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Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2003 at 10:13 PM
Mainstream press please pay attention:
Mainstream Press entirely missing the point re: "Human Shields"
Despite the difficulties, the numbers of "human Shields" in Iraq continue to grow, with groups from Mexico, Australia, and South Africa arriving in just the last few days and numbers in Iraq approaching 200 or more.
The mainstream press had picked up on the story a number of times, but seem to have missed a crucial point about what the peace activists are actually doing there.
Right now the international activists who have arrived are sleeping at a variety of "strategic" locations in and around Baghdad - these include civilian telephone, television and other communications facilities, drinking water treatment plants, and electricity generation plants.
Donald Rumsfeld and others in the US administration have repeatedly stated that these human shield efforts will NOT deter US war plans, and that the activists may even be tried for treason, and the Iraqis facilitating them as war criminals.
This has been repeated in the mainstream press, but entirely misses the point:
WHY ARE US MILITARY PLANNERS TARGETING THESE FACILITIES IN THE FIRST PLACE?!
These civilian facilities are "protected" from US bombs not just by these committed activists, by by a whole host of international laws and treaties that fully obligate the US to avoid bombing these facilities.
Us bombing campaign planners have already been guilty of war crimes in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in the former Yugoslavia with a history of bombing television stations, electrical generation plants, food storage facilities, and water treatment facilities -directly killing scores of civilians, and indirectly killing hundreds and thousands more.
This history in itself is a significant reason that the US refuses to participate in the International criminal court. These recent bombing campaigns are so clearly a war crime- and they know it. (not to mention the carpet bombing campaigns of the war in Vietnam)
can someone in the mainstream press please raise this issue? hello?
If these bastards are going to go ahead with this, can we not push them to answer why they intend to bomb civilian facilities?
Beyond the principled commitment to stand, and bear witness to our military's activities, we will attempt to accomplish something more. When peace teams go in to Iraq, and state to the media, to the US State Dept, & to the entire world that they are going to stand beside Iraq's water facilities, civilian electrical plants, civilian hospitals, & in the homes of people who live near bridges, or similar civilian infrastructure it is immediately effective in a number of ways:
It effectively raises the question in Americans minds about how the US can justify bombing such facilities in the first place as these are exactly the types of civilian facilities that are supposed to be protected under the Nuremberg treaties, and under a host of international laws. There is little likelihood that the majority of US citizens would support the bombing of such facilities if they knew about it in advance, -and we can help them know about it in advance. These types of facilities certainly seem to be important to these war planners, judging from their past activities. In their own language they have described the need to destroy such facilities as a means of "subduing and breaking the will" of the civilian population. This pattern is already documented from the last gulf war, & from the Kosovo conflict. In the current war plans there have been similar plans laid out for a massive, initial "shock and awe" bombing campaign.
If done effectively, peace teams can remove the ability of the US military to attack these targets, once they know the "world will be watching". In this case, even if we don't stop the war, we can prevent some of the terrible after effects on the civilian population; the disease and death that comes from the destruction of this civilian infrastructure. (what remains of it in Iraq after all these years of sanctions)
A few groups that have sent, or will send delegations to Iraq:
Iraq Peace Team http://iraqpeaceteam.org/
Michigan Peace Team (MPT) http://www.michiganpeaceteam.org/
Christian PeaceMaker Teams http://www.prairienet.org/cpt/
UK Society: http://www.uksociety.org/
Electronic Iraq http://electroniciraq.net/
The Iraq Action Coalition is a very comprehensive site for information about Iraq: http://leb.net/IAC/
Dr. David Swann is a Canadian who has travelled to Iraq, and put together some useful information: http://swann.activist.ca/
The Nonviolent Peace Force is organizing a large international effort, and their first program will be a peace keeping effort in SriLanka : http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/index.html
for the latest mainstream coverage of "human shields" http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&q=%22human+shields%22+iraq&btnG=Search+News
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