4pm today, a group of around 20 people gathered around the U.S. Federal Goverment Building in Grand Rapids, MI (or – as named by the Odawa peoples – Owashtinong Aajigaaning) and part of the group entered to speak to U.S. Representative Vern Ehlers about his crimes against international law as it related to an impending invasion of Iraq. The community members who entered the building never made it past the lobby since an aide came out to try to address the needs of the group.
Although Vern Ehlers was not present, his aide was informed of his crimes and was handed the list of violations – current and potential – to forward to him. The aide attempted to frame the confrontation as a matter of different opinions. Community members responded that opinions were not the focus but that it was the actions of government representatives and whether they supported or committed crimes against international law that was the focus.
A list of varous charges and violations cited the U.S. Constitution, Geneva Convention, Nuremberg Principles and other international resolutions and laws that the U.S. government has broken or violated in the past, presently and in the future if an invasion of Iraq starts. The list explained that such violation affected the peoples of Iraq, indigenous peoples around the world, and involved such crimes of genocide as found in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina. [please see related handout text below]
The aide left after promising to forward the information. Members of the direct action explained that the Nuremberg Principles legally compelled citizens of countries to confront violators of international humanitarian law and refused to leave the lobby until a significant and appropriate response came from the U.S. Representative. The federal building closed at 5pm. Around 5:30pm the Grand Rapids Police Department arrested at least five community members. The remaining group of observers and media contacts observed the five being driven to Kent County Jail.
Hand Out Distributed by the Protestors:
CRIMES AND MALFEASANCE IN U.S. IRAQ POLICY: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKES
U.S. government abuse and violation of international law & domestic and global order
Establishing background and history
-the U.S. and Israeli governments have consistently blocked or stopped multiple U.N. resolutions to end Israel’s illegal, ongoing invasion and occupation of Palestine since 1967;
-the U.S. government ignored atrocities and genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s;
-the U.S. government continues to seek to undermine the self-determination or liberation of the world’s indigenous peoples by actively undermining the U.N. Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
-During the Gulf War of 1992 with Iraq, the U.S. government violated international humanitarian agreement and law – including the 4th Geneva Convention and Protocol II of the Geneva Convention – by indiscriminant bombing of civilians, targeting of civilian infrastructure with the intention of creating civilian misery, and killing surrendering Iraqi soldiers in retreat;
- U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 of November 2002 does not authorize armed force, invasion or bombing for a “material breach”;
-U.N. members are threatened by withholding of U.S. aid; for example, the African Growth and Opportunity Act requires that as a recipient of US assistance, a country “does not engage in activities contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests”; in autumn of 2002, Mauritius recalled an ambassador because he failed to clearly support the U.S. position;
-the U.S. government continues its history of bribery and coercion of other nations by trying to get troops stationed where they want them and in purchasing, pressuring or cajoling of votes on the U.N. security council.
It is an outright crime for the U.S., Britain, Spain, Bulgaria and others to invade Iraq because:
-Article 2(4) and Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations prohibit a country from attacking another unless in response to an armed attack, or unless approved by the United Nations. Any other attacks are illegal, and crimes of aggression, for which U.S. civilian and military leaders and their teams may be held accountable in international courts;
-Armed aggression will destabilize and break down international law. Israel and Russia will be fortified in arguments already made that they too are utilizing pre-emptive war policies against Chechnya and Palestine; Nelson Mandela has stated, “the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries.”
-the U.S. policy of an “all options” pre-emptive strike includes nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, in complete violation of Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaties;
-according to U.N. resolution 687, sanctions were to end with completion of disarmament, so if no weapons of mass destruction are ever found, the U.S. government’s past, current and ongoing implementation of sanctions could be criminally liable under international law;
- Article VI of the Nuremburg Charter defines Crimes Against Peace as “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties . . . or participation in a common plan or conspiracy . . . to wage an aggressive war.”
-And, it is a violation of centuries of common and written international law to dictate the governance of Iraqi Shi’ia, Sunni and Kurds and call it democracy while threatening more such invasions and redrawings of boundaries around the Middle East.
Anderson, Sarah, Phyllis Bennis and John Cavanagh, “Coalition of the Willing or Coalition of the Coerced? -How the Bush Administration Influences Allies in its War on Iraq,” Institute for Policy Studies, Feb. 2003.
Bennis, Phyllis, “Understanding the U.S.-Iraq Crisis,” Institute for Policy Studies, January 2003
Center for Constitutional Rights [www.ccr-ny.org], NY, NY; Letter to Pres. Bush and Sec’y Rumsfeld, Re: Consequences of Future Use of Force Against Iraq, January 2003;
Fourth World Bulletin, “Stop Making Sense: State’s Distortion of U.S. Indigenous Policy,” Summer 1998, University of Colorado, Denver.
Fitrakis, Bob and Wasserman, Harvey, “Bush and America’s willing executioners would be guilty at Nuremburg,” March 2, 2003, The Free Press, Columbus, OH
Herold, Marc, “A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting”, 12/01, pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/
Jaimes, M. Annette, ed., “The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance.”
Krugman, Paul, “Let Them Hate As Long As They Fear,” New York Times, March 7, 2003.
Power, Samantha, “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide”