Blair, Bush in 'war crimes
Bush and Blair on trial for war crimes at international
tribunal hosted in Malaysia
A tribunal to try UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US
President George Bush for war crimes will be convened on Wednesday.
It is no surprise that neither man will be attending the
proceedings - they may not even be aware that it is taking
[This article by Britain's state media network is pure
scornful sarcasm, apparently intended to down-play the gravity of the
alleged crimes, which include the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of
thousands of civilians. But the statement is also a deception, of course
the defendents are aware of the trial. The final paragraph of this same
article even quotes the official British government response,
contradicting the second paragraph (above).]
But start it will, at
a conference in Kuala Lumpur called as part of the former Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad's campaign to criminalise war.
Mahathir is not expected to sit on the tribunal. He couldn't quite be
characterised as impartial. [The BBC could have said the same thing about
the judge preciding over the trial of Saddam Hussein, who claimed early on
in the trial that Saddam had tried to kill him and deserved to die "many
times over", but the BBC did not highlight the bias of the judge in that
Dr Mahathir said: "What is Blair if not the co-murderer of
500,000 Iraqi children and the liar who told the British that Saddam had
WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) which could be launched against Britain
within 45 minutes?
"History should remember Blair and Bush as the
'killers of children'."
Although the aim of the conference -
entitled Expose War Crimes, Criminalise War - is to outlaw war itself, for
many Malaysians who've turned up that means one thing.
giving an open mind to people who know what kind of war crime that the US
do to our communities in the world," was one man's assessment. It seemed
to be that of most people.
"It is the converted preaching to the
converted," said Gwynne Dyer, a journalist and Oscar-nominated documentary
maker who addressed the conference.
"But I think this [conference]
has potential," he said. "It actually has a goal beyond cheering people up
and allowing them to vent."
And there's a lot of venting going on
here. Specifically it seems to be to vilify Tony Blair and George Bush.
[The purpose of any criminal prosecution is to "vilify" the guilty
The meeting has attracted a
curious range of speakers.
The former UN humanitarian co-ordinator
in Iraq Hans Von Sponeck shares a platform with author Alfred Lambremont
Mr Webre claims to have uncovered a vast conspiracy to
profit from wars. He's also keenly interested in intelligent
The message is made quite clear by an
exhibition staged in parallel with the conference. Its style is Madame
Tussauds on a shoestring, and it features tableaux illustrating the
carnage of the world wars, the Palestinian problem, Vietnam and of course
There's a section comprising a cage and a couple of dummies
wired up to electrodes with the song Rivers of Babylon pumping away in the
A helpful notice tells us that the "cheerful" music of
Boney M was used as an instrument of torture in the Iraq prison at Abu
Dr Mahathir is busy signing autographs. A woman passes him
a copy of her programme to sign.
"Oh Dr Mahathir", she coos,
"you're more handsome in person than you are in photographs."
81-year-old statesman takes it in his stride.
persists. "I'm honoured, I'm standing in front of you, I'm shaking I feel
like I'm in love for the first time," she says.
flattery," I suggested to Dr Mahathir.
"Yes, it's flattery," he
said with a grave smile.
But there's no
flattery when I ask him if he has anything to add about Mr Blair.
"What do I have to say about him? I think it's about time he
resigns. Don't wait too long, people are impatient. It's time he resigns.
He's been telling lies."
Not everyone is convinced that Dr
Mahathir is a suitable figurehead for a new human rights movement.
After all, his record during 22 years in power was far from
He detained political opponents without trial and had
scant regard for the freedom of the press. His administration was accused
of turning a blind eye to torture. [Bush and Blair stand accused of
I put this to Dr Dyer.
"If you know
someone who has a claim to the moral high ground I'd like to meet him," he
"Nelson Mandela," I ventured.
"Alright, there's one,
name a second," he challenged me.
"Desmond Tutu," I suggested
knowing, I still had the Dalai Lama up my sleeve.
"Oh damn," said
Dr Dyer. "But you know nobody comes to this with clean hands and if you
wait until you have perfect people to do it you're not going to get it
done are you?"
Meanwhile a Downing Street spokesman responded
simply: "We believe the invasion of Iraq was lawful, and we believe that
the UN confirmed with resolution 1723 that the presence of the
multi-national force remains legal."
[The same light-hearted
report was also broadcast on BBC Radio 4 this morning, but decent people
find nothing light-hearted or amusing in war crimes and mass
BBC News, "Blair, Bush in 'war crimes
trial'", 7 February 2007.
"The Insider" mailing list
article, 07 February 2007.