billed as the world's first mass movement of 'civil obedience', the presentation described how a new international peace movement can grow out of upholding war law and reporting war crime, just ahead of the 5th anniversary of the invasion of iraq
we were told how a recent attempt was successful in reporting tony blair and attorney general goldsmith for war crimes. the report was given a crime number, and the papers have gone to the CPS
annie mahon (an ex-MI5 whistleblower) announced that last week delegates from 13 european countries gathered in amsterdam and agreed to a european campaign, and that despite government and media manipulation the real facts about the illegality of the iraq war were beginning to emerge
next, chris coverdale took the stage. after a successful career in business management, he has spent the last nine years studying international law, and has realised that virtually no police, no members of parliament, no peers, and no judges are aware of the international war law to which the uk is a signatory. in the build up to the iraq invasion, tony blair was claiming that the war would be legal, and his college friend goldsmith cited UN resolutions 678, 687, and 1441 to back this up - it was absolute rubbish. according to international law and various treaties enshrining domestic law, all war is illegal.
chris coverdale gave an excellent summation of war law starting with the kellog-briand pact of 1928, also known as the treaty for the renunciation of war, which promised to settle international disputes by peaceful means. indeed it was this treaty that formed the basis of the nuremberg trials in which it was shown that germany, italy and japan had broken the treaty. subsequently, various officers were convicted and even hanged on the basis of the pact. tony blair and george bush have clearly breached the very same laws.
on top of that, the UN charter sets out various promises never to use aggressive armed force to attack, and the 1950 UN general assembly accepted a report from the international war committee that set out the nuremberg principles in detail. since then further laws against chemical weapons, landmines, and torture have been added.
in 1998, 105 states including the UK signed the 'rome treaty' which ensures that these war laws become part of each country's domestic laws. it also includes laws on 'conduct ancillary to war crimes', 'complicity', and 'providing the means' which we'll come back to. the UK ratified this treaty and enacted it as part of UK law from the 1st september 2001. the UK almost immediately breached it with unreported daily bombing attacks on iraqi and then on afghanistani civilians.
now there are at the very least 200,000 civilians dead in iraq (and possibly more than a million), of which more than 80,000 are children. each day 4 or 5 more children die as a result of our cluster bombs. the use of depleted uranium munitions will ensure mutations and premature deaths for millenia to come. how can this be legal? well, simply, it isn't.
the purpose of the 'make wars history' campaign is to persuade politicians to uphold the current law, make police enforce the current law, and make ordinary people obey the current law.
most protest movements flirt with illegality and challenge the law. 'make wars history' has law on its side.
there are four courses of action that may have a profound effect as follows:
first - education - getting the laws publicised and known, and the illegal behaviour challenged and prohibited - getting media coverage for this will be pivotal
second - reporting crimes to the police - eventually a war crime conviction of a western leader will have a reverberant effect around the world and bring the current trend for western aggression to a grinding stop. every member of parliament in the uk takes an oath to 'govern according to law' - the crimes they commit by not doing so are ' conduct ancillary' and 'complicity' in war crimes - very serious offences
third - armed forces - by the nuremberg principles, every british citizen must refuse to obey illegal orders - the public must help to ensure a 'legal mutiny' - it is illegal to obey an illegal order
fourth - national tax strike - domestic law (ratified in september 2001) forbids every citizen from 'providing the means for the commission of the crime'. it is clear that taxes buy the weapons and fund the soldiers that assist the genocide in iraq. it is therefore currently illegal to pay tax
chris coverdale pointed out that he has been on tax strike for nine years and has still stayed out of prison
while the british campaign focusses on the above, the european campaign will also aim at the international criminal court and the hague
chris then introduced simon, who explained how he had wandered into marylebone police station at the right moment last year. having discovered chris's work on war law, he went to report tony blair and goldsmith's war crimes. the person in front of him was reporting a bike stolen. fortunately simon came across an inspector, just coming on duty, who was pro-peace - indeed he had changed citizenship back to irish having been so disgusted by blair's invasion. within days an appointment had been made with scotland yard's SO15 unit, and after a six and a half hour meeting at belgravia to which chris coverdale was invited, a crime number was given and the papers sent on to the CPS. since then met police press have downplayed the story, but private assurances have been given and the CPS will have to come up with a legally challengeable reason not to proceed, so things are progressing.
simon encouraged people to go to their own local police stations and report tony blair's crimes. even phone 'crimestoppers'! just keep doing it. when you get a crime number, let the campaign know and it can be followed up.
today there was further meeting at belgravia and the start of a long list of further criminals was begun. the first of these were her maj queen elizabeth II who signed the official orders to the military. it was pointed out that you have to go back a long way in history to find anyone quite as dangerous as liz in terms of numbers killed on her watch - she should certainly stand trial
after these presentations, some more guests were invited on stage.
first, maria spoke on behalf of the 'global peace strike'
she told how she supports brian haw in parliament square (who originally started his vigil over uk sanctions in iraq and the use of depleted uranium munitions, and then later against the invasion of afghanistan and iraq). the global peace strike aims to start a 48-hour global shutdown in the event of any further acts of aggression on iran or elsewhwere.
another parliament square supporter, carolyn, then spoke of her work as a performance artist and puppeteer. she reminded us that we are all 'heroes', but that society continually teaches us that we have no power. she described how she used to be involved with the 'stop the war coalition' but realised that stwc would never stop the war. after learning about article 25 of the rome treaty, she realised her individual responsibility to the peace effort. she described how 10,000 people in the US had helped bring about the withdrawal from vietnam by withholding tax. she also described how she had driven through the gates into parliament in an attempt to perform a citizen's arrest on tony blair (her inspiring 'hero' moment)
next, peter doraisamy spoke passionately about how if the government doesn't uphold its own laws the country will end up in uproar.
the meeting was opened out to the floor, and a few interesting points and references emerged.
one person told us about an unnofficial 'hearing' taking place in america very soon. iraqi veterans will expose what has been happening there over people's court hearings lasting three days from the 13th march. the event is called "the winter soldier" and will be transmitted live online. more details at www.refusingtokill.net
another speaker described how the new www.makewarshistory.org.uk site will shortly post specimen letters to write to employers, pension funds, or the tax department asking them to withhold your tax payments. the letters point out in the case of employers and pension funds, that paying the tax onwards amounts to 'conduct ancillary to genocide'. the law is there to uphold. we fund it, we can change it!
someone else pointed out that section13 of the employment rights act stops employers from making unauthorised deductions from pay, so any employer ignoring your request could then be taken to an employment tribunal.
closing speeches brought us back to the core message that all wars are illegal, the legal basis for this statement exists, and that ordinary people can make a serious difference by sticking to this message and challenging the war machine financially and in the courts.
there will be far more information on the website as the campaign grows and the aim of STOPPING war in two years depends on individuals (in numbers) making a few simple actions to report the crimes and to desist from committing the crimes of 'conduct ancillary'