HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHWELCOME TO HELL:ARBITRARY DETENTION, TORTURE AND EXTORTION INCHECHNYAOCTOBER 2000
””In almost all of the 115 rulings, the court concluded that Russia was responsible for extrajudicial executions, torture, and enforced disappearances, and that it had failed to investigate these crimes.”
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHWHO TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SON27-9-2009
MILITARY ACTIONS AGAINST LIBYA/LIBYAN RESISTANCEMUST RELY ON OWN STRENGTHASTRID ESSED24 MARCH 2011
By applauding the Western military actions against Libya, the Libyan resistance doesn’t rely on their own strength, but will be bound to either a Western occupation, or a far going Western influence, when Gaddafi is defeated
MILITARY ATTACKS AGAINST LIBYA/LIBYAN RESISTANCE MUST RELY ON OWN STRENGTHUN SECURITY COUNCIL AND ARAB LEAGUE DOUBLE STANDARDS I UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1973INSTALLATION NO FLY ZONE AND PROTECTION OF LIBYAN CIVILIAN POPULATION ”WITH ALL NECESSARY MEASURES”17 MARCH 2011 SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES NO FLY ZONE OVER LIBYA, AUTHORIZING ”ALL NECESSARY MEASURES” TO PROTECT CIVILIANS , BY VOTE OF 10 IN FAVOUR WITH 5 ABSTENTIONS” ”Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which is said might constitute ”crimes against humanity”, the Security Council this evening imposes a ban on all flights in the country airspace – a no fly zone – and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters. Adopting resolution 1973 (2011) by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation), the Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to tale all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory – requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary General of such measures” http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10200.doc.htm#Resolution II ”“Libya is not yours, Libya is for the Libyans. The security council, their resolution is void because it is not according to the charter to interfere with the internal affairs of the country. … You have no right. You will regret if you get involved in this, our country. We can never shoot a single bullet on our people, it is Al Qaeda organisation.” Part of the letter president Gaddafi wrote to president Sarkozy, prime minister Cameron and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon Dear Editor and Readers, The fatal decision is madeThe print paper of UN Security Council Resolution wasn’t dry yet, when military attacks on Libya were launched by France, the USA and the United KingdomRecently countries like Canada, Italty and Denmark have joined the groupAnd also Qatar, as first Arab country.”To prptect civilians under threat of attack in the country”” as been stated in the Resolution For the third time in a decade a military attack has been launched on an Islamic country by the same protagonists [US and UK], who have caused warcrimes and disaster in Afghanistan and Iraq, resulting in thousands of civilian death and inhuman treatments of prisoners of warThe monument of shame, Guantanamo Bay, which is not closed yet, is a disastrous example of the Afghanistan and Iraq dirty wars. It’s no coincidence the West is ring leader in implementing UN Resolution and attacking Libya.Probably the US lead coalition wants a Libyan regime change, which is remarkable, since Gaddafi has been a ”friend of the West” since 11 september 2001He has boasted on his ”struggle against terrorism” and even fullfilled the European wish to discourage the stream of refugees, by dirty deals with the Italian prime-minister Berlusconi  For we don’t believe in fairy tales.The Western countries did NOT implement a no fly zone out of compassion with the Libyan civilian population.You have only to look at their great lack of respect for other civilian populations, like the Servian in the Kosovo war, the Palestinian, Somalian, Afghan and IraqiIt’s an illusion to think, that it would be different now UN SECURITY DOUBLE STANDARDSPROTAGONIST: THE WEST That brings us on the double standard which is used by the UN Security CouncilIt may sound tempting for naive and good willing persons: The installation of a ”no fly” zone in protection of the threatened Libyan civilian population In reality, hypocrisy and selective indignation is the motor of the Security Council: Because during the Israeli military Operation ”Cast Lead” in dec 2008.january 2009, by which numerous warcrimes have been committed against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza , there was no Western initiative at all in favour of a fly zone Also the still continuing Gaza siege, which implies systematic starvation of the civilian population , never has led to the Western wish to pressure Israel ”with all means necessary” to open the border In the case of Israel-Palestine, Europe could refer to the eternal American pro-Israel veto’s in the Security Council, which makes the coercion of a no fly zone a frustrated waste of time.However, that doesn’t work for Myanmar [Birma], where in 2007 demonstrations as ruthlessly were uppressed, as in Libya now An initiative for a no fly zone in Myanmar was never taken DOUBLE STANDARDSPROTAGONIST THE ARAB LEAGUE The Arab League also is champion where it concerns double standardsSo the Arab League has recently suspended Libya , which is justice as such, considering the bloody repression against demonstrators and insurgents  The same League however didn’t consider that at all in the case of Sudan, which has committed yearlong war-crimes and etnic cleansings in Darfur  Actually, Arab leaders spoke out their support for the Sudanese president Bashir, rejecting the ICC arrest warrant against him  Syria/Jemen/Bahrain But also in the present situation Libya is not the only human rights perpetratorAlso in Jemen, Syria and Bahrain there is a bloody repression against demonstrators  Till sofar, the membership of those countries is not suspended But there is more to it: For the larger part, the members of the Arab League are pro-Western dictators, although sometimes it seems different, for example their rhetoric about Palestine [but that are just words, not deeds]In reality, there is a strong political, military and economical bond between countries of the Arab League [especially Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries] and the West And regarding the socalled ”humanitarian intervention” in Libya, the Arab League and the West are one, despite the recent critic , which has been weakened alreadyThe critic was about the alleged 48 civilian death, according to Libyan officials, by a recent allied military attack  NO FLY ZONE/MILITARY INTERVENTIONI’S EFFECTIVITY The double standards of the West and the Arab League apart, what is really the effect of the no fly zone? Experts tell us, that the no fly zone is not really effective, since the Gaddafi’s ground troops are playing the most important role in the battle against the rebels  If one holds on to the fairy tale, that the military attacks stem from ”protecting the Libyan civilian population”the destruction of the Libyan Airforce is not enoughWhich means, that the war will be launched on a way that is contrary UN Security Resolutions, since the real aim is regime change  INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW Since the Western coalition, and particularly the USA, is reluctant to send ground troops to the soil of a third Islamic country, that means intensifying of air attacks, with the great risk of many civilian death  Not only because of the dense populated areas, but also the possible use of anti-personnel weapons and not making a strict distinction beween combatants [military] and non-combatants, which is a fundamental obligation under International Humanitarian Law  As we know, at least two coalition partners [USA and UK] are not exactly champions in maintaining International Humanitarian LawSee Afghanistan and Iraq, where they caused thousands of civilian death, because of the use of clustermunition and not making a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatantsThen, the other protagonist, Gadaffi, is a notorious violator of human rights And also the rebels have a dubious human rights record  THE TROJAN HORSE The criteria of UN Resolution 1973 exclude the possibility of a foreign occupation [become wise after Afghanistan and Iraq]However, when the coalition forces are able to cause a regime change, it is higly unlikely, that they will pack their bags and leave, after a democratic government is installed Either there is a common confusion in the country, in which case the West will consider it ‘her duty” to prevent, that their ”work” will made undoneOr they will influence the new government deeply Therefore, however understandable, the resistance is naive to be too jubilant about the current military attacksWelcoming the West means inviting the Trojan Horse  EPILOGUE It’s like the film classic ”Fist”A young trade union leader has been frustrated from all sidesm untill a friendly ”organisation” wants to help himAlas, this is the MaffiaHe is able to build up his trade union, but of course, this comes with a price That can also be the fate of the Libuan resistance and as with the union trade leader, the price will be to high to pay Of course Gaddafi has to goBut not with Western military intervention A true democratic rule is only to be realized in dignity, when the Libyan population will defeat Gadaffi with their own strength YES, THEY CAN! Kind greetings Astrid EssedAmsterdamThe Netherlands  HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH [www.hrw.org]ITALY/LIBYA: GADDAFI VISIT CELEBRATES DIRTY DEAL9 JUNE 2009 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/06/09/italylibya-gaddafi-visit-celebrates-dirty-deal  ASTRID ESSEDISRAELI ATTACKS ON GAZA/DIRTY WAR AGAINST THE PALESTINIAN CIVILIAN POPULATION19 JANUARY 2009 http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/85520/index.php  INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS GAZA CLOSURE: NOT ANOTHER YEAR!14 JUNE 2010 http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/update/palestine-update-140610.htm  HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH [www.hrw.org]BURMA: CRACKDOWN BLOODIER THAN GOVERNMENT ADMITS7 DECEMBER 2007 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2007/12/06/burma-crackdown-bloodier-government-admits  L.A. TIMESLIBYA: ARAB LEAGUE SUSPENDS LIBYAN MEMBERSHIP22 FEBRUARY 2011 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/02/libya-arab-league-suspends-libyan-membership.html  HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH/LIBYA http://www.hrw.org/en/middle-eastn-africa/libya  ”Darfur, in western Sudan, saw continued large-scale attacks by government forces on rebel forces and civilians, as well as an increase in armed clashes between ethnic groups, particularly in South and West Darfur. The United Nations and humanitarian agencies increasingly came under attack and were targeted for robberies, kidnappings, and killings by armed elements in Sudan’s western region. ” HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH [www.hrw.org]WORLD REPORT 2011: SUDAN http://www.hrw.org/en/world-report-2011/sudan HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHSUDAN: NEW ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS IN DARFUR28 JANUARY 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/01/28/sudan-new-attacks-civilians-darfur  BBC NEWSARAB LEADERS BACK ”WANTED” BASHIR30 MARCH 2009 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7971624.stm  JEMEN HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHUS: SUSPEND MILITARY AID TO YEMEN18 MAART 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/18/us-suspend-military-aid-yemen BAHRAIN HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHBAHRAIN: PROTEST LEADERS ARBITRARILY DETAINED18 MAART 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/18/bahrain-protest-leaders-arbitrarily-detained HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHBAHRAIN: INJURED PEOPLE DENIED MEDICAL CARE17 MAART 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/17/bahrain-injured-people-denied-medical-care SYRIA HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHPEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION VIOLENTLY DISPERSED17 MAART 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/16/syria-peaceful-demonstration-violently-dispersed  MONTREAL GAZETTEARAB LEAGUE CRITICIZES WEST’S STRIKES ON LIBYA20 MARCH 2011 http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Arab+League+criticizes+Western+strikes+Libya/4473587/story.html  According to several sources, civilians were killed after an attack on Tripoli ”BENGHAZI, Libya — Libyan state TV is quoting the armed forces command as saying 48 people have been killed and 150 wounded in the the allied assault by U.S. and European forces. The report can’t be independently confirmed.” FORBES.COMLIBYAN TV CLAIMS 48 KILLED IN ALLIED ATTACKS19 MARCH 2011 http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/03/19/general-af-libya_8365301.html THE MONTREAL GAZETTEWESTERN POWERS STRIKE LIBYA FOR SECOND NIGHT21 MARCH 2011 http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Western+powers+strike+Libya+Arab+League+doubts/4473697/story.html  REGARDING THE NO FLY ZONE [NFZ]; ”Second, even if a no-fly zone can be implemented with minimum civilian casualties, we don’t know if it will save lives or tilt the playing field toward the rebels. Air power does give Qaddafi some advantages, but a no-fly zone might do little to stop his forces from attacking and murdering the opposition using other means if he chooses to ignore or abrogate the cease-fire. And beyond grounding Qaddafi’s air force, the NFZ would not erode his other substantial military advantages; indeed, as the conflict progressed, his tanks, artillery, sea power and better-armed infantry put rebel forces on the defensive.” THE NATIONLIBYA AND THE DILEMMA OF INTERVENTION18 MARCH 2011 http://www.thenation.com/article/159330/libya-and-dilemma-intervention ”A second objective being advanced by intervention proponents — but not supported in the resolution — is the need to tilt the balance of power away from Qaddafi. The no fly zone stands little chance of achieving this either; it’s a more than 600-mile trip from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to Tripoli, and even if the rebels had air support on their journey, Qaddafi’s forces could clean their clocks as they advanced. ” DOES THE WORLD BELONG IN LIBYA’S WAR?NOT UNTIL WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE GETTING INTOMICAH ZENKO http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/03/18/does_the_world_belong_in_libyas_war?page=0,2  ”A second objective being advanced by intervention proponents — but not supported in the resolution — is the need to tilt the balance of power away from Qaddafi. The no fly zone stands little chance of achieving this either; it’s a more than 600-mile trip from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to Tripoli, and even if the rebels had air support on their journey, Qaddafi’s forces could clean their clocks as they advanced. To really tip the balance, you’d probably need sustained close air support and arms. Yet paragraph nine of the earlier resolution (1970) expressly forbids arming the rebel forces. So if we really want to tip the balance of power and arm the rebels, as the Egyptians seem to be doing, we need to recognize that we will be in violation of a U.N. Security Council Resolution. And again, there’s no guarantee it would work. ” DOES THE WORLD BELONG IN LIBYA’S WAR?NOT UNTIL WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE GETTING INTOMICAH ZENKO http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/03/18/does_the_world_belong_in_libyas_war?page=0,2  ”But if it does not succeed quickly, and the intervention degenerates into a long quagmire of air strikes, grinding street battles, and growing pressure for the introduction of outside ground forces, then the impact could be quite different. Despite the bracing scenes of Benghazi erupting into cheers at the news of the Resolution, Arab support for the intervention is not nearly as deep as it seems and will not likely survive an extended war. If Libyan civilians are killed in airstrikes, and especially if foreign troops enter Libyan territory, and images of Arabs killed by U.S. forces replace images of brave protestors battered by Qaddafi’s forces on al-Jazeera, the narrative could change quickly into an Iraq-like rage against Western imperialism. What began as an indigenous peaceful Arab uprising against authoritarian rule could collapse into a spectacle of war and intervention. ” THE U.N.’S HIGH STAKES GAMBLE IN LIBYAMARC LYNCH18 MARCH 2011 http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/18/towards_military_intervention_in_libya  INTERNATIONAL RED CROSSLIBYA/CIVILIANS AT HIGH RISK AMID ESCALATING CONFLICT’19 MARCH 2011 http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/news-release/2011/libya-news-2011-03-19.htm INTERNATIONAL RED CROSSBASIC RULES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW IN ARMED CONFLICTS http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/basic-rules-ihl-311288.htm  HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHLIBYA: END VIOLENT CRACKDOWN IN TRIPOLI13 MARCH 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/13/libya-end-violent-crackdown-tripoli HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHEVENTS OF 2 YEARS AGO SPARKED CURRENT UPRISING IN LIBYA11 MARCH 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/11/events-2-years-ago-sparked-current-uprising-libya  STR8TALK CHRONICLELIBYAN INSURGENTS KILL TWO NIGERIANS19 MARCH 2011 http://str8talkchronicle.com/?p=13153  WIKIPEDIATROJAN HORSE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_Horse
END OF THE ARTICLE
”Is war illegal without a second UN resolution?
The prohibition of the use of force is a foundational rule of international law. Only two exceptions are permitted: the use of force in self-defence, or with the express authorisation of the UN security council exercising its powers under chapter VII of the UN charter.
Iraq has not attacked the US, the UK or their allies, nor is there any evidence that it is about to do so. Force may only be used in self-defence in response to an actual or (according to some commentators) an imminent armed attack. Therefore any arguments based on self-defence fail. What the US national security strategy has advocated are pre-emptive attacks on countries which may threaten the US. The use of armed force in such circumstances is contrary to international law.”
THE LEGAL CASE FOR WAR WITH IRAQ
As the US and UK appear set to pursue war in Iraq without a second UN resolution, Matthew Happold explains whether this course of action would be legalMatthew HappoldThu 13 Mar 2003 13.03 GMT
Is war illegal without a second UN resolution?
The prohibition of the use of force is a foundational rule of international law. Only two exceptions are permitted: the use of force in self-defence, or with the express authorisation of the UN security council exercising its powers under chapter VII of the UN charter.
Iraq has not attacked the US, the UK or their allies, nor is there any evidence that it is about to do so. Force may only be used in self-defence in response to an actual or (according to some commentators) an imminent armed attack. Therefore any arguments based on self-defence fail. What the US national security strategy has advocated are pre-emptive attacks on countries which may threaten the US. The use of armed force in such circumstances is contrary to international law.
What about UN resolution 1441?
Security council resolution 1441 does not authorise the use of force. Any attack on Iraq would consequently be illegal.
Resolution 1441 finds Iraq to be in “material breach” of its disarmament obligations under earlier security council resolutions. It gives Iraq a “final opportunity” to comply with its obligations and, to that end, establishes an onerous and rigidly-timetabled programme of Iraqi disclosures and UN inspections.
Failures by Iraq to comply are to be reported to the security council, which must then “convene immediately … to consider the situation and the need for full compliance”. The resolution also recalls that the council has repeatedly warned Iraq of “serious consequences” as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.
But the resolution does not authorise the use of force. The term “serious consequences” is not UN code for enforcement action (the term used is “all necessary measures”). And, in their explanations of their votes adopting resolution 1441, council members were careful to say that the resolution did not provide such an authorisation.
Why, then, does the government say there is a legal case for war?
It is difficult to know on exactly what grounds the government is basing its arguments that that is a legal basis for war, in the absence of a second security council resolution. Ministers have been less than explicit as to what that basis might be, and the government has refused to release the advice given them by the law officers and Foreign Office lawyers.
Nevertheless, there are arguments, if not very convincing ones, that the proposed US and UK action would be lawful. In particular, it is argued that security council resolution 678 (1990) provides express security council authorisation for force. That resolution, adopted by the security council in response to the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait, authorised the American-led coalition to use “all necessary means” to liberate Kuwait and restore peace and security to the region.
Hostilities in the Gulf war were then terminated by resolution 687 (1991), which imposed a lengthy list of obligations on Iraq, including several regarding disarmament. Iraq is in breach of those obligations. Indeed, resolution 1441 found it to be in “material breach” of them. Accordingly, so the argument goes, the authorisation to use force granted the US and the UK by resolution 678 has been re-activated.
However, there are problems with this analysis. First, it is generally considered that security council authorisations of force are only for limited and specific purposes. In the case of resolution 678, the authorisation to use force terminated with the adoption of resolution 687. Secondly, such an analysis was specifically rejected by security council members in their explanations for their votes on resolution 1441. The general view was that resolution 1441 did not provide for “automaticity”, that is, it did not trigger any authorisation to use force.
Finally, it might be thought that even if resolution 678 did permit the USA and the UK to use force to enforce Iraq’s disarmament obligations, it does not provide authority for regime change.
Did the UN give permission for military action in Kosovo?
The security council did not authorise Nato intervention in Kosovo, although the situation was regularised by security council resolution 1244, which imposed a UN protectorate on Kosovo. Accordingly, many commentators consider Nato’s actions to have been illegal, although opinion is divided as to both the legal and the moral situation.
The British government argued that it was permitted to use force pursuant to a doctrine of humanitarian intervention. The legal foundations of such a doctrine are, at best, shaky. Certainly, the doctrine has been rejected by Russia, China and the 133 states of the G-77. In any case, the criteria advanced by the UK permitting humanitarian intervention do not apply to Iraq.
Are there any other precedents for action such as that which is being contemplated over Iraq?
Another precedent sometimes cited is the intervention by Ecowas (the Economic Community of West African States) in Liberia from 1990. This intervention was not authorised by the security council, but it was retrospectively approved. Whether the subsequent approval of the security council can serve to retrospectively legalise an action unlawful at the time of its commission is debatable. In any case, Ecowas was seen as a regional arrangement as defined by chapter VIII of the UN charter and, as such, as having a particular responsibility for peace and security within its region. It is difficult to see the US and UK having such a role in the Middle East.
Could the UK be prosecuted under international law?
In practice, no. The UK has acceded to the compulsory jurisdiction of the international court of justice. Iraq, however, has not. Even if Iraq were to do so now, it would be barred from bringing a case against the UK until six months had elapsed. If conflict does ensue, one might expect a new regime to have been installed in Baghdad before the six months is up.
Could Tony Blair follow Slobodan Milosevic into the dock?
Unlikely. The waging of aggressive war is a crime under international law, giving rise to individual criminal responsibility. A number of the defendants at Nuremberg and Tokyo were convicted of crimes against the peace for having planned and waged wars of aggression. However, no individuals have been convicted of aggression since.
The UK, unlike the US, is a party to the Rome statute of the international criminal court. The statute has been in force since July 1 2002, and the court is now in the process of being established. Crimes within the jurisdiction of the court include aggression, but only when a definition of the crime has been agreed, which has not yet occurred, and only in respect of acts committed after the adoption of the definition.
It is possible that UK nationals could be brought before the court and charged with war crimes or crimes against humanity. However, the court’s jurisdiction is subsidiary to national jurisdictions, so this would only happen if the UK courts had proved unable or unwilling to prosecute British nationals suspected of such crimes, which seems unlikely.
· Matthew Happold is lecturer in law at the University of Nottingham
END OF THE ARTICLE
17 APRIL 2003
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
WARCRIMES IN IRAQ WERE WIDESPREAD
17 APRIL 2003
Although I fully agree with holding a trial for leaders of the former Iraqi regime, it is a matter of justice that British and Americans also be put on trial for war crimes.
In their air strikes, the United States and Britain used cluster bombs, which are internationally forbidden by the Treaty of Ottawa because of the big risk to civilians. According to international law, the use of weapons with an enlarged risk for civilians is a war crime.
Several times Iraqi civilians were shot by American troops at checkpoints. The justification by military spokesmen, referring to a suicide attack by an Iraqi soldier in civilian clothes, made no sense, because shooting civilians is always a war crime, according to international law.
by Astrid Essed
END OF THE LETTER TO THE EDITORINDEPENDENT INSTITUTEHAS THE US GOVERNMENT COMMITTED WARCRIMES INAFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ?23 MAY 2004
After World War II, the U.S. government, in cooperation with the governments of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and France, established an International Military Tribunal to bring to justice the leaders of the European Axis regimes. The Tribunal’s Charter, published August 8, 1945, declared in Article 6: “The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility”:
(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a Common Plan or Conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
(c) Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated.
The Article concluded by declaring pointedly that “leaders, organizers, instigators, and accomplices participating in the formulation of execution of a Common Plan or Conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.”
Further, Section 7 states: “The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.” Moreover, Section 8 states: “The fact that the defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility . . . .” The Tribunal also prohibited tu quoque (so did you) defenses—no surprise, inasmuch as this whole proceeding amounted to “victor’s justice,” and the prosecuting powers themselves scarcely wished to acknowledge that during the war they too had taken many actions that would not bear scrutiny.
At a series of trials at Nuremberg from 1945 to 1949, more than a hundred defendants were tried. At the most important trial, which placed before the bar of justice the top surviving leaders of Hitler’s government, twenty-two men were indicted on one or more of the counts listed above; nineteen were convicted on one or more counts; and three were found not guilty. Of those found guilty, twelve were sentenced to death by hanging; three were sentenced to life in prison; and four were sentenced to prison for terms that varied from ten to twenty years. No appeals were permitted.
If today the U.S. government were to put itself on trial, on the same basis it employed to try the Nazis at Nuremberg, for actions taken in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years, it might have to convict itself—if only for the sake of consistency. Justice is no respecter of person. Can anyone sincerely maintain that what was a crime for Hermann Goering and Alfred Jodl is not equally a crime for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney?
Evidently, leaders of the Bush administration have given serious consideration to the possibility that their actions might lead to an indictment for war crimes, and they have taken legal measures to minimize their exposure to such prosecution. In a January 25, 2002, memorandum obtained and publicized recently by Newsweek, Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to the president, outlined the pros and cons of the government’s decisions about the treatment of prisoners in the so-called war on terrorism. Gonzales agreed with President George W. Bush that because “the war against terrorism is a new kind of war,” the Geneva Convention III on the Treatment of Prisoners of War need not be heeded. As Gonzales wrote, “this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions . . . . [It] eliminates any argument regarding the need for case-by-case determinations of POW status.” An official presidential determination that the Geneva Convention “does not apply to al Qaeda and the Taliban,” Gonzales opined, “substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. 2441).” That statute, he added pointedly, “prohibits the commission of a ‘war crime’ by or against a U.S. person, including U.S. officials. . . . Adhering to your determination that [the Geneva Convention] does not apply would guard effectively against misconstruction or misapplication of [the War Crimes Act]. . .” and thus would serve as “a solid defense to any future prosecution.”
Not for nothing were administration officials worried about a potential indictment for war crimes. I am neither a lawyer nor an expert on the Geneva Conventions, but as I consider how the U.S. government planned its recent military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and how it has conducted—and continues to conduct—those actions, I encounter time and again prima facie evidence that U.S. leaders and their armed forces in the field have committed crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity as defined by the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945.
First, in the light of voluminous evidence now available to everybody, it seems clear that leaders and advisers of the Bush administration engaged in “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression.” After all, Iraq posed no threat to the United States. Its government had neither the means nor the intention of waging war against this country; nor did it issue any threat to harm the United States. That high officials of the U.S. government and their supporters in the news media and elsewhere openly made many false statements to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq surely exonerates nobody; if anything, those statements cast the guilty parties in an even starker light.
Second, in the light of voluminous evidence now available to everybody, it seems clear that Bush administration leaders and military personnel acting in obedience to those leaders have committed “violations of the laws or customs of war,” including “murder . . . of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war . . . plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.” The perpetrators’ baseless pleas of military necessity, of course, cannot absolve them for their actual crimes as defined above.
The latest outrage, reported in the Washington Post on May 20, 2004, involved the killing by U.S. forces of more than forty civilians, most of them women and children, in the village of Makr al-Deeb in western Iraq. A U.S. military official in Baghdad said that “our sense is that this was a legitimate military target. We suspect that this was a smuggler or foreign-fighter” route. “It’s our estimation right now that the [Iraqi] personnel involved in this matter were part of the foreign-fighter safe house.” So, on the basis of suspicion of trafficking in unauthorized migrants, U.S. military forces, without warning, used aerial bombardments and strafing with high-powered guns to obliterate an entire village. An Iraqi witness at the scene told the Associated Press Television Network: “The planes came in and shot the whole family. They kept shooting [from approximately 2:45 a.m.] until the morning, until they destroyed all the houses. They didn’t leave anything.” In a May 21 follow-up report, Associated Press writer Scheherezade Faramarzi quoted a survivor of the attack, Madhi Nawaf, who said: “One of [the dead] was my daughter. I found her a few steps from the house, her 2-year-old son Raad in her arms. Her 1-year-old son, Raed, was lying nearby, missing his head.”
U.S. forces claim that they were fired upon first, but Iraqis on the scene maintain that the Americans attacked people who had gathered in the village the previous evening for a wedding celebration and that no shooting had taken place prior to the U.S. attack. Regardless of whether U.S. intelligence about a “foreign-fighter safe house” happened to be accurate or not, however, the killing of the village’s noncombatant inhabitants willy-nilly, firing from aircraft at a distance too great to discriminate among persons in targeting and also using bombs that cannot discriminate in any event, looks very much like a war crime. Another survivor of the attack, Sheik Dahan Haraj, denied the U.S. claims and asked the obvious question: If the American soldiers suspected that foreign fighters were in the village, “why not seal off the area and make sure they were indeed foreign fighters?”
In any event, the U.S. action was in this case, as it has been in countless others, wholly out of proportion to the underlying justification. This sort of attack has been going on in Afghanistan for almost three years and in Iraq ever since the U.S. invasion began in March 2003. Anybody can easily fill a cabinet with such news reports filed by journalists from many different countries. As Human Rights Watch concluded in a report last October, U.S. actions “reveal a pattern of over-aggressive tactics, excessive shooting in residential areas and hasty reliance on lethal force.”
Although the U.S. commanders exhibit insouciance about civilian casualties among the Afghan and Iraqi populations—in the immortal words of General Tommy Franks, “We don’t do body counts”—responsible estimates of the number of civilians killed in the recent U.S. military actions range from 1,000 to 5,000 in Afghanistan and from 9,000 to 11,000 (in some estimates as many as 35,000 or more) in Iraq. In addition, thousands of noncombatants have been wounded seriously or have suffered the wanton destruction of their homes and other property. Still, every day, the grisly toll continues to mount. Thus, “crimes against humanity,” including “murder . . . and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population” seem sufficiently obvious to justify a prosecution under the terms of the Nuremberg Tribunal.
Anyone can guess, of course, how the perpetrators of these crimes might seek to excuse their actions—worse yet, to take public credit for them and to seek reelection to public office on the basis of having taken them proudly and enthusiastically while swathed magnificently in the Stars and Stripes (exception being made for the now-globally-publicized “abuse” of prisoners, of course, those actions having been officially designated as “un-American”). But just recall how far the Nazis got at Nuremberg when they invoked the same sorts of excuses. Did not Goering plead, for example, that operation of the concentration camps was necessary to preserve order? Did he not say, “It was a question of removing danger”?
No surprise, of course, if accused criminals offer excuses for their crimes—although Hitler’s minister of munitions Albert Speer was remarkably contrite at Nuremberg, saying “it is my unquestionable duty to assume my share of responsibility for the disaster of the German people.” Especially rare is admission of guilt by government officials: rulers and state functionaries habitually consider themselves above the laws that apply to other people. In Shakespeare’s Richard III, even bloodstained Gloucester had an excuse, but Lady Anne, the slain king’s widow, amidst the aftermath of the mayhem, was not buying it: “Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make no excuse, but to hang thyself.” As Lady Anne said to Gloucester, so others now might say to the leaders of the U.S. government:
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
We need not prejudge, of course. Let all the accused have their day in court. Consistency requires nothing less.ROBERT HIGGS is Retired Senior Fellow in Political Economy, Founding Editor and former Editor at Large of The Independent Review.
END OF THE ARTICLE
WORLD SOCIALIST WEBSITEUS USES CLUSTER BOMBS TO SPREAD DEATHAND DESTRUCTION IN IRAQ5 APRIL 2003
“Weapons of mass destruction” have truly been unleashed in Iraq: new-generation cluster munitions are being used by US and British forces to massacre and terrorise the Iraqi population. Not a single Iraqi bio-chemical weapon has been witnessed, but the “liberators” have already resorted to weapons notorious for their vast and indiscriminate destruction of human life.
After days of denials or refusals to comment, American and British government leaders and military commanders have admitted that high-flying bomber squadrons have dropped cluster bombs, which are designed to kill and maim thousands of people at a time. There is clear evidence that cluster weapons are also being fired from jet fighters, tanks, artillery and off-shore missile launchers.
Gruesome pictures and footage of the mutilated bodies of Iraqi children and other innocents—images that the Western media has largely refused to show—reveal the bloody face of the “liberation” that Washington and London have in mind for the Iraqi people. These methods of warfare are a warning of the reprisals and repression that will follow any military victory.
A clear pattern has emerged from the reports of cluster bomb carnage coming from places like Basra, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Baghdad itself. Wherever Iraqi soldiers and civilians have resisted or even obstructed the invading forces, cluster weapons have been deployed against them. The closer the US-British forces get to the outskirts of the sprawling Iraqi capital, the more the Pentagon and British military are utilizing these high-tech weapons of terror.
In the worst atrocity so far, a day and night of furious American bombing on Monday and Tuesday left at least 61 Iraqi civilians dead and more than 450 seriously injured in the region of Hilla, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad. Most were children.
Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq, described what happened in Hilla and neighboring villages as “a horror.” His team saw “several dozens of bodies which were completely blown to pieces” and “dozens of severed bodies and scattered limbs.” Huguenin-Benjamin confirmed there were at least 460 wounded, being treated in an ill-equipped 280-bed hospital that was “completely unable to cope.” All victims were “farmers, women and children.”
Arab cameramen working for Reuters and Associated Press filmed babies cut in half, amputated limbs, children whose faces were a web of deep cuts. There were also two trucks full of bodies—mostly children and women—parked outside the Hilla hospital.
Dr. Hussein Ghazay from Hilla hospital confirmed that “all the injuries were either from cluster bombing or from bomblets that exploded afterwards when people stepped on them or children picked them up by mistake.” Iraqi journalists on site and later an Agence France Presse photographer said they saw debris equipped with small parachutes characteristic of cluster bombs—which release up to 400 time-delay bomblets.
Just south of Hilla, US tanks blew apart a civilian bus heading toward Najaf, killing all but one of its 35 passengers. “Many of the people on the bus were decapitated,” said hospital surgeon Dr. Dhiya Sultani.
Robert Fisk of the British Independent newspaper described the Hilla mortuary as “a butcher’s shop of chopped-up corpses.” After visiting the hospital, he wrote: “The wounds are vicious and deep, a rash of scarlet spots on the back and thighs or face, the shards of shrapnel from the cluster bombs buried an inch or more in the flesh. The wards of the Hilla teaching hospital are proof that something illegal—something quite outside the Geneva Conventions—occurred in the villages around the city once known as Babylon.”
Reports indicate that the cluster bombs used in Hilla were a type known as BLU97 A/B. Each canister contains 202 small bomblets—BLU97—the size of a soft drink can. These cluster bomblets scatter over a large area approximately the size of two football fields. On average, at least 5 percent do not explode upon impact, turning them into de facto anti-personnel mines.
Victims interviewed by Fisk remembered seeing bomblets filling the air. Rahed Hakem heard “the voice of explosions” and looked out to see “the sky raining fire.” Muhammad Moussa said clusters of “little boxes” fell like “small grapefruit.” He added: “If it hadn’t exploded and you touched it, it went off immediately. They exploded in the air and on the ground and we still have some in our home, unexploded.”
The hospital’s deputy administrator and a doctor said a US Special Forces operation involving Apache helicopters nearby had gone spectacularly wrong one night when militiamen forced them to retreat. Shortly afterward, the cluster bomb raids began, although the targeted villages appeared to have been on the other side of Hilla to the abortive American attack..
Victims and relatives bitterly denounced the Bush administration. One mother, whose five-year-old son lost his arm to a bomblet, pointed to six other beds occupied by youngsters with bloodstained bandages and bruises, and cried: “What did these little children do to the Americans? What did they do to Bush?”
Bassan Hoki, 38, said he was in the bus attack. Surgeons had amputated his right arm above the elbow, and seeping bandages covered deep wounds on both his legs. His mother, who was seated beside him, was killed instantly in the blast. “I looked around me, it seemed like everyone was dead,” he said. “People’s heads were snapped off their bodies. The bus was torn to pieces.”
He added, “I have just one thing to say to George Bush. He is a criminal and a liar to talk of bringing us freedom. He attacks civilians for no reason. This is a crime, a crime, a crime.”
Hussein Ali Hussein, 26, a salesman who lost most of one leg when a car was hit by an American tank shell, said: “We believed the Americans, when they said they were not going to attack civilians. Why would the Americans do this to me? But we Iraqis will never accept that this country is ruled by anybody but Iraqis, so we will fight to the last drop of our blood.”
A 21-minute videotape of the Hilla hospital carnage has been seen by reporters in Baghdad. In one sequence, according to the Independent, the video shows a father holding pieces of his baby and screaming “Cowards, cowards” at the camera.
Cluster bomb casualties have also been reported in Basra, Najaf, Karbala and Baghdad. On Thursday, Iraq’s information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf accused US-led forces of dropping cluster bombs on the Douri residential area of Baghdad, killing 14 people and wounding 66.
International law flouted
Widely used by US forces in Vietnam, the 1991 Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and by Israel in the 1982 siege of West Beirut, cluster bombs have been condemned by human rights organizations. They compare their effects to anti-personnel mines, which are outlawed by the 1999 Ottawa Treaty.
The bomblets are so lethal they can demolish a tank, but they are notoriously erratic in their dispersal and many do not explode on impact—the failure rate is as high as 30 percent. Apart from inflicting immediate casualties, half-buried small yellow cylinders remain for years—deadly threats to civilians, especially children, who easily mistake them for toys or food parcels. [See accompanying article].
In a report released just before the Iraq invasion began, the New York-based Human Rights Watch organisation said cluster munitions dropped in the 1991 Gulf War were to blame for the deaths or injuries of more than 4,000 civilians after fighting ended.
The anti-landmine charity set up to commemorate the late British Princess Diana joined the condemnation. “It’s appalling that, despite the well-documented problems with cluster weapons, the US and UK are dropping them on Iraq,” said Andrew Purkis, chief executive of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
Using cluster bombs in civilian areas violates the Geneva Conventions on war, which demand protection for civilians even if they are intermingled with military personnel. Amnesty International stated: “The use of cluster bombs in an attack on a civilian area of al- Hilla constitutes an indiscriminate attack and a grave violation of international humanitarian law.”
For the US and British forces it is a reckless policy that also endangers the lives of Allied ground troops. Human Rights Watch noted that two US marines were killed—one Sunday and the other the next day—after stepping on unexploded cluster bombs. In 1991, six US army combat engineers were killed while disposing of cluster bombs.
US and British officials have flatly defended the resort to cluster weapons, while denying they were used in civilian areas. The US military said Wednesday that B-52 bombers had for the first time dropped six new CBU-105 bombs—1,000-pound (454 kg) cluster bombs—on Iraqi tanks defending Baghdad.
A Central Command spokesman, Navy Captain Frank Thorp, said the munitions were playing a tactical role in the battlefield and working well against large targets, such as an airfield. “It’s a very effective weapon,” he said. While protecting civilians was important, he said, “Let’s be very clear, weapons are designed for war. There is no weapon that doesn’t cause harm except for the leaflets we have been dropping for the past month.”
British military commanders denied a BBC report on Thursday that they used cluster bombs in and around the southern city of Basra. BBC correspondent Hilary Andersson, with UK troops in southern Iraq, was told L20 cluster munitions had been used in Iraq’s second city of 1.5 million people, which British forces have failed to conquer despite more than two weeks of fighting.
British military spokesman Colonel Chris Vernon admitted that his forces were using such bombs, insisting they were “a legitimate munition,” but only against “Iraqi regular forces, where appropriate.” Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon confirmed this position in Parliament, claiming that cluster bombs had been considered in Basra but ruled out because of the likely civilian toll.
A more honest statement of the thinking in the British political and military establishment came from General Patrick Cordingley, who commanded a British armoured brigade in the Gulf War in 1991. He told the BBC that the British people must “harden our hearts” and accept that mistakes are made.
Other civilian deaths are being reported throughout Iraq. Early Thursday, reporters on the bus to Hilla said they saw the park set aside for Baghdad’s annual international trade fair with about a dozen large buildings completely flattened with smoke still rising. Iraqi officials said later that the strike had hit a maternity clinic on the fairground, killing nine women.
Al-Mustansariya University in Baghdad has been bombed, as had a Red Crescent maternity hospital. In Al Janabiy, in the southeast of Baghdad, a farm was pulverized by missiles, leaving at least 20 dead, including 11 children.
The Independent has established that an American missile was responsible for the devastation at the Shu’ale market in Baghdad on March 28, where at least 62 civilians were killed. Serial numbers found on fragments of the missile indicated that it was either a high speed anti-radiation missile (Harm) or a Paveway laser-guided bomb, both manufactured by Raytheon in Texas.
The Bush administration, the Blair government and the US Central Command continue to blame the market massacre in Baghdad on misfired Iraqi missiles. With the cluster bombs, however, no such evasion is possible.
Since there is no evidence that a single Iraqi aircraft has taken off since the start of the Anglo-American invasion, not even the US and British propaganda machine can claim the cluster bombs were dropped by Iraq.
The outrage expressed by the Hilla massacre survivors reflects the seething hostility developing throughout the Middle East. Even in Egypt, where the pro-US Mubarak regime has sought to suppress antiwar sentiment, the semi-official al-Ahram newspaper was compelled to conclude in a recent editorial: “The ‘clean war’ has become the dirtiest of wars, the bloodiest, the most destructive. Smart weapons have become deliberately stupid, blindly killing people in markets and popular neighborhoods.”
END OF THE ARTICLE
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHCLUSTER MUNITIONS
Cluster munitions pose an immediate threat to civilians during conflict by randomly scattering submunitions or bomblets over a wide area. They continue to pose a threat post-conflict by leaving remnants, including submunitions that fail to explode upon impact becoming de facto landmines. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also requires destruction of stockpiles, clearance of areas contaminated by remnants, and victim assistance. More than 120 states have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions and are working to implement its provisions. Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition and contributes to its annual Cluster Munition Monitor report
END OF THE ARTICLE
NOTES 3, 4 AND 5
INSIDER,COMEU NATIONS UNANIMOUSLY AGREE TO ACCEPT UKRAINIAN REFUGEES FOR 3 YEARS WITHOUT GOING THROUGH ASYLUMPROCESS: REPORT
- The EU announced that Ukrainian refugees are welcome into member countries for 3 years without applying for asylum, the BBC reported.
- It comes as thousands are fleeing Ukraine to neighboring countries after Russia invaded the country.
- “We welcome with open arms those who have to flee from Putin’s bombs,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.
END OF ARTICLE
VOA NEWSEUROPE BEGINS WELCOMING UKRAINIAN REFUGEES
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are arriving in Eastern Europe, fleeing the Russian invasion of their homeland. Experts predict between 1 million and 5 million could enter the European Union in coming weeks. This time, countries such as Poland are opening doors that were previously closed to others seeking asylum.
Grabbing any form of transportation they can, many Ukrainians are crossing their borders in search of safety. This group of refugees is arriving in Poland by train.
Others wait for hours to cross by car or walk kilometers to reach border points with Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave, they are supposed to be defending their homeland.
“We have, with all the frontline member states, explicit contingency plans to welcome and host immediately those refugees from Ukraine,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
She has outlined European Union plans to support Ukrainian refugees and those internally displaced by the conflict through its humanitarian aid office, known as ECHO.
“And [as far as] internally displaced people are concerned we have a lot of support through ECHO humanitarian aid — shelter and all the necessities people who are internally displaced immediately need,” she added.
While the EU hopes there will be as few Ukrainians seeking asylum as possible, she said, Europe is prepared to welcome them.
The United Nations fears that up to 5 million Ukrainians could seek refuge in neighboring countries, including up to 3 million in Poland.
That is far more than there were during the 2015 migrant crisis, when 1.3 million Syrian, Afghan and other asylum seekers from conflict-torn countries flooded into Europe, the most in a single year since World War II. Germany granted asylum to many of them.
Eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary, though, were reluctant to take them in. Hungary even built a border fence. Earlier this year, Poland also began building a border wall to prevent a new wave of Middle Eastern asylum seekers from entering from Belarus.
Today’s welcome is different. Poland is opening reception centers along its over 500-kilometer border with Ukraine. Poland’s interior minister says Warsaw will take in all the Ukrainians who arrive.
Here in France, far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen also affirmed her support for taking in Ukrainian refugees — even as her party earlier petitioned against a massive influx of refugees from Afghanistan.
Refugee rights groups welcome today’s open doors but they are concerned about discriminatory treatment of asylum seekers.
“Absolutely this kind of difference in treatment is something that we fear and that we see. With Ukraine, countries might be more inclined to keep their borders open. But we will see how this develops,” said Ole Solvang of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Still others fear that if the conflict in Ukraine drags on, Europe’s welcome mat may be less welcoming than it is today.
END OF ARTICLE
BBCEU BACKS INVOKING REFUGEE DIRECTIVE FORTHE FIRST TIME
More now on the EU agreeing to take in Ukrainian refugees for up to three years without asking them to first apply for asylum.
The BBC has been told that the vast majority of European interior ministers are in favour of invoking the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive for the first time ever, to cope with the mass influx of displaced Ukrainians arriving in EU states.
Currently, Ukrainians can stay visa-free within the EU for 90 days. The EU says invoking the temporary protection directive would make it easier for Ukrainians to temporarily settle in EU countries, removing all paperwork associated with typical asylum applications.
Having received a majority of support, ministers can now take this to the next council meeting on Thursday. The commission will then have to come up with a full proposal for member states to sign up to.
END OF BBC ARTICLE
AL JAZEERAEUROPEAN NATIONS THROW OPEN BORDERS TOUKRAINIAN REFUGEES
Anti-refugee governments in Poland and Hungary take decidedly different tone after Russian invasion forces tens of thousands to flee.
Countries across Eastern Europe have announced plans to host hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been turning up at the country’s border crossings with Poland, Romania and Moldova. Many of these countries, which have taken a hardline stance towards refugees arriving from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan in recent years have taken a decidedly different tone in pledging to host and support their Ukranian neighbours.
Multiple humanitarian agencies have issued statements expressing their commitment to displaced Ukrainians asking countries to keep their borders open to refugees seeking shelter.“UNHCR is also working with governments in neighbouring countries, calling on them to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection. We stand ready to support efforts by all to respond to any situation of forced displacement,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
Grandi said on Twitter on Saturday that 150,000 Ukrainians had now fled the fighting in their country.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu said her country’s borders were open to Ukrainian citizens and it would help those arriving in their “humanitarian needs”.Poland, which has taken a hardline stance against migration in recent years, announced its willingness to take “as many as there will be at our borders”.Hungary, which has taken a similarly hostile stance to refugees arriving from countries such as Syria in recent years, pledged to remain open for those fleeing from Ukraine.“We’re prepared to take care of them, and we’ll be able to rise to the challenge quickly and efficiently,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has previously described migrants arriving in Europe as a “poison”.‘Only so many places’Hanne Beirens, director of Migration Policy Institute Europe, said there were reasons for the different attitudes taken by some countries that have been notably hostile in recent years to refugees.“Firstly, this is a positioning from EU states within a particular geopolitical conflict. In that respect it fits within a broader narrative of disapproving of Russian actions and the kind of solidarity in different kinds of dimensions with the Ukraine, government and population with those who may be displaced because of the conflict,” she said.“There’s only so many places that people who are displaced by the conflict with Russia can go, and some have already moved to Moldova. Others when crossing the border immediately land into EU territory, so there’s no other place for them to go and so that kind of principle of seeking protection in a safe haven in the first country you cross fits perfectly here.”Poland – which faced fierce criticism from human rights groups for its treatment of asylum seekers who were pushed to the Belarusian border by Belarusian authorities, including the legalisation of pushbacks last November – has taken a decidedly different stance towards the prospect of a large arrival of Ukrainian refugees.A number of reception centres have already been established in the country.Greece, an entry point for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and unrest from Syria and Afghanistan in recent years, also made pledges of support for Ukrainian citizens and those arriving in Ukraine’s neighbours.Earlier in the week, there were suggestions it would make commitments to host Ukrainian refugees, but a statement issued on Friday stopped short of this, offering instead technical and humanitarian aid to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries.“EU countries, including Greece, stepping in to protect Ukrainian refugees shows what we’ve long urged for: safe access to the EU for refugees is both necessary and feasible. And fair and humane asylum systems benefit us all.”Greece’s listing Ukraine as “a ‘safe country of origin’ only weeks ago runs counter to those very principles”, said Minos Mouzourakis, legal officer at Refugee Support Aegean.Greece has faced fierce criticism in recent years for heavily documented pushbacks of asylum seekers from its land and sea borders.Different responsesDimitris Choulis, a lawyer working with refugees on the Greek island of Samos, one of the main points of arrival for refugees in 2015-16, noted the different responses of many EU nations to the prospect of a large-scale displacement of Ukrainian refugees in Europe.“I was surprised from Finland, for example, in the announcement after the invasion how willing they are to receive refugees while after years of bombing in Syria or Afghanistan they don’t do the same,” he said.Choulis questioned how Ukrainians who choose to seek asylum outside of their neighbouring countries will be treated. “Are we going to ask them why they didn’t go to a neighbouring country and if they come here [to Greece] are they not refugees anymore?” he asked.Beirens said there were multiple different reasons for this different response among some countries.“It would be the test of time to see how many would be displaced from Ukraine and what the EU’s response would be moving forward … It’s hard to assess how long the conflict will last, whether there will continue to be attacks on multiple regions of Ukraine, which would, in and of itself, trigger refugee movements to Europe,” said Beirens.If that is the case it could lead to similar refugee numbers as in 2015.“The lowest predictions in terms of a full-scale invasion of Russia talks of one million displaced persons, but there are so others who talk about up to three million or more,” she said.“The response may be quite different precisely because of the longstanding tradition of Ukraine nationals coming into the EU to work and study there.”
END OF AL JAZEERA ARTICLE
ASTRID ESSED ATTACK ON BUDIMEX, CONTRACTOR OF THEPOLAND BELARUS WALL IN THE WAR ON MIGRANTSASTRID ESSED14 FEBRUARY 2022
POLAND-BELARUS BORDER CRISIS/LETTER TO THE EU/”EU’S HUMAN OBLIGATIONS AGAINST THE REFUGEES”ASTRID ESSED4 DECEMBER 2021
POLAND-BELARUS BORDER CRISIS/LETTER TO THE EU/”EU’S HUMAN OBLIGATIONS AGAINST THE REFUGEES”ASTRID ESSED4 DECEMBER 2021
AMNESTY INTERNATIONALEU ”EXCEPTIONAL MEASURES” NORMALIZE DEHUMANISATION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS’1 DECEMBER 2021
In response to today’s proposals from the European Commission which would allow Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to derogate from EU rules, including by holding asylum-seekers and migrants at the border for 16 weeks with minimal safeguards, Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Office said:
“The arrival of people at the EU’s borders with Belarus is entirely manageable with the rules as they stand. Today’s proposals will further punish people for political gain, weaken asylum protections, and undermine the EU’s standing at home and abroad. If the EU can allow a minority of member states to throw out the rule book due to the presence of a few thousand people at its border, it throws out any authority it has on human rights and the rule of law.
“The current situation at the EU’s borders with Belarus is being used by some countries as an excuse to weaken protections of asylum-seekers and push their anti-migrant agenda. Holding asylum seekers in detention for four months, without the protection standards required by international law, is normalising de facto unlawful detention at the EU’s external borders.
“Asylum rules should be upheld, not allowed to be side-stepped by countries via so-called exceptional measures. Amnesty International is alarmed that the proposal will violate people’s rights, and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis at borders while continuing to expose the EU to further internal and external manipulation and blackmailing.
“While Lukashenka’s mistreatment and instrumentalization of migrants and asylum seekers is deplorable, he is exploiting the EU’s own tendency to treat people at their borders as a threat.
“At least 10 people, including a one-year-old child, have died at the EU’s Eastern borders in recent weeks. Today the European Commission is bringing in measures which undermine rights and normalize the dehumanization and suffering of people at the EU’s borders.”
END OF STATEMENT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
END OF THE NOTES