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Respecting the Laws that Govern Nations
22 February 2002
Veterans For Peace, an organization of men and women who have served in the armed forces, having collectively experienced combat, imprisonment, bombing, shelling, firefights, all the manifestations of war, and its after-effects in terms of human suffering and cultural decline, is deeply troubled that the United States administration, in violation of our own Constitution, has waged an announced, but not legally declared war on a sovereign nation in response to a terrorist attack, heinous though it was.
We believe our government is setting a dangerous precedent by choosing to bypass and avoid compliance with the United Nations Charter, which requires member states to refer disputes threatening international peace to the UN Security Council for determination of how to deal with such threats. Since the United States was one of the original signers to the treaty that established the principles of international law embodied by the United Nations, it should constitute the law of the land, and we should be its strongest champion.
Further, the United States military, subsequent to its attack on Afghanistan, has abducted hundreds of combatants, transporting them blindfolded, drugged and in chains to imprisonment at the US Navy base at Guantanamo, Cuba, where they are being treated improperly. These persons, according to Amnesty International, are being subject to illegal interrogation, while suffering the stress of close confinement, isolation in a foreign land, lack of access to legal counsel, and deliberately humiliating treatment.
By these acts, the United States Government has abrogated the Geneva Convention covering the treatment of Prisoners Of War and weakened the influence of the United Nations, thereby jeopardizing the security of our nation and the safety of our military men and women.
The security of our nation is threatened by the fear and resentment generated by threats of unrestrained military action against named and un-named sovereign states said to harbor terrorists. Even our closest allies view the United States as acting in a dangerously provocative manner. It should not be surprising, then, that those countries specifically threatened by our rhetoric are preparing for conflict. The net result is an increase, not a decrease, of the likelihood of terrorist attacks upon U.S. citizens, possessions and territory.
We have grave concerns, too, for the safety of our brothers and sisters serving in the US military and being put in harm's way under these most unfavorable conditions. In the case of capture, they are likely to be subject to unrestrained, debasing treatment, in similar disregard of the Geneva Conventions.
For their safety and in the name of common humanity, Veterans For Peace demands that the abductees in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanis and other nationalities, be accorded the status of Prisoners of War (POW) with all attendant rights under the Geneva Convention and any other Conventions governing wartime activities and the treatment of prisoners that the United States is party to. This should include access to the International Red Cross, access to legal advice, the ability to communicate with families, freedom of religious practice, release from close confinement, the ability to exercise daily and be accorded proper medial care.
We also ask the United States government to begin planning for the repatriation of these prisoners, and that it be accomplished sooner rather than later, as mandated by international law. If the United States is, indeed, a Nation of Laws; and if we expect our citizens to abide by its laws, then we have the right to expect our government to abide by the laws that govern other nations and insist that it do so.
A statement by Veterans For Peace, Inc (USA)
Veterans For Peace Veterans for Peace, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational and humanitarian organization dedicated to the abolishment of war. VFP was founded in 1985 by ex-service members committed to sharing the horrors they experienced.
Our membership is comprised of veterans from all wars spanning from The Spanish Civil War to the Gulf War. These members are distributed amongst 86 nationwide chapters, and dozens of international affiliations. Our international activities include working with our affiliations in El Salvador, Russia, Canada, Japan, Guatemala, Viet Nam, the Netherlands, Chiapas (Mexico), France, England, Cuba, Nicaraugua, Vieques (Puerto Rico), and numerous others.
A member of the Nobel-Peace Prize winning Coalition to Ban the Sale and Use of Landmines, VFP has been undertaking arduous tasks since its inception. From bringing medical aid to Central American nations, to evacuating wounded children from war-torn Bosnian hospitals and securing medical treatment elsewhere around the globe, or just sitting down with American high school kids so that they may make choices for themselves based on reality, and not myth.
We remain firmly committed to the abolition of war. We know the consequences of American foreign policy because once, at a time in our lives, so many of us carried it out. We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it. We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it. Wage Peace!