Posts Tagged ‘The Hague’

Things One Sees From The Hague

January 15, 2009

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz, Israel, January 15, 2009

When the cannons eventually fall silent, the time for questions and investigations will be upon us. The mushroom clouds of smoke and dust will dissipate in the pitch-black sky; the fervor, desensitization and en masse jump on the bandwagon will be forever forgotten and perhaps we will view a clear picture of Gaza in all its grimness. Then we will see the scope of the killing and destruction, the crammed cemeteries and overflowing hospitals, the thousands of wounded and physically disabled, the destroyed houses that remain after this war.

The questions that will beg to be asked, as cautiously as possible, are who is guilty and who is responsible. The world’s exaggerated willingness to forgive Israel is liable to crack this time. The pilots and gunners, the tank crewmen and infantry soldiers, the generals and thousands who embarked on this war with their fair share of zeal will learn the extent of the evil and indiscriminate nature of their military strikes. They perhaps will not pay any price. They went to battle, but others sent them.

The public, moral and judicial test will be applied to the three Israeli statesmen who sent the Israel Defense Forces to war against a helpless population, one that did not even have a place to take refuge, in maybe the only war in history against a strip of land enclosed by a fence. Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni will stand at the forefront of the guilty. Two of them are candidates for prime minister, the third is a candidate for criminal indictment.

It is inconceivable that they not be held to account for the bloodshed. Olmert is the only Israeli prime minister who sent his army to two wars of choice, all during one of the briefest terms in office. The man who made a number of courageous statements about peace late in his tenure has orchestrated no fewer than two wars. Talking peace and making war, the “moderate” and “enlightened” prime minister has been revealed as one of our greatest fomenters of war. That is how history will remember him. The “cash envelopes” crimes and “Rishon Tours” transgressions will make him look as pure as snow by comparison.

Barak, the leader of the party of the left, will bear the cost of the IDF’s misdeeds under his tutelage. His account will be burdened by the bombing and shelling of population centers, the hundreds of dead and wounded women and children, the numerous targetings of medical crews, the firing of phosphorus shells at civilian areas, the shelling of a UN-run school that served as a shelter for residents who bled to death over days as the IDF prevented their evacuation by shooting and shelling. Even our siege of Gaza for a year and a half, whose ramifications are frighteningly coming into focus in this war, will accrue to him. Blow after blow, all of these count in the world of war crimes.

Livni, the foreign minister and leader of the centrist party, will be remembered as the one who pushed for, legitimized and sat silent through all these events. The woman who promised “a different kind of politics” was a full partner. This must not be forgotten.

In contrast to the claims being made otherwise, we are permitted to believe that these three leaders did not embark on war for electoral considerations. Anytime is good for war in Israel. We set out for the previous war three months after the elections, not two months before. Will Israel judge them harshly in light of the images emanating from Gaza? Highly doubtful. Barak and Livni are actually rising in the polls instead of dipping. The test awaiting these individuals will not be a local test. It is true that some international statesmen cynically applauded the blows Israel dealt. It is true America kept silent, Europe stuttered and Egypt supported, but other voices will rise out of the crackle of combat.

The first echoes can already be heard. This past weekend, the UN and the Human Rights Commission in Geneva have demanded an investigation into war crimes allegedly perpetrated by Israel. In a world in which Bosnian leaders and their counterparts from Rwanda have already been put on trial, a similar demand is likely to arise for the fomenters of this war. Israeli basketball players will not be the only ones who have to shamefully take cover in sports arenas, and senior officers who conducted this war will not be the only ones forced to hide in El Al planes lest they be arrested. This time, our most senior statesmen, the members of the war kitchen cabinet, are liable to pay a personal and national price.

I don’t write these words with joy, but with sorrow and deep shame. Despite all the slack the world has cut us since as long as we can remember, despite the leniency shown toward Israel, the world might say otherwise this time. If we continue like this, maybe one day a new, special court will be established in The Hague.

Gordon Brown and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

September 24, 2008

George Barnsby, Sept 24, 2008

I’ve said it often enough, it is on the front of every one of my 580
BLOGS, the only way to revive the corpse of this New Labour monstrosity would be to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our troops home and stop the slaughter of Iraqi and Afghan civilians. Yet Brown and all of his squabbling cabinet have responsibility for these wars, have financed them and refuse to see that Bush, Blair and Brown are the terrorists and if the wars were ended terrorism would virtually cease overnight.

Now Brown has made his speech to the Labour Party Conference and said nothing about the war in Iraq. Millions of words, cascades of promises to listen and learn, but not a single word on Iraq. And Labour MPs and media barons such as Paxman and Jon Snow seem joined in a conspiracy to deceive, each of them interviewing Brown and neither raising the issue of Iraq.

The conspiracy to avoid even the broadest of issues of Foreign Policy in the run up to this Labour Party Conference began for me on Thursday when David Dimblebury’s ‘Any Questions’ returned to the BBC and neither he, nor the speakers, nor the audience uttered a word on Iraq. Then today old has been’s like Mandelsohn, Blunkett, Prescott and others have been interviewed yet not a word has been said about the war. This is a complete denial of civil rights for the majority of the population who are opposed to the war and makes Britain a dictatorship, as bad as that of Mugabe and other dictatorships we claim to deplore. This cannot continue and when Brown is inevitably brought before the Court of Human Rights at The Hague for Crimes against Humanity all those who have been a party to these crimes will find themselves like the Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials after World War II called to account.


Fortunately not all MPs and journalists and activists are ninnies who gave Brown a standing ovation today. The Stop the War Newsletter No. 1058 of 23 September 2008 reports on the anti-War demonstration at the Labour Party Conference. Thousands of activists marched through Manchester and delivered a letter to Brown demanding the withdrawal of all British troops from the catastrophic and unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The parallel Convention that will meet while the phoney New Labour set up sits and supports the carnage which these war criminals create. Activities are being planned for the autumn which assumes that Brown is not stopped by a Citizen’s Arrest, which it now seems that George Galloway and Ken Purchase will sit idly by and twiddle their thumbs. It looks therefore as if other anti-war MPs such as Jon Cruddas, Dianne Abbott and other MPs of the Socialist Campaign group will have to act to bring the wars to an end NOW.

Another event supported by Stop the War will be an international
anti-Nato demonstration in Strasbourg next April (for which funds are needed and also recruits) as well as anti-war campaigns at army bases.

Karadzic extradited for trial

July 30, 2008

Al Jazeera, July 30, 2008

Radovan Karadzic, the war crimes suspect, has arrived in the Netherlands to face trial at The Hague on charges of genocide for his actions in the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

The former leader of the Bosnian Serbs is expected to be held at a nearby detention centre and then appear at the UN war crimes tribunal soon afterwards.

The plane carrying Karadzic landed at Rotterdam airport.

Harry Smith, reporting for Al Jazeeera from Rotterdam, said that Karadzic would defend himself as he does not recognise the tribunal that will try him.

“He has denied the charges but the tribunal is preperaed for this. The prosecutors have learnt their lessons; it will be sometime before the trial begins. Sometime next week he will appear before the tribunal and he has 30 days to enter a plea. If he doens’t the judges will enter a plea for him,” said Smith.

Karadzic faces two charges of genocide for the 43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War Two.

Arrested last week after 11 years on the run, Karadzic was most recently living under an assumed name as a bearded, long-haired alternative healer.

Earlier in Belgrade, he was escorted to the airport by masked officials from the Serbian secret service. A convoy of black jeeps took him from prison to the capital’s airport.

Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from Belgrade where Karadzic had been held since his arrest, said there was anger on Tuesday when protesters had running battles with the police.

On Tuesday, some 10,000 hardline nationalists, many brought by bus from rural nationalist strongholds, showed their support for him in downtown Belgrade, chanting his name and holding up giant banners with his picture.

Clashes broke out when several dozen youths linked to hooligan groups threw flares, stones and garbage cans at riot police.

Some 45 people, most of them policemen, were wounded.

Karadzic’s delivery to The Hague is key to Serbia securing closer ties with the European Union and his arrest was seen as a clear pro-Western signal by the new government, sworn in earlier this month.

Sending him to The Hague is expected by the government to defuse tension and stop further protests, but also to unlock EU trade benefits.

Karadzic’s legal team had tried to delay his extradition by launching a cumbersome appeal procedure that threatened to drag on for several more days. But even they admitted they could only postpone, not stop his transfer.

Relatives have said Karadzic is in good spirits and preparing for his defence. He has had two suits delivered for his court appearance, one light, one dark.

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