Groundviews

Opening a public case against the US and its President(s)

President Barack Obama reads his statement to photographers after making a televised statement on the death of Osama bin Laden from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, May 1, 2011. Image courtesy Pennlive.com

There are many cases pending with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague. There are trials and pre trials on Cambodia, former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sudan – Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Central African Republic and also one filed most recently against a Sri Lankan holding Australian citizenship, held responsible for presumptive war crimes committed in Sri Lanka in its war against the Tamil Tigers.

This list is unique in that all countries are from under developed and developing part of the world that grapples with issues of establishing democratic States and have either broken up with ethno-religious wars or have brutally fought to establish new regimes like in Cambodia. They are all bound by the civilised laws of the modern world and who ever is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, is liable to be brought up before the ICC, based on Rome Statutes.

The uniqueness of these laws in this modern world is that more powerful the country, less liable they are to be investigated for crimes they commit, violating international law and sovereignty of other nations. The USA and its Presidents are the most fortunate of all, enjoying immunity of global super power, despite the longest list of violations against smaller, but sovereign nations.

The present case against the US and its President begins with the multiple murder of Osama bin-Laden and his inmates, in a little known Pakistani town in the early hours of 02 May, 2011. This killing is preceded by a whole list of war crimes and crimes against humanity, in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guantanamo bay prisons to begin with, apart from all the allegations of “waterboarding” and other enhanced torture methods, is a prison that violates fundamental rights of human beings, putting them on an isolated patch of land in an island, to circumvent international laws on detention and to hold people without trial.

Guantanamo now has enough evidence, for any independent, international investigation.

Iraq is no better, with Abu Ghraib and other clear accusations of civilian killings. Public leaks and media reporting compelled the US military to hold investigations and Court Martial some of their military personnel. Over 30 such security personnel were punished, while the Commanding Officer of all detention centres in Iraq, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was demoted to the position of Colonel. She denied all allegations saying she was not even allowed into interrogating areas.

The Iraq war by now has over 1.45 million civilian deaths according to “Just Foreign Policy”  and “Iraq Body Count”. WikiLeaks had proof of civilian killings.

These simply can not go on with paid State employees in uniform being punished, when the Head of State makes decisions that carry with it the Constitutional and moral responsibility of all violations and crimes committed in war and against humanity.

In Afghanistan, where drone attacks were approved and signed by President Obama within a week from his induction as President of the United States of America, on 20 January, 2009 there are more civilian deaths than actual Taliban guerillas killed in combat. Instances of US and allied forces covering up civilian deaths as “terrorists killed” have also been exposed and there are also incidents where the US military command had to accept civilian deaths. Again WikiLeaks have substantiated other claims of multiple civilian killings.

It is Afghanistan that revolved around Al Qaeda and Osama bin-Laden, after the 2001 World Centre attack in New York, on 09/11. What ever evidence there may be against Al Qaeda and bin-Laden, there is no international law that allows the US and its President to act on their own initiative against people outside their jurisdiction. Pakistani President Zardari and PM Gilani going mum on US violations in their territory, does not legalise or authorise US violations of a sovereign territory.

That President Obama was determined to violate the sovereignty of Pakistan is proved with his own statement that announced the killing of Osama bin-Laden.

“Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done.” said an arrogant President Obama.

No, that can not be done, says former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. “America coming to our territory and taking action is a violation of our sovereignty. Handling and execution of the operation [by US special forces] is not correct.”

Obama could make clear statements, but that gives no mandate or legal and moral right for him to do so. When he does so, he violates international law, like his predecessor George W. Bush Jnr., who should walk ahead of Obama for all the murders and violations of rights and laws, committed during his double tenure as US President.

Handling and execution of the operation that ended with murder in another man’s premises needs no more proof. Obama himself is proof.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

“This was a complex operation and it would be helpful if we knew the precise facts surrounding his killing. The United Nations has consistently emphasized that all counter-terrorism acts must respect international law.” says UN High Commissioner for HR, Navy Pillay, leaving the discretion to do so with the US and with no commitment on her part to pressure US to declare facts and information related to the murder and violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. There is also nothing complex in this. It is clear and is open as with all international crimes committed by Bush Jnr.

President Obama with Bush Jnr., can now be investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity. While murder anywhere is foul and when numbers don’t matter with arrogant, egoistic societies electing Heads of States who believe they can do what they want, Obama only turns out as a “Gulliverian” Rajapaksa and not Rajapaksa, a “Lilliputian” Obama, assured of no investigations.

Barrack Hussein Obama Jnr., has already created history twice. He is the first African American to go to White House and the only person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize within 01 month of being sworn in as US President and the Peace Prize awarded for rhetoric. He could now be the first Nobel Peace laureate to walk to Hague with a bag load of crimes against humanity and war crimes, accompanied by predecessor, also for the same crimes.

That is, if crisis groups and international human rights campaigners live with integrity and a conscience to afford the two gentlemen such exclusive treatment for violations under their hands.