Resistance is key to justice against imperialist crimes — Utrecht Symposium

UTRECHT, 24-02-2015 — The revolutionary mass movement and the people’s organized resistance are the best measures in demanding justice for war crimes and imperialist crimes against humanity.

This is the summary of the lectures and discussions in the Symposium, “Demanding Justice for Imperialist Crimes against Humanity” held on 21 February at the Kargadoor in Utrecht, the Netherlands, organized by the Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands in cooperation with the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).

The panel of prestigious speakers included Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the ILPS; Diarmuid Mac Dubhghlais of the Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) of Ireland; Mohammed Khatib of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa’adat of Palestine; Luis Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines; and international crimes expert Jan Fermon of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

In his keynote speech, Sison discussed the context of the crimes against humanity committed principally by US imperialism, and how the inter-imperialist wars that have caused so much death and destruction have also led to the establishment of socialist countries led by the revolutionary parties of the working class.

He explained that the best defense of the people against imperialist crimes is for the people to build up the revolutionary mass movement, to initiate campaigns against oppression and exploitation, and build the people’s capacity for self-defense. Sison stressed that the most decisive struggle for the people to achieve genuine social justice is the armed struggle.

Mac Dubhghlais of the Republican Sinn Fein shared the Irish people’s continuing struggle against British imperialist occupation of northern Ireland — the occupied six counties. He explained that the Sinn Fein of Gerry Adams has long capitulated to the British and US imperialists, and given up on the aspirations for the liberation of the entire Ireland from foreign occupation. He said the so-called peace deal is a fallacy and the peace process is not working.

Mac Dubhghlais revealed that there are still many Irish prisoners of war (POWs), suffering inhumane treatment, and that their struggle is part of the struggle for freedom of the Irish people against British imperialist occupation. To date, tensions still grip the six occupied counties — British forces continue to harass and intimidate residents, and the torture and abuse of political prisoners continue.

He emphasized that the whole of Ireland — the occupied six counties and the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland — should be united by a single government of the Irish people.

Mohammed Khatib of the Campaign for Free Ahmad Sa’adat of Palestine also gave tribute to their Palestinian political prisoners and freedom fighters who he said are their icons and inspiration. Khatib said the Palestinian struggle is basically a struggle for their human rights. He reiterated that the state of Israel is based on colonialism and it is just for the people to resist.

Khatib said the Palestinian people, particularly the youth, are determined in their struggle as they persevere in organizing even for armed resistance.

Luis Jalandoni of the NDFP recounted that the most grievous war crime committed by US imperialism against the Filipino people was its war of aggression from 1899 to 1913, resulting in the death of 1.5 million Filipinos.

He said the US perpetrated all kinds of war crimes during this period, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and hamletting of populations, which would then be replicated in the Vietnam War. Jalandoni said the Filipino people, including the Moro people, valiantly resisted US imperialist armed aggression and occupation. In the case of the Moro people, he said, as a result of their resistance, the US aggressor troops carried out large-scale massacres in what came to be known as the Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak killings. Jalandoni revealed that these atrocities also met with firm denunciations from many Americans, including the writer Mark Twain.

Jalandoni went on to relate the continuing struggle of the Filipino peoples against US imperialism with the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968, the New People’s Army in 1969, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1973. He stressed that the legal victories of the people’s revolutionary mass movement in the urban centers have always been achieved side by side with the people’s armed resistance in the countryside. He said the strongest opposition to US imperialism is built on the ground by the armed revolutionary movement.

Lawyer Jan Fermon of the Progress Lawyers Network of Belgium emphasized the importance of waging legal struggles, even as he called for people to get rid of the obscene and criminal justice system. He said that despite the fact that very few individuals actually control the majority of the wealth and political power in the planet, there are still mechanisms to get justice for victims of imperialism.

He enumerated as examples the Geneva Conventions and the statute of the Nuremberg Court, that may be used to prosecute imperialist crimes, while at the same time calling for the need to fully restore the international legal framework that was borne out of the anti-fascist struggle.

Fermon also cited several UN bodies, the UN special Rapporteurs and the international people’s tribunals where grievances against imperialist crimes could be ventilated and made known to the public. He cited the successful prosecution of governments, political leaders and multinational corporations as inspirations in the legal arena. He stressed however that the legal struggle is secondary to the people’s mass movement in terms of effectiveness in exposing and prosecuting imperialist crimes. He pointed out that the fight against imperialism is mainly the people’s fight, and progressive lawyers are there only to lend assistance.

The forum drew the participation of Dutch students and solidarity activists, and anti-imperialist militants from various countries — the US, Canada, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Palestine, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Malcolm Guy, General Secretary of the ILPS, presided over the discussions.


Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands
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