The irony of Katrina victim wrapped in the American flag represents the failure of US Imperialism to solve the elementary needs of the people.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File
Contact: Monifa Bandele (917) 407- 3018
International Tribunal Issues Preliminary Findings
Bush, Blanco, Nagin Committed Crimes against Humanity
Between August 29, 2007 and September 2, 2007, a Tribunal of 16 esteemed jurists from nine countries, including Algeria, Brazil, France, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela, and the United States, convened in New Orleans to hear testimony by experts and survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
After hearing nearly 30 hours of testimony by hurricane survivors and experts – covering government neglect and negligence in 15 areas, ranging from police brutality to environmental racism, from misappropriation of relief to gentrification, the jurists announced their preliminary findings.
Jill Soffiyah Elijah, the Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and Coordinating Justice for the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, announced the Tribunal’s preliminary findings, “It is our view that the US Government has committed crimes against humanity particularly in relation to its failure to maintain functional levees that should have protected the City of New Orleans from flooding….it was the reckless disregard and, in some instances, negligence of the US government, the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans that created the devastation we continue to see today.”
Elijah also announced that the Tribunal made preliminary findings that the federal, state and local governments are guilty of violating the human rights to life, dignity and recognition of personhood; the right to be free from racial discrimination-- especially as it pertains to the actions of law enforcement personnel and vigilantes; the right to return, resettlement and reintegration of internally displaced persons; the right to be free from degrading treatment and punishment; the right to freedom of movement; the right to adequate housing and education; the right to vote and participate in governance and the right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and security of person and the right to equal protection under the law. Both actions and failure to act by the governments had disproportionate devastating impact with respect to race and gender.
The jurists announced that they would deliver their final verdict December 8, 2007—the second anniversary of the Katrina Survivors’ Assembly. In the meantime, prosecutors will be submitting additional evidence and videotaped affidavits from an additional 25 survivors.
The prosecution team included experienced attorneys from respected legal associations around the country: the ACLU of New York, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, the US Human Rights Network, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the Center for Constitutional Rights, National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, Washington DC Legal Defender, Mississippi Disaster Relief Coalition, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Legal Empowerment Center and the Louisiana Justice Initiative.
The Tribunal Conveners—representing movements for justice on four continents—reminded Tribunal participants and witnesses of the solemnity of their task. Lybon Mabasa, a founding member with Stephen Biko of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa, insisted, “We must hold these criminal governments to account in order to stop the world from sinking into barbarism and to make the world one where life is worth living.”
For samples of videotaped testimony, contact Monifa Bandele at (917) 407-3018
Greetings family, friends, neighbors, and comrades!
Thank you all for supporting the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Your participation, along with delegations from nine countries, made the Tribunal a success. For the first time, the public—both in the US and the world—had the opportunity to hear a comprehensive account of the crimes committed against the people of New Orleans and the Gulf. And, for the first time, an esteemed panel of international jurists gave careful consideration to charges of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide and other violations committed by the US government.
However, if we are to gain restitution, justice and the right of return for all those displaced and forcibly removed, a tremendous amount of work remains. Join us in spreading the word about the Tribunal demands and building a strong reconstruction movement grounded in human rights principles to win the right to return. Below are a few suggestions offered by Tribunal organizers—including the attached petition—to advance the reconstruction movement.
As Lybon Mabasa, Tribunal Convener from South Africa, advised as he closed the proceedings, "We adjourn the Tribunal for today, but even greater work lies ahead. Only by committing ourselves to this struggle will we save ourselves from sinking into barbarism."
How to Support the International Tribunal
1. Build a Solidarity Committee in your city, region or state to continue the struggle for a just reconstruction and against ethnic cleansing in the Gulf Coast.
2. Join the PHRF action alert network at http://www.peopleshurricane.org/register/ .
3. Conduct a report back about the Tribunal and the Gulf Coast Reconstruction Movement with your members and supporters. Call 504.301.0215 for speakers and video.
4. Organize a teach-in or community forum in your city, region, or state with members of the Tribunal organizing committee to aid with the national mobilization effort for the Tribunal and Survivors Assembly.
5. Agitate on the demands and recommendations stemming from the Tribunal by asking civic, labor, political, and religious organizations in your area to sign on as endorsers. The prosecution called for:
• Prosecution of Bush, Blanco, Barbour, Nagin, FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Homeland Security for crimes against humanity
• International and national support for the right of return and reconstruction with justice and dignity
6. Support the Tribunal Petition Drive to demand the right of return, adherence to the IDP principles, and federal works project by asking your members and supporters to gather signatures in your area. Petitions are available at either http://www.katrinatribunal.org or http://www.peopleshurricane.org
7. Contact the various government officials in your city, region, and state and demand that they support legislation that recognizes the IDP status of Hurricane Survivors, provides restitution for Hurricane Survivors, supports the Gulf Coast Civic Works project, and holds all parties responsible for crimes against humanity liable for their actions.
8. Support the calls for censures, boycotts, and direct action issued by the Tribunal organizers and Survivors Assembly to pressure the US government to accept the demands and recommendations of the Tribunal.
9. Support the International mobilization for the Tribunal by promoting its findings, verdict, and demands to your international contacts and allied organizations. Encourage them to start resolution initiatives, petition drives, and calls for international solidarity and action.
10. Demand that all Presidential candidates take a stand in support of the findings of the Tribunal, reparations, a just reconstruction, and the right of return for all Gulf Coast IDP's.
11. Raise funds to provide ongoing financial support to the Tribunal organizers to publish and distribute the findings, continuing raising awareness, and pursue national and international litigation.
In Unity and Struggle,
PHRF Executive Director
Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
Stay tuned to http://www.katrinatribunal.org for updates. Also please send pictures for thorough documentation.