Fifty-five years ago, shortly after midnight on 18 September 1961, an aircraft crashed on its approach to Ndola airport in the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, which is now Zambia. On board were 16 people: the UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, the members of his mission, and the Swedish crew. The sole survivor, who spoke of “sparks in the sky” and said the plane “blew up”, died six days later.
Suspicions were voiced about the crash because of the strange details that quickly emerged. For instance, the British high commissioner, who was at Ndola, showed no concern that Hammarskjöld failed to land and insisted that he must have decided “to go elsewhere”.
It took four hours after daybreak to start an official search. This in spite of local residents, policemen and soldiers reporting a great flash in the sky shortly after midnight. There were also witness accounts of a second, smaller plane trailing and then dropping something that “looked like fire’ upon the larger one”.
The Prime Minister of the Congo, Cyrille Adoula, who had met with the Secretary-General just hours before the crash, believed he had been murdered. According to the 1961 Montreal Gazette he had commented:
How ignoble is this assassination, not the first of its kind perpetrated by the moneyed powers. Mr Hammarskjöld was the victim of certain financial circles for whom a human life is not equal to a gram of copper or uranium.
There were several inquiries into the crash in 1961-2, all of which failed to take seriously the testimonies of Zambian witnesses. A Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry identified pilot error as the cause of the crash. This was solely on the basis of an elimination of the other suggested causes.
to inform the General Assembly of any new evidence which may come to his attention.
More than half a century and many inquiries later, the search for the truth about what happened that September night continues. On 17 August 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the 71st UN General Assembly to appoint an “eminent person or persons” to review the new information on the crash. He urged member states to release relevant records for review.
Ban Ki-moon’s statement ended on a moving and powerful note:
This may be our last chance to find the truth. Seeking a complete understanding of the circumstances is our solemn duty to my illustrious and distinguished predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, to the other members of the party accompanying him, and to their families.’
Hammarskjöld, as second Secretary-General, sought to shape the UN as an organisation devoted to peace. He developed the strategy of “preventive diplomacy”, which defused the Suez Canal crisis in 1956. His prevailing commitment was to the UN Charter and he refused to act in the interest of any particular state.
In 1961, the UN was only 15 years old and was undergoing a dramatic shift as European decolonisation gathered pace. The Afro-Asian bloc now provided 47 UN members out of 100. For these new states, said Hammarskjöld, the UN was their “main platform” and protector.
For decades, the former colonial powers have written the history of the night in which Hammarskjöld and his companions died. But a new history is about to be written if the recent momentum to find the full truth is anything to go by.
New quest for the truth
Hammarskjöld was on the way to meet Moise Tshombe, leader of the Belgian-backed secession of Katanga province from the newly-independent Congo. Mineral rich Katanga was of geostrategic importance, not least because of a mine in Katanga which produced the richest uranium in the world.
The UN’s declaration that it could not rule out sabotage or attack and the request for any new evidence emerged in 2011 as a crucial point of reference in the book Who Killed Hammarskjöld? The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa. The book drew on a mass of evidence that had been available for many years but had been dismissed by the early inquiries, and presented many new findings.
The disturbing compilation of evidence includes the testimony of Commander Charles Southall, a naval officer working for the US National Security Agency listening station in Cyprus in 1961. Southall heard the recording of a pilot shooting down Hammarskjöld’s plane.
British peer Lord Lea of Crondall read the book and resolved to set up a new inquiry. Interest was growing. Professor K.G. Hammar, former Archbishop of the Church of Sweden, went to Zambia with Hans Kristian Simensen, a Norwegian researcher, and called on Sweden to get the case reopened. In 2012 the Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust was formed, including Chief Emeka Anyaoku of Nigeria.
After a rigorous examination of the available evidence and interviews in Ndola with witnesses who were still alive, the commission concluded:
There is persuasive evidence that the aircraft was subjected to some form of attack or threat as it circled to land at Ndola … (and) was in fact forced into its descent by some form of hostile action.
It recommended that the UN conduct a further investigation and seek access to relevant records held by member states. The commission’s report was made public on 9 September 2013. On the same day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he would closely study the findings.
Ban Ki-moon takes the lead
In March 2014, the Secretary-General asked the General Assembly to pursue the matter further. This was welcomed by the growing worldwide campaign that had by now developed, which urged the creation of a new inquiry. The movement was supported by sympathetic journalists, social media campaigners, individuals, and organisations, largely coordinated by the United Nations Association Westminster Branch in London.
The Swedish government submitted a draft Resolution to the UN General Assembly in October 2014, calling for a new investigation. This was strongly supported by Zambia.
On 29 December 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution, authorising the Secretary-General to appoint an independent Panel of Experts to examine the evidence. Fifty-five nations joined Sweden to co-sponsor the resolution, which was adopted by the consensus of all 193 Member States.
On 16 March 2015, Ban Ki-moon appointed a Panel of Experts, which was headed by Mohamed Chande Othman, Chief Justice of Tanzania. Its report concluded that there was, indeed, significant information to warrant further inquiry into a possible aerial attack or other interference as a cause of the crash. It also introduced new areas to investigate, such as the possibility that Hammarskjöld’s communications were intercepted.
On 2 July 2015, Ban Ki-moon circulated the report among member states and expressed the view that “a further inquiry or investigation would be necessary to finally establish the facts.” He urged member states
to disclose, declassify or otherwise allow privileged access to information that they may have in their possession’.
Following Ban Ki-moon’s recommendations, the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN circulated a draft Resolution urging all member states to release any relevant records in their possession. The draft Resolution was supported by 74 other states – but not the UK or the US.
When the Secretary-General in August 2016 called on the forthcoming General Assembly to appoint an eminent person or persons to take the inquiry forward, he attached as annexes to his statement the responses by several member states to the UN’s earlier call for documentation. These show a readiness by South Africa to search for lost records relating to an alleged plot by mercenaries. They also reveal the uncooperative nature of the responses by the US and the UK.
Ban’s courage, dignity and humanity in this matter have been followed with heartfelt appreciation by those who care about justice and about the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, which were advocated so vigorously by Hammarskjöld. It is to be hoped that Ban’s successor will follow the same path, and with the same integrity and determination.
Henning Melber is a Professor, Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria.
Susan Williams is a Senior Research Fellow, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
By Michael Hoffman – RevisionistHistory – October 24, 2106
This weekend we managed to see Hollywood’s “Denial” movie about David Irving’s libel suit in British court against American Prof. Deborah Lipstadt.
Here is a capsule verdict: the movie is so incompetent (in addition to being snooze-inducing), that it will mainly increase public curiosity about the Leuchter Report’s crucial significance to Auschwitz studies, the Zundel trial, Irving’s work, and his deservedly lofty status as a military historian.
While the film’s production values are high and the cast is A list, the director is no Spielberg and consequently the movie backfires. “Denial” gives new impetus to World War II revisionism, which heretofore was assumed by the public to be a coterie of drooling cranks and crackpots. Even in a movie that detests Mr. Irving, he nonetheless comes off as a formidable advocate. Thank you, Hollywood!
Among the sparse audience at the screening we attended in Spokane, Washington, from snatches of conversation we overheard afterward from those not wearing yarmulkes, in general they were left dissatisfied and confused by the film.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s ambassador-at-large, Vladimir Churov, said Monday he is surprised by the active role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the US presidential campaign.
“I am somewhat surprised by the active participation in the campaign of specific agencies like the CIA and the FBI,” Churov told RIA Novosti.
He maintained that the US intelligence agencies’ warnings of outside interference in vote rigging or altering vote numbers at precincts could belie the US authorities’ bid to withhold data, including the number of voters, early voters and the election returns.
Wallonia is not going to be pressured into agreeing the EU-Canada trade deal according to the leader of the French-speaking Belgian region Paul Magnette. The EU has given Belgium an ultimatum to end its objection to the agreement by Monday.
“Every time you try to put an ultimatum it makes a calm debate and a democratic debate impossible,” Magnette said at a meeting in Brussels.
“We don’t need an ultimatum,” he told reporters. “We will not decide anything under an ultimatum or under pressure.”
On Sunday the leader of the Wallonia region told the Belga news agency the ultimatum from the EU “is not compatible with the exercise of democratic rights.”
“We are not against a treaty with Canada,” Magnette said. “But we won’t have one that jeopardizes social and environmental standards and the protection of public services and we want absolutely no private arbitration mechanisms.”
Magnette was referring to an introduction of a secret corporate court system, empowering big business to sue states for policies that threaten their profits.
Belgium has been given until Monday to resolve an internal disagreement holding back the CETA trade deal with Canada. The pact needs the backing of all 28 EU countries to be passed. Belgium cannot sign without Walloon support.
The EU has warned that unless Belgium makes its position clear, it will cancel this week’s EU-Canada summit. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel is expected to make a speech on Monday, an EU source told Reuters.
Wallonia is a region of 3.6 million people, and has become an obstacle in the controversial free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. The region has refused to approve the deal, fearing an influx of Canadian pork and beef products would undermine local farmers.
CETA promises to eliminate tariffs on 98 percent of goods traded between the EU and Canada. The agreement encompasses regulatory cooperation, shipping, sustainable development and access to government tenders.
Supporters of CETA say the deal will be worth $13 billion a year to the EU and $9 billion to Canada.
Opponents say the trade deal will violate workers’ rights and benefit the interests of the wealthy elite and corporations.
The EU has warned a failure to complete the agreement after seven years of negotiations will jeopardize the bloc’s trade policy.
There can be no denial that over the last couple of years, anti-American sentiment across the globe has been on the rise. And even though Western corporate media sources are trying to push the blame on Russian journalists, they alone could hardly ever achieve such an effect.
Today a typical list of accusations against the US includes its invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and also includes claims that Washington has been sponsoring terrorists as well as exporting weapons to the countries sponsoring terrorists.
The US presidential campaign, riddled with scandals and delusional statements, has clearly demonstrated that something fundamental has gone wrong with “American style-democracy.”
As it’s been noted by The American Spectator, voters these days see no equality before the law in America. What we’ve witnessed in recent years is incompatible with the values of the Founding Fathers who promoted the idea of inalienable rights. The backlash among voters has been illustrated during this presidential election There is growing resentment of the “political class,” and an increased distrust -. and even fear – of government. Unfortunately, there appears to be ample justification for this feeling. Fear of corruption in government far outpaced fears of terrorism, financial insecurity, and even illness or death of a loved one. Many Americans now see government not as the keepers of justice and peace, not as servants of the people, but as a corrupt entity and menace.
Such frustration is further aggravated by the dissatisfaction of 41% of the US population with the way the Obama administration is addressing the most pressing problems of the population, as it has been shown by the latest Gallup poll. In addition, growing anti-American sentiments in the regions affected by Washington’s aggressive policies (in particular, in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America), resulted in nearly universal hatred of the United States even where people originally had sympathy towards Washington.
A vivid example of this development is Ukraine, which the White House has been governing over since 2014 as if it were an additional state, appointing the government while making all the important decisions regarding this nation’s fate.
According to the self-exiled Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash who has found refuge in Austria, “the Ukrainians will soon realize that all of their troubles – bitter taxes, unemployment, and all the reforms that failed have been brought upon them by the United States. And when they do, there will be no nation that will hate America more than Ukraine in the whole world. It’s only a matter of time. “
The international human rights organization known as Human Rights Action (HRA) has recently published a report that displayed migration numbers that shocked Kiev. Since the beginning of this year, more than three million Ukrainian citizens have moved to Russia. The vast majority of those fleeing their homeland are migrant workers wishing to obtain a work permission in Russia. Experts predict that by the middle of 2017 the number of people leaving Ukraine will increase by at least 50%.
However, those leaving Ukraine are not just migrant workers. The protracted armed crackdown on the ethnic Russian population in the east of the country has become a breeding ground for all sorts of militants, that are now trying to escape the ever-deepening economic, social and financial crisis in Ukraine. These people have been disillusioned by the West and are willing to do all kinds of “work” for various extremist and terrorist organizations for even moderate pay. These militants are now capable of launching all sorts of terrorist attacks both in the US and in Europe.
They won’t find it difficult to get their hands on all sorts of weapons either, since Kiev forces have been illegally shipping everything they can sell to terrorists to the most distant parts of the world, as has been reported by various Western media sources, including Reuters.
Over the past year, the Internet has been filled with reports that ISIS has been infiltrating the territory of Ukraine, where terrorist groups have been establishing training camps and storage facilities while actively recruiting new members. This fact, in particular, was stressed by the representatives of the Crimean administration at a meeting with 11 French parliamentarians, led by a deputy of the National Assembly, Thierry Mariani, last July. In a situation with Ukraine, a special role in supporting terrorists played by local militant organizations, mainly consisting of the Crimean Tatars, who, under the leadership of Mustafa Dzhemilev and Lenur Islyamova, are using the connivance of lawlessness that reigns in Ukraine today to establish a new wing of ISIS.
Israel is reportedly refusing to sign a US document on the use and export guidelines of armed drones, fearing it would hurt its defense industries. The State Department paper aims to establish international standards in the production and selling of UAVs.
The one-page document, titled “Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),” covers a number of topics regarding the selling and usage of drone systems, according to Defense News.
Those topics include applying international law and human rights when using UAVs; following existing arms control laws in selling armed drone systems; considering the buyer country’s history on “adherence to international obligations and commitments”; following “appropriate transparency measures”; and ensuring the sold unmanned system’s capabilities are “transferred and used responsibly by all states.”
The document has been provided to countries which are considered to be US allies and has already been signed by over 40 nations, including Austria, Germany and Italy.
Israel, however, has so far refused to sign the document, with sources in the country’s defense industry telling Haaretz that the sector is concerned it could limit the nation’s export business.
Israel is potentially already facing a loss of business when it comes to drone exports, following the admission of India to the multilateral Missile Technology Control Regime by the US – a move which removes barriers to the sale of American UAVs to the country.
Following India’s admission into the regime, Delhi has shown an interest in acquiring the US-made Predator drone rather than Israeli UAVs.
Another threat to Israel’s share of the drone market includes a lawsuit by the American firm General Atomics, which is aiming to block the lease of the Israeli Heron TP drone to Germany.
However, a senior air force official told Haaretz that Israel still has one advantage when it comes to drones – the promise for the country’s drone squadron to train buyers of Israeli UAVs, as Israel’s air force is considered a world leader in the field.
In addition to its efforts to maintain its stronghold in the market, Israel is also seeking to have limitations placed on information regarding its deployment of drones. When German MPs demanded answers regarding Berlin’s lease of Heron TP drones earlier this year, they were denied information and told the matter was considered confidential by Israel, and that any information was subject to limitations imposed by Tel Aviv.