Monday, February 5, 2007

Blair in dock at "house of horrors" summit

Blair in dock at "house of horrors" summit
5 February 2007

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -
About 2,000 peace activists applauded on Monday as the leaders of the United States and Britain were branded "fascist war criminals" at a conference featuring gruesome exhibits of their alleged crimes.

Outspoken former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, who hosted the conference in Kuala Lumpur, won a standing ovation after opening it with a call for George W. Bush and Tony Blair to be tried by an unofficial tribunal for war crimes in Iraq.

"We shouldn't hang Blair if the tribunal finds him guilty," said Mahathir, who seemed to save his strongest venom for the prime minister in an hour-long speech illustrated by pictures of wounded children, deformed babies and tortured men.

"He should always carry the label war criminal, killer of children and liar."

Mahathir, a controversial figure whose own government was accused of human rights abuses bordering on torture, has been leading a campaign to highlight what he calls the human-rights abuses and hypocrisy of U.S.-led forces fighting for democracy in the Middle East.

That campaign reached new heights of graphic intensity on Monday, with an exhibit of alleged war crimes by U.S. forces and their allies over the decades, from Hiroshima to Iraq.

As Mahathir spoke in the main conference room, packed with students and legions of his supporters, tape-recorded screams of tortured men and orphaned babies echoed around the War Crimes Exhibition, a house of horrors on the floor below.

Visitors to the exhibition start by walking through a mock spray of white phosphorus, a chemical agent that burns flesh, before entering a torture chamber labelled "Torture methods used here were used on prisoners of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib".

Here, figures of naked men were gagged and strapped upside down to a metal-framed bed. Another was strapped to a chair, his legs and arms bristling with nails driven into his flesh, while another was bombarded with loud, incessant disco music.

"Who would have imagined the cheerful music of Boney M. could be used as an instrument of pain and torture?" a label said.

The exhibit also took visitors through the Vietnam War, including the My Lai massacre of civilians by U.S. troops, then along a trail of mock blood through a scene representing the civilian casualties of Israel's offensive in Lebanon last year.

Speakers at the conference include former U.S. lawmaker Cynthia McKinney, a Democrat who has branded the U.S.-led war in Iraq as illegal, and former U.N. assistant secretary-general Hans von Sponeck, who took part in a similar attempt to set up an unofficial war-crimes tribunal at a conference in Turkey in 2005.

It also features Ali Shalah, billed as the man famously pictured in a hood with electrodes attached to his fingers at Abu Ghraib, a U.S.-run prison in Iraq, though the New York Times recently reported that he was not the man in the photo.

"Anyone who has looked at the (conference) programme knows what this is all about," a U.S. embassy official said, declining to add any further comment.

A British embassy spokesman could not reached for comment.

Mahathir calls Bush, Blair killers worse than Saddam
February 5, 2007 / Japan Today

History should remember U.S. President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as war criminals, "killers of children" and liars worse than former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Monday.

Speaking at an antiwar conference organized by the Perdana Global Peace Organization Mahathir founded, he said the war against terror has killed far more people than the destruction wrought by the terrorists who attacked the New York World Trade Center in 2001.

"For the suicide pilots killing 3,000 people, 600,000 Afghans and Iraqis have been killed and will continue to be killed. I do not think we should sanction terror attacks, but neither can we sanction the cruel retaliation by powerful countries and their proxies against puny attacks by their victims," he told the conference.

Mahathir said Bush and Blair had sent humanity into the "Dark Ages" with their disregard for international human rights laws, their ill-treatment of prisoners of war and the use of torture. Mahathir recently established a tribunal made up of former judges and legal experts to hear victims' stories of abuses and torture in conflict zones such as Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territory.

The tribunal's judgment carries no legal weight, but Mahathir said that does not matter.

"Bush and Blair are now totally reviled and condemned by the world and by their own people. To a certain extent, they have been tried and sentenced by their own people and media. It was a trial in absentia," he said. "History will also judge them." "They should be accorded the names they deserve for the evil deeds they have committed...What is Blair if not the co-murderer of 500,000 children and the liar who told the British that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which could be launched against Britain within 45 minutes," he said.

"History should remember Blair and Bush as the killers of children or as the lying prime minister and president. What Blair and Bush have done is worse than what Saddam had done. We should not hang Blair if the tribunal finds him guilty, but he should always carry the label 'War Criminal, Killer of Children, Liar.' And so should Bush and the 'pocket Bush' of the bushlands of Australia," he added.

The "pocket Bush" refers to Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch ally of Bush who sent troops to Iraq. Mahathir also blasted the United States and other nuclear-weapon states for being hypocrites asking other countries not to develop nuclear weapons.