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The Asian Women’s Human Right Council and El Taller International in partnership with several regional and international organisations held the World Court of Women on US War Crimes on January 18, 2004 during the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. The Court that drew the support of more than 140 organisations and networks from all over the world, was the nineteenth in the series of Courts of Women being held since 1993 in different regions - Asia, Africa, the Arab world, Pacific, Central America and the Mediterranean. As Corinne Kumar, the International Coordinator said in the opening session when sharing the vision that informs the Court "The Courts of Women are an unfolding of a space, an imaginary: a horizon that invites us to think, to feel, to challenge to connect, to dance, to dream. It is an attempt to define a new space for women, and to infuse this space with a new vision, a new politics. It is a gathering of voices and visions of the global south, locating itself in a discourse of dissent: it is in itself a dislocating practice, challenging the new world order of globalisation, crossing lines, breaking new ground: listening to the voices and movements in the margins"
This Court was held in the context of the many genocidal wars initiated, instigated and ignited by the USA, in its insatiable greed for global hegemony and control.. Wars, whose violent memories it seeks to sanitise and erase through recasting them as crusades for civilising and bringing in freedom, democracy and justice to ‘brutal’ and ‘authoritarian societies’.
The World Court of Women on US War Crimes was therefore an act of remembering; And in that act of remembering, resisting. Remembering that in it’s righteous battle of freedom over authoritarianism, the United States of America over the past few decades, has left few regions of the world untouched- Central and Latin America, Africa, Asia, Pacific. Remembering that it has not only destroyed an incalculable number of lives through it’s wars of invasion, occupation, military coups and assassinations, but destroyed generations to come through the kinds of weapons of mass destruction it has made and marketed to the rest of the world; chemical, biological, nuclear.
Remembering for instance the invasion of South Vietnam and the experiment with Agent Orange that killed a few million and maimed generations to come; the extensive terror operations against Cuba from the early 1960’s that continues till today through the sanctions; the operations against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua through the 1980’s; the support of the racist rulers of South Africa and the Zionist rulers of Israel whose genocidal policies against the Palestinians it continues to condone; the installation of puppet regimes in Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria and Somalia – all of who killed thousands of innocent civilians ; the assassination of Nasser in Egypt and of Patrick Lumumba in the Congo; the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of Filipinos at the turn of the century; the violent balkanisation of former Yugoslavia, in which was reborn yet another weapon of war that targets very specially the women – gynocide or rape as a strategy for ethnic cleansing.
Remembering that perhaps the killings in total of two and a half crore civilian people all over the world since 1947 in overt and covert operations of the CIA is perhaps the price worth paying by the world’s only surviving superpower to protect this way of life even while maintaining, by the way, global domination. As also the death of 500,000 Iraqi children as stated by Madeline Albright when justifying the cold blooded violence unleashed by another weapon of mass destruction – that of economic sanctions.
"It was a hard choice but we think the price is worth it", she said.
This number of course does not take into consideration the horror of a Hiroshima when the Atom bomb was dropped by America not only to crush Japan, but also to conduct an experiment using human as guinea pigs; as it did when it tested nuclear weapons against the indigenous people of the Pacific 1957. Remember the famous lines of the US official who came to Chief Juda of the Bikini Islands asking him to lave the island with his people saying "We are testing these bombs for the good of mankind and to end all wars". And so to end all wars 66 bombs were tested by the US, stronger than those they dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Sometimes the burden of these memories are also too much to bear.
this eye is not for weeping
must be unblurred
though tears are on my face
it’s intent is clarity
it must forget
Held in the huge confines of a dilapidated industrial shed amidst the chaos of the thousands of workshops being simultaneously organised within the World Social Forum, the Court was our act against forgetting.
The Court was organised in five sessions in which 30 powerful testimonies of the expert witnesses and survivors/resistors were heard by a six member jury and a 1000 audience that gathered for over a period of eight hours. The members of the Jury included Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General, USA, Fatima Meer from the Institute for Black Research, University of Natal, South Africa, Luisa Morgantini from the European Parliament, Italy, Genevieve Vaughan from the Foundation For a Gift Economy, USA, Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General, United Nations, Ireland and Biljana Kasic from the Centre for Women’s studies, Croatia.
Session One, In the Hour of the Fire Storm focusing On U.S. and Weapons of Mass Destruction, remembered that the global paranoia whipped up over the elusive search for weapons of mass destruction that pose a threat to mankind and the U.S.A could perhaps have been stemmed had the search been launched closer home. It remembered that apart from the fact that all modern genocidal military technology including nuclear, chemical, biological and bacteriological has been researched and developed to perfection in the United States, it is a fact that it is the first nation state in the world that has consciously, clinically and rationally deployed this warfare on and against humanity. Witness to this were the voices of testifiers and survivors of U.S. deployed Weapons of Mass Destruction in different parts of the world.
These included Satoru Konishi , a Hibakusha, from the Japan Confederation of A& H Bomb
Survivors of Hiroshima, Japan who spoke of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki;Sahar Sabha from the Revolutionary AfghanistanWomen’s Association (RAWA), who spoke of the use of Depleted Uranium in Afghanistan;Akira Maeda from the Tokyo Zokei University, who spoke of the International Criminal Tribunal on Afghanistan;Li Thi Quy from the Research Centre for Gender and Development Hanoi University, Vietnam, who spoke of the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam;Gilberto Guiterrez Valdez and Humberto Miranda from the Institute of Philosophy, Cuba who spoke of Bacteriology Warfare in Cuba and Jo Chol Ryong from the Korean Democratic Lawyers Association from North Korea, who spoke of the Bacteriological Warfare by the Americans in North Korea.
Fatima Meer of the Jury responded to the testimonies heard in this session.Session Two, In the Hour of the Wind Storm focusing on US Militarisation And Economic Crimes remembered that apart from eliminating large populations in different parts of the world through genocidal military technology, through it’s military and economic presence in different parts of the world, the US is consolidating and deepening its hegemonic hold over other countries, cultures and peoples. The testifiers in this session who stood witness to the effects and implications of such systematic and systemic military and economic interventions in different regions of the world included Susan Pineda from Gabriela Central Luzon, Philippines who spoke of Toxic Waste Dumping and sexual violence in the US Military Bases; Eunice Santana from the Alliance for Peace, Puerto Rico who spoke of the US Military Base in Veques Island; Roger Normand from the Centre for Economic and Social Rights - USA who spoke of the Economic Crimes of the US in different parts of the world and Pol de Vos from STOP.USA, Belgium who spoke about the Project for a New American Century; Kim II Bong from the Korean Democratic Lawyers Association from North Korea who spoke of the U.S war crimes in Korea, in particular the massacre of the Korean people by the U.S Military in 1952.
Genevieve Vaughan from the Jury responded to the testimonies heard in this session.
Session Three In the Hour of the Desert Storm remembered the genocide in Iraq and the destruction of an entire people in the name of democracy and freedom, a sordid saga of how the U.S has invented, reinvented and patented the technology of terrorism in its pursuit of total power and control.
The testifiers in this session who bore witness to the economic, political and cultural devastation of a people and their civilisation included Ismaeel Mohammed Dawood from the National Association for Defence of Human Rights in Iraq who spoke of the Disappearances, Killings and Confiscations that happen as a matter of routine, unknown and unheard in Iraq; Hana Ibrahim Saleem who spoke of the cultural destruction of a civilisation; Colette Moulaert from the Medical Aid for the Third World who spoke on the use of depleted uranium in Iraq; Alejandro Bendana from the Jubilee South who spoke of the debt owed to the Iraqi people; Eman Ahmed Khammas from Occupation Watch Centre who spoke of the resistance within the country and Alyn Ware from the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, spoke on International Law and the illegal and unethical use of nuclear weapons and in particular the use of Depleted Uranium in Iraq.
Dennis Halliday from the Jury who has been a voice of conscience from within the US system and resigned on the issue of Iraq, responded to the testimonies heard in this session.
Session Four, In the Belly of the Beast On Wars inside the U.S remembered the silenced memories of the American Indians, the Blacks, the Indigenous and all those marginalised politically and socially including those of the homeless, the exiled and the interned within America, all of who stand witness to the genocidal impact of this universalised American way of life even within the belly of the beast. They stood witness to the fact that the militarised governance in the world’s largest and model democracy has resulted in an invisible war against its own people and its sacred text- the Bill of Rights. A war intensified and justified to an unprecedented degree after September 11. The speakers included Mililani Trask from the Indigenous people Network,Hawaii, USA who spoke of the War against Indigenous Peoples;
Cynthia McKinney, former Senator who spoke of the War against Black Peoples; Cheri Honkala from the Kensington Welfare Association, USA who spoke of the War against the Homeless;
Gloria La Riva from the International Action Centre, USA who spoke of the Cuban Five/US Laws and Leuren Moret an Independent radiation expert, USA who spoke of Nuclear Experiments on prisoners inside the U.S.
Session five In the Eye of the Storm, On Storm breakers and Voices of Resistance sought to remember that the hope that this global hegemony and control can be challenged and shrunk comes from those thousands of individual voices of conscience and courageous collective initiatives that are standing up to the might of the storm in different parts of the world – including from within the USA. This session that opened with a spirited performance by the New York Art Collective from the USA sought to give listening to some of these voices. These included Mary Kelly from Ireland who gave her personal testimony of how she individually challenged Irish support to the Iraq war by hacking at military planes that had stopped for refueling at Shannon Airport, Ireland; Ayse Berktay from Peace, Turkey spoke of the International Tribunal on Iraq that is bringing together voices of civil society from all over the world in condemning the US occupation of Iraq; Magalys Arochas from the Federation of Cuban Women, Cuba, spoke of the Resistance to the forty year old US imposed Economic Blockade in their country; Laila Khaleed, Member of the Palestinian National Council and General Union of Palestinian Women spoke of the Intifada or resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine that has the silent but active sanction of the US; and Hilda Lini from the Nuclear Free Pacific spoke of the strong Anti Nuclear Movement in their region to the policy of nuclearisation that is being unilaterally pursued by the super power to consolidate its military might. and Paola Menduca from the Anti War Movement, Italy spoke of how the movement has been able to make itself heard globally against the war in Iraq. Also heard in this session was the voice of Stan Goff, a Vietnam war veteran who wrote to his son, a US marine through a letter that was shown as a visual.
Luisa Morgantini and Biljana Kassic, as members of the Jury responded to the spirit of resistance that spoke in this session.
Even as the Court sought to name, through the testimonies/expert witnesses those global processes and powers that have been responsible for perpetuating newer and more grotesque forms of war and violence, the Jury through their comments and interventions that were woven through the sessions, sought to evolve an incisive indictment that was not so much legal as it was moral and ethical. For even while seeking indictment their voices reaffirmed the need to recover a notion of collective wisdom and justice that is compassionate, caring and connected; connected to a new political imaginary that invites us to an ethic of sustainability, of life enhancement, of the feminine. For it is only such a wisdom that can challenge the logic of war as crime; it is only such a justice that can stop a curse; that of the New American Century.
A wisdom summed up by Ramsay Clark President of the Jury:
"The World Court of Women is an essential Satyagraha (hold fast to the truth) movement for the world as it is today. The mother recognises the peril to the flock as no other and would not be outfaced, or compromise with the threat.
The bold vision of the brave women who have brought forth this Court by great sacrifice, struggle and clear purpose is to find, test and present the facts of US War Crimes, military and economic. It linked together and exposed the terrible truth of the wars of aggression genocidal sanctions and an intention of World domination by the United States through force and its threat to control and exploit for its profit, further impoverishing the poor human masses of the plant.
The truth the World Court of Women set forth in their judgement and the non violent base of their being and actions are a power that can save and set mankind free, free at last. Where else would we find a Court of such potential?"
Coordinating Team for the Court
International Co-ordinator : Corinne Kumar
Coordinating Team: Kalpana Chakravarthy, Vyjayanthi Roy, Prema David, Shakun Mohini and Madhu Bhushan with the support of Vimochana and CIEDS Collective India;
Anne Hassani, Philip Thigo, Jouda Matmati with the support of the El Taller International team in Tunisia; Gilberto Valadez, Humberto Miranda and El Taller Central America, Cuba Nelia, Sancho, AWHRC, Phillipines, Eman Ahmed Khammas (Iraq)
Yayoi Tsuchida (Japan), Gloria La Riva (USA), Angela Dolmetsch (Columbia), Design and Layout: Bharathy, Poetic visuals: Chalam Benurkar
This Court organised by AWHRC and El Taller International was held in partnership with several regional and international organisations including Institute for Black Research, University of Natal, South Africa, The Institute of Philosophy, Cuba; Afro-Arab Research Center, Egypt; Center for Women’s Studies, Croatia; Lola Kampanyeras, Philippines; Occupation Watch, Iraq; International Action Centre, USA; Center for Economic and Social Rights, USA; Third World Network-ENDA, Senegal; Lebanese Council of Women, Lebanon; Indigenous Peoples Network, Hawaii; Gender Support Network, University of the Western Cape, South Africa; Vimochana, India; Women’s Consensus, Columbia; Pratec, Peru; Migrante, Morocco/Netherlands; Refugee Council, University of New South Wales, Australia; Just, Malaysia; Miftah, Palestine; Peace, Turkey; Puerto Rico Alliance for Peace, Puerto Rico; Nuclear Free Pacific, Fiji; Nuclear Free Future, Germany; Japan Confederation of A&H Bomb Survivors of Hiroshima, Japan; Korean Committee for Solidarity with the World People, Korean Democratic Lawyer’s Association, North Korea; Research Centre for Gender and Development, Hanoi University, Vietnam;RAWA, Afghanistan; Foundation for a Compassionate Society, USA; Kensington Welfare Rights Association, USA; Federation of Cuban Women, Cuba; Young Arab Lawyers; Women in Black. Worldwide and Global South; Creative Women’s Alliance, Palestine. Apart from these the following groups extended their support to the Court through messages and solidarity.
Aakar Media Collective, New Delhi, India. Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, Bangladesh, Al Shehab Institution for comprehensive Development, Egypt. Alianza Puertorriquena Por La Paz, Puerto Rico. Alliance Against Trafficking in Women and Children in Nepal (AATWIN), Nepal. Amandamaji ry, Gerd Söderholm, Finland. Anti-Imperialist League, Belgium. Arab Commission for Human Rights, Malakoff, France Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, Egypt. Asian Women Human Rights Council, Philippine Secretariat. Asociacion Consenso de Mujeres Barco De La Paz, Colombia. Asociacion Mujer Cabeza de Familia, Colombia Bay Area Women in Black, San Francisco Bay Area, USA., Berkeley Women in Black, Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC), Nepal, Buhay Foundation for Women and the Girl Child, Philippines. Business and Community Foundation (BCF), India , Campaign for Human Rights and Humanitarian LAW, Nepal. Capital Women’s Study Forum, China. Capitalism, Nature, Socialism Journal, Australia Cawtar, Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research, Tunis, Tunisia. Centre for Alternatives Dhaka, Bangladesh Centre for Women's Development Studies, India , Centro de Derechos Humanos Don Sergio, Mexico. Centro de Investigaciones Psicoetnologicas, Mexico. Communication for Development and Learning, Bangalore, India. Convergencia 8 ce Marzo, Morelos, Mexico. Coordination Committee Against Women Trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse (CCAWT), Nepal. Cuadernos Feministas, Mexico. DAWN/ Gender and Trade Network Domestic Violence Help Line, South Africa. East Asia & Puerto Rico Women’s Network against Militarism. East Asia Women's Forum, Hong Kong Environment, Culture,Agriculture, Research & Development Society (ECARDS), Kathmandu, Népal. Flower Aceh, Indonesia Focus on the Global South, Bangkok, Thailand. Forum Against Oppression of Women, India Forum on Rights of Marginalised (FRM), India Foundation for Independent Analysis, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Foundation for Women, Thailand. Galfisa, Cuba Gandhi Development Trust & Satyagraha, India Gender and Development for Cambodia. Gender Equity Unit, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, Thailand, Global Fund for Women, USA. Gramin Mahila shrijansil Pariwar (GMSP), Nepal. Gramin Samudayik Bikash Sewa Parishad (GSBSP), Nepal. Hellenic Association of Youth Informatics, Athens, Greece. Hong Kong Women's Fund, Hong Kong, Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre. Indonesian Women's Coalition for Justice and Democracy, Indonesia, Institute of Human Rights Communication, Nepal. Instituto Paulo Freire, Sao Paulo, Brasil. International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, New Zealand, International Center for Law in Development, New York, USA, International Feminists for a Gift Economy, USA. Jagori, India, Jana Chetana Sarokar Kendra (JCSM), Nepal. Jenin Media Center, Palestine. Jerusalem Centre for Women, Palestine, Just World, Malaysia. Justice & Accountability Matters (Jam), India La Ligue Algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’homme (LADDH), Algeria. Learning Network, India. Lolas Kampanyera, Philippines. Mahila Atma Nivarta Kendra (MANK), Nepal. Mama Cash, The Netherlands, Narigrantha Prabartana, Bangladesh, National Coalition Against Racial Discrimination (NCARD), Nepal. Nawat Group, Palestine, Newar National Forum, Nepal. Nga Wahine Tiaki o Te Ao, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Nihon Hidankyo, Japan. Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement Throughout the Asia-Pacific Region. Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement . Nuclear Free Future Award, Germany. Oxfam Nepal Team, Kathmandu, Nepal. Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, Fiji. Palestinian Democratic Coalition, Palestine. Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH), Palestine. Palestinian Working Women Society for Development. Palestinian Youth Union, Palestine. Peace Initiative of Turkey, Turkey. People’s Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE), New York, USA. People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, India. Plataforma copartes tdh alemania, Peru. Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, Canada. Program of Women's Research & Action Group (WRAG), India. Radio Sagarmatha, Nepal. Ramaq Centre for Awareness and Social Responsibility, Lahore, Pakistan. Rights and Democracy, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Rural Community Development Service Council, Nepal. Safe House For Women, Kosova. Sangat, New Delhi, India. Satyagraha in Pursuit of Truth, South Africa. Shakti Samuha Nepal, Nepal. Sheelu, Tamil Nadu Women's Collective, India. Shirkat , Women’s Resource Centre, Pakistan. Silicon Valley Health Watch , California, USA. Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Centre, Lahore, Pakistan. Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia. SOS Irak, Belgium. Stop USA , Belgium. Sumpay Mindanao Inc., Philippines. Survivors, For Change, Ghana, West Africa. Sustainable Livelihood Forum (SLF), Nepal. Tenaganita, Malaysia. Tejaswi. The African Women Empowerment Guild, Nigeria. The Australian National Committee on Refugee Women, Australia. The Center for the Study of the Gift Economy, USA.The Creative Women Forum, Palestine. The Ecumenical Women's Forum, Philippines . The Group for Cultural Documentation, Inc. The Jordanian Women’s Union, Amman, Jordan. The National Alliance of Women ‘s Organisations (NAWO), London, UK. The Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health (SCCOSH), California, USA. The Tamaynut organisation, Morroco. The United Church of Canada, Canada. The Women’s Centre, Bombay, India. Ubinig, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Union of the lebanese Democratic Youth (ULDY), Lebanon. UNLAD KABAYAN, Philippines. Uttapidit Tatha Janajati Bikash Parishad (UTJBP), Nepal. WILPF, Italy. WINGS, Women’s International News Gathering Service, Texas, USA & Vancouver BC, Canada. Women Affairs Technical Committee, Palestine. Women against nuclear power, Pirkko Lindberg, Finland. Women's Aid Organization, Malaysia. Women's Bank Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, Palestine. Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust, Mozambique. Women for Peace, Lea Launokari, Finland. Women in Black, USA. Women Skill Creation Centre (WOSCC), Nepal. Women's Institute for New Awakening (WINA), India. Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, USA. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Costa Rica section, Heredia Group. World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland .
Our special thanks to all those who made this Court and our other events at the WSF possible with their support.
Vaughan Foundation, USA
United Church of Canada, Canada
Action Aid Asia, India/Thailand
Mama Cash, Netherlands
Global Fund For Women , USA
George Gund III, USA
Dougherty Foundation, USA
Comité Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Dévelopement, France.
Cultural Committee, WSF
We also thank all those who participated in the Court and contributed with their own financial support.
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