News Release

* Torture * Geneva Convention * Former Diplomats’ Letter * Praying for Peace

LISA HAJJAR
Hajjar wrote the article “Torture and the Future.” She said today: “Bush has finally issued statements apologizing for the treatment of Iraqis, for the ‘humiliation’ and ‘abuse’ that have shocked many. But he is not accurately describing what has been happening. It was torture; we are now finding that it has been systemic and rampant, according to an investigative report by U.S. Army General Antonio Taguba … Torture has a legal definition and consequences, and Bush is attempting to shield his administration from those consequences.” Hajjar, who teaches in the Law and Society Program at the University of California-Santa Barbara, chairs the editorial committee of Middle East Report.
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GEORGE HISHMEH
Hishmeh is a columnist for the Gulf News and Jordan Times. He said today: “There is not an Arab leader who wants to be seen as allied with the Bush administration at this moment. They are afraid of losing support in their own countries.”
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JOHN QUIGLEY
Professor of law at Ohio State University and author of Palestine and Israel, Quigley said today: “Many have expressed concern that the Geneva Civilians Convention be followed in our treatment of detainees in Iraq. However, Bush’s April 14 endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plans for the West Bank and Gaza Strip amounts to backing of violations of the Geneva Convention. Bush repeated this endorsement today. Just as we are an occupant in Iraq, Israel is an occupant in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Geneva Convention applies in both situations. In addition to prohibiting the mistreatment of detainees, the Geneva Convention prohibits bringing one’s own people to establish settlements. Yet in his April 14 letter to Mr. Sharon, President Bush stated, ‘In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.’ Instead of regarding the settlements as unlawful, as the United States Department of State did in the 1970s when they were first being established, President Bush refers to them as a new reality. Instead of something to be dismantled, they are to be accepted as a fait accompli. The settlements could not have been built without the large subsidies the United States gives Israel. The United States itself is therefore implicated in violating the Geneva Convention in the construction of settlements by Israel.”
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JILLIAN SCHWEDLER
Professor of politics at the University of Maryland, Schwedler is author of “Don’t Blink: Jordan’s Democratic Opening and Closing” and other articles on the Mideast.
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EUGENE BIRD
President of the Council for the National Interest, Bird is one of 60 former U.S. diplomats who recently distributed a letter critical of Bush’s Mideast policies. It expressed concern over Bush’s “endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral plan to reject the rights of three million Palestinians, to deny the right of refugees to return to their homeland, and to retain five large illegal settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank. This plan defies U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for Israel’s return of occupied territories. It ignores international laws declaring Israeli settlements illegal. It flouts U.N. Resolution 194, passed in 1948, which affirms the right of refugees to return to their homes or receive compensation for the loss of their property and assistance in resettling in a host country should they choose to do so. And it undermines the Road Map for peace drawn up by the Quartet, including the U.S. Finally, it reverses long-standing American policy in the Middle East.”
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REV. GRAYLAN S. HAGLER
After meeting with King Abdullah, Bush is participating in events for the National Day of Prayer. Hagler is national president of Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice and is pastor at the Plymouth Congregational Church UCC in Washington, D.C. He said today: “Prayers for peace without prayers for peace with justice is an empty and hollow intonation towards the Divine. The foreign policy agenda of this administration has neither led to peace or justice. Peace is not the absence of conflict but it is the presence of justice. But where is the justice or the peace when the U.S. continues to prosecute a war orchestrated on a false premise? Where is the justice when photographs of abused and dehumanized Iraqi prisoners held by the U.S. are shown around the world? Where is the peace when Bush backs Sharon’s policy of leaving intact major settlements deep within Palestinian territories? God cares only for peace that is pregnant with justice. If Bush prays for peace it needs to be full of the components that respect all of God’s creatures and their right to self-determination and dignity, something that is questionable that the president and his administration understand.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020