2011-01-31 WikiLeaks and Human Rights: Open Letter for Support

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Wikileaks, not only for the exposure of the lies and deceptions of various world powers, not just for exposure of the inner workings and chicanery of state institutions and corporations, their hypocrisy and double dealings, but also for what follows in future: the advancement of human rights for all, and a major corollary of that, the increased potential for prosecution of those who have prima facie cases to answer for breaches of human rights.

Firstly some analogies with theoretical physics.

For theoretical physicists like Lawrence Krauss, (whose understandable scientific explanations of the universe leave this writer in awe), supernova are useful as standard candles …for which the intrinsic brightness, the absolute magnitude, is known. This allows the object's distance to be measured from its actual observed brightness, or apparent magnitude. With distance and the amount of spectrum “redshift” the expansion of the universe can be measured, and its present acceleration.

If I may draw an analogy, for those concerned about human rights, Wikileaks is akin to a supernova, it is our “standard candle,” so to speak. Not only is it an additional and great illumination for breaches of our measurable “universal” human rights but it has created a new standard for real journalism and in so doing has motivated the world in moral and legal outrage to a significantly higher plane. It has struck a chord with so many, in so many dimensions all over the world. It is difficult to quantify those dimensions, but the human rights aspect of it is not only real but palpable.

In this writer’s opinion, never in the field of journalism and holding people to account, has so much been owed by so many to so few, to borrow a Churchillian sentence, applicable to some dark days in human history. I include in that other exemplary institutions such as Al Jazeera, Amnesty International and numerous others lately shedding light on abuses of human rights. At an individual level, the human rights practitioner Geoffrey Robertson, is one shining example of an individual fighting the seemingly eternal battle for human rights (his book Crimes Against Humanity is a must read.)

We can never accept as exemplars people of far lesser stature, people of far lesser principles, or of one ‘principle’ only, to remain in power at any cost, the aim of autocrats throughout the ages. We must utterly reject the politics of fear, of using racism, (John Howard please note) ‘terrorism’ and national security panics which allow politicians to cheat and win elections.

We must concurrently abjure the false moral panics generated by an increasingly corporatised media; abjure the support they have given to go to war for false reasons and even peddling disinformation (New York Times take note), which not coincidentally has enabled other corporations to grossly enrich themselves by providing the sustenance, services and machines of war.

Against all this, for example is Bradley Manning, who is in a special category for courage and facing charges under the US’ Espionage Act, for which a legal defense of necessity seems appropriate.

Manning is a true moral patriot, far far removed in his moral conduct from those baying like hyenas for his blood and inciting violence against him and others like Julian Assange, as if that was a solution for a declining Empire, the oft touted Pax Americana, now exposed and increasingly vulnerable as a force for good while it all unravels before our eyes.

It is now incumbent on us, the masses, so often ignored even despised by those in power, to rise up online (and otherwise) to let our leaders and so called exemplars of western civilization know, in no uncertain terms, that we will not tolerate egregious abuses of human rights such as we have seen (at least) since the advent of the so called Global War on Terror inclusive of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In that endeavour, the people of Egypt lately have set a shining example, again for “people power” catalyzed into action it seems initially by the utter despair and suicide of a fruit vendor in Tunisia and the subsequent fall of yet another odious regime.

Chinese dynasties have known and undoubtedly the Chinese Communist Party of today knows full well this phenomena, the rising up of the masses against a corrupt Emperor is a well defined part of Chinese Mandate of Heaven theory, (itself a practical political philosophy where a bandit can become Emperor as long as he’s successful in ending whatever the afflictions are of the former Emperor’s rule)—in those terms President Ben Ali not only lost whatever “mandate” he had, but was probably lucky to escape with his life.

Now it’s President Mubarak’s turn to face the wrath of the masses, which no placating, platitudinous speeches of stability, eternal brotherhood and friendship by Secretary of State Clinton or Saudi Arabian despots will ever assuage.

Mubarak is reminiscent of a Chinese Empress dowager when dead, her servants holding and waving her dead hand through the curtains of the conveyance her body was transported in, to give the impression she was alive and ruling. Doubtless the “dead hand” of Mubarak’s entourage will have a modern equivalent: video recordings on various topics ready for transmission while he could be far away.

Back on the subject of Madam Secretary of State and Egypt. She said some few days ago, words to the effect that:Mubarak's government was stable and seeking ways to meet Egyptians' needs.

Some stability, some meeting of needs. Sacked his government of minions as if they were somehow responsible for his despotism?

Bullets and tear gas, as we expected, was what Egyptian protesters received, but inherent in all that is the ongoing but now pressing and stark dilemma for US foreign policy, expressed rather well by Ambassador Margaret Scobey in a leaked cable “Scenesetter for General Petraeus’ Visit to Eygpt” which stated:
An ongoing challenge remains balancing our security interests with our democracy promotion efforts.

The problem is of course, that the US’s perceived security interests requiring the nurturing and suborning of dictators to its will is ultimately irreconcilable with the methodologies of those very dictators who can never be democratic.

Such “democracy promotion” is hypocritically obscene when one contemplates the blind US eyes to rigged past elections in Egypt and recent CIA organized renditions of alleged “terrorists” to Egypt including one Mamdouh Habib, an innocent citizen of my country caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time, tortured in Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, but who recently won an undisclosed settlement from the Australian government.

The newly appointed “Vice President” of Egypt, formerly intelligence chief, was apparently, the prime torture coordinator for those the US had ‘renditioned’ to Egypt.

It will be interesting (to say the least) what evolves in Egypt should Mubarak depart, but on his past record on human rights with torture, Mr Omar Suleiman as President does not inspire confidence.

Suleiman was apparently the leading interrogator of Habib

Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.

That treatment wasn't enough for Suleiman, so:

To loosen Habib's tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib -" and he did, with a vicious karate kick.

After Suleiman's men extracted Habib's confession, he was transferred back to US custody, where he eventually was imprisoned at Guantanamo. His "confession" was then used as evidence in his Guantanamo trial.

Australian citizens among other citizens the world over may well note the perfidy of allies such as Egypt and the US when it comes to their human rights abroad and contemplate the apparent hegenomistic ideology behind it that the ends justify any means. Cant replaces Kant with such apparent ease.

Perhaps there should be a boycott on Egyptian tourism until this man at least is made accountable to International Law, by national prosecution under the UN Convention Against Torture as enacted in any signatory nations’s domestic legislation or by the ICC itself.

One might also contemplate that Japanese soldiers were tried, convicted and hung for this sort of conduct on allied prisoners of war after World War 2.

Nevertheless, perhaps Egypt will be the circuit breaker for the US dilemma if Egyptians get their democracy and a new government stops being a compliant tool of US foreign policy in the Middle East. This, in combination with the “disaster” of Hezbollah in Lebanon gaining government albeit a coalition one, plus the lesser “disaster” in Tunisia, might well convince future US foreign policy makers that playing with a straight bat with dictators is the only realistic alternative left. This sea change in foreign policy might well be forced upon the US if there is a domino effect and say the despotic Saudi Arabian regime falls as well.

Middle East US diplomacy and the festering sore of Israel and the theft of Palestinian land, missing an honest broker for so long, may well get one should an avalanche of falling middle eastern dictators transpire.

Churchill’s ‘maxim’ might yet be relevant:

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

In any democracy, freedom of political communication is a prerequisite and a human right. In Australia it is an implied constitutional right. In the USA it comes by way of the First Amendment to the constitution.

That internet communication (and social media) can be removed so arbitarily and perfunctorily in Egypt for the blatantly obvious reason to assist the dictator Mubarak remain in power illustrates firstly the power of social media in an internet age, and secondly the power of any nation state to cut off the internet under the guise of “national security.”

In the light of Mubarak’s conduct, citizens of the United States might well contemplate some future evils should their legislators give an internet “kill switch” power to their President.

Unfortunately, in contrast to our Wikileaks standard candle, there are entities which cannot be “redshifted” away out of the our sight, (the fate of all galaxies save our own by the way in a few hundred million years.) These are the dark forces of repression, exploitation and injustice. Their practitioners: nation states using war as a casual extension of foreign policy, torturers, despots and dictators.

Included in that are of course our own western nation states to greater or lesser degrees, now under the microscope for the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity either as perpetrators or accessories.

To draw another analogy, such perpetrators are akin to the “dark matter” of the universe. Detectable and map-able only (so far) by the gravitational effect of dark matter on visible matter, ie galaxies. We likewise indirectly detect potential ‘dark’ war crimes and crimes against humanity simply by the number of human casualties in given situations and worrying statements such as General Tommy Franks who said We don’t do body counts

As Wikileaks revealed, they were doing body counts after all, but another 15,000 revealed dead in Iraq illustrates the wanton and wilful disregard for human life against the human right not to be slaughtered in an illegal war (future post of those legalities to come).

The Wikileaks video “Collateral Murder” is our standard candle of egregious conduct, prima facie a war crime and on its own, admissable evidence of the culpability of those officers and their commanders. Along with identification evidence of the pilots and commanders, there is not much else the ICC would need for a prosecution on that incident with the possible exception of death certificates of the victims.

While the USA is not a signatory nation to the Treaty of Rome which established the International Criminal Court, that does not mean impunity nor immunity, it simply means more difficulty and a longer timescale for a prosecution. Like Anonymous, we do not forget while any forgiveness is the sole prerogative of the victims’ families.

There are many other incidents of the Iraq and Afghan war which so far do not reach the evidentiary standard candle of “Collateral Murder” and that is where we as world citizens can play a part.

We at Wikileaks Central therefore call upon those who believe in human rights to join us in propagating its message:

1) To support Wikileaks--a major facilitator in providing us data on human rights breaches;
2) To support our brothers and sisters subjected to human rights abuses all over the world;
3) To educate our political leaders to obey International Law especially in the non derogative aspects of human rights such as torture per the Convention Against Torture;
4) To ultimately agitate for the prosecution of human rights abusers, even accumulate the evidence as necessary.

A new organisation for human rights is coming. Its foundation must be cemented in us the ordinary people, as non state actors, the masses, utilising cyberspace for which despots have such great fear that they would on occasion attempt to shut us up and shut it down or, (take note Attorney General Holder) subpoena its social media providers for the purpose of intimidation and vengeful, legally highly dubious and imperiously arrogant prosecution of the Wikileaks messengers.

Contact admin@wlcentral.org with your input or make a comment below.

Human Rights advocacy needs your support, if ever we are to take the human rights battle up a notch or two.