Posts Tagged ‘Cesar Chelala’

Elie Wiesel’s Wrong Move on Peace

May 13, 2010
Published on Thursday, May 13, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
by César Chelala

Elie Wiesel, the noted Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor, has provoked a serious row with an open letter to President Barak Obama published last month in The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. His opinion was strongly rebuked by Yossi Sarid, a former member of Knesset, and by a group of notable Jewish leaders and academicians who live in Jerusalem.

“There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem. To many theologians, it IS Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain, “said Mr. Wiesel in his letter.

Continues >>

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Wall on Gaza Violates International Law

December 13, 2009

by César Chelala, CommonDreams.org, Dec 14, 2009

The collusion between Egypt and the U.S. to build a wall separating Egypt from Gaza not only threatens Gazans’ health and quality of life, already severely deteriorated by the de facto Israeli blockade, it is a serious violation of international law.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Egypt is installing an underground metal wall 70-100 feet deep along the border strip where Palestinians have dug a maze-like set of tunnels to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The construction of the wall, carried out with the collaboration of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, has been denied by the Egyptian government.

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Israeli Army Violated Nuremberg Principles During Operation ‘Cast Lead’

October 16, 2009

By Cesar Chelala, Information Clearing House, Oct 15, 2009

In what can be considered a sad paradox of history, an analysis of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) actions during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza shows that the IDF violated several of the Nuremberg Principles, as well as the principles of the Geneva Conventions.

The Nuremberg Principles are a set of guidelines established after World War II to try Nazi Party members. They were established to determine what constitutes a war crime. The Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties and three additional protocols that establish the standards in international law for humanitarian treatment of the victims of war.

According to Nuremberg Principle I, “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.” As detailed in the “Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,” also known as the “Goldstone Report,” several crimes against unarmed civilians were committed by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

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Breaking the Silence on Gaza

July 21, 2009
by César Chelala | CommonDreams.org, July 20, 2009

A new set of revelations by soldiers who participated in the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation in Gaza offers a disturbing picture of the actions carried out in that territory. Testimony regarding their conduct in Gaza by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli soldiers, confirms previous denunciations by human rights organizations and signals that urgent attention must be paid to the economic and medical needs of a repeatedly abused civilian population.

Operation “Cast Lead” was initiated December 27, 2008 and ended January 18, 2009. Over 1400 Palestinians were killed, 900 of them civilians (65%), including 300 hundred children (22%). Extensive areas of Gaza were razed to the ground and thousands of people were left homeless, even months after the operation ended. The economy of Gaza was all but destroyed.

Full article

Nuremberg Set a Valid Precedent for Trials of War-crime Suspects in Iraq’s Destruction

May 28, 2009

By Cesar Chelala | The Japan  Times, May 27, 2009

New York – The Nuremberg Principles, a set of guidelines established after World War II to try Nazi Party members, were developed to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles can also be applied today when considering the conditions that led to the Iraq war and, in the process, to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, and to the devastation of a country’s infrastructure.

In January 2003, a group of American law professors warned President George W. Bush that he and senior officials of his government could be prosecuted for war crimes if their military tactics violated international humanitarian law. The group, led by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, sent similar warnings to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Although Washington is not part of the International Criminal Court (ICC), U.S. officials could be prosecuted in other countries under the Geneva Convention, says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ratner likened the situation to the attempt by Spanish magistrate Baltazar Garzon to prosecute former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet when Pinochet was under house arrest in London.

Both former President George W. Bush and senior officials in his government could be tried for their responsibility for torture and other war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

In addition, should Nuremberg principles be followed by an investigating tribunal, former President Bush and other senior officials in his administration could be tried for violation of fundamental Nuremberg principles.

In 2007, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, told The Sunday Telegraph that he could envisage a scenario in which both British Prime Minister Tony Blair and then President Bush faced charges at The Hague.

Perhaps one of the most serious breaches of international law by the Bush administration was the doctrine of “preventive war.” In the case of the Iraq war, it was carried out without authorization from the U.N. Security Council in violation of the U.N. Charter, which forbids armed aggression and violations of any state’s sovereignty except for immediate self-defense.

As stated in the U.S. Constitution, international treaties agreed to by the United States are part of the “supreme law of the land.” “Launching a war of aggression is a crime that no political or economic situation can justify,” said Justice Jackson, the chief U.S. prosecutor for the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Benjamin Ferencz, also a former chief prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials, declared that “a prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity — that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.”

The conduct and the consequences of the Iraq war are subsumed under “Crimes against Peace and War” of Nuremberg Principle VI, which defines as crimes against peace “(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).” In the section on war crimes, Nuremberg Principle VI includes “murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property.”

The criminal abuse of prisoners in U.S. military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo are clear evidence of ill- treatment and even murder.

According to the organization Human Rights First, at least 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global “war on terror,” eight of whom were tortured to death.

As for the plunder of public or private property, there is evidence that even before the war started, members of the Bush administration had already drawn up plans to privatize and sell Iraqi property, particularly that related to oil.

Although there are obvious hindrances to trying a former U.S. president and his associates, such a trial is fully justified by legal precedents such as the Nuremberg Principles and by the extent of the toll in human lives that the breach of international law has exacted.

Cesar Chelala, a cowinner of the Overseas Press Club of America award, writes extensively on human rights issues.


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