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Monday, 18 March 2013

Russell Tribunal on Palestine - Final Session

At its final session in Brussels on 16/17 March 2013, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine ended its four-year examination of third party complicity in Israeli violations of International Law.

The Tribunal concludes that it will support all initiatives from civil society and international organisations aimed at bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court. It calls for the ICC to recognise Palestinian jurisdiction and for the organisation of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Israeli Apartheid.

Other key Recommendations issued by the Tribunal include:
•A reconstitution of the United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid
•Further criminal investigations of corporations aiding and abetting Israeli violations such as the police raid on the Dutch construction equipment company Riwal [1]
•The establishment of an international committee of former Political Prisoners to campaign on Prisoner issues
•To support civil society in using the tribunal’s findings to undertake direct actions aimed at confronting state, institutional and corporate complicity with Israel’s crimes.

For a full list of recommendations see: http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/sessions/final-session/short-findings-of-the-final-session

Jury member Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters said: “The Russell Tribunal is a glimmering light at the end of the tunnel. If you think that what it says is wrong, go to Palestine, go to the refugee camps and judge for yourself. Until then, you’re only speaking of your own prejudices. I feel I can speak because I have witnessed the horror of Israeli Apartheid, I am speaking from personal experience”.

He added: “Many artists that I am in contact with want to speak out and would like to honour the Palestinian call for a cultural Boycott of Israel but are terrified of doing so. They must be braver. We have won the argument and now we, civil society, have to force States, institutions and international organisations to take action”.

Waters has written an open letter to international musicians and Shuki Weiss – Israel’s premier music promoter. The letter encourages musicians to respect the Palestinian and Israeli calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (2)

Civil rights activist Angela Davis, also a member of the jury, said: “As we originally drew inspiration from English philosopher Bertrand Russell, we now follow in the footsteps of the late St├ęphane Hessel, who combined resistance with integrity, solidarity and advocacy. We have all become advocates for Palestinian and universal human rights from the grassroots to the highest levels”.

Pierre Galland, General Co-ordinator of the RToP said:

“This closing session does not represent the end of our activities, but a new beginning. In the future, the people’s court will work to check that its recommendations and conclusions are integrated into advocacy, activism and legal claims”.

Fadwa Barghouti echoed the words of her husband Parliamentarian Marwan Barghouti, writing from prison where he is serving five life sentences for resisting Occupation: “I salute the fighter, the diplomat, the writer, who is supporting our struggle. And those rising up in the Arab world against tyranny – their dream has filled us with hope. The Russell Tribunal is a key tool in supporting is in reaching our goal of Justice and Peace based on International Law”.

The ‘Peoples’ Tribunal’, in its four years of activities, examined third party complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights under international law. Under scrutiny were the United Nations and American veto power, corporate complicity, European Union collusion, and the Crime of Apartheid, with sessions taking place in New York City, London, Barcelona and Cape Town.

A comprehensive body of evidence spanning four years of enquiry included testimony from the World over, from barristers, ambassadors, and civil servants to Human Rights workers, farmers, factory labourers and poets. (3)

Jury Members have included, among others, American Indian Movement founder Denis Banks, Former anti-apartheid resistance fighter and government minister Ronald Kasrils and Mairead Maguire, Irish Nobel Laureate.

British Queen’s Counsel, Professor and Barrister Michael Mansfield was among the wide array of legal experts for the Tribunal. He said: “The tribunal as an initiative may be at an end but our international legal and civil society co-operation will continue. Tribunal Patron Stephane Hessel would want us to continue until Self-Determination is achieved for the Palestinian People – we will follow his example and his legacy shall live on in our ongoing work for justice for the Palestinians”.

See also

[1] http://electronicintifada.net/content/dutch-company-raided-over-involvement-occupation/9076

(2) http://www.bdsmovement.net/  and http://boycottisrael.info/

(3) Tribunal witnesses have included: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, world-known philosopher and historian Noam Chomsky, Nobel Prize nominee Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Raji Sourani, and Cindy Corrie, mother of American peace activist Rachel Corrie who was bulldozed to death by the Israel Army 10 years ago.

Maurizio Molinari