When the call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of Israeli goods was established in 2005 in Ramallah its first demand was for Israel to:
“End[ing] its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantl[ing] the Wall” (http://www.bdsmovement.net/call)
This call didn’t leave room for interpretation. Back in 2005, the BDS movement disputed the legitimacy of the Jewish State.
But in 2010, its primary goal was changed significantly into:
“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall.”
This change didn’t leave much room for a doubt. The BDS has become an instrument to legitimise the Jewish State within its pre 1967 borders.
There was no public record of the process that led to this change. And, as if to prove its deceptive nature, the change appeared only in English and has never been integrated into any of the official BDS publications in Arabic. It is likely that most Palestinians were not aware of the change made on their behalf by people who claim to be their ‘grassroots’ representatives. My research suggested that the change in the BDS goal statement that, de facto, legitimised the Jewish State took place at the time the BDS movement became popular amongst Jewish activists and started accepting funds from liberal Zionist George Soros’s Open Society Institute.*
But the BDS campaign has now decided to change its first goal once again. It now reads:
“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall” (https://bdsmovement.net/what-is-bds)
The 2010 embarrassing reference to the 1967 Israeli occupation is now removed. However once you read the small letters, you grasp that BDS is more of a JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace) rather than a Palestinian voice. Though the goal does refer, once again, to Israeli “colonization of all Arab land,” the statement now makes it clear that it limits its demands to territories occupied in 1967:
“International law recognises the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Syrian Golan Heights as occupied by Israel. As part of its military occupation, Israel steals land and forces Palestinians into ghettos, surrounded by checkpoints, settlements, and watchtowers as supplemental to the illegal apartheid Wall. Israel has imposed a medieval siege on Gaza, turning it into the largest open air prison in the world. Israel also regularly carries out large-scale assaults on Gaza that are widely condemned as constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Though the first goal may resemble the original 2005 BDS call, in practice it is consistent with the left Zionist mantra – it opposes the occupation.
Disappointing? Not really. Treacherous? It depends on who you ask.
The truth of the matter is that the BDS is not really a Palestinian grassroots organization as it claims to be. It is an integral part of the ever growing solidarity industry. Though I don’t have any doubt about the benevolent intentions of many BDS supporters and leaders, the BDS movement has managed to unwittingly serve Israel and its interests. It has managed, for instance, to divert the essential discussion about the legitimacy of the Jewish State and the Right of Return into an endless – and meaningless – discussion about Israeli products. It, de facto, legitimized the existence of the Jewish State over the land of Palestine.
*You can read more about BDS, Soros money promoting BDS campaign here: http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/israelpalestine-and-the-queer-international-a-book-review-by.html
In the past week, Burundi and South Africa have joined Namibia in declaring their intention to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). They are likely to be followed by a parade of other African countries, jeopardizing the future of an international court that has prosecuted 39 officials from eight African countries but has failed to indict a single person who is not African.
Ironically, African countries were among the first to embrace the ICC, so it is a striking turnaround that they are now the first to give up on it.
But it is the United States that has played the leading role in preventing the ICC from fulfilling the universal mandate for which it was formed, to hold officials of all countries accountable for the worst crimes in the world: genocide; crimes against humanity; and war crimes – not least the crime of international aggression, which the judges at Nuremberg defined as “the supreme international crime” from which all other war crimes follow.
As the ICC’s founding father, former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, lamented in 2011, “You don’t have to be a criminologist to realize that if you want to deter a crime, you must persuade potential criminals that, if they commit crimes, they will be hauled into court and be held accountable. It is the policy of the United States to do just the opposite as far as the crime of aggression is concerned. Our government has gone to great pains to be sure that no American will be tried by any international criminal court for the supreme crime of illegal war-making.”
The U.S. has not only refused to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC over its own citizens. It has gone further, pressuring other countries to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIA), in which they renounce the right to refer U.S. citizens to the ICC for war crimes committed on their territory.
The U.S. has also threatened to cut off U.S. aid to countries that refuse to sign them. The BIAs violate those countries’ own commitments under the ICC statute, and the U.S. pressure to sign them has been rightly condemned as an outrageous effort to ensure impunity for U.S. war crimes.
Resistance to U.S. Impunity
To the credit of our international neighbors, this U.S. strategy has met with substantial resistance. The European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution stating that BIAs are incompatible with E.U. membership, and urged E.U.- member states and countries seeking E.U. membership not to sign them.
Fifty-four countries have publicly refused to sign BIAs, and 24 have accepted cut-offs of U.S. aid as a consequence of their refusal. Of 102 countries that have signed a BIA, only 48 are members of the ICC in any case, and only 15 of those countries are on record as having ratified the BIAs in their own parliaments.
Thirty-two other ICC members have apparently allowed BIAs to take effect without parliamentary ratification, but this has been challenged by their own country’s legal experts in many cases.
The U.S. campaign to undermine the ICC is part of a much broader effort by the U.S. government to evade all forms of accountability under the laws that are supposed to govern international behavior in the modern world, even as it continues to masquerade as a global champion of the rule of law.
The treaties that U.S. policy systematically violates today were crafted by American statesmen and diplomats, working with their foreign colleagues, to build a world where all people would enjoy some basic protections from the worst atrocities, instead of being subject only to the law of the jungle or “might makes right.”
So current U.S. policy is a cynical betrayal of the work and wisdom of past generations of Americans, as well as of countless victims all over the world to whom we are effectively denying the protections of the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and other multilateral treaties that our country ignores, violates or refuses to ratify.
Avoiding the jurisdiction of international courts is only one of the ways that the U.S. evades international accountability for its criminal behavior. Another involves an elaborate and well-disguised public relations campaign that exploit the powerful position of U.S. corporations in the world of commercial media.
Major Propaganda Funding
The U.S. government spends a billion dollars per year on public relations or, more bluntly, propaganda, including $600 million from the Pentagon budget. The work of its P.R. teams and contractors is laundered by U.S. newspapers and repeated and analyzed ad nauseam by monolithic, flag-waving TV networks.
These profitable corporate operations monopolize the public airwaves in the U.S., and also use their financial clout, slick marketing and the support of the U.S. State Department to maintain a powerful presence in foreign and international media markets.
Foreign media in allied countries provide further legitimacy and credibility to U.S. talking-points and narratives as they echo around the world. Meanwhile, Hollywood fills cinema and TV screens across the world with an idealized, glamorized, inspirational version of America that still mesmerizes many people.
This whole elaborate “information warfare” machine presents the United States as a global leader for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, even as it systematically and catastrophically undermines those same principles. It enables our leaders to loudly and persuasively demonize other countries and their leaders as dangerous violators of international law, even as the U.S. and its allies commit far worse crimes.
Double Standards in Syria/Iraq
Today, for instance, the U.S. and its allies are accusing Syria and Russia of war crimes in east Aleppo, even as America’s own and allied forces launch a similar assault on Mosul. Both attacks are killing civilians and reducing much of a city to rubble; the rationale is the same, counterterrorism; and there are many more people in the line of fire in Mosul than in east Aleppo.
But the U.S. propaganda machine ensures that most Americans see one, in Mosul, as a legitimate counterterrorism operation (with Islamic State accused of using the civilians as “human shields”) and the other, in east Aleppo, as a massacre (with the presence of Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the former Nusra Front, virtually whited out of the West’s coverage, which focuses almost entirely on the children and makes no mention of “human shields”).
The phrase “aggressive war” is also a no-no in the Western media when the U.S. government launches attacks across international borders. In the past 20 years, the U.S. has violated the U.N. Charter to attack at least eight countries (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria), and the resulting wars have killed about two million people.
A complex whirlwind of conflict and chaos rages on in all the countries where the U.S. and its allies have lit the flames of war since 2001, but U.S. leaders still debate new interventions and escalations as if we are the fire brigade not the arsonists. (By contrast, the U.S. government and the Western media are quick to accuse Russia or other countries of “aggression” even in legally murky situations, such as after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014 that ousted the elected president of Ukraine.)
Systematic violations of the Geneva Conventions are an integral part of U.S. war-making. Most are shrouded in secrecy, and the propaganda machine spins the atrocities that slip through into the public record as a disconnected series of aberrations, accidents and “bad apples,” instead of as the result of illegal rules of engagement and unlawful orders from higher-ups.
The senior officers and civilian officials who are criminally responsible for these crimes under U.S. and international law systematically abuse their powerful positions to subvert investigations, cover up their crimes and avoid any accountability whatsoever.
When British playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he bravely and brilliantly used his Nobel lecture to speak about the real role that the U.S. plays in the world and how it whitewashes its crimes. Pinter recounted a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in London in the 1980s in which a senior embassy official, Raymond Seitz, flatly denied U.S. war crimes against Nicaragua for which the U.S. was in fact convicted of aggression by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Seitz went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., and then Vice-Chairman of Lehman Brothers.
As Pinter explained: “this ‘policy’ was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.
“The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.
“Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.
“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”
If in 2016 the world seems to be more violent and chaotic than ever, it is not because the United States lacks the will to use force or project power, as both major party candidates for President and their military advisers appear to believe, but because our leaders have placed too much stock in the illegal threat and use of force and have lost faith in the rule of law, international cooperation and diplomacy.
After a century of commercial dominance, and 75 years of investing disproportionately in weapons, military forces and geopolitical schemes, perhaps it is understandable that U.S. leaders have forgotten how to deal fairly and respectfully with our international neighbors. But it is no longer an option to muddle along, leaving a trail of death, ruin and chaos in our wake, counting on an elaborate propaganda machine to minimize the blowback on our country and our lives.
Sooner rather than later, Americans and our leaders must knuckle down and master the very different attitudes and skills we will need to become law-abiding global citizens in a peaceful, sustainable, multipolar world.
Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.
The UN is not free in its opinion; it is playing a part in the game on the side of the US, says Willy Wimmer, former State Secretary of the German Christian Democratic Party.
Some 80 aid and humanitarian organizations, including Human Rights Watch, claim Russia – the only country operating militarily in Syria legally – is no longer “fit” to hold its position in the body.
The move, prompted by Russia’s anti-terror actions in Syria – actions that have attracted the ire of some Western countries – appear to be yet another effort on the part of particular countries to denigrate Russia.
Russia’s presidential spokesman says the condemnation should be directed at extremists in Syria instead.
Meanwhile, German foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling for another humanitarian pause in Aleppo like the one that took place last week.
RT sat down with German politician Willy Wimmer for his views on the issue.
RT: Do you think another humanitarian pause will produce any progress, given that there’s no pressure on the Western-backed rebels to stop their shelling of civilian areas?
Willy Wimmer: I think it is vital and necessary to look for relief for the humanitarian problems we have in Syria. And I think we should stop the killing as soon as possible. That is one thing we have to take into consideration. On the other side, we should never forget who started the civil war in Syria and when these human rights organizations blame one country in particular, we should never forget that the US, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar created a civil war in Syria. I won’t mention Israel because of the situation in the neighborhood.
When we complain about the human suffering in Syria, we have to take into consideration who started everything. And the interesting thing is that everything the West is doing in Syria is against international law; they have no support of the UN Charter, even what the German militaries are doing there is against our Constitution. The only power which is in accordance with international law in Syria is the Russian Federation and because the actual president who had been elected freely, as for the support, it is in accordance with the international law. We have to take this into consideration when it comes to accusations from Human Rights Watch and others.
RT: There are calls to exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. This would undermine one of the founding principles of the United Nations, wouldn’t it? What do you make of such rhetoric?
WW: It is a signal that the UN is on one side. It is not free in its opinion and we see it already for decades that the UN is playing a part in the game on the side of the US. And therefore, we don’t take it serious what the UN representatives tell us.
RT: Last year, Saudi Arabia was elected chair of a key panel on the Human Rights Council. Yet its human rights record has been repeatedly criticized. There have been calls for Saudi Arabia to be suspended from UN Human Rights Council, but do you think this will ever happen?
WW: Never, because of the close relationship between Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US. And therefore, I think they can do what they do without being punished for that (…) I think we have to realize who organized the civil war in Syria, and who is in accordance with international law. When they had a truce between the United States and the Russian Federation three weeks ago, what happened? The Americans killed 100 Syrian soldiers and Russian soldiers as well. There is a development in Washington to make use of the situation where there is no newly elected American president, and this is a complex and extremely dangerous situation for the rest of the world.
The Myanmar army has forced about 2,000 Rohingya Muslims to abandon their homes in a village, as part of a crackdown on the religious minority following the recent attacks on border security forces.
Sources said border guards on Sunday went to Kyee Kan Pyin village, in the central region of Mandalay, and ordered about 2,000 villagers to evacuate it, giving them just enough time to collect basic household items.
The villagers were forced for a second night to stay and hide in rice fields without shelter.
“I was kicked out from my house yesterday afternoon, now I live in a paddy field outside of my village with some 200 people including my family, I became homeless,” said a Rohingya man from the raided village.
“After the soldiers arrived at our village, they said that if all of us didn’t leave, they would shoot us,” he added.
Witnesses and Rohingya community elders have confirmed the report.
A Myanmar government spokesman said the government was unable to contact anyone in the area because it was a militarily-operated “red zone.”
The move is believed to have been prompted after Myanmar police officials announced that attacks on three police posts along the country’s western border with Bangladesh on October 9 had claimed the lives of at least two officers while six more remain unaccounted for. An assault that was later blamed on the minority group.
Rakhine, home to around a million members of the minority Rohingya Muslim community, has been the scene of communal violence since 2012. Many of the Muslims have been killed while tens of thousands have been forced to flee as a result of attacks by Buddhists. The Rohingyas are largely living in camps in dire situations.
The Rohingyas have no militant faction to fight for them but police in Myanmar and Bangladesh have blamed a number of attacks in the past on the Muslims.
Over 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar face discrimination, including controls on their movements, family size and access to jobs.
Myanmar denies full citizenship to the Rohingya population in the country. According to the United Nations, Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
The violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has triggered an influx of refugees into neighboring countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
October 25th is the start of a three-day visit to Japan by the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte. During his visit, Duterte will meet with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The leaders plan to discuss a wide range of issues of bilateral cooperation.
The weakening of the US in the region
Duterte’s visit to Japan comes just after a similar trip of the Philippines leader to China. This fits in with a recent trend characterized by the considerable weakening of the position of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. China’s diplomatic goal is to bring together the US’s traditional allies into their sphere of influence. To this, success can be attributed to the warming relations between Beijing and Bangkok, as well as the recent breakthrough in the negotiations between Rodrigo Duterte and Xi Jinping.
Setting an example
The Philippine leader’s position and his actions in the international arena should be an example for a more powerful neighbor – Japan. In spite of its economic development, Tokyo is very much under the influence of Washington and unable to pursue an independent policy, while Rodrigo Duterte with his actions is guided solely by national interests.
Eurasian direction of Duterte
After the trip to Japan, Rodrigo Duterte is planning to go to Moscow. Thus we can clearly see his geopolitical course. Faced with all the leading leaders in the region ignoring Washington, Duterte declares himself as a consistent supporter of a multi-polar approach. The fact that such can be the situation with a country that isn’t very powerful, without nuclear weapons or huge economic potential, says that the US can not cope any longer with its function as a global leader.
NGOs listed below support US-led imperial ruthlessness to topple Assad and destroy Syrian sovereign independence.
How else to explain their disgraceful joint statement, wanting Russia’s membership on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ended when its term expires at yearend.
On October 28, General Assembly members will select new members, Hungary and Croatia competing with Russia to represent Eastern Europe.
Washington’s dirty hands likely pressured and/or bribed the NGOs below to oppose renewing Russia’s HRC membership – unjustifiably blaming it for “routinely target(ing) civilians and civilian objects” – high crimes committed by Pentagon warplanes, its “coalition” partners, and terrorist foot soldiers.
Nations combating Syrian sovereign independence are unfit to serve on any human rights body. Why aren’t the below listed NGOs opposing the HRC membership of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE – rogue states guilty of horrendous human rights abuses at home and abroad, including against millions of Syrians?
Russia deserves high praise for combating the scourge of US-led terrorism, a lonely struggle with few allies, disgracefully denigrated for doing the right thing.
Accusations NGOs made in their statement are baseless, reprehensible, and malicious Big Lies – showing support for US-led imperial lawlessness, its genocidal rape and destruction of Syria, an endless conflict claiming more lives daily, systematically undermining Russia’s forthright efforts for diplomatic resolution.
The NGOs complicit with US imperial ruthlessness are as follows:
1. Abrar Halap Association for Relief and Development
2. Ahl Horan
3. Al Seeraj for Development and Healthcare
4. Alkawakibi Organization for Human Rights
6. Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self Determination
7. Attaa Association
8. Attaa for Relief and Development (ARD)
9. Balad Syria Organization
10. Basmet Amal Charity
11. Baytna Syria
12. Bihar Relief Organization*
14. CARE International
15. Council for Arab-British Understanding
16. Damascene House Foundation for Society Development
17. Darfur Bar Association
18. Deir Elzzor United Association (FURAT)
19. Education Without Borders (MIDAD)
20. Emaar Al Sham Humanitarian Association
21. Emissa for Development
22. Enjaz Development Foundation
23. EuroMed Rights Paris
24. Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights
25. Ghiath Matar Foundation
26. Ghiras Al Nahda
27. Ghiras Foundation for Childcare and Development
28. Ghiras Syria
29. Hand in Hand for Syria
30. Help 4 Syria
31. Hivos People United
32. Human Rights Watch
33. Human Rights First Society
34. Humanitarian Relief Association (IYD)
35. Insan for Psychosocial Support
36. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
37. International Humanitarian Relief
38. International Supporting Woman Association (ISWA)
39. Irtiqaa Foundation
40. Just Foreign Policy US
41. Karam Foundation
42. Kesh Malek
43. Local Development and Small Projects Support – LDSPS
44. Maram Foundation for Relief & Development
45. Mayday Rescue Foundation
46. Middle East Desk Broederlijk Delen – Pax Christi
47. Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights
48. Mountain Foundation
49. Najda Now International
50. Nasaem Khair
51. Orient for Human Relief
53. Qitaf Al Khair Relief Association
54. Refugees International
55. Rethink Rebuild Society
56. Saed Charity Association
57. Save a Soul
58. Sedra Association for Charity
59. Shafak Organization
60. Shama Association
61. Snabel Al Khyr
62. STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
63. Syria Charity
64. Syria Civil Defence – The White Helmets
65. Syria Relief
66. Syria Relief Organization
67. Syrian Education Commission (SEC)
68. Syrian Engineers For Construction and Development Organization (SECD)
69. Syrian Expatriate Medical Association (SEMA)
70. Syrian Institute for Justice
71. Syrian Medical Mission
72. Syrian Network for Human Rights
73. Syrian Orphans Organization
74. Syrians for Truth and Justice – STJ
75. Takaful Al Sham Charity Organization
76. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information*
77. The Syria Campaign
78. The Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC)
79. The Syrian Establishment for Human Care & Enhancement (MASRRAT)
81. Tuba Dernegi*
82. Unified Revolutionary Medical Bureau in East Gouta
83. Union of Syrians Abroad
84. Vision GRAM International
85. White Hands – Beyazeller
86. Women Now for Development
These groups are more imperial agents than NGOs. Boycott their fundraising requests when asked.
Syria Civil Defence – The White Helmets (No. 64 above) have been called “Al-Qaeda with a facelift,” complicit with its high crimes, aided from US funding and other disreputable sources.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Imagine if the Islamic Republic of Iran, complaining that its regional rival Saudi Arabia was meddling in a neighbor’s politics for sectarian reasons, led a coalition to invade that country. As a result, after 18 months, at least 10,000 civilians had been killed or wounded, more than half the country’s people needed food aid and three million people had been displaced.
Sanctions would be leveled. Pundits would write agonized essays comparing the country to Nazi Germany. Sabers would be rattled. War would likely follow. However, when these roles are reversed and the Saudis and their Gulf allies are the aggressors, it’s a different story.
Why the double standard? Because the US is allied to the Saudi royals and the US was evicted from Iran. When a friend commits a war crime, excuses are made.
The numbers above are estimates made by the UN for the ongoing conflict in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia with significant help from the United States and Great Britain. The stated purpose of the intervention in the country is to fight Houthi forces from the north who are allied with former President Saleh.
The Houthis, most of whom are followers of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, took the country’s capital Sanaa on September 21st, 2014, forcing then-President Mansur Al-Hadi to flee, first to Aden and then on to Saudi Arabia. The argument made by the Saudis and their coalition partners, that the Houthis are Iranian proxies, is dubious at best but it’s being spread in western media as flat-out fact, allowing governments to turn a blind eye to the tragedy unfolding in the country.
Besides intelligence and targeting assistance provided to the Saudis in Yemen, since 2010 the US has sold $60 billion in arms to the country, an absolute monarchy with one of the worst human rights records in the world. Human rights groups have concluded that these weapons, including cluster munitions banned in most countries, have been used indiscriminately against civilian targets including markets, schools and hospitals.
Finally, after a year and a half of this, some in the US Congress found the political will to take a stand on this carnage. A bipartisan resolution in the US Senate co-sponsored by Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was crafted to block a new deal supplying the Kingdom with a further $1.15 billion in arms. Although having the vote at all showed some progress on this issue, it was defeated by a vote of 71-27 on September 21st.
The American people have a moral responsibility to contact their representatives and demand they vote to end their government’s support of the illegal intervention in the poorest country in the Middle East. Those who don’t care about the country’s suffering need to remember it’s also an issue of national security as both Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Yemen’s newly established ISIS affiliate are growing in the chaos, something that should worry the whole world.
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.