June 10, 2000 International Tribunal for U.S./NATO warcrimes in Yugoslavia
NATO AND THE CRIME AGAINST PEACE
By Sara Flounders
Sara Flounders, International Action Center national co-director, was part of the prosecutor team. She visited Yugoslavia with Ramsey Clark while the bombs were falling, and participated in tribunal hearings in over a half-dozen U.S. cities and in Berlin and Rome.
We want to welcome all international delegates, guests friends who have traveled so far to participate in the final stage of the International Tribunal on U.S./NATO War Crimes in Yugoslavia. This is an effort that has gone on for many months, carried out by hundreds of organizers in cities around the world.
Todays Tribunal on NATO War Crimes marks the one year anniversary of NATO occupation of Kosovo.
Now it is clear to world that NATO has not brought peace, reconciliation or resettlement for any of the peoples of the region. Over 150,000 Serbs, Romani, Garani and Kosovo Albanians who opposed foreign occupation have been driven out of Kosovo. The war continues, the NATO bases expand.. This tribunal, the European Tribunal held in Berlin on NATO war crimes and the final meetings held last week in Rome, along with the meetings in Moscow and Kiev and the mass meeting in Athens will resonate and will become the judgement of history.
A controversy erupted this week that demonstrated that what were doing here today has great significance. Why are we so confident this is true?
Carla Del Ponte is the chief prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia based at The Hague. This Hague tribunal is a fiction proposed by Madeline Albright and bought and paid for and staffed by U.S. government officials, and enforced by NATO. This court has no basis in international law. Yet Del Ponte declared on June 1 in a report to the UN Security Council that NATO is blameless for using cluster bombs and radioactive weapons, for bombing refugee convoys, bridges, schools, hospitals embassies. There will be no examination, no inquiry into any incident or allegation of NATO crimes.
This statement utterly exposes to those who had any illusions how thoroughly the Hague Tribunal is just the Public Relations arm of NATO, an instrument of political destabilization for the regiona tool of war propaganda.
Why would the Tribunal make this ridiculous statement that further shreds its credibility? Why do the NATO leaders bother to absolve themselves in such a shabby manner? Because NATO officials are worried by the rising demand for an accounting. They fear this movement will gain momentum,
There are two Tribunals. One tribunal was created by NATO with all the credibility that a budget of tens of millions of dollars, the power of police forces in 20 countries to enforce its indictments and endless press coverage money can buy. Yet it was forced to respond to the charges filed by a group of courageous lawyers and an international Peoples Tribunal movement. All of us exist with no budget and total media censorship.
This week Amnesty International released a report that NATO had committed some war crimes in 78 days of bombing. Would Amnesty international, hardly a radical organization, have dared to issue even such a modest criticism of four incidents that were already well known without the massive public pressure of an international movement?
AIs report did not address the crime that at Nuremburg was considered the greatest crime, the crime from which all others flow: the Crime Against Peace, the crime of initiating a war, of planning and preparing a war.
It is the Crime against Peace, of initiating war that we will first focus on today. This was a premeditated crime that involves the cynical use of outrageous war propaganda.
We will show today that NATO is not only guilty of war crimes, but NATO is the crime. NATO is a criminal conspiracy with a global appetite. NATO is a criminal conspiracy that is commanded, organized and largely equipped by the Pentagon.
We include the testimony of the real goals of the war because we will ask the judges to weigh the acts: the bombing of schools and hospitals, and the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium.
But we also ask the judges and all the participants here today to consider the motives. NATO was not driven by humanitarian concerns. This war was a criminal conspiracy to consolidate the hold on global markets by the U.S. in alliance with and in competition with great powers of Europe.
U.S. corporate powers needed this war, needed an enemy. This war was essential to their efforts to redefine NATO into an aggressive military alliance of U.S. and Western Europe imperial domination and colonial control with a reach to Africa, the Middle East and beyond.
The judges of our Tribunal are representatives of many peoples movements. We hope that the authority of this tribunal will render a verdict that leads to action and coordinated resistance.
What we do will resonate. It will become the judgement of history and plant a resistance for the future. NATO means continuing war, crisis and colonial domination. Here at home it means greater poverty and repression.
In a year of coordinated action the demand to abolish NATO has taken hold. It will become a global demand.
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