Islamic Human Rights Commission
27th April 2001
BRITISH GOVERNMENT WELCOMES WAR CRIMINAL
ISRAELI PM, ARIEL SHARON, TO VISIT UNITED KINGDOM
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has received information that the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be visiting the United Kingdom shortly. IHRC is extremely concerned at how the British Government appears willing to welcome a war criminal of Sharon’s standing into the country as a political ally.
International law demands that Ariel Sharon should be prosecuted and indicted for his long record of atrocities against the Palestinian and Lebanese people. As Israeli defence minister in 1982, Sharon directly ordered the deliberate bombardment of residential areas in Beirut, Sidon and other Lebanese cities the Israeli invasion, killing thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. He also oversaw the siege of west Beirut, deliberately depriving civilian residents of food, water, safe passage and access to medical care. Along with other Israeli officials, Sharon was responsible for arming, training and protecting the perpetrators of the genocidal massacres of Palestinian and Lebanese refugees in Sabra and Shatila camps in September 1982. These acts constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Having become Israeli Prime Minister, Sharon has already ordered measures which further violate the Fourth Geneva Convention including blockades which have reduced the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied territories to extreme poverty and in some areas near starvation, and resulted in deaths due to deliberate deprivation of access to medical care.
The international community has isolated Austrian leader Jorg Haider due to his fascist leanings and indicted Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes. Failing to apply standards of justice to other perpetrators of war crimes such as Israel, is evidence of a gross double standard among those who claim to advocate human rights. It supports the perception that the United Kingdom as well as the international community at large, is willing to tolerate atrocities against innocent civilians as long as they are committed by the leaders of friendly regimes.
IHRC calls on campaigners to write to the Prime Minister protesting against Sharon’s visit to the United Kingdom, and exhorting the Government to prosecute the Israeli war criminal if his visit goes ahead. Please write to the following address:
Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
Please see the specimen campaign letter to the Prime Minister attached below.
Specimen Letter to Prime Minister
Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
Ariel Sharon’s Visit to the United Kingdom
I am writing because I have heard that the new Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, may visit the United Kingdom soon.
I think it is disgusting that the British Government would consider allowing a killer responsible for genocide to enter the country. You are surely aware that as Israeli Minister of Defence, Ariel Sharon led the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 1982 which resulted in the slaughter an estimated 30,000 civilians. During the occupation of Beirut, Israeli-backed Christian militias entered the Sabra and Shatila camps and slaughtered in some estimates up to 3,000 unarmed Palestinian refugees. An Israeli inquiry found Sharon among other Israelis responsible for the massacres.
More recently, as new Israeli Prime Minister, Sharon has masterminded the bombing of several Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip – killing around 50 Palestinians and demolishing dozens of Palestinian homes – and commanded the recent bombing of southern Lebanon. To allow him into the UK as a political leader will legitimize his past and continuing crimes.
If the international community is willing to exclude fascist politicians such as Austrian leader Jorg Haider, then a perpetrator of genocide and war crimes such as Sharon should be similarly excluded. Furthermore, just as the Serbian war criminal Milosevic has been indicted for his war crimes and, at last, arrested, war criminals such as Ariel Sharon must also be arrested and tried for their crimes. We cannot allow those responsible for acts of genocide to go unpunished when international law explicitly calls for the prosecution of such individuals, nor can we tolerate their heinous crimes by welcoming them with open arms.
As a known war criminal, Sharon must at least be excluded by the international community, not welcomed – and if he is to enter the country, then international law demands that this should only occur in the event that he be prosecuted for his crimes.