accomplish a present and necessary military objective and the military advantage from the attack outweighs damage to civilians and civilian property.
Israeli Defence Force explains its attack on Government Buildings
The Israeli Defense Force web site provides a day-by-day and hour-by-hour report of actions it undertook in Gaza from November 14 to 21. The site reports on November 17 at 8:55am that “as part of the IDF targeting of government buildings, [Prime Minister] Ismail Haniya’s headquarters, the Hamas Ministry of Interior, and the Hamas police compound, were targeted.”
The IDF website recorded a statement issued by the IDF’s spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordecai on November 17 at 9:10am, who said, “the IDF struck buildings belonging to the Hamas government. Ismail Haniyeh’s headquarters, which serve as the headquarters for the Hamas government, was destroyed in a strike. Additionally, the Hamas’ police headquarters and the homeland security headquarters in Gaza City were also targeted.”
On November 21 at 7:14am the IDF website reported that “The targets included the Ministry of Internal Security – which served as one of the main command and control centers for the Hamas terror organization.”
Our observation in Gaza confirms that the Israeli military attacked and completely destroyed the Ministry of Interior, the Prime Minister’s government building, and several police stations. We also observed severe damage to the Ministry of Health, located near the Ministry of Interior. The damage to the Ministry of Health was not mentioned by the IDF website.
The Interior Ministry was converted to rubble, with craters about 15 feet deep and about 40 feet across in several places from the bombs dropped. In addition to the Health Ministry, buildings across streets on two sides, including one housing a travel agency and a bank, had all facing windows destroyed among other severe damage. The Israeli bombs also killed or wounded civilians in the neighborhood.
The building housing the Prime Minister’s office was also converted to rubble. Adjacent residences were severely damaged.
Palestinian witnesses we interviewed denied that either the Interior Ministry or Prime Minister Haniyeh’s office was being used in any way at all, as all government buildings, including both of these, had been closed and evacuated. If true that the buildings were closed, evacuated, and not being used in anticipation of Israeli strikes, the reasons given for the attacks on the IDF web site do not fully explain how the buildings could have been used for military purposes during the time Israel was conducting its military operations.
The IDF explains its attacks on residential housing
The IDF website also mentions Israeli air force attacks that destroyed or damaged residential housing. On November 17 at 7:10pm it reports that GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo addressed the media stating, “Most of the weaponry of the terror organizations is stored in residential houses, from which they launch the missiles and the rockets against Israel.”
Similarly, on November 19 at 7:10am the IDF website reports, “The IDF targeted buildings owned by senior terrorist operatives, used as command posts and weapon storage facilities.”
On November 20 at 6:40 am, the website reports, “We also struck the house of several senior officers within the terror organizations, of the rank of company commander and battalion commander.”
Delegation members visited with Wallid Al Nasassra, a neighbor of one of the 55 houses destroyed by IDF bombs during Operation Pillar of Cloud. An F-16 rocket targeted a home 200 yards away in which his brother, Teewfiq Mamduh Id Abid, Teewfiq’s wife, Amani Ibrm Qader, and 10 of Teewfiq’s children were living. Two of the children were killed in this attack and 7 children were injured. Only one of the children escaped uninjured. The witness’s brother and his wife were both severely injured. The Al Nasassra area is between Rafah and Khan Younis, on land evacuated by Israeli settlers in 2005. Wallid Al Nasassra denied that rockets were stored in the demolished home or that the owners were in any way associated with fighters. Nor, he said, were any of the neighboring homes used for storing rockets. He also said that neighbors would not permit fighters to be in the vicinity of their homes. Israeli forces have so far released no evidence supporting their assertion of rocket storage at this or other residences they destroyed.
Similarly, the attack on the houses of several senior officers would only be legitimate if military activity was being conducted in the houses, the attack on the houses was the only way to accomplish the military goal, and if the military advantage from the attack was not outweighed by damage to civilians and civilian property. Nothing in the IDF report indicated whether the houses of the senior officers contained women and children and whether the senior officers who supposedly were the targets were at home during the attacks.
The IDF explains its attacks on a football stadium
The IDF website quotes IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai on November 19 at 1:40pm stating: “we attacked a stadium in Gaza City after receiving verified information of a launch from within the stadium, again showing the terrorists’ continued use of civilian centers.” On November 19, @IDFSpokesperson posted this message on Twitter: “3 days ago, Palestinian terrorists used a stadium to fire rockets to Tel Aviv & Jerusalem. We targeted site this morn.” The post included a map with X marking two spots within the stadium from which the IDF says rockets were fired 3 days earlier.
However, a Palestinian witness at the site denied that any rockets were launched. Large craters are found adjacent the goals at both ends of the football field as if the F-16 pilot was aiming for scoring goals with his bombs rather than quenching rocket fire. Bombs also hit seating areas of the stadium. No fighters were reported hit by any of the Israeli bombs striking the stadium. The IDF so far has not released evidence supporting their assertion of rocket firing from the stadium. Israeli forces did not explain how they could wait 3 days to attack the site while still claiming that bombing the stadium provided military advantage and remained a military necessity. The necessity argument is further diminished by the lack of IDF explanation as to how cratering the field in two places, rendering it unusable for football, would prevent, rather than encourage, its future use as a site for launching rockets, if indeed the IDF actually has evidence to prove it ever was a launch site.
The IDF explains its attacks on a financial institution
The IDF website reports on November 20 at 6:40 am, “A financial institution used by Hamas to fuel its terror activity was targeted in the northern Gaza Strip.” At 9:30 that morning Brig. Gen. Mordecai said, “During the night we attacked and hit one hundred targets, including a financial center controlled by Hamas.
While the financial institution may have been engaged in financial activity that the IDF objected to, the IDF justified its attack exclusively based on its financial activity rather than based on any military activity taking place at the financial institution.
The IDF position that a financial institution is a legitimate military target if engaged in financing an organization considered to be an enemy is likely to concern Israelis who may wonder whether their own financial institutions may now become legitimate military targets if they have financial transactions with the Israeli government, settlers, or other occupation authorities. The Israeli justification may also surprise large numbers of Americans who believe that the World Trade Center in New York–which housed financial institutions–was not a legitimate military target.
In the case of the financial institution, the IDF statement that it attacked this civilian property because of its financial activity appears to be an admission of a plan or policy to attack civilian property without regard to the requirements of military objective and military necessity.
In a report on November 17, the BBC reported, “The army told the BBC it wanted to hit hundreds more [targets] and that it was legitimate to target anything connected with Hamas.” Thus, Israeli military officials further admitted plan or policy to base its targeting outside the requirements of international humanitarian law.
According to the Palestine Center for Human Rights weekly report for November 14-21, the Israeli Occupation Forces carried out 1350 air strikes in which 1400 missiles were launched during the 8-day assault on Gaza: 55 houses were completely destroyed and hundreds of houses sustained damage. 2 mosques were completely destroyed and 34 others were damaged. 8 government establishments, 13 security offices and police stations, and 2 bridges connecting the central Gaza strip with the north were destroyed. 6 media offices, 6 health institutions, 28 educational institutions, and 22 civil and charity associations were targeted. And dozens of agricultural lands sustained major damage.
PCHR states that 168 Palestinians, including 100 civilians were killed by the Israeli military. Among the civilians killed were 35 children, 14 women, and 2 journalists. 1288 Palestinians were wounded including 1261 civilians. Among the civilians wounded were 466 children, 219 women, and 10 journalists.
While in Gaza, the authors visited sites including the government Interior Ministry and the adjacent Health Ministry, the office of the prime minister, a police station, a soccer stadium, a sports facility, and the Islamic bank. Palestinian sources maintain that no fighters were present and no rockets were fired from any of these places and thus they were not legitimate military targets.
The IDF site does not explain its attacks on a sports facility
An F-16 dropped bombs on a building in Gaza City that housed the Al Jazeera Club and the Islamic Bank. Housed on the second floor of a four story building, the Al Jazeera Club is a sports facility for athletes, girls and boys, and disabled people of all ages. It particularly includes facilities to help the disabled and rehabilitate them physically and socially and to integrate them into other segments of society. Two members of the Al Jazeera Club represented Palestine at the London paralympic games. One member won a Gold medal in javelin at the Asian Paralympic Games in 2010. The Club is the only sports facility for the disabled in Gaza. The Club is also one of few places in Gaza that encourages girls and women to participate in sports. The bombs completely destroyed the entire Club facility.
The Islamic Bank, located on the ground floor just below the Club, was also completely destroyed, leaving a large crater in its floor. As other banks in Gaza were also targeted, Palestinians think that destroying the bank was the target of the attack.
Two floors of unfinished new construction were located above the Club.
According to PCHR, no fighters were in or near the building. No rockets were being launched. No activity of any kind was in the building, as it had been evacuated. The building could therefore not have been a legitimate military target.
A building next door was also completely destroyed making seven families homeless. The IDF has identified no military objective that outweighs the destruction of the building, the Al Jazeera Club, the Islamic Bank, and the residential building next door. Thus, the attack could also be considered disproportionate.
In the cases investigated, Israel’s destruction of civilian property appears to have provided no military advantage. Damage to civilian property was disproportionate and the IDF website admits that some of the attacks were in reprisal. In all of the cases reported here, interviewees reported that no Palestinian fighters were in the property bombed by Israeli forces. Consequently military necessity does not appear to be available.
Further investigation is needed into the apparent violations. The International Criminal Court should conduct the investigation or, if the ICC fails to do so, an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel should be established by the UN General Assembly as a ‘subsidiary organ’ under U.N. Charter Article 22 to conduct the investigation. The ICC or the tribunal should prosecute Israel’s top generals and other military and political leaders if the investigation confirms the violations.
Israel’s “Pillar of Cloud” follows Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” by less than four years. Immunity and impunity continue–despite the findings of the UN Goldstone Report. If that immunity and impunity is allowed to continue further violations are inevitable.
James Marc Leas and Theresa McDermott participated in the US and UK emergency delegation to Gaza November 27 to December 3. James, from S. Burlington Vermont, is a co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee. Theresa, from Edinburgh Scotland, participated in two of the voyages to Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement
- From Soweto 1976 to Gaza 2012: What we need is People’s Power! (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Does anyone recall this statement: “If I may say so, this is not a court set up to bring to book Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom or Presidents of the United States”?
Those words are from none other than the late Former UK Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Robin Cook, live on television.
He had been asked in an interview if the UK did not fear prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its actions during and after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
How much more bluntly can it be put? With such a plain explanation from such a powerful man, no one should bother about why the US and its European buddies are not prosecuted for their massive crimes against humanity in the decade that the ICC has been in existence.
But let us side-track a little.
Do we ever pause to consider the fact that the total membership of the ICC consists of just one-third of the world’s population?
We are often told that two-thirds of the members of the United Nations have ratified the Rome Statute that set up the ICC.
But this two-thirds of the UN membership, if we look at the populations of their countries, consist just 33 percent of the world’s population.
In essence, the ICC is made up of a group of small countries.
One analysis – as reported elsewhere in this paper – represents a minority of the world’s population despite the claim to being an “international” institution.
Says one analyst, “When you start down the list of the world’s largest countries, the first four, and six of the top 10, are not members of the Court.
“In addition, very significant regions of the world — Asia, the Middle East and North Africa — are woefully underrepresented in the Court’s membership.
“How do you create a significant international institution without the involvement of strategic powers such as China, India, Russia, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, and the United States (a list that includes three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council)?”
What we have then, in the ICC, is a minority court set up for the express purpose of not touching the leaders of the UK and the US, and imposing the will of these same untouchables on the rest of the world.
And while Robin Cook’s – and by extension the UK governing establishment’s ‑ attitude to the ICC is frankly disconcerting, more alarming is that of the United States.
Throughout the 1990s, the US Congress passed several resolutions supporting the creation of an international criminal court but one which provides safeguards to protect Americans from prosecution.
In between Monica Lewinsky and other shenanigans, Bill Clinton was involved in the negotiations leading to 1998 Rome Statute, which in turn led to the ICC’s creation on July 1, 2002.
But Clinton’s participation ‑ true to form – was to try and ensure an outcome that would not result in Americans being tried in an international court.
Clinton said, “I will not and do not recommend that my successor submit the treaty to the Senate … until our fundamental concerns are satisfied.”
His successor was to be George W Bush. And Bush’s reaction to the ICC was typical of the gung-ho cowboy with a nuclear arsenal who invaded Iraq because of non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
He not only declined to put the Rome Statue before the US Senate, he went a step further and – together with that dyed-in-the-wool rightwing Senator called Jesse Helms ‑ initiated what is known as the American Service-members’ Protection Act.
This law is also referred to as the Hague Invasion Act, and with good cause.
The Hague Invasion Act is an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act and its stated purpose is “to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party”.
The law gives the US President authority to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court”.
This means the US can and will bomb The Hague in Holland – where the ICC is housed – if any American is brought before that court.
So there you have it: a minority court that survives at the mercy of the US and the UK is supposed to be responsible for maintaining global law and order.
Stephen Asiimwe, writing for the New Vision newspaper of Uganda ahead of the court’s 10th anniversary on July 1, 2012 said: “ICC will continue to pick the weak people, take them to The Hague and hang them.”
And Africa, as divided and lily-livered as we are, will not do anything about it, In fact, a la Joyce Banda, we will tell fellow Africans that they are not welcome in our countries if they are indicted by this minority court.
Not surprising at all.
Geoffrey Robertson, a prominent UK lawyer and a Queen’s Counsel, said at the time of the ICC’s inception,
- AI calls on nations to back ICC (jurist.org)
Propaganda War: The Houla Massacre Committed by The West’s “Free Syrian Army” But They Accuse Syrian Gov’t
[The] 108 bodies were laid out by the Free ’Syrian’ Army  in a mosque in Houla. According to the rebels, these were the remains of civilians massacred on 25 May 2012 by pro-government militia known as ‘Shabbihas’.
The Syrian government appeared completely shocked by the news. It immediately condemned the killings, which it attributed to the armed opposition.
While the national news agency, SANA, was unable to provide details with certainty, the Syrian Catholic news agency, Vox Clamantis, immediately issued a testimony of some of the events formally accusing the opposition .
Five days later, the Russian news channel Rossiya 24 (exVesti) aired a very detailed 45-minute report, which remains to date the most comprehensive public inquiry .
The West and Gulf States who are working towards a “regime change” in Syria and have already recognized the opposition as a privileged interlocutor, have adopted the FSA’s version of events without waiting for the report from the United Nations Supervision Mission (UNSMIS).
As a sanction, most of them have resorted to a prearranged measure, namely the expulsion of Syrian ambassadors to their respective countries. This does not represent a rupture of diplomatic relations, as the rest of the accredited Syrian diplomatic personnel will remain stationed where they are.
The United Nations Security Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the massacre without indicating who was responsible. It furthermore reminded the Syrian government of its responsibilities, namely the protection of its people using proportionate measures, that’s to say without the use of heavy weapons .
Contrary to this, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay endorsed the allegations blaming the Syrian authorities, and demanded that the case be transferred to the International Criminal Court.
French President François Hollande and his Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius have announced their intention to convince Russia and China not to obstruct a future Security Council’s resolution authorizing the use of force, while the French press is accusing Russia and China of protecting a criminal regime.
Responding to these charges, Russia’s First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrey Denissov expressed regret over France’s “basically emotional reaction” – devoid of analysis. He reiterated that the steadfast position of his country, in this case as for others, is not to support governments, but peoples (it being understood that the Syrian people elected President al-Assad at the last constitutional referendum).
The United Nations Supervision Mission went to Damascus at the request of the Syrian government. It was received by the opposition who control this zone, and was able to establish various observations to be used in writing its status report.
At an internal press briefing, the President of the Syrian investigation Commission into the massacre read a brief statement revealing the initial elements of the current investigation. According to him, the massacre was carried out by the opposition as part of an FSA military operation in the area.
Aware that the findings of the UN Supervision Mission report may backfire on them, the Western countries requested that the Human Rights Council in Geneva (which is under their control) set up another investigation Commission. A report from this body could be produced quickly in order to impose a version of events before the Supervision Mission is able to draw its own conclusions.
How can we know what happened in Houla?
Two main factors are impeding the work of investigators. The Syrian government lost control of Houla many weeks ago. Syrian magistrates are therefore unable to go to Houla, and even if some journalists are able to do so, this is only with the permission of and under close surveillance by the FSA.
There is however one exception: a team from Rossiya 24, the 24-hour Russian news channel was able to move around the area without an escort, and produce an exceptionally detailed report.
The official Syrian Commission claims to have collected several witness statements, but has declared that these shall only be presented to the press once the final report has been established. At present, the identity of these witnesses remains protected by investigation secrecy. However, several of the accounts were broadcast on public television on 1st June.
The investigators are also in possession of videos provided exclusively by the FSA.
Lastly, since the FSA amassed the bodies in a mosque and began burying them the very next day, it was not possible for UN observers to carry out forensic assessments on many of the dead.
Voltaire Network ’s conclusions
Houla is not a town, but an administrative area made up of three villages, each with about 25,000 residents but which today lie largely abandoned. The Sunni market town of Tal Daw has been under rebel control for many weeks. The Free “Syrian” Army had imposed its rule there. The national Army was securing transport routes by maintaining several posts on roads within the area, but did not venture beyond these roads.
Certain individuals kidnapped children and attempted unsuccessfully to extort ransoms.  In the end, these children were killed a few days before the Houla massacre, but their bodies were brought by the Free “Syrian” Army to be laid out amongst the others.
In the evening of 24 May, the Free “Syrian” Army launched a very large-scale operation to reinforce its control over the region, and to make Tal Daw its new base.
In order to do this, 600-800 combatants from various districts gathered in Rastan and Saan and proceeded to launch simultaneous attacks on the military bases. At the same time, a team was fortifying Tal Daw by installing five anti-tank missile batteries, and purging the town of some of its inhabitants.
The first victims in Tel Daw were a dozen people related to Abd al-Muty Mashlab – a legislator of the recently elected Baas party who was appointed Secretary of the National Assembly; following this, the family of a senior official – Mouawyya al-Sayyed – was killed. Subsequent targets were families of Sunni origin who had converted to Shiite Islam.
Other victims included the family of two journalists for Top News and New Orient News, press agencies associated with Voltaire Network. Many people, including children, were raped before being killed.
With only one of the Army’s bases having fallen, the assailants changed strategy. They transformed a military defeat into a communication operation, attacking the al-Watani hospital and setting fire to it. They took corpses from the hospital morgue and transported them along with those of other victims to the mosque, where the bodies were filmed.
The theory of a single massacre perpetrated by pro-government militia does not stand up to the facts. There were battles which took place between loyalists and rebels, as well as several massacres of pro-government civilians at the hands of the rebels.
Then, a scenario was staged by the Free “Syrian” Army where corpses originating from these various earlier situations were mixed together.
Indeed, the existence of the “Shabbihas” is a myth. Whilst there are certainly individuals in favour of the government who are armed and capable of committing acts of revenge, there is no structure or organized group that could be termed as a pro-government militia.
Political and diplomatic implications
The expulsion of Syrian ambassadors by Western countries is a measure that was planned well in advance and therefore well-coordinated. Westerners were waiting for a massacre of this type before carrying out this action. They ignored numerous previous massacres that they knew had been perpetrated by the Free “Syrian” Army, and seized on this one believing that it had been committed by pro-government militia.
The idea of a coordinated expulsion did not emanate from Paris, rather from Washington. Paris in principle gave its agreement, without having examined the legal implications. For in practice, Lamia Chakkour is also the Syrian Ambassador to UNESCO, and cannot therefore (according to the terms of the accord de siège) be expelled from French territory. Further to this, even if she were not accredited to UNESCO, her French-Syrian dual nationality means that she cannot be expelled from French territory.
These expulsions were coordinated by Washington to create the illusion of a general movement in order to put pressure on Russia. Indeed, the US is looking to test the new international balance of power, to size up Russia’s reactions and to find out how far they will go.
The choice of the Houla affair, however, has been a tactical error. Washington seized upon the affair without checking the details, thinking that nobody would be able to verify it. This was forgetting that Russia has moved into the country – with over 100,000 Russians currently residing in Syria.
Of course, they did not deploy a high-tech anti-aircraft defense system just to discourage NATO from bombarding Syria; they also set up information bases including troops that are able to move around rebel controlled areas.
In this way, Moscow was able to shed light on the facts within a few days. Their specialists succeeded in identifying the 13 members of the FSA guilty of these killings and gave their names to the Syrian authorities. With this, not only did Moscow not waver, it has hardened its stance.
For Vladimir Putin, the fact that the West wanted to make the Houla massacre into their symbol shows that they are out of touch with the reality on the ground. Having withdrawn the officers in charge of the Free “Syrian” Army, the only information available to the West comes from their drones and satellites observing what is happening. They have become vulnerable to the lies and vaunting of the mercenaries they have deployed on the terrain.
For Moscow, this massacre is just another tragedy like many others that Syrians have been enduring for the last year. But hasty instrumentation on the part of the West shows that they have failed to develop a new collective strategy since the fall of the Islamic district of Baba Amr. In essence, they are but acting on guesswork, which is allowing others to gain the upper-hand.
Translated from French by Katy Stone.
 Voltaire Network has chosen to write FSA with ’Syrian’ in inverted commas to indicate that this militia is largely composed of foreigners, and that it’s commander is not Syrian.
 “Irreversible divisons in Syria,” VoxClamantis, 26 May 2012.
 Global Research translated to English the transcript of extracts from this programme, see “Opposition Terrorists “Killed Families Loyal to the Government”“, Voltaire Network 1 June 2012.
 “Syria: What the Security Council Said”, by Thierry Meyssan,Voltaire Network, 6 June 2012.
 This is currently a security problem in the country. Many of the thugs that had been recruited to swell the ranks of the Free “Syrian” Army were demobilized due to lack of funding. Remaining in the possession of arms provided by the West, they are turning to crime – mainly kidnappings for ransom.
KHARTOUM – Malawi has been forced to cancel hosting of an African Union (AU) summit next month after the continental body insisted that the South African nation allows Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir to attend.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded in his country’s western region of Darfur.
Malawi, which is a member state of the Hague-based tribunal, asked the AU in May not to invite Al-Bashir to the summit, citing fears of economic consequences after the country was denied $350 million in US aid money over reasons including its decision to host the Sudanese leader at a regional summit in the capital Lilongwe last year.
Kachali Khumbo, Malawi’s Vice-President, said on Friday that his country had received a letter from the AU saying that it had no right to dictate who can attend the summit.
According to Khumbo, the letter stated that the summit would be moved to the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa if Lilongwe insists on barring Al-Bashir.
As a result, “the [Malawian] cabinet has decided not to host the summit” he declared.
Khumbo contended that “much as Malawi has obligations to the AU, it has also other obligations.”
Sudan has already protested Malawi’s refusal to host Al-Bashir and on Thursday demanded that the summit be moved to Addis Ababa.
The AU has issued several resolutions ordering its members not to cooperate with the ICC regarding Bashir’s warrant.
Already countries such as Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Djibouti have allowed Bashir to visit without arresting him though the first two later refused to receive him again.
WASHINGTON – A congressional committee in the United States House of Representatives voted to cut off aid to any state that hosts Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in Darfur war crimes.
The amendment to the fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill was pushed for by Frank Wolf who is one of Bashir’s most vocal critics.
“Women are being abused and killed for the color of their skin,” Wolf shouted according to ’The Hill’ website.
“This is a moral issue,” he added and threatened to send gruesome videos of violence in Sudan to any committee member who voted down the amendment.
“One lady she pinched her skin and said, ’I’m black. Get Bashir!’ ” the US Republican lawmaker said.
Wolf’s office released his prepared remarks in support of this provision which he said is necessary to further American interests.
“In a time when the foreign affairs budget is being squeezed, I believe our assistance should be a direct reflection of American values and priorities,” he said.
“Surely we can all agree that bringing a war criminal to justice is in our national interest. Leveraging our foreign assistance in this way sends a powerful message,” Wolf added.
The approval of the amendment does not guarantee that it will be included in the final appropriations bill especially as the Democrat-controlled Senate will produce its own version which will later have to be reconciled with the House version and voted on.
The issue has already drawn concern by some of Wolf’s peers in light of its implications on US foreign policy.
“We all agree that the situation in Sudan is deplorable, that President Bashir must be held accountable for his crimes,” Democratic Representative Nita Lowey said.
She noted that Bashir has visited many countries including Ethiopia, China, Egypt, Chad, Malawi, Qatar, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
“My colleague’s amendment would cut off US funding to all of these countries, some of them strategic allies,” had it already been in effect when the visits were made, Lowey said.
Last March, the US announced that it is suspending $350 million allocated to Malawi through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) citing reasons which included receiving Bashir last year.
This month Malawi’s new president Joyce Banda asked the African Union (AU) not to invite Bashir to this year’s summit hosted by her country for fear of its implications on aid Malawi receives.
The Sudanese president denies the ICC charges and refuses to recognise the jurisdiction of the court which he denigrates as a tool of neo-colonialism by the West.
- US suspends aid to Malawi over governance and receiving Sudanese president (alethonews.wordpress.com)