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A Call for Accountability: Let’s End the Culture of Impunity
By John Anderson
This email is being sent to you because I believe that the Peace and Justice organization to which you belong may well be going to the UfPJ National Assembly, Dec 12-14. If not, then you may ignore this email and I apologize for the distraction.
This Assembly is likely to be pivotal in determining whether or not UfPJ can be an effective agent for Peace and Justice. Our member organization, Silicon Valley Impeachment Coalition, believes that in order to be effective, UfPJ must wholeheartedly embrace the concept and practice of Accountability. Many of its member organizations, such as The Center for Constitutional Rights, Progressive Democrats of America, and After Downing St, have already done so. The best way for UfPJ to begin to follow suit is to place a strong paragraph on Accountability in its Unity Statement. We propose inserting the following paragraph in the Unity Statement as the first bullet point after the heading To Move Toward this World:
We proclaim the necessity of ending the Culture of Impunity. The demands of the people that the Bush Administration obey the Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and International Law have been ignored or ridiculed. If we are to have Justice, they must be called to account for their crimes. If we are to have Peace, all future administrations must know that they too will be called to account in their turn. We strongly support the work of our member organization The Center for Constitutional Rights to bring the guilty to trial, either here in the US or elsewhere under the Doctrine of Universal Jurisdiction.
We have submitted the above paragraph for consideration by the Drafting Committee of UfPJ, both after the first revision of the draft and today, after the appearance of the second revision a few days ago. On today's submission, we included the following statement of reasons for inclusion:
Most of us attending this Assembly wish for this new Administration to achieve great things: among them, close Guantanamo and end the war. But future actions alone can never be enough to heal this nation and restore its place in the civilized world unless there is a reckoning with the past. South Africa needed its Commissions of Truth and Reconciliation before it could move forward. We too must have Accountability. Those who have committed crimes must be brought to Justice. Justice is part of our name.
In the present Unity Statement we boldly state: We will not allow war or other aggressive acts to be carried out against Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and other nations. And what do we do if we are disobeyed? A vocal social movement pursuing accountability for the crimes of the Bush Administration will serve as a deterrent against the newly elected (or any future administration) following the same path.
When Bush is arrested, or Cheney, or Rumsfeld, or Wolfowitz, or any one of the criminals is arrested, in London, Frankfurt, Madrid, Buenos Aries, or Willacy County, Texas, the world changes, just as it did when Pinochet was arrested. It does not even have to happen here in the US. Under the doctrine of Universal Jurisdiction, it can happen anywhere. If we keep up the drumbeat for arrest and trial, it will be heard around the world and the world will echo it.
What organizational burden does this place on UfPJ? Very little. One of the member organizations of UfPJ is already dedicated to bringing the criminals to Justice, namely, The Center for Constitutional Rights. We just need to recognize their work as the center piece of the struggle and to give them every support and publicize their work. They have been in this business of bringing criminals to justice since the civil rights struggles of the '60s. Today they have joined with Human Rights groups in France, Germany, and elsewhere to file complaints seeking the arrest and trial of Rumsfeld. (1, 2, 3)
Let’s begin to take Justice as seriously as we take Peace.
If you find the statement acceptable and the arguments persuasive, please go to the feedback link on the UfPJ website and register your support. In the What should be added slot you could say something like: [Your organization] supports the inclusion of the Accountability paragraph submitted by Silicon Valley Impeachment Coalition. If you do this, I'd appreciate getting an email letting me know. Thanks!!
A statement of implementation is being drafted for inclusion in the Strategic Framework and Program of Action documents. This will not be controversial to anyone supporting the Unity paragraph - it will simply be a statement of how we go about implementation. We will, in any case, circulate it to this list ASAP so that you can see it and approve or disapprove. If you want to be taken off this list, please let me know!
We are discussing the possibility of a caucus at the Assembly on this issue. Do you think that one is needed? If yes, would you attend? Please let me know.
The paragraph for inclusion and the reasons why it is needed are available as a PDF document that is attached below. This document is also available from the Silicon Valley Impeachment Coalition website: svimpeach.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and hoping for your support,
- John Anderson