Thursday, October 05, 2006

 

Day Four

Day four - Thursday

This morning saw Phil sworn in and giving his 'evidence in chief', first being questioned by Ed Rees, defence QC. He confirmed that a lot of evidence that would otherwise be brought in his defence had already been covered in T's evidence. One area that they did pay particular attention to was Phil's understanding of what would be the effects of the 'Shock and Awe' bombardment, based on his knowledge of the pre-existing situation in Iraq. This was partly information from close friends who had been there, also information from Denis Halliday. Mr Halliday, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General (1994-98) resigned from the UN October 1998 while serving in Baghdad as Head of the UN Humanitarian Programme. His resignation came after a 34 year career, much spent with UNDP, to enable him to speak publicly in opposition to the genocidal sanctions sustained on the people of Iraq from 1991 to 2003 by the UN Security Council

Phil described Iraq as 'a country already on its knees' after the first Gulf War and subsequent punitive sanctions. The medical, transport, power and sanitation infrastructures were severely degraded, or simply not functioning. The effect of the planned bombardment would be horrific, further damaging all of these services which are vital in all modern societies, and would be even more so in the event of war. How would civilians be able to escape conflict zones without transport, or get medical attention after the attack if hospitals couldn't function, or avoid hunger and disease without power supplies and readily available clean water? It is Phil's understanding that one of the aims of the 'Shock and Awe' attack would be to destroy the morale of Iraqi civilians, which in the terms of the Geneva Conventions would be unlawful. He referred to a letter to the Guardian from former Air Marshal Sir Timothy Garden, Visiting Professor at The Centre for Defence Studies, King's College, London. The letter stated that in the terms of international law which govern the conduct of war "Force used must be proportionate, and civilians must not be targeted. Indeed targets selected must be justified on the basis that they contribute to the enemy's military effort. Weapons must not cause unnecessary suffering, and they must be able to discriminate between civilian and military targets. As the British Defence Doctrine manual reminds its readers: 'The morale of an enemy's civilian population is not a legitimate target and attacks designed to spread terror among the civilian population are expressly prohibited.' "

Phil confirmed that his principal aim in trying to damage bombers at Fairford was to try to stop cluster weapons and bombs containing Depleted Uranium from being dropped on Iraqi civilians. He also hoped that damaging bombers and perhaps causing the base to be closed might cause sufficient delay that the 'weather window', during which the war could begin, would pass, allowing more time for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

A further aim was to communicate to personnel at RAF Fairford that they might be complicit in the commission of war crimes, and that they could choose not to be.

Asked about the video he and T had made and included in evidence packs they took with them, he said that he believed that many of the thousands of people who marched against the war felt helpless and hopeless, unable to do anything else to stop it. He wanted the video, among other things, to stimulate people to consider that they might be able to take further action.

His underlying philosophy is to communicate clearly, reasonably, proportionately, and above all peacefully.

And on that note, we'll finish for now. More on Phil's evidence tomrrow.






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