By Lauren Booth
Victory in Kuala Lumpur but no cigars in Guantanamo.
Billed as a ‘court of conscience,’ the Kuala Lumpur War crimes tribunal proved to be a gathering of sharp, knowledgeable and equally kind hearted, talents from the legal and human rights world. Over four days, a packed court room in KL, heard testimony from a series witnesses. Men and women from Iraq and the UK who had endured Viet Cong style torture – all supposedly in the name of America’s ‘security.’ The accounts of pulped limbs, sexual degradation, Medieval shackling and psychopathic torments inflicted by the powerful on the innocent and the weak, on more than one occasion, drew gasps of shock, from the court.
And then, at last the moment of truth. The first panel of judges in the world to hear the case against George Bush’s regime found he and seven cohorts unanimously guilty on all counts. Let’s re cap on who was in the dock.
Former US President George W Bush and his co conspirators;
- Richard Cheney
- Donald H Rumsfeld
- Alberto Gonzales, then counsel to president Bush
- David Addington, then General Counsel to the VP
- William Haynes II, then General counsel to the Sec of Defence
- Jay Bybee the Assistant Attorney General
- John Choo Yoo, former deputy Assistant Attorney General.
All the above have been charged and found guilty of the crime of torture and war crimes, in contravention of the convention against Torture 1984, the third Geneva Convention of 1949 and other treaties. For the full charges visit here for the War crimes list.
Bush et al connived in the commission of acts of torture and cruel and degrading and inhuman treatment. The 2002 to 2003 infamous ‘torture memos that passed between attorneys and the office of the Sec of state Rumsfeld were not as the weaselling lawyers may allege merely advice. Remits from the attorney generals office are far more than advice to the politicians – they are orders. The Presidential office not should but must adhere to the advice. If of course it is legal.
Meanwhile, as Washington connived to round up ever more civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and indeed across the globe – the detainees we heard from this week – and how many thousands of others? – were subjected to severe physical and mental pain and cruel and inhuman acts over log periods, as a result.
And still the question hung in the air over all the proceedings. Why? Why did the American political system and the army round up men like Moazzem Begg or women like Jameela Abbas of Iraq. Moazzem is a British former detainee of Guantanamo Bay and now director of the charity Cage Prisoner. He was in Afghanistan to build a children’s school with his family for a charitable venture, fled to Pakistan and was snatched by US thugs from Islamabad in 2002. Whilst Jameela, a widowed mother in her fifties was brutally snatched form her home in Kirkuk in 2004 and passed through several terrible American torture bases before being put through a system of ‘planned, ordered and committed’ war crimes, in Abu Ghraib. Six months she was there without charge.
Moazzem Begg was asked initially by the US thugs of th CIA and the military; ‘When was the last time you saw Bin Laden.’ Honestly, if it wasn’t so sick it would be laughable. This was a standard question put to most if not all detainees; men, women and yes even children. I wonder what they ask of the thousands of men, women and children being tortured right now in secret US torture bases whose names we don’t even know? It must be quite a blow to the meat heads running these illegal concentration camps to have to invent other ‘reasons’ for their acts of terror.
The tribunal orders that reparations commensurate with the irreparable harm and injury, pain and suffering undergone by the Complainant War Crime Victims be paid to them. This is of course just a tribunal of conscience with no real power of enforcement, however it finds the witnesses are entitled ex justtia to the payment of reparations by Bush, Cheney and the rest of them. The tribunal hopes that armed with the findings, the witnesses will in the near future find a state or an international judicial entity able and willing to exercise jurisdiction and to enforce the verdict. The award of reparations will now submitted to the war crimes commission to facilitate the determination and collection of reparations by the complainant war crime victims.
Francis Boyle, of the prosecution, makes no bones about the ‘why’ of America’s addiction to torturing civilians, usually, Muslims. And it’s not for information about terror plots, dirty bombs, WMD’s, or any of that other BS.
They want to terrorize all those who disagree with their policies. And that includes the American public as well.
You see Jameela Abbas was told, actually told, by a US General on one of the sites where she was tortured, that she had been specially selected for long term abuse. Not because they thought for a second that she had any information on the Iraqi resistance. Because she was a well known female public figure; head of the corporation of unions in government. When it reached the Iraqi public she was at first ‘disappeared’ then at Abu Ghraib without charge – well, it would just help spread terror of the US troops in homes across the land.
Those who have suffered in this way that I have met, all have great self composure and calm. This is Islam. ‘This is from Allah’ all the prisoners I meet tell me. The idea that Blair (war criminal – convicted here too), that Bush (war criminal) only becomes brighter and makes even greater sense under oppression. In Islam you fear the creator not the creation.
The faith that is stronger than terror.
Thoughts post verdict quickly turned to the future and the bloody reality of the present. For as Begg told me, when the 169 detainees still in Guantanamo Bay after ten years, hear the verdict they will free strengthened. But what use strength when it won’t change their reality one bit? And what of President I-will-shut-Guantanmo-give-me-the-Nobel-Prize Obama? The chain of command from the White House to the animals who kicked the Afghani Taxi driver Diliwar to death for the fun of hearing him sob ‘Allah’ each time they kicked him – are STILL committing war crimes. Bagram is open. Guantamo Bay – open. And worse is to come warns Francis Boyle looking to the near future and first, near certain Gitmo executions.
‘If this happens then for the first time the United states will have Nazi style extermination camps’ says Boyle. Exaggeration? This is a legal specialist who is an expert on international law. State murders without due process of people of a particular faith, on ‘security’ grounds, mimic precisely the acts of the Nazis.
‘The Arabs, the Muslims and Asian people of colour are the Jews of today’ says Boyle.
See this report for more
After a week of relived horrors and an emotional victory. What remains in the heart and mind in all this madness is the voices of the Muslim survivors. Not victims. Survivors. Each of whom I have met says that the lasting victory is that of Islam. The faith that is stronger than terror. And here in KL, I will always remember too, the love that can flow between human beings of all colours and faiths; when oppression must be resisted and fought.
N.B Tony Blair was found guilty in KL in 2011.