NATO’S Craven Cover-Up Of Its Libyan War Crimes & Legal Template For Filing War Crimes Charges ~ from Viva Libya
A new UN report strongly suggests that the rush to a NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ might have been made on exaggerated evidence, and that NATO’s own military intervention might have been less than ‘humanitarian’ in its effects.
Ten days into the uprising in Benghazi, Libya, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council established the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya. The purpose of the Commission was to ‘investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya.’ The broad agenda was to establish the facts of the violations and crimes and to take such actions as to hold the identified perpetrators accountable.
On June 15, the Commission presented its first report to the Council. This report was provisional, since the conflict was still ongoing and access to the country was minimal. The June report was no more conclusive than the work of the human rights non-governmental organizations (such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch). In some instances, the work of investigators for these NGOs (such as Donatella Rovera of Amnesty) was of higher quality than that of the Commission.
Due to the uncompleted war and then the unsettled security state in the country in its aftermath, the Commission did not return to the field till October 2011, and did not begin any real investigation before December 2011. On March 2, 2012, the Commission finally produced a two hundred-page document that was presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Little fanfare greeted this report’s publication, and the HRC’s deliberation on it was equally restrained.
Nonetheless, the report is fairly revelatory, making two important points: first, that all sides on the ground committed war crimes with no mention at all of a potential genocide conducted by the Qaddafi forces; second, that there remains a distinct lack of clarity regarding potential NATO war crimes. Not enough can be made of these two points. They strongly infer that the rush to a NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ might have been made on exaggerated evidence, and that NATO’s own military intervention might have been less than ‘humanitarian’ in its effects.
It is precisely because of a lack of accountability by NATO that there is hesitancy in the United Nations Security Council for a strong resolution on Syria. ‘Because of the Libyan experience,’ the Indian Ambassador to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri told me in February, ‘other members of the Security Council, such as China and Russia, will not hesitate in exercising a veto if a resolution – and this is a big if – contains actions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which permits the use of force and punitive and coercive measures.’
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
The Libyan uprising began on February 15, 2011. By February 22, the UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay claimed that two hundred and fifty people had been killed in Libya, ‘although the actual numbers are difficult to verify.’ Nonetheless, Pillay pointed to ‘widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population” which “may amount to crimes against humanity.’ Pillay channelled the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN from Libya, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who had defected to the rebellion and claimed, ‘Qaddafi had started the genocide against the Libyan people.’ Very soon world leaders used the two concepts interchangeably, ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity.’ These concepts created a mood that Qaddafi’s forces were either already indiscriminately killing vast numbers of people, or that they were poised for a massacre of Rwandan proportions.
Courageous work by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch last year, then much later the 2012 report from the UN belies this judgment, (as does my forthcoming book ‘Arab Spring, Libyan Winter’, AK Press), which goes through the day-by-day record and show two things: that both sides used excessive violence and that the rebels seemed to have the upper hand for much of the conflict, with Qaddafi’s forces able to recapture cities, but unable to hold them.
The UN report is much more focused on the question of crimes committed on the ground. This is the kind of forensic evidence in the report:
(1) In the military base and detention camp of Al Qalaa. ‘Witnesses, together with the local prosecutor, uncovered the bodies of 43 men and boys, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs.’ Qaddafi forces had shot them. Going over many of these kinds of incidents, and of indiscriminate firing of heavy artillery into cities, the UN Report notes that these amount to a war crime or a crime against humanity.
(2) ‘Over a dozen Qadhafi soldiers were reportedly shot in the back of the head by thuwar [rebel fighters] around 22-23 February 2011 in a village between Al Bayda and Darnah. This is corroborated by mobile phone footage.’ After an exhaustive listing of the many such incidents, and of the use of heavy artillery against cities notably Sirte, the UN report suggests the preponderance of evidence of the war crime of murder or crimes against humanity.
There is no mention of genocide in the Report, and none of any organized civilian massacre. This is significant because UN Resolution 1973, which authorized the NATO war, was premised on the ‘the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against the civilian population’ which ‘may amount to crimes against humanity.’ There was no mention in Resolution 1973 of the disproportionate violence of the thuwar against the pro-Qaddafi population (already reported by Al-Jazeera by February 19), a fact that might have given pause to the UN as it allowed NATO to enter the conflict on the rebels’ behalf. NATO’s partisan bombardment allowed the rebels to seize the country faster than they might have had in a more protracted war, but it also allowed them carte blanche to continue with their own crimes against humanity.
With NATO backing, it was clear that no one was going to either properly investigate the rebel behaviour, and no-one was going to allow for a criminal prosecution of those crimes against humanity. Violence of this kind by one’s allies is never to be investigated as the Allies found out after World War 2 when there was no assessment of the criminal firebombing of, for example, Dresden. No wonder that the UN Report notes that the Commissioners are ‘deeply concerned that no independent investigation or prosecution appear to have been instigated into killings committed by thuwar.’ None is likely. There are now over eight thousand pro-Qaddafi fighters in Libyan prisons. They have no charges framed against them. Many have been tortured, and several have died (including Halah al-Misrati, the Qaddafi era newscaster).
The section of the UN report on the town of Tawergha is most startling. The thirty thousand residents of the town were removed by the Misratan thuwar. The general sentiment among the Misratan thuwar was that the Tawerghans were given preferential treatment by the Qaddafi regime, a claim disputed by the Tawerghans. The road between Misrata and Tawergha was lined with slogans such as ‘the brigade for purging slaves, black skin,’ indicating the racist cleansing of the town. The section on Tawergha takes up twenty pages of the report. It is chilling reading. Tawerghans told the Commission “that during ‘interrogations’ they were beaten, had hot wax poured in their ears and were told to confess to committing rape in Misrata. The Commission was told that one man had diesel poured on to his back which was then set alight; the same man was held in shackles for 12 days.’ This goes on and on. The death count is unclear. The refugees are badly treated as they go to Benghazi and Tripoli.
To the Commission, the attacks against Tawerghans during the war ‘constitute a war crime’ and those that have taken place since ‘violate international human rights law’ and a ‘crime against humanity.’ Because of the ‘current difficulties faced by the Libyan Government,’ the Commission concludes, it is unlikely that the government will be able to bring justice for the Tawerghans and to undermine the ‘culture of impunity that characterizes the attacks.’
For the past several months, the Russians have asked for a proper investigation through the UN Security Council of the NATO bombardment of Libya. ‘There is great reluctance to undertake it,’ the Indian Ambassador to the UN told me. When the NATO states in the Security Council wanted to clamor for war in February-March 2011, they held discussions about Libya in an open session. After Resolution 1973 and since the war ended, the NATO states have only allowed discussion about Libya in a closed session. When Navi Pillay came to talk about the UN Report, her remarks were not for the public.
Indeed, when it became clear to NATO that the UN Commission wished to investigate NATO’s role in the Libyan war, Brussels balked. On February 15, 2012, NATO’s Legal Adviser Peter Olson wrote a strong letter to the Chair of the Commission. NATO accepted that the Qaddafi regime ‘committed serious violations of international law,’ which led to the Security Council Resolution 1973. What was not acceptable was any mention of NATO’s ‘violations’ during the conflict,
‘We would be concerned, however, if ‘NATO incidents’ were included in the Commission’s report as on a par with those which the Commission may ultimately conclude did violate law or constitute crimes. We note in this regard that the Commission’s mandate is to discuss ‘the facts and circumstance of….violations [of law] and…crimes perpetrated.’ We would accordingly request that, in the event the Commission elects to include a discussion of NATO actions in Libya, its report clearly state that NATO did not deliberately target civilians and did not commit war crimes in Libya.’
To its credit, the Commission did discuss the NATO ‘incidents.’ However, there were some factual problems. The Commission claimed that NATO flew 17,939 armed sorties in Libya. NATO says that it flew ‘24,200 sorties, including over 9,000 strike sorties.’ What the gap between the two numbers might tell us is not explored in the report or in the press discussion subsequently. The Commission points out that NATO did strike several civilian areas (such as Majer, Bani Walid, Sirte, Surman, Souq al-Juma) as well as areas that NATO claims were ‘command and control nodes.’ The Commission found no ‘evidence of such activity’ in these ‘nodes.’ NATO contested both the civilian deaths and the Commission’s doubts about these ‘nodes.’ Because NATO would not fully cooperate with the Commission, the investigation was ‘unable to determine, for lack of sufficient information, whether these strikes were based on incorrect or outdated intelligence and, therefore, whether they were consistent with NATO’s objective to take all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties entirely.’
Three days after the report was released in the Human Rights Council, NATO’s chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen denied its anodyne conclusions regarding NATO. And then, for added effect, Rasmussen said that he was pleased with the report’s finding that NATO ‘had conducted a highly precise campaign with a demonstrable determination to avoid civilian casualties.’ There is no such clear finding. The report is far more circumspect, worrying about the lack of information to make any clear statement about NATO’s bombing runs. NATO had conducted its own inquiry, but did not turn over its report or raw data to the UN Commission.
On March 12, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon went to the UN Security Council and stated that he was ‘deeply concerned’ about human rights abuses in Libya, including the more than eight thousand prisoners held in jails with no judicial process (including Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, who should have been transferred to the Hague by NATO’s logic). Few dispute this part of the report. The tension in the Security Council is over the section on NATO. On March 9, Maria Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva of the Russian Mission to the UN in Geneva noted that the UN report omitted to explore the civilian deaths caused by NATO. ‘In our view,’ she said, ‘during the NATO campaign many violations of the standard of international law and human rights were committed, including the most important right, the right to life.’ On March 12, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused NATO of ‘massive bombings’ in Libya. It was in response to Lavrov’s comment that Ban’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky pointed out that Ban accepts ‘the report’s overall finding that NATO did not deliberately target civilians in Libya.’
NATO is loath to permit a full investigation. It believes that it has the upper hand, with Libya showing how the UN will now use NATO as its military arm (or else how the NATO states will be able to use the UN for its exercise of power). In the Security Council, NATO’s Rasmussen notes, ‘Brazil, China, India and Russia consciously stepped aside to allow the UN Security Council to act’ and they ‘did not put their military might at the disposal of the coalition that emerged.’ NATO has no challenger. This is why the Russians and the Chinese are unwilling to allow any UN resolution that hints at military intervention. They fear the Pandora’s box opened by Resolution 1973.
Legal Template For Filing War Crimes Charges Against Nations And Officials Involved In The War Against Libya
Our Moral Imperative
This procedure provides an appropriate template for citizens of any nation to use when filing reports for war crimes indictments.
This is the most promising and empowering public initiative thus far and was filed in Stockholm, not The Hague.
As stated on their website,
“Was your country also part of NATO’s war against Libya in 2011? If so, filing criminal charges for war crimes has never been easier. Just download the template found here, fill in the blanks and send it to the police or relevant prosecuting authority in your country. When you do this, please let us know and we will be happy to include information about the report on this site.”
As my contact with this project described their rationale,
“War crimes are not committed by legal entities – they are committed by humans working within (and hiding behind) legal entities (like international organizations and government burocracies).
The reason we chose to file our report on a national level is our belief that this approach (to have Swedish war criminals tried in the Swedish legal system, for example) will strengthen Sweden – which for some time now has lost more and more influence over it’s own affairs to the globalization process.
We would like to see the same strengthening of national sovereignty happen in all countries.
Even if the ICC were not corrupt, handing individuals over from a country to be tried there means countries giving away their sovereignty to someone else.”
Therefore this project is not only a way for anyone to file reports against their representatives, it is the beginning of the removal of authority from the ICC. For this reason, the importance of this initiative cannot be understated.
I took precautionary action and saved the following document because President Obama ordered the United Nations to delete it.
LIBYA 360° website was established to document crimes for use in future prosecutions.
Critical to note is that the United Nations is not permitted to interfere with peace negotiations, to approve “no fly zones” during such negotiations, or to ignore requests for a fair hearing. Libya was in the process of sincere peace negotiations with both the ALBA nations and the AU when NATO bombardments began.
Libya was excluded from the UN when UNSC Res 1973 was approved.
Libya had a legitimate right to defend its sovereign territory and civilians from hostile invasion. This is enshrined in International law and not one of Libya’s defensive actions was a crime.
When the Libyan military declared a ceasefire, the UN refused to enforce it and the NATO backed militias continually breached each ceasefire, which is another violation of International law.
At every turn, Libya acted in accordance with International law and even honored treaties it had never signed.
This must be emphasized to highlight the crimes of the UN and their NATO-NTC co-conspirators.
It is not possible that any elected official in NATO nations were unaware that what they were doing was illegal and criminal.
Finally, targeted assassinations of tribal leaders, civilians who rejected the NTC, former Libyan government officials and the Gaddafi family are a violation of every law and an affront to our humanity.
Editor of Libya 360°
THE GOVERNMENT, PARLIAMENT AND MILITARY FORCES OF SWEDEN REPORTED FOR WAR CRIMES IN LIBYA
The International Prosecution Chamber in Stockholm
107 22 Stockholm
Report on serious offences subject to public prosecution
Until March 2011 Libya was a sovereign secular state, ranked by the United Nations as a “High Human Development” country in a global context5 (HDI ranking 53 out 194, ahead of countries like Russia and Brazil) and the most advanced country on the continent of Africa.6 As late as Jan 4, 2011 – just weeks before the war started – several UN members applauded Libya’s continued commitment to upholding human rights.7
Today, seven months later, Libya has – as a result of decisions and actions by individuals i.a. within the Swedish government and Sweden’s military forces – been turned into a bombed out war zone with up to a million refugees8 under the control of a “National Transitional Council” (NTC) which is in the process of turning Libya into a theocracy regulated by Islamic Sharia law.9
The leadership and cadre of the NTC rebels are dominated by past and present members10 of designated terrorist organizations11 such as Al-Qaeda (AQ, AQI, AQIM)12 and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).13
The council is presently headed by a de facto triumvirate – holding executive/financial/military power:
- Mahmoud Jibril – a university lecturer educated, and for several years resident, in the US and whose studies was mentored by a renowned CIA case officer working for CIA in Iran during the CIA/staged coup there in 1953.14
- An American economics professor by the name of Ali Tarhouni.15
- A senior Al-Qaeda asset/educator/leader previously operating in Afghanistan and Iraq but who currently acts under the name of Bel Hadj as the Commander in Chief for the NTC as well as military dictator of Tripoli.16
On March 19, 2011, two days after the adoption of UN resolution 1973, this NTC/Al-Qaeda/LIFG rebel council announced the creation of a new central bank and a new oil company.17 Starting a “revolution” with the creation of new central bank may be a possible “first” in world history and casts the long shadow of as yet unidentified international financial actors over the war against Libya.18
The pretext and framework for the attack on Libya by Sweden and other countries was United Nations resolution 1973. This resolution i.a. authorized a ban on flights and measures “to protect civilians and civilian populated areas” whilst excluding “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.19
The reality is that participants in the NATO-led war already at the outset was in violation of resolution 1973 and that the motive was not to protect civilians – but regime-change.
Testimony by former NATO military commander General Wesley Clarke confirms that as early as 2001, Pentagon was instructed to prepare for war against Libya20 – i.e. long before Libya was reported as a “problem” somehow in need of a “solution”.
Thus, the backdrop carries distinct echoes of colonialism,21 spiced with the general geostrategical redrawing of the entire Middle-East set in motion by the attacks in the US on September 11, 200122 and envisaged by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).23
The event that is said to have triggered NATO’s attack on Libya was the Libyan government’s own attempts to restore order and protect civilians in the Benghazi area, where an estimated one thousand jihadists24 (Al-Qaeda/LIFG) had stormed military storage facilities, and armed themselves and started to shoot up the neighbourhood.
Given the miniscule size and poor to non-existent training of this “rebel” contingent,25 the successful containment and disarmament of these rebels by the Libyan government should have been a foregone conclusion – had it not been for the intervention of French and subsequently US airpower on the side of these Al-Qaeda jihadists.26
Since March 31, 2011, NATO has conducted 9658 air strike sorties,27 averaging 46-47 strike missions per day for 207 days. When assessing the gravity of the war crimes reported here this massive air campaign needs to be contrasted against the realities on the ground.
What are these realities?
Even before UN resolution 1973 Libya was reported to have no effective air force.28 Moreover, and in regional terms, Libya did not have much of a military to speak of in the first place.
For example, indicated by the chart below is that whereas neighbouring countries in the first decade of the 21st century escalated their military expenditures – Libya did the opposite.29
In fact, Libya under Qaddafi, was a remarkably constructive factor in the region – being the founding father of the African Union.30
Reported war casualties vary widely.31 What is clear is that the involvement of the armed forces of Sweden and other countries not only changed the outcome of what would have been the orderly neutralization of a local fringe Al-Qaeda/LIFG flurry into a full-scale regime-change (for the worse) with a death toll, injured and refugees at a very different order of magnitude.
- The attack on Tripoli: There are reports that the NTC/Al-Qaeda/LIFG ground assault on Tripoli July 20, 2011, was amphibious (supported by NATO ships) and planned , directed and led by NATO-officers, also on the ground.32 The way in which the reportedly NATO-led rebels were at all able to progress through Tripoli was by NATO Apache attack helicopters strafing the streets to clear it of civilians.33
- The attack on Sirte:34 Coordinated with NATO’s massive bombing campaign against the city were the rebels cordoning off, of it – preventing civilians attempting to escape the carnage from leaving.
Why would the Swedish government, or any other government, for that matter, wish to prevent civilians from escaping an event that by observers have been likened with the town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War?35
The level of popular support enjoyed by the Qaddafi government, as reflected by the resistance of the inhabitants of i.a. Tripoli and Sirte, indicates that the Libyan people in vast numbers view the Qaddafi government as the only legitimate government.36
- Genocide on black Libyans:37 Numerous reports exists on the apparent rascist agenda of the NTC/Al-Qaeda/LIFG rebel as they seek out and kill black people.38 Substantiated, as these reports are, the instigators of this as a generic policy in the war may not necessarily have been Al-Qaeda or the LIFG.
- The role of NATO’s so-called Special Forces (SF) units: There also exists high-profile testimonies of how Danish and French SF-units engaged in and set up a policy of publicly decapitating black libyans in order to terrorize the civilian population of Tripoli into submission39 under the capital’s newly installed military dictator Bel Hadj.
- The destruction of the Great Man-Made River project:40 NATO’s wholesale destruction of Lybia’s world-renowned Great Man-Made River project is a text-book example of crimes against international law. Not only did NATO destroy the world’s most advanced water project – it also destroyed the factories capable of repairing this vital civilian infrastructure.
- Use of inhumane weapons such as depleted uranium41 and cluster bombs:42 Evidence points to the possibility of both cluster bombs and depleted uranium being used by NATO in Libya.
- The foreign occupation force prohibited by UN resolution 1973 is in fact what the NATO-led war is all about, both tactically – with military ground force elements – and strategically – with the installation of a puppet terrorist-designated regime controlled by Anglo-American interests.
As a result of initiatives taken by members in the Swedish government, made possible by individuals in the Swedish parliament, and carried out by individuals in the Swedish military, the state of Sweden today shares responsibility for the transformation of the most humanitarian and successful state on the African continent into a third-world war zone run by a conglomerate of terrorist-designated rebels over which the agendas of Anglo-American intelligence and banking oligarchs cast their long shadow.
For more details on casualties, the destruction of civilian life, and civilian infrastructure brought by the military forces of Sweden and other countries, consider the Libya reports from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.43
Given existing international agreements and the clear violations committed by the participants of NATO’s Unified Protector campaign, of the intent and boundaries set by UN Resolution 1973, it is evident that crimes falling i.a. under the following categories have been and are being committed:
- War of aggression
- Crimes against humanity
These crimes were not the result of mission-drift or mission-swings – but were pre-mediated for the purpose of imposing regime-change in Libya in violation of international law.
Given the international consensus of the designation of i.a. Al-Qaeda and LIFG as “terrorists” it is also evident that the following crimes have been and are being committed by the individuals reported here:
- Failure to report on Terrorism
- Support of Terrorism
- Financing of Terrorism
Dates and Periods:
- March 29, 2011 Cabinet Meeting44
- March 30, 2011 Start of Sweden’s military operation FL0145
- April 1, 2011 Parliament vote46
- June 9, 2011 Cabinet Meeting47
- June 17, 2011 Parliament vote48
- July 1, 2011 Start of Sweden’s military operation FL0249
- September 15, 2011 Cabinet Meeting50
- September 21, 2011 Parliament vote51
These MPs listed below voted in favor of the war at event 3 and later abstained:
Brink, Josefin *
Dinamarca, Rossana *
Linde, Hans *
Sjöstedt, Jonas *
Lillemets, Annika *
Interviews with Brink, Dinamarca, Linde, Sjöstedt, and Lillemets (marked with * above) confirm that the reason for abstaining was the realization that the Swedish government was in violation of UN resolution 1973 in its participation of the NATO-led war.52
Key suspects in the Swedish military:
Reported individuals from Sweden’s military establishment include the chain of command from Commander-in-chief Sverker Göransson down to all personnel part of the FL01/FL02/infoop operations . This also includes any staff-members in Sweden involved in the planning, directing and execution of these operations, as well as possibly members of units such as Special Operations Group (SOG) and the parachute regiment at K3 and which may have been involved in the clandestine parts of the war against Libya in 2011 – including the atrocities reportedly committed by French and Danish SF units.
- United Nations resolution 1973
- United Nation’s Human Development Report 2010
- Background paper: “How Al Qaeda men came to power in Libya”, Thierry Meyssan, Sep 7, 2011
- West Point study: “Al-Qaida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” Dec 19, 2007
- Government Proposal: 2010/11:117 March 29, 2011
- Government Proposal: 2010/11:127 June 9, 2011
- Government Proposal: 2011/12:5 September 15, 2011
- Video depicting use of cluster bombs by aircrafts
- NTC Draft Constitutional Charter
- “Libya’s Lessons”, Ben Barry, Survival, vol. 53, issue 5. Summary of the war from a western perspective.
- Testimony former NATO Chief General Wesley Clarke March 2, 2007
- Testimony Lizzie Phelan, Oct 4, 2011
- Walter Fauntroy article, Sep 7, 2011
- The Sirte Declaration 1999.
- Rebuilding Americas Defenses, Project for a New American Century, 2000.
|Kristoffer Hell||Peter Pettersson|
|Yrsa Häggström||Leif Erlingsson|
and in really sick twist to all of this killing
U.S. Africa Command was awarded a Joint Meritorious Unit Award for its response to the conflict in Libya between March 19 and March 30, 2011, when staff members coordinated humanitarian and military operations to maintain stability in the region.
During a ceremony prior to the start of an all-hands meeting, March 9, 2012, General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, and Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson Jr., U.S. AFRICOM’s senior enlisted leader, attached a Joint Meritorious Award ribbon onto the command’s flag. The award recognized U.S. Africa Command’s successful execution of Operation Odyssey Dawn, in support of United Nation’s Security Council Resolution 1973, which demanded an end to the violence by the Qadhafi regime against citizens … [more]