International War Crimes Tribunal
Published Thursday, March 12, 1992
As the United States wakes up to the human rights abuses committed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s government, at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in New York City on February 29, I was one of 2,000 people who attended the public session of the International War Crimes Tribunal convened by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. The Tribunal was not a mock trial of the Iraqi leader like the one conducted by the American Bar Association at its annual convention in Atlanta last summer.
This International War Crimes Tribunal was real and culminated the efforts in the last 10 months of the Commission of Inquiry spearheaded by Mr. Clark to collect evidence and testimony to substantiate its 19-point indictment. It presented its findings at public hearings held in 28 U.S. cities and in 15 countries around the world, proceedings consistently ignored by mainstream media. On the one-year anniversary of the Gulf War, the Tribunal’s 21 judges from 17 countries who convened in New York found George Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf and others guilty as charged with war crimes against Iraq, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. And in this twist may lie the true New World Order.
At the first hearing in New York City in Stuveysant Hall on May 11, 1991, which I also attended with more than 1,000 people, where Mr. Clark outlined the basis of the Commission’s work, he said: "It’s been very rare in history that the people who lose a war don’t suffer terribly, but it’s never happened in history that a nation that has won a war has been held accountable. We intend to make this one different."
In his opening remarks this past weekend, Mr. Clark compared the 110,000 sorties flown over Iraq by the U.S.-led coalition that dropped almost 89,000 tons of explosive to the 59 SCUD missiles fired by Iraq. He pointed out that we now know that only 7 percent of coalition bombs were precision-guided with 93 percent of them free-falling. He compared the 148 casualties suffered by the U.S. to the 125,000 Iraqi soldiers and possibly as many as 130,000 Iraqi civilians killed. He reminded the audience of the specially outfitted U.S. tanks that had buried alive up to 8,000 Iraqi soldiers and the U.S.-led massacre of retreating soldiers and civilians on the 7-mile "Highway of Death." Sixty percent of coalition bombs were dropped on civilian structures and people in Iraq.
Mr. Clark pointed out that the U.S. invasion of Panama violated all the international laws Iraq violated when it invaded Kuwait and killed more Panamanians than Iraq killed Kuwaitis. "This was not a war," Mr. Clark said, "this was 42 days of high-tech, non-stop bombing on a defenseless population. It was a slaughter."
For the next 5 1/2 hours, the steady parade of witnesses who appeared before the International War Crimes Tribunal on Saturday to speak represented what the United Nations originally stood for—people from all over the world who want peace.
But perhaps the feelings of all the witnesses could best be summed up in the remarks of the French agronomists Rene Dumont and Charlotte Paquet, who reported on the destruction they observed firsthand of the Iraqi farmers’ seed storage facilities, of the only animal vaccine facility in the country and the only milk factory in the country, which France had helped build, of the dams that regulated the irrigation system, of the destruction that has caused the Iraqis over 60 percent unemployment. "The embargo is killing," Ms. Paquet said in French-accented English, "but so does silence."
The embargo has turned all of Iraq into a concentration camp for its 17 million citizens, who receive under 900 calories of food per capita per day, with the Kurds, internally blockaded, confined to a camp within a camp. The Objective of the International War Crimes Tribunal was to bring the whole truth about the Gulf War to light so that citizens could take the information gathered at the hearings back to their respective countries to demand not only an accounting from but action of their representatives.
Copies of the 280-page report "War Crimes" are available for purchase for $14.95 (shipping included) from the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal at 36 East 12th Street, New York 10003.