Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 326, FRIDAY 12th October, 2001
“This legislation is, in effect, a protection of war criminals” - William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.
While America tells the world to get behind its ‘global war against terrorism’ and support the bombing of Afghanistan, a law is being rushed through that will scupper attempts to set up an international criminal court - a court which would be the very body to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks on September 11th. The proposed law has the backing of Bush and has already been passed in the House of Representatives.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court was formed in 1995 and is a network of over a thousand non-governmental organizations and international law experts from every corner of the world. It’s pushing for the creation of a permanent and independent International Criminal Court (ICC) that “will investigate and bring to justice individuals who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.” 42 countries, including the UK, have signed the treaty which ICC Convenor William Pace, reckons “will be a powerful international legal tool in the fight against global terrorism.” The US however doesn’t want anything to do with it, complaining that “its power could be easily misused to make capricious arrests of American officials or military personnel abroad.” Because as everybody knows, the rest of the world commits war crimes but not the good ol’ USA.
So using the current climate of patriotic hysteria Republican lunatic Senator Jesse Helms is pushing a bill of extreme anti-ICC legislation - The American Servicemembers’ Protection Act. The Act aims to stop the convention getting the magic number of 60 countries signing up to it - which is how many signatures are needed to make the ICC international law.
Amongst the highlights the Act threatens to cut off military aid to countries that ratify the ICC treaty - apart from NATO, Israel and Egypt - hoping this economic blackmail will stop weaker countries signing up. These are often the countries which are backed by the US, have bad human rights records, and in some cases are the places where war crimes are being committed. The Act would mean that the US military would not take on any UN peacekeeping roles unless they were made exempt from ICC prosecution. It would prohibit US co-operation with ICC inspectors even in a case of international terrorism and give the American President “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release from captivity of US or allied personnel detained or imprisoned against their will by or on behalf of the Court, including military force.” This in theory could lead to the invasion and bombing of Holland, since the ICC will be based in The Hague! As Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch points out “ the State Department has just endorsed a bill that authorizes an invasion of the Netherlands.” No wonder critics are calling it the Invade the Hague Act.
All this hasn’t gone too well with America’s allies. A European delegate at the United Nations said that legislation “imposing military and legal reprisals is unprecedented and unacceptable.” While Richard Dicker,added “This makes no sense. It hardly seems like a good moment for the U.S. to be threatening sanctions against dozens of countries simply because they want to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.”
Forget the talk about a war on terrorism, America wants to be the worlds judge, jury and executioner. As comedian and activist Mark Thomas points out “In a sickening display of hypocrisy America is acting in its own narrow interests with typical double standards. Supporting terrorism is bad except when we do it, the rule of law is good except when it might be used against us, war crimes must be punished except if we commit them. Standing shoulder to shoulder? No chance! America’s natural position is standing behind another country pointing a gun at its head.” * More info on the court: www.iccnow.org
While the western world watches the gigantic fireworks display on our TV ‘screens’ its easy to forget that real people are being bombarded each day. No matter what we are told about smart and precision bombing, many rockets will miss their targets and many targets will include civilians anyway – on the second night of bombing 4 UN workers whose job was clearing one of the most landmined countries in the world lost their lives while they slept.
Still, Bush and Blair say they haven’t got an argument with the ordinary Afghani people which must be reassuring for those being bombed every night, or forced to flee, or whose UN food supplies have stopped. But don’t panic, there’s an American once-in-a-lifetime 37,500 one-day ration packs which will go far in a country with millions of starving people. Still, as President Bush explained on Sunday “the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies.” So, here have some of our free missiles as well. Still, the bombing has achieved one thing, managing to turn an existing humanitarian crisis into a disaster, which will cause the deaths of many more than were slaughtered in the World Trade Centre.
* SchNEWS is no apologist for the Taliban regime - check out some of the sickening stories posted on the website of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). RAWA is a human rights feminist organisation, and the site gives first-hand reports of atrocities, and inspiring stories about the ways in which Afghan women have been risking their lives fighting the regime. Check it out at www.rawa.org
* This Saturday (13) March for Peace 12 noon in Hyde Park (Marble Arch end) for march at 1pm to Trafalgar Square for rally. CND 020-7700-2350 www.cnduk.org./cnd. www.wombleaction.mrnice.net.Transport from Brighton 01273-620125
* Give Peace A Dance – happening in 45 countries and 100 cities across the world including synchronised dancefloor linkup when every DJ in every city plays the same track www.earthdance.org
* Anti-war demos and vigils are happening around the world. www.uk.indymedia.org/
* A dozen people occupied Brighton’s army recruiting centre yesterday. Police closed off the road for an hour and arrested two people who scaled scaffolding and unfurled a banner saying ‘sabotage the war effort.’
Friend or Foe?
The USA’s new buddies in Pakistan are now the good guys since they started siding with the US, but little attention has been paid to abuses of democracy and human rights in a country with a long history of military rule. Also forgotten is the fact that much of the anti-American feeling in Pakistan has been caused by the intervention of our old friends the IMF.
The Pakistan military regime, headed by General Musharraf, overthrew the last democratically elected government in 1999. In August 2001, Musharraf announced a schedule for elections and restoration of democracy but this has now been conveniently forgotten. The USA seems happy with this. Colin Powel, on NBC Television, said that the US has no concern over their nuclear programme and ‘guarantees’ that the Musharraf government will remain stable. Given their past history, however, this seems unlikely. Whilst they are currently sucking up to the US, not so long ago Musharref was declaring his support for the Taliban.
So why the sudden change of heart? Pakistan’s alliance with the US during the Cold War earned it huge sums of IMF money, (as usual, this money didn’t help the ordinary people but ended up in the hands of military generals, bureaucrats and corrupt politicians). Once the Cold War was over, Pakistan wasn’t needed as a US base-camp. This meant ‘pay-back’ time. Pakistan is crippled by two drains on its annual budget: 40% goes on military spending, and another 40% goes on debt repayment. Any attempts at Democratic government in the past have been scuppered as they are forced to conform to IMF capitalist dictats in order to receive any support. As always, this means privatisation, taxation – in short, anything which makes money for corporations and makes life hell for ordinary people. So what does it take for the IMF to help this time? you’ve guessed it, siding with the USA. Since September 24th, sanctions imposed by the US for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons use in 1998 have been lifted, and look to be followed by other countries including Japan and Australia. Other perks include $90 million in grants from the US and Japan, and drastic debt rescheduling by the IMF and countries including US and Britain - something that was never done for democratically elected governments.
Also forgotten or ignored have been the many human rights abuses committed by the current regime in Pakistan. The regime has been Islamizing key institutions since the early 1980’s - sound a bit familiar? Human Rights Watch have released a report documenting horrific conditions for women, with domestic violence at levels of up to 90%. Honour-killings are common, and up to 60% of women prisoners are being detained under the Hudood Ordinance - penal laws prohibiting sex outside of marriage, which have had a devastating impact on women’s rights (see www.hrw.org). So the message is, commit as many abuses of human rights as you want, test as many nuclear weapons as you can, and as long as you side with the US, you’ll be OK. And meanwhile the people of Pakistan suffer on both sides.
*For more info: www.labour.00server.com/LabourPartyPakistan
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For having a large CD collection. A man in the Czech republic was jailed for more than two months for having over 15,000 CDs. Police accused him of making and selling illegal copies, and didn't believe that one could have such a big collection. So he sat in jail until police experts realised that all the CDs were original and released him.
SchNEWS asks its readers to spare a thought for those poor shareholders of Railtrack who are suffering from the company collapsing this week after the government refused to give it any more cash. All those poor investors are losing money and threatening to sue the government for not bailing out Railtrack once again. Now, some of our more cynical readers might be thinking that these gold diggers deserve to lose the profits they made from the sell-off of our national assets, but maybe they should ask the relatives of the people who lost their lives at Paddington and Hatfield whether they should be reimbursed, seeing as the profits went to shareholders instead of rail safety.
The Anarchist Bookfair celebrates its 20th Birthday by moving to a new larger venue at the Camden Centre, Euston Road, London (near King’s Cross) on 20th October. There’s gonna be loads of information, books, CDs and Videos. Here’s a selection of stuff on offer:
“ON FIRE: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement” This has sixteen different accounts of what happened in Genoa and has plenty of constructive criticisms of what tactics the movement should adopt. Essential reading and at only £3 it’s a bargain. AK Distribution 0131-5555165 www.akuk.com
“The allotment handbook – a guide to promoting and protecting your site” by Sophie Andrews is a handy little book full of bite size pieces of info on everything from making allotments more sexy to inspiring community garden success stories around the country. Eco-logic books 0117-9420165. www.eco-logicbooks.com
“Monopolise Resistance? How Globalise Resistance would hijack revolt.” A SchNEWS pamphlet that investigates the SWP front group. Get it from SchNEWS for 2x1st Class stamps + SAE – or come to our workshop at the bookfair.
And after being book worms all day why not come along to the after party at the Lord Cecil Pub, Lower Clapton Road. Bands include Riot Clone, Harum Scarum, Bug Central and Kismetic HC. Door tax £4 going to SHAC, Emmaz (soon to be opened @ social centre) and Anarchist Bookfair.
“The community set up burning barricades all day to try and prevent the police force from coming in to help the Council cut off the water of 1800 households…they shot 15 people, some with rubber bullets and some with live ammunition. A 5-year-old was shot in the back and one woman was shot three times. Some of the people who were shot seem to be missing.” - Faizel, from the anti-eviction campaign.
In December last year the Capetown Unicity council demanded outstanding debts on council owned houses and businesses be paid within a month. Afterwards they began evicting families that could not pay and an anti-eviction campaign began. They have been successful in resisting the evictions and now the council have started to cut off the community's water and electricity. Eyewitness Ashraf Cassiem said at the time, “There seem to be a million police in the area. People are standing outside everywhere in the street weeping openly. The private workers and protection services have succeeded in carrying out most of the 1800 water cut-offs. People are desperately trying to reconnect their water with pieces of old hosepipe, and string - it doesn’t seem to be working. Nobody knows where they can go now to get water.”
There will be a benefit night at Easton Community Centre in Bristol on 19th October to raise funds for legal fees and prisoner support for those arrested during the demos in Gothenburg and Genoa. Punk bands – Conflict, Icons of Filth, Bug Central, Disruptive Element and DJs playing Techno, Drum’n’Bass and Beats. Doors 10pm - 4am. £5.
SchNEWS in brief
The World’s Worst Job Revealed: Think you’ve got a crap job and living on hand outs? Well, spare a thought for Mohd Binatang who won the ‘worst job in Singapore’ award. He works in the local zoo collecting sperm samples from the animals, by giving them a spot of hand relief each morning. He starts collecting at 4am as the animals are usually standing to attention then. Apparently the orangutan likes to be kissed first, and the chimpanzees like a cuddle afterwards. However, the most difficult client is the elephant, because of its size. Poor old Mohd has to use both hands, which makes him feel like a bell-ringer in a cathedral, and when the elephant finally comes, it’s like “being sprayed with hot glue”(and they say size doesn’t matter). The job is also affecting his sex-life, as he can’t stop thinking about ejaculating rhinos and their horns. The animals’ breeding habits are also sufferring because they can’t be bothered to have sex anymore. So next time you moan about getting up for work, be thankful you don’t work at Singapore zoo!
SchNEWS warns Uncle Sam not to get caught with yer pants down or you might get court in the act. Honest, M’lud.
Cor-blimley-theyre-practically-giving-them-away book offer
In the UK you can get 2, 3, 4 & 5 for £20 inc. postage.
In addition to 50 issues of SchNEWS, each book contains articles, photos, cartoons, subverts, a yellow pages list of contacts, comedy etc. All the above books are available from the Brighton Peace Centre, saving postage yer tight gits.
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Last updated 12th October, 2001