IAC project to investigate U.S./NATO war crimes

July 1, 1999

Dear Friend,

We wanted to take some time to explain the new project that we have initiated called the Commission of Inquiry to investigate U.S./NATO War Crimes. We believe that this Commission of Inquiry has a great and historic task to achieve. Ramsey Clark and other expert witnesses will indict and present testimony on July 31 in New York City accusing Bill Clinton, General Wesley Clark, and others with war crimes against the people of Yugoslavia.

On July 31, there will be a series of panels and workshops. There will be exciting presentations. There will be analysis and discussion. Literature and video resources will be available to be used for local organizing efforts. Ramsey Clark will be the key note speaker presenting the multi-count indictment. We are also making time so that local anti-war activists and organizers from throughout the country can have a chance to meet and plan for Commission of Inquiry hearings in their cities.

We are not simply trying to reveal the truth about U.S./NATO war crimes before, during, and after the war. We are also trying to educate and mobilize broad public opinion to oppose imperialism. The war is not over. The U.S./NATO occupation of Kosovo and the cessation of the bombing campaign is not, in our opinion, a sign that peace has arrived in the Balkans. The U.S. goal is to destroy all of Yugoslavia and to continue its march through Central and Eastern Europe, into the Caucuses, and into the former southern republics of the Soviet Union.

We are organizing to have Commission of Inquiry hearings in cities throughout the United States, every NATO country, Russia, and around the world. We are heartened that this call for an independent War Crimes Tribunal is resonating on all seven continents. All who have suffered the ravages of colonialism, racism, and imperialism are finding a way to establish a new international network of coordinated activity in this field. Exploratory committees for Commission of Inquiry hearings have been formed in several European countries, in Canada, and in India.

This process begins on July 31 with a day-long hearing of the Commission of Inquiry at the Dubinsky Hall at the Fashion Institute of Technology campus (27th Street and 8th Ave._see enclosed leaflet). After hearings are held in other cities over the next months, there will be a culminating International War Crimes Tribunal in New York City (date to be announced) where collected material is presented to an international panel.

This is a vast undertaking. We have set up an international research effort conducting investigations into twenty-five broad categories of war crimes and related subjects. We are collecting public documents, interviews, eyewitness testimony, expert testimony, video footage, photos, and other materials to document the charges of Crimes Against Peace, Crimes Against Humanity, and War Crimes. Please see our web page, www.iacenter.org, for a list of the charges and updates on the Tribunal.

Join This New International Movement

As you know, the IAC played a major role in initiating and organizing protest activities and demonstrations between March 24 and June 5. More than 10,000 people marched on the Pentagon on June 5, and the three-hour rally was broadcast live on C-SPAN and then rebroadcast. A similar mass demonstration was held in San Francisco on June 5, as well as in cities around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of people opposed this war. They distributed leaflets, put up posters, helped get out mailings, did phone banking, and generously contributed their hard-earned dollars for this effort. It was amazing that in such a short time a new mass anti-war movement started to take shape. We couldn’t have done it without your help. We greatly appreciate your contributions in the many ways you made them.

The building of a grass roots anti-war movement_on a worldwide scale—is the foundation for the struggle against imperialism, racism, and injustice. We believe that the Commission of Inquiry to investigate U.S./NATO war crimes can play an important role in sustaining and building this international movement. To be a powerful movement we must be able to assess and analyze the system that is promoting war, while developing effective literature and outreach resources that connect the issue of war with the growing problems of poverty, racism, and oppression. For instance, the Pentagon used the Yugoslavia war to push through an expansion of the U.S. military budget by another $147 billion over the next six years. This increase comes on top of the already bloated $300-billion-per-year "defense" budget. This is a twenty to thirty percent increase in spending that will lead to further cuts in education, job training, housing, health care, child care, and veterans’ benefits.

What a cruel hoax! The United States government can spend limitless amounts of money to bomb working class and poor people abroad. But instead of spending money for programs that alleviate poverty, the politicians choose instead to build an ever-greater prison-industrial complex to incarcerate the growing numbers of poor people at home--almost two million will be imprisoned by the year 2000.

The Commission of Inquiry will hear expert testimony to assess how the war effort has been used to further militarize the U.S. economy and U.S. society at the expense of meeting people’s needs.

The Danger of a New War

The Commission of Inquiry will chronicle how the U.S. and NATO deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure; purposely destroyed the economic foundations of society, especially the state-owned sector of the economy; used cluster bombs and other prohibited weapons; willfully ruined the environment; used radioactive depleted uranium weapons, and committed numerous other crimes.

The Commission will also deal with the "Whys" of the war. Why did it really happen? How did the U.S. and NATO conspire to dismember Yugoslavia? What did the U.S. seek to accomplish with the expansion of NATO after the collapse of the USSR? What are the economic and political goals behind U.S. strategy, not just in Yugoslavia, but in all of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucuses, and the southern republics of the former USSR.

A careful examination of all of these facts will reveal that the occupation of Kosovo is simply one part of a larger military/political strategy of the United States and western imperialist governments. And that the danger of a new war has not diminished. It is all the more likely in the coming years. The stakes are enormous and that is why we must organize millions of people to act rather than allow the Pentagon to function with impunity.

Can you help? We need your support and your participation. In addition to attending and organizing others to attend the July 31 hearing in New York City, we hope you will join us either as a researcher, office volunteer, or someone who can distribute literature to your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or fellow students.

We have been able to build this growing international movement against war and injustice because of the generous financial contributions of thousands of people. It has been inspiring to know that so many people have been willing to make some sacrifice to help fund this effort.

We urge you to make a donation again. Please fill out the enclosed coupon and help this movement grow.

The war in Yugoslavia has created unspeakable human suffering. Today, thousands of Serb, Roma, and other peoples are being driven out of Kosovo by fascist thugs operating under NATO’s protection. Being driven out or killed are also ethnic Albanians who stood with Yugoslavia instead of the fascist KLA. It is a rain of terror. But this is the time to organize. To fight back. To uphold a vision of solidarity and struggle against war. History demands the creation of a new worldwide force for justice.

We hope you will join us in creating this new force. It is this which gives us confidence in the future. See you July 31 in New York City.

Gloria La Riva
Sara Flounders
Brian Becker
for the International Action Center


International Action Center
39 West 14 Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
email: iacenter@iacenter.org
phone: (212) 633-6646
fax: (212) 633-2889


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