A Tribunal to Build Resistance
The Aug. 26  War Crimes Tribunal in New York City is set to take place at the same time as the U.S. military in Iraq has begun to carry out a new war crime against the people of Najaf and against the sacred shrine of Imam Ali located in that city. This tribunal session is one of a series of public assemblies held around the world to hear charges against George W. Bush, his administration and their allies for war crimes committed against the people of Iraq. It will be a cry of solidarity with the people of Najaf.
These sessions, all part of the World Tribunal on Iraq, have involved thousands of people and months of research. Some sessions have lasted for several days of presentations and testimony.
This Tribunal hearing's unique contribution to this global effort is that it takes place in the midst of the hectic organizing for a week of resistance to the Bush gang. The organizing center for this Tribunal, the International Action Center (IAC), has become a Resistance Center. Even the IAC's Tribunal Journal doubles as a Field Guide to the Republican National Convention Week of Resistance.
The organizers have purposely scheduled this Tribunal at the beginning of a new phase of the resistance here in the U.S. that will see a massive outpouring from Aug. 26-Sept. 2.
The Tribunal not only opens the Week of Resistance, it seeks to develop a political defense of the right and the obligation to resist a criminal war and occupation.
The Iraqi people have the right to defend themselves and resist illegal U.S. invasion and colonial occupation. This Tribunal, based on international law, will defend this right. Various UN resolutions have reaffirmed the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for liberation from colonial domination and alien subjection, "by all available means including armed struggle" (see UNGA 3070, 3103, 3246, 3328, 3481, 31/91, 32/42 and 32/154).
UN complicity in the 1991 war on Iraq, however, in the years of starvation sanctions, in weapons inspections that de-industrialized the country and the UN vote in June 2003 to hand over control of all Iraq's resources to U.S. occupation forces disqualifies the UN as a force for peace or justice. Independent popular action is needed instead.
U.S. troops have the right to refuse illegal orders used to carry on the occupation, and this Tribunal hearing gives prominence to the testimony of courageous and outspoken GIs and their families. Eyewitnesses to the crimes of occupation will testify.
The people of the Philippines, Spain, India, South Korea have resisted their government's complicity in the occupation. The determination to oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq has become a world movement of mass demonstrations and hunger strikes. The powerful resistance of the Iraqi people has given a new spirit of confidence to other countries threatened by the Pentagon. Resistance to other U.S. interventions in Haiti, Venezuela, and Palestine has also answered U.S. aggression. Leaders of this global resistance to the war will testify.
The Bush administration is responsible for the latest stage of Washington's 14-year war on Iraq, yet every major U.S. politician is committed to continuing the same policy of conquest. In brief: both Bush and Kerry plan to continue to occupy Iraq.
So most crucial place for resistance is right here at home. In the U.S. the movement has grown far beyond the millions who demonstrated before the war. As the casualties and costs mount support has plummeted. Today a majority of the U.S. population opposes the occupation. There is a growing understanding that the $1.1 billion spent every day for "endless war" is funds stolen directly from desperately needed health, education and social programs here. These attacks, and the fightback planned against them, are also part of the testimony.
Bush's triumphal pose on the aircraft carrier May 1, 2003, with the "Mission Accomplished" sign, has turned into a military and political disaster for the U.S. plans for endless war and conquest. Overwhelming military force has utterly failed to secure any area of Iraq. The appointed government is isolated and totally dependent on the U.S. forces for its very survival. Instant, accessible communication flashes the picture of each attacked humvee, tank or helicopter around the world, before the Pentagon can debate whether to announce the newest blow.
Resistance to the occupation is growing. This Tribunal is aimed at continuing and strengthening this resistance.
Sara Flounders and John Catalinotto, IAC
Statement to the Press: August 23, 2004
On recent US-led attacks against Iraqi towns and particularly Najaf
We as members of the International Coordinating Group of the World Tribunal on Iraq wish to record the following statement:
An appalling silence prevails about the devastation being inflicted on the people of Iraq. Having staged a show of transferring power to Iraqi authorities, the US has intensified military operations to stifle anything that dares to challenge occupation.
The World Tribunal on Iraq refuses to be part of this silence... Based on our work to investigate and bring out the truth about what is happening in Iraq, we call attention to the following issues of grave concern in relation to the recent escalation of Coalition attacks in several cities in Iraq and particularly in Najaf:
Iraqi towns and cities are under intense and indiscriminate bombing and shelling; casualties have been reduced to rough estimates with no names or faces in the absence of official records;
There is widespread concern that depleted uranium is being used in these intensive rounds of attack, in which case, the current attacks will continue to kill and maim over generations;
There is widespread indignation at and resistance against the recent attacks on civilian and religious sites;
Najaf has been declared off-limits for press; all communications with the region has been severed;
A most holy shrine of Muslim religion is under attack and threat of destruction; US tanks are razing through a historical burial site with over 2 million graves;
Thousands of unarmed people have arrived to shield the place with their bodies; and this is no bluff. Any attack on Imam Ali’s tomb will claim thousands of lives to be added on to the tens of thousands of casualties.
We demand immediate halt to this war on the people of Iraq and on their culture, soil, religion and habitat.
Peoples under occupation have a legitimate and incontestable right to resist forces of occupation. Modes of resistance employed may be contested, but this does not detract from the very basic right to resist invasion and occupation.
We stress that words of anguish in front of the atrocities being committed against the people of Iraq fail to amount to much as long as they are not coupled with an explicit stand against the current occupation.
We stand in full support of the right of the people of Iraq to resist occupation in defense of their freedom and sovereignty.
We demand the immediate withdrawal of all occupation troops from Iraq. This is the only way out of this spiral of violence.
We demand an opportunity for the Iraqi people to truly determine their own destiny.
We demand that the UN and governments throughout the world live up to their obligations to the peoples of the world and declare the criminality of the on-going occupation and the unacceptability of the sham transfer of power.
We call upon the peoples of the world to raise their voices to demand an end to the horrific violence being committed against the people of Iraq by the United States. And we further call for an end to the silence about the crimes that have been committed against the people of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies and demand that that those responsible be held accountable.
This Criminal Indictment Charges George W. Bush, Richard B. Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald H. Rumsfeld, John D. Ashcroft, Tommy Franks, and his successors as Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, George J. Tenet, L. Paul Bremer, III, John Negroponti and others to be named with Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and other criminal acts in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, International Law, the Constitution of the United States and Laws Made in Pursuance Thereof.
The Crimes Charged are:
Waging a War of Aggression against the sovereignty of Iraq and the rights of its people, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries among the people of Iraq, most civilians, from military violence and thousands of U.S. G.I’s. War of aggression is defined as “the Supreme international crime” in the Nuremberg Judgment.
Authorizing, encouraging and condoning the use of excessive force, in terrorem, tactics called “Shock and Awe”, targeting defenseless civilians, civilians facilities and indiscriminate bombing and assaults.
Authorizing and ordering the use of illegal weapons including super bombs, cluster bombs, depleted uranium enhanced bombs, missiles, shells and bullets and threatening the use of nuclear weapons.
Authorizing, ordering, concealing and condoning assassinations, summary executions, murders, disappearances, kidnappings and torture.
Authorizing, financing, utilizing and condoning illegal violence, use of force and torture by highly paid paramilitary civilian forces operating anonymously and not accountable to U.S. supervisors for their acts, who kill, coerce, control and contain the Iraqi population.
Authorizing, ordering and condoning the systematic destruction of economic, social, cultural, medical, educational, governmental and diplomatic resources, properties and facilities throughout Iraq.
Authorizing, ordering and condoning acts designed to divide the Iraqi population to cause internal conflict and violence among major segments of the society, ethnic, religious, political and economic, in order to weaken and exhaust the population and bring all segments under the control of a new surrogate government submissive to U.S. command.
Authorizing, imposing and maintaining a violent, criminal military occupation over Iraq which kills defenseless Iraqi’s daily and fans the flames of anti-U.S. anger worldwide.
Defying and incapacitating the peace making capacity and role of the United Nations by unilateral actions to undermine its potential effectiveness while continuing to coerce and use the U.N. to pursue U.S. policies in Iraq and elsewhere, and coercing and enticing other nations to support U.S. policies and actions in violation of international law in the U.N. Security Council and against Iraq and other nations.
Engaging in systematic acts to undermine and destroy international laws and treaties designed to prevent and control war, weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction; limit participants in military service; protect the environment; prevent the economic exploitation of poor nations; and engaging systematic acts to obstruct justice by the evisceration of the International Criminal Court and manipulation or defiance of other international judicial and regulatory bodies that might seek to hold the U.S. accountable to international law and the will of the majority of the people of the international community.
Manifesting their continuing commitment to world domination by ordering, directing and condoning violent regime change in Haiti in March 2004 to replace the independent, elected democratic President Jean Bertrand Aristide with a U.S. selected and controlled neo Duvalierist surrogate causing growing violence, hundreds of deaths and further improvishment of the Haitian people.
Threatening the sovereignty and independence of nations, and acting to change regimes that refuse to yield to U.S. demands for economic subservience and political control for U.S. corporate and government interests, including most prominently Cuba, Iran, a divided Korea, the Philippines, Syria, Sudan and Venezuela; and supporting Israel’s illegal occupation, brutalization and expanding settlement of Palestine in defiance of the United Nations, international law and world opinion; all of which adds to international anger and violence against the United States and its citizens.
Destroying the sovereignty, right to self determination, cultural integrity and control of its own resources of Iraq and its peoples by imposing an interim government headed by a long time C.I.A. asset who directed violence against Iraqi civilians for the U.S. in the 1990's; and manipulating procedures for the imposition of a new Constitution drafted by and installation of a new government chosen through controlled electoral processes and subservient to the will and command of the U.S. government.
Usurping the war powers delegated in the constitution to the Congress to pursue wars of aggression and other unlawful military actions; and attempting to pack the federal courts with judges committed to ideologies in conflict with the Constitution of the United States to achieve judicial decisions supporting those ideologies.
Systematically weakening fundamental human rights globally and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution within the U.S. enabling U.S. forces to unlawfully seize individuals in 100 countries, including U.S. citizens and arrest thousands of aliens in the U.S. and hold them, transport them, torture many, deny all access to courts to determine the legality of such seizures, arrest and treatment.
Making the U.S. military base at Guantanamo, Cuba, a symbol of U.S. power to imprison and abuse persons on the soil of a foreign sovereign nation, Cuba, against its will and to publicize U.S. contempt for human rights by displaying its power to arbitrarily seize, confine and abuse persons without revealing who they are, any charges against them, or what their future may be, placing U.S. power above all laws, international and national, and beyond the reach of all courts, including those of the U.S.
Giving economic preferences to favored corporations and business interests to extract enormous profits in both war and peace sectors of the economy from impoverished Iraq and U.S. taxpayers.
Systematically utilizing, controlling, directing, manipulating, misinforming and restricting press and media coverage and deliberately presenting false and misleading reports to obtain support for U.S. military and political and actions; and to deprive the American people of knowledge essential to develop an informed opinion which is essential to democratic processes and elections.
All for the purpose of dominating, controlling, and exploiting Iraq and other non compliant nations by military force and economic coercion.
In addition to full accountability for the foregoing crimes and full reparation to victims, the offenses constitute “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States requiring the removal from office of all the participating civil Officers of the United States upon impeachment for and conviction for their acts.
Dated: August 5, 2004
Presentation by retired Iraqi engineer Ghazwan al-Mukhtar, who evaluates the differences between life in Iraq before 1990 with life after war, sanctions and now occupation, including the ravages of depleted uranium.
Honorable members of the international criminal tribunal Iraq, ladies and gentlemen.
It is really an honor for me to able to address such a distinguished gathering to give my views and observations on what is happening in Iraq. My witness testimony is based on the fact that I lived most of my 60 years in Iraq. I have been, for the last twelve years, active in the anti sanctions and anti war movement in Iraq. I devoted a lot of my time talking and exchanging ideas with foreign activist visiting Iraq. The war of 1991 forced me to close my engineering business and forced me to give my self an early retirement. I pride my self as an independent thinker with no connection to any political party in power.
The gulf war of 1991 was only the first phase of the on going war between America and Iraq. It was according to American secretary of states Mr. James Baker to drive Iraq to the pre-industrial age which America nearly did. The draconian sanctions that followed were imposed on Iraq for nearly 13 years was the second phase. This phase of hostility had disastrous effects on the civilian population of Iraq. I am sure that the majority of the participants have some idea but I could tell you that it was a true genocide. Lies and misinformation were used to justify the illegal war and the occupation of Iraq. This phase of the war, with no end in sight, is the most devastating phase of the ongoing war between America and Iraq.
In order to measure the effects of the ongoing wars one has to find a base point of comparison. I claim that this base point or reference point should be the conditions in Iraq that existed in 1990 before the first phase of war. I will endeavor to use unbiased figures, mostly from UN document if possible, to compare the condition that existed in or about 1990 with the current conditions in Iraq. I think that this “yardstick” will give us an indication of how good or how bad the current conditions are compared to the condition prior to the war in 1991.
I will not try to proportionate the blame between Saddam and America for the ills that happened to us, the Iraqi people, since I believe the civilized world should not have turned the blind eye to the blight of the Iraqi people just because the ills were done by Saddam. Probably the civilized world is more guilty than Saddam because Saddam was a known dictator long before the war stated in 1991. Some of those civilized and bleeding hearts were in Baghdad meeting Saddam, shaking his hand and later on supported him in his war against Iran. They totally disregarded Saddam’s human right abuse for their political gains. I am sure you know that I am referring to the visit in 1983 and 1984 by non other than Donald Rumsfield who aligned his country, the USA, to a dictator like Saddam.
During my testimony I will discus few important sectors highlighting the conditions in 1990 and conditions now.
The Human Cost of the War
IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS
It is very hard to know the exact human cost of the occupation of Iraq. The U.S. military refuses to monitor or even estimate the number of Iraqi civilian casualties. Gen. Tommy Franks says, “We don’t do body counts.” [i] Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director of Operations for the U.S. Military, said U.S. forces do not have the capacity to track Iraqi civilian casualties.[ii] According to the Associated Press, the American-appointed Iraqi Minister of Health “has ordered a halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to release figures compiled so far.” The official who oversaw the count provided this information.[iii]
Iraq Body Count, a group of academics and researchers, has compiled a comprehensive account of civilian casualties during the war. IBC researchers have determined that as of June 16, 2004, somewhere between 9,436 and 11,317 civilians have been killed as a direct result of the U.S. invasion and ensuing occupation of Iraq.[iv]
Data from past wars shows us that the number of wounded in war is about three times as many killed. This means that approximately 35,000 Iraqis may have been wounded as of June 2004. However, Iraq’s hospitals and health system have been understaffed and overwhelmed throughout the war, meaning that the actual number could be even higher. Medact, an organization dedicated to alleviating the health effects of war, estimates that at least 40,000 Iraqis have been injured.[v]
During “major combat” operations, between 4,895 and 6,370 Iraqi soldiers and
insurgents were killed.[vi] The nature of the fighting has made it difficult to distinguish civilians from fighters. The Pentagon provides day-to-day estimates of insurgent deaths, but Iraqis on the ground claim that occupying forces unfairly categorize civilians as insurgents. For example, during the spring 2004 siege of Fallujah, over 600 Iraqis were killed. Rahul Mahajan, a journalist reporting from Fallujah during that period, estimated that the dead included 100 children and 200 women.[vii] However, the U.S. commander of the operation, without visiting any hospitals or cemeteries, insisted that of the 600 killed, “95 percent of those were military age males”.[viii]
Security and Police Force
On October 20, 2002, the Iraqi government issued an order that “all prisoners be released, including non-Iraqi Arabs”. All the prisoners included criminal elements, for example, murderers who “were being freed on the condition that they make restitution to victims' families -- including financial compensation -- within one month”.[ix]
With effective police force and other security services, the crime rate did not substantially increase during the period between October 2002 and April 2003.
The significant increase in crime began after the fall of Baghdad. At that time, criminal elements of the society went on a rampage throughout the city, looting and burning government offices, factories, hospitals, museums, art galleries, and private property. Instead of upholding law and order and preventing the looting, as required by international law, the occupation authorities have encouraged it. US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld justified the criminal acts, saying that the looting was "part of the price" for what the United States and Britain have called “ the liberation of Iraq”. Rumsfeld made this comment: "Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."[x] His comment serves to highlight the attitude of the occupation authorities.
One of the first acts of the occupation authority was to dissolve the army and the police forces at a time when the country needed them most. The occupation forces did not attempt to stop these chaotic situations. In fact, there are reports that the US occupation forces encouraged these criminal activities.
After about two months of near total chaos, the occupation authorities created a new police force. This new police force depended mostly on new recruits and a few experienced former police officers. Police officers who were in service before the occupation were seen to be unfit for the “new” force because of their association with the old regime. This policy deprived the police force of the experience of very highly qualified police officers.
Gradually, police stations, staffed by a few police officers, were reopened. However, the same buildings were used to house American soldiers. Of course using the same buildings enforced the image of the “new” Iraqi police as an extension of the American forces. Understaffed, untrained, unequipped and lightly armed: Police stations are places where crimes are reported, but no one at the police station is likely to follow the complaint.
There are many reasons why crimes of all sort increased: the amnesty, general anarchy, abundance of firearms, and the lack of a functioning police force. The non-functioning telephone system and lack of electricity, which turned Baghdad into a city in darkness, also contributed to the increase in crimes.
Criminal acts such as murder, rape, carjacking, and kidnapping have skyrocketed since March 2003, forcing children to stay home from school and women to stay off the streets at night.[xi]
Although comprehensive crime statistics are not available, Baghdad’s central morgue documented a dramatic increase in gunshot deaths; there were 10 in July 2002 and 470 in July 2003, an indicator of Iraq’s new lawlessness.[xii] During the first year of occupation, there were over 4,279 violent deaths in Baghdad, averaging 357 violent deaths each month, not counting victims of car bombs or military actions. By contrast, the 2002 average was 14 deaths each month.[xiii]
Although the CPA has recruited approximately 200,000 Iraqi army, police and civil defence troops, they have largely failed to provide security for the Iraqi people. Many Iraqi police have refused to work with coalition forces, citing a lack of preparation, equipment, and respect from U.S. troops. Many police officers claim that U.S. troops are unwilling to cooperate with Iraqis in fighting crime.[xiv]
The new Iraqi police force lacks qualified officers and necessary equipment. This means that the police force is not able to provide adequate protection to the civilian population. As of March 28, 2004, data from the Provost Marshal’s Office of the CPA indicate the following: the Iraqi Police Service was operating with 41 percent of its required patrol vehicles, 63 percent of its required uniforms, 43 percent of its required pistols, 21 percent of its required hand radios, 7 percent of its required vehicle radios, and 9 percent of its required protective vests.[xv]
The lack of progress to combat crimes and its disastrous effects on the civilian population of Iraq has resulted in the killing of many thousands of innocent lives. Let us be very clear about what this means: the occupation authorities did NOT fulfill their international, legally binding obligation to protect the lives of the population. U.S. Major General Paul D. Eaton, formerly in charge of training Iraqi police and military forces, admitted to the Associated Press that the effort to develop effective leadership within Iraqi security forces “hasn’t gone well. We’ve had almost one year of no progress.”[xvi]
In 1990 the installed electrical generating capacity of Iraq was about 9000 Mw per hour of electricity.[xvii] At the end of the war 1991 the International Study Team (Harvard team) reported as follows:
Thirteen of Iraq's 20 power stations had been damaged or destroyed during the first days of allied bombing. By the end of the bombing, there were only two stations that were still in operation; these two stations managed to produce 4% of Iraq's pre-war output. By May 1991, repairs were undertaken by cannibalizing spare parts from other plants. By August of that year the system was back to two thirds of its 1990 peak output. Problems remained: Without the imported supplies required for proper repairs, these improvements in output were likely to be temporary and likely to pose increased safety risks.[xviii]
This American report shows that in the four-month period following the war, Iraqi engineers were able to restore more than 60% of the generating capacity. This improvement was accomplished despite the war, the sanctions, and the lack of spare parts. There was no outside help for these engineers.
Then what happened? The US used its political power at the UN to put obstacles in the way of further improvement. Specifically, the UN 661 Committee put many important and badly needed supplies and equipment on hold. In November 2001, the UNDP reported the following facts to the United Nations Security Council: Out of $3,370 million allocated for electricity (phase I to X), $1,050.1 million, or 31%, were put on hold. On hold items included equipment, pumps, compressors and rotary equipment, water treatment chemicals and equipment, transmission equipment…” These items were needed to rehabilitate the system.
In his briefing to the Security Council, November 17, Benon Sevan, the Executive Director of the UN Iraq Programme commented on the holds on electrical contracts: He repeated the UNDP's estimate that "Iraq could potentially achieve a 50 per cent increase in electricity supply if these holds were released. …We all share the view that there is a direct link between reliable power generation and the provision of health care, water supplies and other basic services."[xix]
The UNDP report also stated that the actual generation of electricity in November 2001, was about 38% of the installed capacity. The drought at that time certainly contributed to this low figure.
August 4, 2003, the Baghdad Bulletin quoted a CPA spokesman as saying the prewar production of electricity was about 4500 Mw. May 14, 2002, almost a year later, an American newspaper, the New Standard, quoted an Iraqi power plant manager, who indicated that the prewar production was 5000 Mw.
Now let’s compare Iraqi progress with US progress: After 14 months of occupation, $1.4 billion spending, access to international experts, no sanctions, and no limitations on imports, one would expect the electricity service to improve. Not so! The US Congressional Report of June 2004 says that the production of electricity was “about 4,200 megawatts on June 1, 2004”. This number is LESS than even the lowest figure quoted for prewar production. The report went on to say:
“However, electrical service in the country as a whole has not shown a marked improvement over the immediate postwar levels of May 2003 and has worsened in some governorates. For example, in May 2003, 7 of Iraq’s 18 governorates had 16 or more hours of electricity a day, but as of late May 2004, only one governorate in northern Iraq was at that level.”
So let’s compare: In a matter of four months in 1991, Iraqi engineers, working under severe UN sanctions and with limited resources and limited spare parts, were able to increase the production of electricity from 4% to 67%. In 2004, after 14 months of occupation, huge American companies, with virtually unlimited resources, have NOT significantly increased the production of electricity. This is totally unacceptable.
During the 1980s Iraq had one of the highest levels of per capita food availability in the Middle East. Calorie availability data from FAO food balance sheets show an increase from 1,958 kcal in 1961 to approximately 3,200 kcal during 1984 – 1990. The latter figure exceeds the estimated average caloric requirement of the Iraqi population of 2,250 kcal per person/day.
Dietary habits and preferences included consumption of large quantities and varieties of meat, as well as chicken, pulses, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products. Common diets are believed to have had ample levels of most nutrients; in fact, the rate of obesity was on the increase.
Food items not produced locally were widely available and sold at subsidized price by the Government of Iraq (GOI).
Production and importation of food declined rapidly in 1990 when comprehensive
trade sanctions drastically reduced the country’s purchasing power. The trade sanctions had several negative effects: increase in the inflation rate (the price of food soared), and an increase in the rate of unemployment. Existing salaries and benefits did not reflect the inflation rate. Poverty became widespread.
The previous diet became unattainable for most Iraqis. Deprivation changed the
food habits of most people. Rationing further influenced these habits. In an attempt to address the food security crisis, GOI re-introduced a public food rationing system in September 1990. GOI rationed wheat flour, rice, sugar, vegetable oil, lentils, tea, and milk powder. The composition of the ration over 1990-1997 changed several times, reflecting GOI’s declining financial capacity to provide food for its population.
The availability of food increased in successive phases of the Oil for Food Programme, providing, on average, 2,000 -2200 kcal per person.
Routine distribution of food on this scale is in itself a massive logistic operation that appears to work flawlessly. Some 24 million people (20.5 million in the south/centre and 3.5 million in northern Iraq), or roughly 3.7 million families currently receive an average of 2,230 kcal per person per day (kcal/p/d).
Since 1997, 60% of households interviewed in Iraq were totally dependant on the ration system and reported that rations lasted less than 20 days. Iodized salt, pulses and rice are depleted the fastest, while sugar and wheat flour last the longest.
As Iraqis used to have much greater access to higher quantities and quality of food, cultural patterns of food preference and eating habits likely influence the acceptability of current diets. In order to make an assessment of the Oil for Food Programme, we would need to look at the Programme in a broader context.
There are an estimated five million Iraqis who are unemployed.[xx] The current unemployment rate is 60% of the total population, compared to 30% before the war.[xxi]. This rapid increase in unemployment is largely the result of the CPA’s “de-Ba’athification” campaign, meaning the decision to disband Iraq’s military and dismantle much of Iraq’s state bureaucracy. This put 750,000 people out of work.[xxii] This high level of unemployment fueled the insurgency by putting “too many angry young men, with no hope for the future, on the street”. [xxiii]
The American Appointed minister of Labor identified the following groups that need employment or social assistance: [xxiv]
Demobilized Conscript Soldiers: 300,000
Demobilized Career Soldiers: 250,000
Internally Displaced Persons: 70,000
New Labor Entrants: 375,000
Displaced SOE Employees: 200,000
Widows, Divorcees and Female-Headed Households: 400,000
Fewer than 25,000 Iraqis are working on projects in the U.S. reconstruction efforts. In fact the Bush administration concedes that less than one percent of Iraq’s workforce of seven million is currently involved in the reconstruction process.161. Most of Iraq’s reconstruction has been contracted out to American companies, rather than Iraqi or regional companies.[xxv] This practice helps to maintain Iraq’s high unemployment rate. Obviously, this has a disastrous impact on Iraq’s economy.
To make matters worse, the work to date has proceeded far too slowly, AND it is extremely expensive, but of substandard quality.
After 15 months of occupation hundreds of government buildings are still destroyed. We Iraqis see NO visible sign of ongoing work on these buildings. Local contractors and government contracting companies are capable and qualified to do the reconstruction work. Money for these reconstruction projects is available. As of June 22, the CPA used “less than 2 percent of the reconstruction money lawmakers provided. The funds were meant to finance everything from training Iraqi police to starting small businesses to rebuilding the country's electric, water, health and oil production facilities”.[xxvi]
The need is there, the manpower is there, the material is there, and the money is there. However, the will and the decision to start the reconstruction AND hence reduce the unemployment are, regrettably, not there. Unemployment will continue to be above 50% until and unless meaningful and honest efforts are made to carry out the reconstruction.
The best, the most reliable, and the most comprehensive report on the health condition in Iraq (1990-2002) was published by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordination For Iraq, Health Coordination Group (HCG)[xxvii], Selected Health Information on Iraq, March 2003. The HCG report painted the following picture:
Before August 1990, the health care system in Iraq was based on an extensive and developed network of primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities. These facilities were linked among themselves and with the community by a large fleet of ambulances and service vehicles, and by a good communications network facilitating referral to the next level of the health care system. It was estimated by the Government of Iraq (GOI) that 97% and 79% of the urban and rural populations, respectively, had access to health care. While the system tended to emphasize curative aspects, it was complemented by a set of public health activities that included, among others, malaria control, an expanded programme of immunizations (EPI) and tuberculosis control activities.
After 1990, the situation of the health care system changed drastically. The Gulf War, followed by more than 10 years of sanctions has resulted in significant damage to the health care network. Because of the current situation, the health facilities are dealing with a severe shortage of critically needed items and supplies. Environmental problems, reported malnutrition and difficult socioeconomic conditions have seriously aggravated this health situation.
In 1997, it was estimated that only one quarter of the medical equipment available in health care facilities was operational. By 1997, major surgical interventions were reduced to 30 - 35 % of pre-sanctions levels because of an acute shortage of anesthetics and surgical equipment and supplies. Laboratory services had declined to about 40% of pre-sanctions levels due to a lack of equipment, chemicals and reagents.
The years 1991 – 1997, between the onset of sanctions and the implementation of the humanitarian programme financed by Security Council Resolution (SCR) 986 of 1995 appear to have damaged the information services, the warehousing facilities, some of the testing facilities and communications facilities which supported distribution of medicines.
Before SCR 986, there was a general lack of anesthetics and disposable equipment (gloves, syringes and catheters). Published reports on health in Iraq during the 1990’s describe alarming increases in malnutrition and rising rates of immunization preventable disease, gastroenteritis and malaria.
Regarding drugs and medical supplies, patients were, at best, offered doses lower than what would be required by their health conditions. In 1989, the Ministry of Health (MOH) spent over US$500 million in foreign exchange for required imports for the health sector. The breakdown of the previous figure was as follows:
- 360 million dollars for imported pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical appliances and disposable supplies;
- 100 million dollars for raw materials for Samara Drug Industries which supplied 30% of the needs;
- 30 million dollars for replacement parts and maintenance of health services equipment; and
- 10 million dollars for ambulances and logistical vehicles.
The local currency component for operating the health care system in 1989 was estimated to represent at least double (approximately 1.0 billion dollars).
As at 31 January 2003, The WHO reports that since the start of SCR 986:
+ US$ 2.139 billion of Phases I – XII medicines, medical supplies and equipment had arrived in Iraq;
+ US$ 1.735 billion had been distributed (81.11 %); and
+ US$ 404.1 million represents the storage of medical stocks in Government warehouses (18.89 %).
The breakdown of stocks in storage with regard to all arrivals was: 10.03 % buffer stock; 6.75 % items in quality control; 1.4 % awaiting distribution (working stock); 0.4 % failed quality control/defective; and 0.31 % lacking complementary items/lacking spares or installation capacity.
As a result of the destruction of the 1991 war on Iraq and the 13 years of the genocidal sanction all health statistics reflected these adverse effects
Life Expectancy at Birth in Iraq declined from 63.9 years (1990) to 58 years (1995). [xxviii]
Maternal Mortality Rate in Iraq increased from 117 (1990) to 294 (1999) per 100,000 live births.[xxxi]
Reported Number of Deliveries in Government Hospitals in Iraq dropped from 580,000 (1990) to 231,000 in 1998[xxxii]
Reported Acute Respiratory Infection Prevalence per 10,000 Population Under 5 in Iraq increased from 5,708 (1990) to 6,650 (1998)[xxxv]
Reported Diarrhea Cases per 10,000 Under 5 in Iraq increased from 3620 (1990) to 3,912 (1998)[xxxvi] .
Reported Diarrhea Case Fatality per 1,000 in Iraq increased from 1.6 (1990) to 19.3 (1998)[xxxvii]
Reported Cases of Tuberculosis in Iraq increased from 14,735 (1990) to a peak of 29,897 (1999) then dropped to 11.413
Reported Acute Respiratory Fatality Rate per 1,000 cases in Iraq increased from 1.06 (1990) to 11.74 (1998)[xxxviii]
Reported Cases of Mental/Psychological Disorders from Outpatient/Health Attendance in Iraq increased from 197,000 (1990) to 507,000 (1998)[xxxix]
Reported Number of outpatient and Health center Consultations in Iraq increased from 36,000,000 (1990) to 79,000,000 (1998)[xl]
Water and Sanitation
After the 1991 war, the first United Nations visitor mission to Iraq reported that prior to the war “Baghdad received about 450 litres per person supplied by seven treatment stations purifying water from the Tigris River. The rest of the country had about 200-250 litres per person per day, purified and supplied by 238 central water treatment stations and 1,134 smaller water projects”.[xli]
The US deliberately bombed most of the water treatment plants despite the fact that this bombing would lead to massive deterioration in the health condition of the civilian population.[xlii] To compound the problem, electricity generating plants were also bombed, which badly affected water treatment. It is known that the “[W]ater and sanitation system depends on electrical supply. In 1991 air strikes destroyed much of the country’s power supply, disrupting these basic civilian services”[xliii].
Great efforts were made to restore the water and sanitation services over the 13 years of sanctions. These efforts were frustrated by the large number of contracts that were placed on hold by the US delegation at the UN 661 committee. At one time nearly 50% of the contracts for water and sewage treatment were placed on hold. According to a letter written by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on October 23, 1999: The representative of Save the Children wrote, ”There is a high level of holds on applications ... for telecommunications (100 per cent), electricity (65.5 per cent), water and sanitation (53.4 per cent) and oil spare parts and equipment (43 per cent)”.[xliv]
Even essential and badly needed items such as water testing equipment were blocked. Save the Children stated "There has been an attempt to map the water supply [in Iraq] and one of the needs that was paramount was water testing equipment….field test water quality equipment would be extremely difficult if not impossible to pass through the Sanctions Committee because in fact it essentially tests for the chemical constituents of water and the biological aspects and in fact it has a biological incubator built into it.”[xlv]
The sanctions, coupled with contracts being placed on hold contributed to the deterioration of clean water supply to the civilian population. “While piped water reaches most urban homes, 65 per cent of it is not treated (Oxfam, January 23, 2003). In rural parts of central and southern Iraq, UNICEF now reports that only 45.7 per cent of homes have piped water, compared with 75 per cent before the 1991 Gulf War.”[xlvi] Although most water treatment plants have their own generators, 70 per cent of them do not work, according to UNICEF.
The UNDP reports (December 11, 2002) “Each day, 500,000 tonnes of raw sewage are discharged into the Dyala River and flows into the Tigris. The treatment plants, now operating at half their capacity, were designed to serve the entire population of Baghdad -- nearly six million inhabitants”.[xlvii]
EFFECTS OF DEPLETED URANIUM
For over a decade, the U.S. military has coated its armor-piercing missiles in depleted uranium (DU), a toxic and radioactive metal. Many scientists and observers attribute the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome among U.S. soldiers and the rapid increase of cancer in southern Iraq to the use of DU.[xlviii] For example, the number of serious childbirth defects in Basra has increased sevenfold since 1991.[xlix]
It was estimated that 350 to 800 tons of weaponry was used during the 1991 war. The weapons were mostly used in the less inhabited areas around the southern city of Basra. Iraqi doctors working in Basra have reported an alarming increase in the incidence of malignancy among children: 3.98/100000 in 1990 to 7.8/100000 in 1995, and 10.7/100000 in 1999 and 13/100000 in 2000. This trend fulfills time sequence criterion whereby the outcome follows a latency period of almost 4 years following exposure to depleted uranium.[l] A recent study found US soldiers who are still contaminated with depleted uranium 12 years after the end of the 1991 Gulf War.[li] A British veteran won a hotly contested disability appeal due to his contamination with DU.[lii]
The Pentagon estimates that U.S. and British forces used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of weaponry made from DU during the March 2003 bombing campaign.[liii] Moreover, whereas during the first Gulf War much of the DU was dropped on desert battlefields, in 2003 the vast majority of the toxic weapons were deployed in heavily populated urban areas such as Baghdad.[liv]
The UN Environment Programme Study, published in March 2003, found DU in air and groundwater in Bosnia-Herzegovina seven years after the weapons were fired. It recommended collecting DU fragments, covering contaminated points with asphalt or clean soil, and keeping records of contaminated sites.[lv]
The British Ministry of Defence has issued cards to troops deployed to Iraq, warning that they may have been exposed to depleted uranium dust and offering uranium testing.[lvi] No warning or information was provided to the people of Iraq to maximize the chance of protecting themselves.
The US Government has declined to take its responsibility to clean up the Iraqi environment from the DU fragments scattered throughout the country. The US says it has no plans to remove the debris left over from depleted uranium (DU) weapons it is using in Iraq.[lvii]
The increase in the amount of DU used and the fact that it was used in and around more heavily populated centers would result in much greater number of people being exposed to DU effects. It will take another 4 years for such effects to show up.
A CENTURY OF CRIMES AGAINST THE FILIPINO PEOPLE
Presentation by Atty. Romeo T. Capulong
Public Interest Law Center
World Tribunal for Iraq
Trial in New York City on August 25, 2004
Distinguished colleagues and friends:
More than a century before the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, the Philippines had been America’s first victim of aggression in Asia, first, as an object of colonization and, second, because of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the Filipino people. The year was 1898. The Philippine Revolution - launched two years earlier by the Katipunan led by a worker, Andres Bonifacio - was about to end nearly four centuries of Spanish colonial rule when the United States intervened on the pretext of helping the revolutionaries. The invasion by the more barbaric colonial power would be justified by U.S. President William McKinley as an act of “civilizing” the Filipinos and teaching them democracy and self-rule.
The Philippines was of course subjugated by the United States not only because of its raw materials and its potential market for U.S. surplus products but also as a staging point for U.S. imperialist expansion and interventionism in Asia particularly in China. It was the period when the United States, as articulated by Theodore Roosevelt, would become a “Pacific power.” Since then, therefore, the Philippines has served not only as part of America’s global economic interests but, especially today, as the hub of U.S. military power projection not only in Southeast Asia but also throughout Asia and beyond.
It is in this context that, for the next century, war crimes would be committed by the United States against the Filipino people. By extension, the Philippines also served as America’s staging base in pursuit of its policy of aggression against many countries, first, on the pretext of containing “communism” and, later, of fighting “terrorism.” Based on U.S. colonial and neo-colonial policies, the Philippines – through the puppet governments propped up by the United States – became America’s “unwilling” accomplice in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in many countries, in violating these countries’ independence, self-determination and territorial integrity. I am going to discuss this later.
The Philippine-American War and the “Pacification Campaign”
Our country, the Philippines, would have been Asia’s first republic had not the United States intervened and then conquered and occupied it as a colony. But because the Filipino people rose in arms after centuries of revolts and uprisings against Spanish colonial rule and later sought to defend their victory in preparation for putting up their own republic, they again rose against the U.S. invaders.
Behind the back of the Filipino people and their patriotic and democratic aspirations, the U.S. secretly signed the Treaty of Paris with Spain in December 1898 under which it bought the Philippines for $20 million. By 1899, there were 75,000 U.S. troops in the islands. The U.S. troops - many of them actually mercenaries lured by promises of not only high pay but also war booty and pieces of land – would reach a peak of 126,000 a few years later. In the same year, the Americans proclaimed the Philippines as an “occupied territory.” The Philippine-American War and the subsequent “pacification campaign” broke out for the next six years. By the time the unequal war – some historians call it America’s “First Vietnam” – ended, less than six million of the country’s 7 million population would live to see their country subjugated again by a foreign power.
There are varying accounts on how many Filipinos were killed by the American forces and they range from 250,000 to 500,000 including women and children. A report by the New York Times in 1901 counted the dead at 600,000 people in Luzon alone. But 1901 was only the start of the so-called “pacification campaign” that lasted until 1913, when American forces pursued a scorched-earth policy in their campaigns in the islands of Luzon, Samar, Panay, as well as in Mindanao where hundreds of thousands of civilians became victims of revengeful genocide or died due to famine, disease and starvation in reconcentration zones. In the province of Albay alone, 300,000 people were “confined” inside garrisons; there were reports of wanton mass slaughters in Mindanao as well as astonishing death rates in what would be known later as Bilibid Prison.1 An anonymous U.S. congressman during the period said: “They never rebel in Luzon anymore because there isn’t anybody left to rebel.”
Most recent accounts by independent historians put the death toll at 1.5 million. 2
After suffering initial defeats under the hands of the revolutionary forces who had resorted to guerilla tactics, the U.S. would launch the “pacification campaign” in an attempt to deny them of the Filipino people’s support. The main target of this scorched-earth policy were Filipino civilians reminiscent of the U.S. genocide campaigns against Indians and Cubans and in other territories where whole villages were burned, whole populations were reconcentrated inside hamlets, “water cure” and other torture methods were applied, and carnage became the norm. One account told of the use by U.S. soldiers of “dum-dum” bullets in contravention of the 1899 Hague Convention which, incidentally, the Americans conveniently failed to ratify. 3
It would be laborious for me to enumerate the various accounts of atrocities as reported by some U.S. newspapers, by the Anti-Imperialist League (one of whose leaders was Mark Twain), U.S. legislative investigations as well as confessions of some American soldiers who became appalled at the sheer genocide committed during the war. I will just sum up these accounts based on the words of at least two American generals who were involved in the Philippine campaign: 1) Gen. William R. Shafter (1900): “My plan would be to disarm the natives of the Philippine Islands, even if we have to kill half of them to do it.” 2) Gen. “Howlin’ Jake” Smith to his soldiers (1901) in the notorious Samar campaign in Eastern Visayas: “Kill and burn, kill and burn, the more you kill and the more you burn the more you please me…(There’s) no time to take prisoners.” 4
“This is not war,” one British witness narrated, “it is simply massacre and murderous butchery.” Indeed U.S. Senate hearings were held to investigate the atrocities along with a few court martial trials but mere denials and other justifications by generals left those accused mostly scot-free. Asked by a U.S senator whether this was “civilized warfare,” Gen. Robert Hughes admitted he ordered the burning of villages and murder of women and children but he reasoned out that his victims were “not civilized.” Describing the Filipinos in racist terms as “Chinese half-breeds,” President Theodore Roosevelt who followed William McKinley in the White House, insisted that this was “the most glorious war in our nation’s history.” 6
U.S. colonial rule in the Philippines was implemented through the imposition of acts and decrees designed to suppress expressions of patriotism and anti-imperialism among the Filipinos. The mere display of the Philippine flag was prohibited as did “crimes” which the U.S. colonial administrators and their puppet agents considered as acts of treason, insurrection and sedition. To bury nationalist sentiments, U.S. colonial rule enforced an educational system which served to “Americanize” Filipino culture and propagate myths of American democracy. U.S. rule further relied on the support of the resurrected local Philippine elite, mostly landlords, compradors and bureaucrats, who were also trained to become pro-American political leaders.
In the early 1940s, the Filipino people were caught in the inter-imperialist rivalry in the Far East between the United States and Japan. Thousands of Filipinos were conscripted into the war and then integrated into the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). The Philippines suffered one of the most brutal offensives by the Japanese Imperial Army but this was partly because Gen. Douglas McArthur, commander of allied forces in the Far East, chose to use the Philippines as a major military outpost against Japan.
One cannot condone the atrocities committed by Japanese forces during World War II including the use of many Filipino females as “comfort women” but the U.S. should be equally guilty for war crimes and other brutalities that the Filipino people suffered in a war that was not their own choosing – to defend Mother America against an imperialist rival. For another, we should not forget the genocide committed by the U.S. forces against the Japanese people through the use of “fire bombs” which devastated half of the population in many Japanese cities including Tokyo and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Manila alone between 1944-1945, 100,000 Filipinos died; in Bataan, at least 23,000 died. 7 Manila was the most devastated city next to Warsaw during the war. Including those who died of disease, famine and hunger. The death toll in the Philippines as a result of the U.S.-Japan war could reach a million or more.
2) Post-War U.S. Intervention in the Philippines and Crimes Committed
It is perhaps the biggest tragedy of the Filipino people to have experienced two major wars in just 50 years – the “pacification campaign” at the turn of the 20th Century and the U.S.-Japan war of the 1940s. The grant of nominal independence to the Philippines by its colonial ruler on July 4, 1946 did not write off more tragedies that would follow. The Americans made sure that the country would be tied to a neo-colonial relationship thus making its independence superficial and its sovereignty and territorial integrity subordinate to U.S. neo-colonial interests. Aside from ramming through a free trade act that tied the Philippine trade to the U.S., the Americans put into effect the Parity Rights amendment and later, the Laurel-Langley Agreement, that allowed U.S. investors equal rights to exploit the country’s natural resources and own businesses, among others. In 1945, the Tydings-McDuffie Act gave the U.S. legal right to maintain military bases and armed forces in the Philippines beyond independence. 8 The Act was followed by the signing of the onerous Military Bases Agreement (MBA) in 1947. The Treaty of General Relations signed on “independence day” itself signified the Americans’ withdrawal and surrender of possession, control and sovereignty over the Philippines “except the use of such bases, necessary appurtenances to such bases, and the rights incident thereto.” 9
Aside from the economic stranglehold that the former colonial ruler maintained in the Philippines, the country was preserved as a major springboard for securing U.S. economic and military interests, the projection of U.S. military power and the launching of wars of aggression in the region and elsewhere beginning in the late 1940s. For one, the country was in a strategic location for military and trading transit in the region.
In the light of the Cold War, many top secret memoranda and policy directives and recommendations issued by the U.S. presidency, the state and defense departments as well as by various U.S. congressional committees from the late 1940s until the Marcos years that have become available for research and other related purposes, referred to the importance of maintaining the Philippines as a country friendly to the U.S. and as an important staging base for U.S. security objectives in the Far East. It was clear to those who issued the documents, however, that it was politically imperative for the U.S. to maintain and support a pro-U.S. government (read: puppet government) in the Philippines. 10
On the pretext of containing communism, the U.S. government became deeply involved in counter-insurgency operations from the late 1940s-1950s. Alarmed by the resurgence of what it claimed the Soviet-communist inspired Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan (HMB or the People’s Liberation Army) of the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP), the U.S. militarily intervened through its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (Jusmag) while preparing for the takeover of the presidency by “American boy” Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay. In the anti-Huk campaign, the U.S.-assisted Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) escalated military operations through the bombing and strafing of suspected Huk targets. At times with clandestine support by the U.S. Air Force from their Clark Airbase in Angeles, Pampanga, Philippine air force planes dropped napalm bombs and undertook incendiary raids against the guerillas. 11
Both the US and Philippine governments made sure the number of deaths and wounded including civilians as a result of the U.S.-assisted anti-Huk campaign is kept a secret. Suffice it to say, however, that the AFP’s intensification of counter-insurgency operations backed by psy-war operations by CIA and Jusmag operatives and advisers, led to the indiscriminate shooting of thousands of civilians. It should be remembered likewise that units of PLA guerillas (known then as Hukbong Mapagpalaya Laban sa Hapon or People’s Liberation Against the Japanese) who fought the Japanese forces were deceived of surrendering their arms under an “amnesty program” by the USAFFE right after the war but were later massacred.
It was during the 20-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos (1966-1986) that saw the deepening of U.S. intervention in the Philippines and the intensification of counter-insurgency operations that led to the loss of a large number of civilian lives and the commission of countless human rights violations. Marcos rule saw the surge of nationalist struggles in the Philippines highlighted by the calls for genuine agrarian reform, the dismantling of the U.S. military bases in the Philippines, the advance of democratic rights and civil liberties and many other issues. The economic crisis and intra-elite rivalry that emerged during the early part of the Marcos presidency led to the rightist coup d’etat engineered by Marcos himself and the US – the imposition of martial rule that would end in February 1986 through a people’s uprising.
The U.S. government knew beforehand that Marcos would declare martial law and it was no surprise that it would support it by pouring big amounts of economic and military aid. With U.S. military assistance, Marcos built a strong armed forces and police force and a brutal intelligence network all of which he used as an instrument of repression against the Filipino people, to silence his political enemies and to mount numerous and prolonged counter-insurgency operations against both the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Moro rebels in southern Philippines.
To the Americans, Marcos held the key to a strong U.S. military presence in Southeast Asia. He served as the U.S.’ spokesman in Asia. His presidency was important not only in suppressing the local Marxist armed revolutionary movement but also in endorsing U.S. armed aggression in the region, particularly in the Indochina war, and elsewhere through the use of its military facilities in the Philippines. Despite – or because of – the fascist dictatorship, U.S. Vice President George Bush, Sr. in a state visit in the Philippines in 1984, congratulated Marcos for “his style of democracy.”
There were admissions by top U.S. officials that although U.S. military bases in the Philippines were supposed to defend the Philippines against external aggression, they were also used to support local military forces particularly in the war against the armed revolutionary forces. In 1969, the U.S. Symington Committee revealed the admission by U.S. military commanders of sending supplies, weapons, ammunition and other war material to the AFP for its counter-insurgency campaigns. It was also revealed that the US Agency for International Development (or USAID) and Jusmag were involved through the Military Assistance Program (MAP). 12
During the Marcos dictatorship, U.S. military support increased through the turnover of Huey gunships, napalm fragmentation bombs and other weapons. While officially U.S. forces were only advising the AFP, they were actually deeply involved in military operations against the NPA. From 1970-1974 alone, about 411 U.S. Special Forces took part in combat operations in several provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Palawan. U.S. Marines were also seen in combat operations in Bataan in 1981-1982. 13
Many Filipino political prisoners during martial law would learn later, through the admissions of arresting units, that the water cure, electric shock and other torture methods used against them and recently in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were learned from U.S. military training schools.
The support extended by the U.S. government to Marcos particularly to his armed forces allowed the dictatorship to commit with impunity military and police abuses not only against suspected guerillas but also against civilians, including women and children. The atrocities ranged from illegal arrest, torture, rape, extra-judicial executions and forced disappearances to forced evacuation and hamletting of communities, massacres, and food blockades. These had been amply documented not only by Philippine human rights groups but also by lawyers’ groups, Amnesty International, ICRC, the UN Committee on Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists and other reputable organizations. The finding of culpability against Ferdinand Marcos by the U.S. Federal Court in Honolulu in the landmark class suit filed by 10,000 human rights martial law victims attested to such crimes by the dictatorship and the U.S. cannot claim to be innocent of these atrocities.
Those illegally arrested and imprisoned without charges for at least one week totaled about 500,000 while those incarcerated for one month to several years were 70,000. Reports also estimated the number of persons summarily executed and disappeared at more than 100,000. 14 The total number of civilians who were dislocated at the height of military operations throughout the archipelago would reach millions. This is so not only because of the reach and extensiveness of these campaigns but also because many of the rural populations affected were punished several times and have until today remained militarized. The number of displaced persons at the peak of the AFP war against the MNLF separatist rebellion in southern Philippines alone was over one million.
If justice remains elusive to the victims of the Marcos dictatorship, it is equally so during the post-Marcos presidencies from Corazon C. Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and now, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Aquino supported the renewal of the bases treaty and under her, the US-supported AFP launched the American-designed “low intensity warfare” doctrine and the total war policy against the NPA and Moro rebels. Ramos was instrumental in restoring and extending U.S. basing rights in the Philippines (that ended with the non-ratification by the Senate of the proposed military bases treaty renewal in 1991) through the midnight signing of the onerous Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in February 1998 in violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Estrada, who also saw the ratification of the VFA, launched his own total war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao. In all these presidencies – supposedly under a post-Marcos restored democracy - the number of human rights violations continued on an alarming scale.
It has been under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration that the scale of U.S. aggression in the Philippines has been stepped up particularly by its commitment to U.S. President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and allowing the use of the Philippines as the war’s “second front.” Macapagal-Arroyo it was who became the first leader in the region to pledge all-out support for the U.S. aggression against Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 and, later, in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. On Sep. 12 she wrote US president George W. Bush: “We extend whatever support we can muster… We will help in whatever way we can to strengthen the global effort to crush those responsible for this barbaric act.” 15 Then on March 20, 2003, the day after the start of the US attack, President Arroyo immediately declared: “We are part of the coalition of the willing… We are part of [the] global coalition against terrorism.” 16
These presidential commitments led to the increase in the number of deployment of U.S. forces in the Philippines in the guise of war games and the inflow of military logistics suspected to be in preparation for a “temporary-permanent” U.S. military presence. They allowed U.S. forces to engage in combat operations against the NPA and Moro rebels in violation of the VFA and the Constitution. Macapagal-Arroyo also allowed the use of Clark, Subic and other airfields and harbors in the Philippines including Batanes, Mactan and Gen. Santos City as staging and logistics base for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the invasion cum occupation of Iraq and as a member of the so-called “Coalition of the Willing,” the President Macapagal-Arroyo also sent a Philippine military contingent in the guise of “humanitarian mission.” The Philippines is also providing technical assistance in so-called governance/democracy-building efforts. Among others, this has included PNP officers joining in training members of the Iraqi police force and having a team of Iraqis come to the Philippines for a seminar on “democracy” organized by the Philippine Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Local Government Academy. 17
Although Macapagal-Arroyo, due to public pressure at home, has pulled out the contingent earlier than the termination date of its mission because of the Angelo dela Cruz hostage crisis last July, reports are that another contingent will be sent to Iraq, this time under the guise of the country’s commitment to a UN Security Council resolution approved last June in relation to the “turnover” of U.S. control of Iraq to its authorities. It remains as her valuable contribution to the illegal U.S. military occupation of Iraq the deployment of 4,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who perform military-related auxiliary services and logistical support mostly in U.S. military bases inside Iraq. The deployment of OFWs in Iraq violates the Philippine government’s avowed labor-export policy of placing OFWs only in peaceful and secure countries and only for employment purposes. As a result, the OFWs – one of four of whom are women – face the constant threat of military attacks in the midst of the ongoing Iraqi resistance to the U.S. occupation.
Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo’s commitment to Bush in using the Philippines as the “second front” in the war against “terrorism” has given the former colonial ruler the right to develop further the country as a hub for projecting U.S. power in Southeast Asia as well as launching wars of aggression toward the Persian Gulf and other countries. She also violated the principles of the Rome Treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the VFA itself by giving immunity from prosecution before the ICC to U.S. forces in the Philippines. In May 2003, she signed with Bush the US-RP Non-Surrender Agreement, one of over 80 such bilateral agreements the U.S. has with other countries as a precondition for continued U.S. support.
Domestically, however, it has further changed the nature of the civil war by treating the CPP and NPA as well as the MILF as mere “terrorist groups” and hence, subject to criminal laws rather than to well-established doctrines that consider rebellion as a political act. This has given the Armed Forces and the national police a carte blanche to commit further atrocities against NPA hors de combat, suspected sympathizers as well as Moro rebels and their civilian supporters. And yet not a single soldier or policeman has been prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It was also because of Macapagal-Arroyo’s own endorsement and trickery to force the armed Left to capitulate that the United States along with the EU Council and a few other Western allies of the U.S. continue to falsely tag NDFP chief political consultant and the CPP-NPA as “terrorists” in contravention of the 1998 GRP-NDFP bilateral agreement known as Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRHIL) and international law. Her own “war on terror” has terrorized Filipinos quite unprecedently by the continued suppression of their democratic rights and civil liberties including the threat to impose an anti-people, anti-democratic “anti-terrorism law.”
Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo’s support for the “war on terror” has virtually made the Philippines an unwilling partner and accomplice to the U.S. wars of aggression not only against Afghanistan and Iraq but other countries targeted by the U.S. in the war blueprint crafted under Bush. She herself stands guilty for violating the independence and sovereignty of these countries as well as the Philippines’ 1987 Constitution which mandates a peaceful foreign policy, its own commitment to the United Nations and to international law to use peaceful measures in resolving conflicts between nations and the prohibition of acts of aggression by one state against another.
Clearly, Macapagal-Arroyo’s blind support for Bush’s “war on terror” relives the collaborative acts of her own predecessors in using the Philippines through the use of U.S. military facilities in not only meddling in local counter-insurgency operations but more so in launching wars of aggression in the region and beyond.
The Philippines as Staging Base for U.S. Wars of Aggression in Other Countries
Throughout the 20th Century including particularly during the U.S.-engineered Cold War, the U.S. used its military facilities in the Philippines – often in complicity with Filipino presidents - as staging base for wars of aggression in the Far East and other regions. In effect, the Philippines through its presidents committed acts of aggression against sovereign peoples and states that can be classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Such commitments to the U.S. were supposedly governed by several treaties and agreements with the American government including the 1947 MBA, Mutual Defense Pact of 1951, the 1954 Southeast Asian Treaty (Seato) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of 1999. Although these treaties referred to mutual defense cooperation or multilateral security relations in the context of self-defense, they were used by the U.S. often in cooperation with Philippine presidents to launch offensive operations against many countries in the Far East and, later, in the Persian Gulf.
As early as 1900, the U.S. used its military facilities and forces in the Philippines to suppress the “Boxer Rebellion” in China in order to guarantee “open door” for American trade. Then, in 1918-1920, the facilities were used to send U.S. troops in Soviet Siberia and, in 1927, to secure a Western settlement in Shanghai, China.
The use of Clark airbase, Subic naval base and other military installations for launching wars of intervention became more active in the 1950s until 1991. Clark was used to send bombing missions during the Korean War of 1950-1953 and in the bombing of Sumatra during a rebellion by the Indonesian army in 1958. Clark also figured in the deployment of U.S. forces in the Quemoy-Matsu area off the Taiwan Strait.18
In violation of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 that sought to recognize the sovereignty of Indochina following the defeat of French colonial forces under the hands of the Vietminh guerillas, the United States began a long war of aggression against the Indochinese people who were fighting for their independence and sovereignty including in Vietnam. From 1955-1986, U.S. military bases in the Philippines were used frequently for bombing missions in the war, the training and deployment of U.S. troops, as communication links as well as for rest and recreation of tired U.S. servicemen. In all, U.S. air missions in Vietnam alone were said to have dropped 25 million tons of bombs or several times more than the total number of bombs dropped by Allied forces during World War II. 19 The U.S. military campaign in Vietnam led to the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians through indiscriminate bombings and strafing, massacres and other crimes against humanity.
Apart from allowing the use of the U.S. bases, Ferdinand Marcos – just like Macapagal-Arroyo today - became an accomplice to committing acts of aggression by sending at least 2,000 Filipino troops to Vietnam under the pretext of engineering construction through the Philippine Civic Action Group (Philcag).
In 1979 at the height of the Iranian Revolution, a number of Iranian students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held as war criminals its occupants including a number of Marines. (The Shah of Iran was then a puppet of the U.S. that in turn supplied his despotic regime with unparalleled military aid.) Subic and Clark figured in U.S. retaliatory measures by the deployment of warships in the Persian Gulf and in a failed commando mission to rescue the war prisoners. The act would be repeated in 1991 when President George Bush, Sr., along with the British military, ordered the bombing of Iraq. Clark and Subic were used for U.S. military missions against Iraq at the time when the Philippines and the U.S. were negotiating for the renewal of the bases treaty.
This presentation about the use of the U.S. military facilities to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in many countries will not be complete without mentioning the criminal acts committed by U.S. servicemen inside the Philippines itself. In the past, there had been several accounts of U.S. servicemen shooting to death Filipinos for mistaking them for “a wild pig” and other flimsy reasons. Often, criminal charges filed before Philippine courts proved futile as the suspects would be quickly spirited away by base commanders. From Dec. 1985-Dec. 1986 alone, 258 cases were filed against American servicemen in Olongapo courts. Of the total cases filed, however, 168 were dismissed, three were archived and one resulted in acquittal. For the same period in Angeles City, of 43 criminal cases three were dismissed while nine were classified as “pending arrest” since the accused were flown by U.S. base authorities to another country. 20
Criminal acts where U.S. servicemen were involved included homicide, assault and physical injuries, rape, drunkenness, malicious mischief and possession of marijuana and other prohibited drugs. One of the worst murders documented was that of a woman by her American serviceman boyfriend. The woman’s body was found with part of her uterus scraped out by a broken bottle and with three barbecue sticks stabbed into her vagina. Other suspected killers got away by paying victims’ families with a few dollars and sent away by base commanders. 21
The dire social costs are unimaginable. Sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) were widespread particularly in Olongapo and Angeles where there were about 50,000 “hospitality girls” at the peak of the Vietnam war. It was also in these cities where AIDS infection cases were first reported in the Philippines. Tens of thousands of Amerasian children remain today most of them left for good by U.S. fathers who had long gone. Many people including children have died of leukemia and other incurable diseases as a result of contamination to toxic wastes abandoned at or near the U.S. bases. The U.S. government has refused to either indemnify the victims or to fund the rehabilitation of areas suspected of containing toxic materials.
Friends, ladies and gentlemen based on the foregoing: I find the U.S. government accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity it committed and continues to commit against the Filipino people and peoples of other countries in over more than a century of colonial and neo-colonial rule in the Philippines. To this day, the U.S. government has not apologized for the crimes it committed against the Filipinos and peoples of other countries in the region.
Answerable likewise for such similar crimes should be the Philippines’ past presidents – including the incumbent – for serving as an accomplice to the litany of barbaric atrocities committed by their patron, the U.S. government. I find it simply disgusting that until today, every person occupying the Philippine presidency is willing to allow a foreign power to continue to infringe into the country’s sovereignty and independence by not only allowing the military presence of U.S. forces but also using the Philippines as a hub for launching continuing wars of aggression against independent states in contravention of the country’s own Constitution, Geneva Conventions and other international laws.
These violations and atrocities have only tightened U.S. neocolonial control of the Philippines and exacerbated the civil war resulting in the further loss of lives and economic displacement. As a nation, the Philippines remains poor and underdeveloped – and often without dignity and integrity that all independent states on earth are supposed to enjoy.
End Notes and References:
Luzviminda Francisco, The First Vietnam: The U.S.-Philippine War of 1899, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Vol. 5, No. 4, Dec. 1973.
Jose Maria Sison & Ninotchka Rosca, Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World, Portrait of a Revolutionary, 2004, US: Open Hand Publishing; p. 203)
Roland G. Simbulan, The Bases of Our Insecurity: A Study of the U.S. Military Bases in the Philippines, 1983; Metro Manila: Balai Fellowship, Inc. p. 172; citing Stephen Shalom, “Counter-Insurgency in the Philippines,” Journal of Contemporary Asia.
William Loren Katz, “Splendid Little War, Long Bloody Occupation of Iraq, the U.S. and an Old Lesson,” Counterpunch, April 28, 2004.
William Manchester, American Caesar; and Gilbert, History of the Twentieth Century.
Merlin Magallona, “US Military Bases and Philippine Sovereignty,” in United States Military Bases in the Philippines: Issues and Scenarious, edited by Lolita W. McDonough, 1986, International Studies Institute of the Philippines, Law Complex, University of the Philippines, Quezon City.
Refer, for instance, to the following documents: “Basis for the Formulation of U.S. Military Policy,” U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sept. 9, 1945; Policy Paper Study or PPS/23, issued by the Policy Studies Group of the U.S. state department, 1947; National Security Council or NSC 84/2, Nov. 10, 1950; Staff
Report of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Nov. 1972; and the National Security Council Study Directive (NSSD) of Nov. 1984.
Roland G. Simbulan, The Bases of Our Insecurity.
Simbulan, “US Intervention in the Philippines: The Bases Factor,” 6-7, in McDonough (ed.), United States Military Bases in the Philippines: Issues and Scenarious.
Simbulan, The Bases of Our Insecurity
Sison and Rosca, At Home in the World, p. 111.
Jose Enrique Africa, “Crumbs for Asia’s Finest Puppet,” CAIS Monograph, No. 2, April-May 2004.
Simbulan, The Bases of Our Insecurity.
Simbulan, The Bases of Our Insecurity.
Roland G. Simbulan, A Guide to Nuclear Philippines, 1988, Manila: IBON Primer Series.
Aida F. Santos and Cecilia T. Hofmann, “Prostitution and the Bases: A Continuing Saga of Exploitation,” Conference on Women and Children, Militarism and Human Rights, May 1-4, 1997, Naha, Okinawa.
[i] John M. Broder, “Iraqi Army Toll a Mystery Because No Count is Kept,” New York Times, April 2, 2003.
[ii] Daniel Cooney and Omar Sinan, “Iraq Morgue Records: More than 5,500 Killed.” AssociatedPress, May 24, 2004. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,12804124482,00.html
[iii] AP Newsbreak: “Iraq's Health Ministry ordered to stop counting civilian dead from war” Available at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2003/12/10/international1027EST0569.DTL
[vi] Carl Conetta, “The Wages of War: Iraqi Combatant and Noncombatant Fatalities in the 2003 Conflict,” PDA Research Monograph #8, October 28, 2003. Available at: http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/0310rm8.pdf
[viii] Fallujah Death Toll for Week More Than 600,” Associated Press, April 11, 2004. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2004-04-11-fallujah-casualties_x.htm
[x] Rumsfeld on looting in Iraq: 'Stuff happens' Available at http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/04/11/sprj.irq.pentagon/
[xi] Suzanne Goldenberg, “Iraq: A Land Ruled by Chaos,” Guardian, October 4, 2003. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1055697,00.html
[xii] Niko Price, “Crime Wave in Iraqi Capital Unprecedented,” Associated Press, August 7, 2003.
[xiii] Daniel Cooney and Omar Sinan. “Iraq Morgue Records: More than 5,500 Killed.” AssociatedPress, May 24, 2004. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4124482,00.html
[xiv] “Iraqi Police: Najaf wasn’t prepared for officers,” CNN, June 1, 2004. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/06/01/iraq.najaf/
[xvi] Jim Krane, “U.S. General: Iraq Police Training a Flop,” Associated Press, June 9, 2004. Available
[xviii] [NEJM 1991] The Harvard Study Team. "The effect of the Gulf crisis on the children of Iraq", New England Journal of Medicine, 325 pp. 977 - 980. 199
[xx] Matt Kelley, “Fewer Iraqis Working on Reconstruction,” Associated Press, May 18, 2004
[xxi] Coalition Provisional Authority, “Administrator’s Weekly Report, Essential Services”, September21st-27th.” Available at: http://www.iraqcoalition.org/ES/consolidated/Essential%20Services%20Sept%2021-27%202003.doc .
[xxiii] Maureen Fan and Drew Brown, “U.S. Appears to be Losing Battle for Hearts, Minds of Many Iraqis,” Knight-Ridder, November 13, 2003. Available at: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1113-05.htm
[xxiv] Coalition Provisional Authority, “Administrator’s Weekly Report, Essential Services”, September 21st-27th.” Available at: http://www.iraqcoalition.org/ES/consolidated/Essential%20Services%20Sept%2021-27%202003.doc .
[xxv] Matt Kelley, “Fewer Iraqis Working on Reconstruction,” Associated Press, May 18, 2004
[xxvi] “U.S. has spent fraction of Iraq rebuilding funds” Available at http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/07/02/money.rebuilding.ap/index.html
[xxviii] Source: Human Development Report and UN Sources.
[xxix] Source: Human Development Report 1995 and Report of the Second Panel Concerning the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, 30 January 1999.
[xxx] Maternal and under 5 Children Mortality Survey, 1999.
[xxxi] Human Development Report 1995, UNICEF and Report of the Second Panel Concerning the
Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, 30 January 1999.
[xxxiii] Source: Report of the Second Panel Concerning the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, 30 January 1999.
[xxxiv] Maternal and under 5 Children Mortality Survey, 1999.
[xli] Report on humanitarian needs in Iraq in the immediate post-crisis environment by a mission to the area led by the Under-Secretary- General for Administration and Management, 10- 17 March 1991 Available at: http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/s22366.html#h20
[xliii] Oxfam Iraq: On the Brink of Disaster
[xlvi] Alleviating Poverty in Iraq, UNDP Iraq 2002
[xlvii] Iraq repairs sewage plants serving millions in Baghdad Available At http://wwww.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/0/56c3caa14394c9b185256c8c006c876d?OpenDocument
[xlix] Nigel Morris, “Rise in Birth Deformities Blamed on Allies’ Deadly Weaponry,” The Independent, May 13, 2004. Available at: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=520733
[liii] Larry Johnson, “War’s Unintended Effects; Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons Lingers as Health Concern,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 4, 2003. Available at: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/iraq2003/133581_du04.html
[lv] US rejects Iraq DU clean-up http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/2946715.stm
[lvii] US rejects Iraq DU clean-up http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/2946715.stm
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