In Reference and Before the International Criminal Court Displaying Evidence of War Crimes by the United States, France, Britain, and NATO in Attacking the Governments of Libya and Cote D'Ivorie
New York January 14, 2012 “Frame By Frame: Contextualizing the Malicious and Unjust Crimes Against Humanity” Molefi Kete Asante
Honorable Judges of the International People’s Tribunal, representatives of the International Secretariat of the December 12th Movement, and people of the world. Today we claim a moment of agency for African people.
First of all let me give thanks to the courageous compatriots taking the lead in organizing this necessary tribunal. I want to thank December 12th Movement and particularly Roger Wareham, Viola Plummer, and Omowale Clay for creating this forum. We have come here on January 14, 2012 with a specific purpose, to charge NATO’S political and military leaders with war crimes that breached the Geneva Conventions of August 12, l949, and with crimes against humanity. It seems quite clear that the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction for this action.
In fact, “By virtue of Article 5 and 11 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Court has subject matter jurisdiction to prosecute persons responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity since July 1, 2002 or from the date in which a state had become a party to the statute.” Furthermore, “By virtue of Article 15 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Court has ratione temporis jurisdiction to prosecute proprio motu on the basis of information received from, among others, non-governmental organizations or other reliable sources that he or she deems appropriate on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court from July 1, 2002.”
We meet here in New York to confirm the ICC’s right to prosecute a case against the accused.
We meet here neither to celebrate the loss of innocence of the West nor to reflect simply on its crimes but to bring to this important tribunal the most glaring accounts of the unjust and corrupt system upon which these dastardly and cold-blooded crimes are based. The West, especially the United States, Britain, France, Italy, and Canada, have been implicated in too many crimes against humanity to speak of any loss of innocence, that particular mask was removed eons ago, swallowed by the ocean, trampled in the Congo forests, left dead on the battlefields of the Sahel, and buried in the sands of Namibia.
Our meeting here is not a celebration but a serious tribunal to put on trial the global perpetrators of the vilest acts of aggression against Africa of the 21st century. While we would ordinarily claim no moral high ground in this case we must suggest that our anti-repressive, anti-imperialist, anti-slavery, anti-colonialist positions make us reasonably capable of making our points in this case. Therefore, ICC, under its own guidelines, ratione temporis, must hear our case against the perpetrators of these crimes.
As you will read, hear and see, our prosecutors will make cases against victor justice where the ones who win declare their victims evil. We have heard this tale before, indeed, our ancestors were victimized by just such twisted rhetoric of absolute might. If you lose the battle, then you are accursed as the evil person is the logic of victor justice. We forthrightly condemn it and announce right now that this tribunal will consider nothing less and nothing more than the facts in the indictments against the Western powers. We will not give those who killed innocent victims immunity from the law. No, this is not possible in this tribunal.
We have always despised wars of blatant aggression yet we have seen a steady agenda of such nefarious wars over the past fifty years directed at African people and other nations. Countless wars, covert and overt, meant to erode trust in justice, to crush faith in the possibility of human rights, to defame the dignity of the ordinary citizen have been perpetrated by the enemies of Africa. Rampant capitalist, imperialist, and racist doctrines claiming a superior way or an exclusive privilege to dictate to the world have poisoned the well of human trust.
Those charged here have distorted morality, arrested the very spirit of democracy, and used blunt and brutal force to trample over the inalienable rights of the masses. So we have come here today to have our prosecutors challenge the cannibal cultures that devour truth and distort the normal and expected course of human progress.
This International People’s Tribunal will seek the demolition of ruthless arrogance and the curtailing of galloping capitalist adventures against the dignity of humanity. We argue for the immediate elimination of racism, neo-colonialism, the hamstringing of liberty, gender persecution, and gloating ethnic chauvinism.
NATO has used its massive military might to create international realities that defy international law. The rhetoric of the gun and the logic of rockets have established the West as the most pernicious practitioners of violence. Africa cannot compete against the weapons of mass destruction held in the hands of the West. Therein is the message of Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and other free and independent people who refuse to follow the dictates of the West. The unequal situation has produced champions of greed who fight against the masses in their own countries and in other countries in the interest of the corporate and industrial few.
Ruthless capitalism’s unbending drive toward gobbling up more of the earth’s resources for the strong and the mighty, those secure by military arms and force, not by wisdom, truth, honesty, integrity, and charity, has hit a platinum wall of resistance in the will of the good people of the earth. While we know the limits of law, the fact that law is made by humans and humans can make numerous laws that violate the spirit of democracy, we also know that good law is the cornerstone of a system of relationships that prevent excesses.
Law is not morality, however. One must never confuse the two; yet when you have a violation of both morality and international law you have a major confrontation with human decency and respect for humanity.
The West has violated both morality and law in its pursuit of the subjugation of African nations.
The facts against NATO are clear. They will be laid out in more detail by a succession of investigators. More than 90,000 Libyans died in NATO’S revenge attack on the Libyan people and government during the spring of 2011. The French, acting with NATO’S approval, killed hundreds of Ivorians in the assault on the presidential palace in Abidjan. Even now the sanctions against Zimbabwe have created untold instances of mental and physical suffering.
All of these actions have opened the door wider for the US Army and the CIA to invade Africa. Recently Barrie Walkley was appointed by President Barack Obama to help provide military security for the Great Lakes Region of Africa. What is the meaning of these intrusions into Africa? Does this make common sense or is this just another assault on the liberty of African people? With AFRICOM penetrating more and more African governments and territories we are on the verge of a new colonial force publique. My suspicion is that the entire continent will be under threat from Western nations.
There are clear indications in our charges that NATO has been implacably opposed to African agency. Whenever an African leader decides that he or she is not going to serve on the Western political or economic plantation they are attacked. If they do not accept the theory that democracy is comprised of a set of political rules, e.g., elections and plural parties rather than economic and cultural liberation, they are often called anti-democratic when in fact those leaders are often the most democratic.
We must be clear that our action today is also preemptive because we have every indication that Zimbabwe and its heroic leader, Robert Mugabe, is on the list alongside the leaders of North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran to be threatened by the runaway dogs of war in the West. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the undersecretary of state for Africa in the US Department of State, has been increasingly bitter in his attacks on Zimbabwe. Mugabe defended his people from the field with little support from American or Western sources, he dirtied his hands with the mud of Mozambique and Zimbabwe in defense of his homeland, when he fought against nearly 1000 American mercenaries who allied themselves alongside the white Rhodesians. Mugabe overcame the Lancaster House Agreement’s hogtying him in l979 to create a country that is independent and forward thinking regardless of the attempt to undermine its unity by the invasion of foreign money to anti-Mugabe forces. President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sought to undermine the freedom won on the battlefield by Mugabe and the forces of ZANU ad ZAPU.
I lived in Zimbabwe and trained journalists in that country soon after the Second Chimurenga, my son was born in that country; I have nothing but praise for the way Mugabe has defended the liberties for which his people died given the constant attacks on Zimbabwean independence by internal and external threats. Now that it has been discovered that Zimbabwe has one of the largest diamond fields in the world it will fall under more stress.
Unfortunately, the Barack Obama Administration is two-faced on Zimbabwe. Johnnie Carson talks tough against a free Zimbabwe and he rails against Mugabe at the same time they are embracing the most anti-democratic leaders on the continent. Recently however, the new American ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray approached Mugabe in a courteous manner that appeared to be a departure from Christopher Dell and James McGee’s manner when they carried out their tasks as ambassadors in Zimbabwe. Of course, we must not assume that change of garment means change of policy.
The Zimbabwean people in particular and African people as a whole have examined the fake promises of policy and service imperialists. They know that NATO and the United States are seeking ways to weaken African unity and increase the possibilities for penetration into African social, political, and economic life even to the extent of using any NGOs that will allow them to be tools of the Western governments.
What is most revealing is that many NGOs in Africa have often been nothing but fronts for espionage. They report things like how many times Mugabe receives Chinese emissaries, or how many times he goes to Singapore and so forth. They never report good things from Zimbabwe; it is almost like they have an alliance with evil, they are the devils against truth, masquerading as consultants with expertise when in fact they are simply failures. Long live the people of Zimbabwe! REMOVE THE SANCTIONS FROM THE PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE!
We must also be aware that NATO seems bent on reversing the liberation achievements of the nationalist parties of Africa. In my judgment it is this neo-imperialist attack on indigenous pan-African nationalist parties backed and championed by the US, France, and Britain that have complicated the lives of Africans.
This is not to say that the West is Africa’s only challenge. We know the fundamentalist onslaught against African people in Sudan, Chad, Mauritania, and Nigeria threatens peace. Religious fundamentalism carries with it the same seeds of violence as hegemonic imperialism. Of course, we are vigilant on that score as well.
However, the Western offensive has demonstrated an unusually overt and ruthless use of unpatriotic African leaders, civil society groups, misguided Africans in the Diaspora, donor funded attack media houses, pseudo-democratic parties and a host of other Western sponsored African surrogates. Who sabotaged the government of Jean Bertrand-Aristide and kidnapped the sitting president of that historic nation? Who praised Gaddafi for giving up his nuclear weapons program while plotting to undermine his government if he did?
What is all of this really about? Why do we, servants of truth and rationality, seek to reveal the cruel intrigue behind the Western assault on Africa? The Scramble for Africa’s abundant material assets is not over; it has never been over and the modern scramble is about betrayal, lies, back-stabbings, espionage, and death. It is founded upon the divisive tactics against African nations, isolation of nationalist leaders, and murder of those who have the gall to speak against the subversion of their nations.
The neo-liberal line is the pro-imperialist line. The moving of the center from the agency of Africa to the marginalization of the African people is the seen in the resources being used to encourage treachery against strong and decent African leaders.
President Laurent Gbagbo was brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to answer for his purported crimes against humanity that include murder and rape charges. Yet Gbagbo did not commit the atrocities committed by Bush, Sarkozy, and Obama. He cannot be compared to Bashir in Sudan who has bombed South Sudan almost every day since the independence of that country last year. Gbagbo simply fought to maintain the independence of his judiciary, his nation, the rule of law after an election, and the sovereignty of his people against the rise of rebel cliques supported by the French. Bush and Blair committed horrendous crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan ranging from cold-blooded murder of more than a million innocent civilians to the raping of hundreds of Iraqi and Afghan women. Obama’s drone fleet has summarily killed hundreds of innocent people and even assassinated individuals without inquiry or trials.
In fact, the boot-lickers among African leaders have often accepted the interpretations of the West without question. This is why Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal gave his support to NATO in the killing of Muammar Gaddafi who had been considered one of his sponsors and friends. He kicked Gaddafi to the ditch to curry favor with the West in his bid to break Senegal’s Constitution so that he could run for a third term. Fortunately Senegal’s democracy withstood that test and now Cheikh Tidiane Gadio and Macky Sall, one-time supporters of a fresh Wade but now intense critics, are leading candidates for the presidency. They have been joined by a long list of contenders.
In Cõte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara has proved himself to be an acceptable African leader for the West because he has shown his dislike for legitimate rights of Africans. The French, with Ouattara’s blessings, handed Gbagbo to the ICC to stand trial for questionable and debatable charges. Not only was the move orchestrated and programmed by the West, it was meant to take the popular Gbagbo out of the picture, like Aristide in Haiti, while the West infiltrated the national polity with its own puppets in order to secure continuation of the economy.
Gbagbo stood to challenge the French imperialists in his country. He had begun to do this with a credibility that rang true to a large international community. The whole regime change agenda, in Cõte d’Ivoire as in Libya, was to eradicate Pan-African nationalists and to replace them with puppets who could dance to the Western neo-liberal line. I was one of the 12 scholars invited by President Gbagbo to a Pan African Intellectual Conference in 2009 in Abidjan. Although I was unable to make it I felt that he had made the right decision to engage Afrocentric and Pan African intellectuals on the future of the African continent.
If being handed to the International Court actually means that you are a tyrant, a monster and a very dangerous criminal, then we can think of no more dangerous parties than the leaders of NATO who are responsible for more deaths in Africa than any African leader. For this reason, we are handing these perpetrators over to the IPT today.
We know, and the ICC knows, that the facts on the ground actually point to Ouattara’s men and their French allies as the major perpetrators of the murders and rape cases in the country. Ivorians know the truth and are aware of what crimes Ouattara’s militia committed in the North and in Abidjan under the protection of his French puppeteers.
The crimes of NATO are not trivial; they are blatant and vile. The hands of those leaders drip with the blood of innocent Iraqi and Afghan just as they are fouled by the onslaught against Libya and Cõte d’Ivoire. Who supplies the guns of war? Who manufactures and sells the guns to guerilla and terrorist forces? Who is the real terrorist against the legitimate rights of the masses?
Our objective must be the defense of African social and economic democracy as the source of the empowerment of the people. We salute the wisdom that grounds our tribunal by citing Bantu Biko, Frantz Fanon, Ama Mazama, leader of Afrocentricity International, Amilcar Cabral, Julius Nyerere, Marcus Garvey, Maulana Karenga, Viola Plummer, Frantz Fanon, John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, and Kwame Nkrumah. We agree with Bowden Mbanje and Darlington Mahuku of Bindura University that “as long as imperialism is in existence, an independent African state must be a liberation movement/nationalist party in power, or that African state will not be truly independent.” Attacking such an African party or nation with wanton violence and brutality constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Article 7, crimes against humanity.
In fact, our prosecutors will find grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, which identified these acts as against persons and property: willful killing, torture, willfully causing great suffering, serious injury to body or health, extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, willfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities, intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives, intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated, attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives, killing or wounding a combatant who, having laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion, intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives, subjecting persons who are in the power of an adverse party to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are neither justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the person concerned nor carried out in his or her interest, and which cause death to or seriously endanger the health of such person or persons, killing or wounding treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army, destroying or seizing the enemy's property unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Article 7 charged in this complaint as crimes against humanity include: a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack, including murder, extermination, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, and torture.
In addition, the Rome Statute identifies as one of the crimes, persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court.
Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health are classified as crimes as well.
I want to say plainly without equivocation that under the principles of international law recognized in the charter of the Nuremberg Tribunals for Nazis and in the judgment of the tribunal adopted by the U.N., August 2. 1950, complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.
The death of Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi “creates suspicions” of war crimes, says former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. This is a face-saving understatement. We say that the death of Muammar Gaddafi is not only suspicious; the attack on his entourage by NATO forces was deliberate, vicious, and the reason for his murder. He was captured and slaughtered by NATO supported rebels after the NATO assault.
We have used this tribunal method to intervene in the fast moving train of brutality unleashed against Africa by NATO forces in order to demonstrate the outrage that decent people feel about these crimes. The use of international law, although imperfect, is at least one of the wrenches to be placed in the wheel of international violence. I want to announce our steadfast commitment to justice and to wish for a quick and fair decision by this tribunal. Long Live Freedom!
Molefi Kete Asante is International Organizer for Afrocentricity International. He is the author of the books, The History of Africa and The African American People. www.asante.net, www.afrocentricityinternational.org