Thursday, March 05, 2009

War crimes talk at the United Nations

Yesterday in Geneva the United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto, speaking before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, called for an investigation into the crimes going on in Iraq. Donn Bobb (United Nations Radio, link has text and audio) reports:

UN General Assembly President, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann on Wednesday urged the Human Rights Council to investigate "massive human rights violations" in Iraq.
The Nicaraguan diplomat describes Iraq as "a contemporary and on-going example of how the illegal use of force leads inexorably to human suffering and disregard for human rights."
He says "it sets a number of precedents that we cannot allow to stand."
"The illegality of the use of force against Iraq cannot be doubted as it runs contrary to the prohibition of the use of force in..the United Nations Charter. All pretended justifications notwithstanding, the aggressions against Iraq and Afghanistan and their occupations, constitute atrocities that must be condemned and repudiated by all who believe in the rule of law in international relations."
General Assembly President D'escoto suggests the Council consider appointing a special mechanism to report on Iraq.
Mr. D'escoto cites "reliable" estimates of over a million deaths in Iraq "as a result of the US-led aggression and occupation", saying " and still there is no rapporteur".
He says this was a serious omission that should be corrected.

D'Escoto also called for human rights to be seen in a more encompassing manner stating, "I see a profound relationship between access to safe drinking water and sanitation and the enjoyment of the right to life or health. Indeed, access to water is indispensable for a life in dignity and a prerequisite for the enjoyment of other human rights." Iran's Press TV states, "The UN General Assembly president's fiery speech coincided with the Obama administration's decision to take up observer status on the Human Rights Council -- which the Bush administration had boycotted. "

Also reflecting on the human costs of the illegal war is John Pilger. From his "War Comes Home To Britain" (New Statesman via Information Clearing House):

On 27 February, the Guardian's Washington correspondent, Ewen MacAskill, in reporting President Obama’s statement that America was finally leaving Iraq, as if it were fact, wrote: "For Iraq, the death toll is unknown, in the tens of thousands, victims of the war, a nationalist uprising, sectarian in-fighting and jihadists attracted by the US presence." Thus, the Anglo-American invaders are merely a "presence" and not directly responsible for the "unknown" number of Iraqi deaths. Such contortion of intellect is impressive.
In January last year, a report by the respected Opinion Research Business (ORB) revised an earlier assessment of deaths in Iraq to 1,033,000. This followed an exhaustive, peer-reviewed study in 2006 by the world-renowned John Hopkins School of Public Health in the US, published in The Lancet, which found that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the invasion. US and British officialks immediately dismissed the report as "flawed" -- a deliberate deception. Foreign Office papers obtained under Freedom of Information disclose a memo written by the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Roy Anderson, in which he praised The Lancet report, describing it as "robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to 'best practice' given [the conditions] in Iraq." An adviser to the prime minister commented: "The survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones". Speaking a few days later, a Foreign Office minister, Lord Triesman, said, "The way in which data are extrapolated from samples to a general outcome is a matter of deep concern."
The episode exemplifies the scale and deception of this state crime. Les Roberts, co-author of the Lancet study, has since argued that Britain and America might have caused in Iraq "an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide". This is not news. Neither is it a critical reference in the freedoms campaign organised by the Observer columnist Henry Porter. At a conference in London on 28 February, Lord Goldsmith, Blair's attorney-general, who notoriously changed his mind and advised the government the invasion was legal, when it wasn't, was a speaker for freedom. So was Timothy Garton Ash, a "liberal interventionist". On 9 April, 2003, shortly after the slaughter had begun in Iraq, a euphoric Garton Ash wrote in the Guardian: "America has never been the Great Satan. It has sometimes been the Great Gatsby: 'They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things...'. One of Britain's jobs "is to keep reminding Tom and Daisy that they now have promises to keep". Less frivolously, he lauded Blair for his "strong Gladstonian instincts for humanitarian intervention” and repeated the government's propaganda about Saddam Hussein. In 2006, he wrote: "Now we face the next big test of the west after Iraq: Iran." (I have italicized we). This also adheres precisely to the propaganda; David Milliband has declared Iran a "threat" in preparation for possibly the next war.
Like so many of New Labour's Tonier-than-thou squad, Henry Porter celebrated Blair as an almost mystical politician who "presents himself as a harmoniser for all the opposing interests in British life, a conciliator of class differences and tribal antipathies, synthesiser of opposing beliefs". Porter dismissed as "demonic nonsense" all analysis of the 9/11 attacks that suggested there were specific causes: the consequences of violent actions taken by the powerful in the Middle East. Such thinking, he wrote, "exactly matches the views of Osma bin Laden... with America's haters, that's all there is – hatred". This, of course, was Blair's view.

AP's Sinan Salaheddin reports a "cattle market south of Baghdad" was the location for a car bombing today which resulted in 10 lost lives and thirty-two people being injured. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) adds, "The explosion occurred today in a crowded livestock market in Hamza, 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Hillah in Babil province, President Jalal Talabani’s political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said on its Web site. The car had been parked near cattle traders. Rescue teams evacuated the wounded, several of whom were in serious condition, to the Hillah and al-Hashmiya hospitals, the PUK quoted Mahmoud Abd al-Rida, director of the health services in Babil, as saying." Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured three, a Tikirt roadside bombing left Salahuddin Province's head of education Muhsin Taha al-Mismar and his driver injured and police Brig-Gen Salam Salman was injured in a Baghdad shooting.

Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes:

A memorandum of understanding was signed in the field of air transport on 27 \ 2 \ 2009 in Athens, between the Transport Ministry delegation and the Greek Civil Aviation Authority in the presence of Iraq's ambassador in Athens, Mr. Hatem Al-Khawam.

The agreement included ways of enhancing bilateral relations in the field of air transport between the two countries and the adoption of the draft agreement on air transport services between the two countries which includes some amendments and additions to the agreement signed in 1971, in addition to the technical aspects with concerning aircrafts and airports which came after talks between the two sides.

On the sidelines of the talks the Deputy Minister of Transport accompanied by Ambassador Hatem Al-Khawam met with with Secretary General of the Greek Ministry of Transport and Communications Mr. Dimitris Blatys, and discussed ways to strengthen and develop bilateral relations and exchange interests in the areas of air and land transport, and the rehabilitation and establishment of Iraqi railways. The two sides also discussed the importance of re-opening air route in the areas of transport, shipping and flights between the two countries to strengthen relations between the two countries.

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oh boy it never ends