Saturday, September 08, 2007

International legal expert judges at Katrina Tribunal

Ward Churchill played a judge last week (after his recent stirring portrayals of an Indian and a scholar) at the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in New Orleans. According to (who else) Workers World, in a piece subtlely subtitled "We charge genocide":

The tribunal, initiated by the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund was supported by many national and international organizations, and was attended by hundreds of survivors of both hurricanes along with political and community activists from around the country and the world.

The main purpose of this people’s tribunal was to expose to the world a multitude of crimes against humanity amounting to genocide carried out by the U.S. government on a local, statewide and federal level against the survivors, then and now.

New Orleans Indymedia said:
Kali Akuno of People’s Hurricane describes the purpose of the Tribunal as a “critical step in the ongoing struggle for the right of return and a self determining reconstruction process.”
Right of return. Self-determination. Where are the Zionist oppressors?
Furthermore, Akuno states the wider objectives of the Tribunal beyond the Gulf Coast; “if the government gets away with these abuses - after the tragic consequences of deeply entrenched racism and classism horrified both national and international audiences - the gentrification and ethnic cleansing of communities throughout the US and world will only accelerate.”
Ethnic cleansing and gentrification! What could be worse? Of course, the Tribunal heard about other crimes as well:

During the International Hurricane Katrina and Rita Tribunal we heard all sorts of testimony about white vigilantes 'hunting' down Black folks. This was in addition to the widespread police brutality. In some instances New Orleans police were seen riding with and working with white vigilantes who claimed they were protecting their neighborhoods.

Former Black Panther Malik Rahim of the organization Common Ground was witness to white vigilantes who were roaming his neighborhood in Algiers which is located on the West Bank of New Orleans. This was one of the few places in the city that did not experience flooding. It was the only neighborhood in all of New Orleans that still had safe drinking water.

During his searing testimony Malik offered up a documentary he and his comrades from Common Ground put together. In the documentary we get to see and hear angry white people bragging about how they were shooting and killing Blacks while they were barbecueing. It seems so outlandish to the point of dis-belief until [sic]. They went out at night on what they called 'pheasant Hunts'. Malik estimates that over 200 Blacks lost their lives to white vigilantes.

Yeah, sure. The "preliminary" findings of the Tribunal:
“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.
”But wait, there's more!
[Jill Soffiyah] 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.
There's even more, but I'll jump to the conclusion:
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.”
Yep, Ward can definitely help with that.

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