On July 27th, a panel of distinguished activist lawyers put the themes of the upcoming Millions March in Harlem, “Opposing the Recolonization of Africa – Stopping the Bombing of Libya – Ending the Sanctions on Zimbabwe – Defeating Mayor Bloomberg’s Racist Policies” in a legal context.
At the “War Crimes and Other Violations of International Law” forum held before a packed audience at the Harlem State Office building’s Gallery, Attorneys Lennox Hinds, King Downing, Jeanne Mirer and Roger Wareham demystified the tenets of international law and applied them to the true violators – the US and its NATO allies.
Lennox Hinds, a partner in the Harlem-based firm Stevens, Hinds and White, a professor at Rutgers University, former counsel for the ANC and the South African Government, a founding member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers [NCBL] and a former President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers [IADL], gave a riveting and scholarly outline of the different aspects of international law. He defined “US and NATO war crimes and crimes against humanity against Libya, laid out in key sections of the United Nations Charter.” He described many of the positive, but suppressed by the Western media, actions taken by Col. Qaddafi to ensure Africa’s independence and to develop a United States of Africa.
Jeanne Mirer, current President of the IADL, co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild International Committee, and a partner in the firm Eisner and Mirer, detailed the “violations committed by the US and NATO in the bombing of and attempt to effect regime change in Libya. Particularly, “interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation.” This can be seen in the active military support and arms provided the “rebels” by Britain and France. The distorted application of Security Council Resolution 1973 (No Fly Zone). The threats by the US, France and the UK to illegally “unfreeze” the assets of the Libyan government and give them to the rebels. The West’s stated goal of killing Col. Qaddafi.
Roger Wareham of the December 12th Movement International Secretariat and International Secretary-General of the International Association Against Torture, member of the NCBL and NLG, spoke on how the sanctions imposed by the US and UK on Zimbabwe were violations of the UN Charter and other aspects of international law. He described the effects which these supposedly “targeted sanctions had on the general population of Zimbabwe. The complete denial of international aid crippled the Zimbabwean economy, stunted agricultural development, devastated the Continent’s leading educational system and one of its best health care systems and gave rise to historic inflation,” he continued. The sanctions campaign was allegedly done in the spirit of bringing “democracy” to Zimbabwe.
But Wareham said, “In reality, the campaign was designed to ‘make the economy scream,’ i.e. to create such devastation and misery amongst the people that they would rise up and remove President Robert Mugabe and his party ZANU-PF from power. President Mugabe is, like Col. Qaddafi, a huge problem for the West. As the first and only African head of state who has implemented the return of stolen African lands into African hands, he has set a precedent which threatens Western hegemony in Africa. So he too must go, the according Western powers,” Wareham concluded.
King Downing, former National Coordinator of the ACLU’s Racial Profiling Project and one of the principal organizers of the Katrina People’s Tribunal addressed human rights violations right here in the U.S. – racial profiling, police brutality, torture in prisons. He spoke of the role that the Hurricane Katrina People’s Tribunal had played in exposing illegality which led to prosecution of some the police who murdered and otherwise abused the human rights of New Orleans’ Black residents. He proposed that a tribunal be the follow-up step to the forum.
After a spirited question and answer session, the forum concluded with a call for an International People’s Tribunal. The December 12th Movement’s Viola Plummer announced that organizing of that tribunal will begin on August 14th, the day after the Millions March in Harlem.
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