International Peace Research Association (IPRA)
and the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA),
affirm Tribunal findings that the USA is Guilty of Genocide;
Calls for a National Truth Commission on the effects of White Supremacy
28 January 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Matt Meyer, Secretary General (IPRA)
Amber Crossen, IPRA Associate firstname.lastname@example.org
International Panel of Jurists Convenes to Oversee Tribunal on US Human Rights Abuses Against Black, Brown and Indigenous Peoples, 22-25 October 2021
In the spirit and legacy of the Russell Courts on Vietnam (1966-67) and Latin America (1973-76), and the Permanent People’s Tribunals which followed (1979-present), a newly constituted panel of Jurists from the fields of law and human rights has assembled to oversee the International Tribunal on US Human Rights Abuses Against Black, Brown, and Indigenous Peoples, to take place from 22-25 October 2021 in New York City and virtually. As experts in the inter-related fields of institutional and structural racism, colonialism and neocolonialism, women’s and children’s rights, minorities rights, Indigenous treaties and international law, self-determination and sovereignty processes, and the genocide conventions, the Panel of Jurists asserts itself as an independent and non-governmental body which will convene to hear testimony based on a broad indictment served to the accused US federal and state parties.
The International Tribunal itself derives from an historic legacy and trajectory, initiated by a US- based coalition, In the Spirit of Mandela. Created in 2018, the coalition recognizes and affirms the rich history of diverse activists including Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, Graca Machel Mandela, Ella Baker, Dennis Banks, Cesar Chavez, Fannie Lou Hamer, Fred Korematsu, Lolita Lebron, Rosa Parks, Ingrid Washinawatok, and many more in the resistance traditions of Black, Brown and Indigenous Peoples. Though fully independent and separate from the In the Spirit of Mandela coalition, the Panel of Jurists recognizes the important experiences which have shaped the petitioners’ charges against US government agencies.
2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the campaign in which African American leaders Paul Robeson and William Patterson, with the support of eminent sociologist Dr. WEB DuBois, presented the “We Charge Genocide” petition to the burgeoning United Nations headquarters. A decade later, Minister Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity, in part to bring the case of US human rights abuses to the attention of the UN. The Tribunal itself will be held at UN headquarters and the Church Center for the UN, but hearings and community testimony will also take place at the site of Malcolm X’s assassination, the now-refurbished and Columbia University-affiliated Malcolm and Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Harlem.
The Panel of Jurists is composed of nine members, with representatives including a South African former Member of Parliament; a Board Member of the distinguished Nobel Peace Laureate organization with an unprecedented dozen Nobel Peace officer awardees; a Puerto Rican legal scholar who serves as an expert for the UN Special Committee on Decolonization; a UN representative of the oldest inter-faith pacifist organization in the world; an internationally-accredited expert on genocide; the director of the only peoples-centered US human rights network with ECOSOC status and consistent UN advocacy; the youngest elected Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and leader of UNITY/the United National Indian Tribal Youth; and the former Chair of the United Nations Working Group on People of African Descent and a judge of the Permanent People’s Tribunal. They are majority women and majority global south rooted, from India, Eritrea, Haiti, France, Puerto Rico, the USA and elsewhere.
These jurists will preside over two days of testimonies from impacted victims, expert witnesses, and attorneys with firsthand knowledge of specific incidences raised in the charges/indictment. The Tribunal will be evaluating charges of human and civil rights violations on the basis of the following five areas:
Police killings of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people,
Hyper/mass incarcerations of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people,
Political incarceration of Civil Rights/National Liberation era revolutionaries and
revolutionaries and activists, as well as present day activists,
Environmental racism and its impact disparities and its impact on Black, Brown, and
Public health racism and its traumatic impacts
As a result of the historic and systemic charges of all the above, the overarching charge of genocide is also being evaluated. The Panel of Jurists will announce its Verdict following deliberations and discussions, planned
for delivery at the United Nations on Monday, 25 October 2021.
Following the October 2021 Verdict of the International Tribunal on US Human Rights Abuses Against Black, Brown and Indigenous Peoples, IPRA and PJSA - the world’s oldest and largest consortium of interdisciplinary professors, researchers, and students working on pressing issues related to sustainable peace - has adopted the Tribunal decision finding the US Guilty of Genocide based on five counts of specific crimes against humanity. The Associations call on US communities, policymakers, and institutional leaders to build towards a Truth Commission on White Supremacy, based in part on the work of Dr. Alexander Hinton, award-winning anthropologist and Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, UNESCO Chair on Genocide Prevention. Hinton, one of the few US-based members of the independent Tribunal’s Panel of Jurists, authored a noted essay on “Why We Need a Truth Commission on White Supremacy”(Sapiens Magazine) last May, now adopted by PJSA as a Call to Action.
In addition, Hinton recently released an op-ed in Politico, marking the 70th anniversary of the historic “We Charge Genocide” petition submitted to the United Nations by Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, William Patterson and a coalition of African American scholars and their allies in December 1951. In his Politico essay, “70 Years Ago Black Activists Accused the U.S. of Genocide. They Should Have Been Taken Seriously”, Hinton discusses the history of that petition, which accuses the United States of genocide based on the UN Genocide Convention. Documenting its submission to the then-new United Nations, the article spotlights the subsequent smear campaign taken on by prominent political figures, including Eleanor Roosevelt, to discredit the petitioners and their claims.
In addition to the vital historical overview, Hinton uses his piece to lift up the framework that was created by the petition and demonstrates how contemporary society and politics can make use of the petition’s legacy to redress the crimes against Black Americans as the population continues to face inequities in almost all areas of life.
“70 years later, the document has a new resonance amid the patent injustices of police brutality that continue to occur and racial inequities in health care on display especially throughout the pandemic. “We Charge Genocide” explored these kinds of issues at length, making a compelling case for thinking about structural racism as genocide, which demands not only condemnation but also redress and repair.” wrote Hinton in Politico.
The 2021 Tribunal Panel of Jurists, which heard testimony from over thirty expert witnesses and reviewed hundreds of documents in proceedings held in New York City and virtually, issued a summary Verdict which is currently being developed into a full decision based on international law and human rights practices. The Panel, composed of internationally esteemed legal scholars, human rights advocates, academics and faith leaders, was supported by IPRA and PJSA, and organized by the Spirit of Mandela (SoM) coalition. Though initiated primarily by US-based activists from the Black and Puerto Rican movements, the SoM took its name in deference to the South African freedom fighters (Nelson, Winnie, and Graca Machel Mandela) whose leadership have set global standards for practical peace and justice policies. The Tribunal opened with a support statement from South African Princess Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, Ambassador and daughter of Winnie and Nelson.
Another prominent progeny, Dr. Mary Louise Patterson - daughter of petitioner William L. Patterson - provided direct testimony at the 2021 Tribunal. “70 years ago my father co-authored and courageously advanced a petition that charged the us government with genocide for what other label would accurately describe the near annihilation then betrayal banishment and erasure of the first of the all right erasure of the remaining First Nation Peoples followed by the stealing of their children and or the 400 plus years of terror and indescribable, heinous brutality towards the offspring of the millions of violently kidnapped Africans, and the racism and discrimination of Latinx Americans. There is no other label for all of those crimes other than genocide.” said Patterson during her testimony.
Though a leading global expert on the genocide which took place in Cambodia (April 1975 – January 1979), Jurist Alex Hinton has more recently turned his lens on the U.S., examining the white-supremacist movement. His latest book, It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US, focuses on the crimes and experiences of white supremacy within the nation which purports to be “home of the free” and birthplace of modern democracy. In 2022, Hinton’s work continued to assert, in the OpinioJuris website published in association with the International Association of Jurists, that this Black Genocide so foundational to US history still “shatters the limits of law.”
“In order to make the vision of democracy and ideals of peace a reality, we must deeply engage with the critiques of Hinton, Patterson, and the Tribunal,” noted Matt Meyer, IPRA Secretary General and PJSA Founding Co-chair. “If we wish to carry on the legacy of the original ‘We Charge Genocide” authors and their work to bring justice and safety to targeted communities, then our nation must commit to owning our injustices, facing the truth, and creating systems to forge an equitable future. At IPRA, we are dedicated to working with academics, esteemed legal scholars, faith leaders, and human rights advocates like Alex Hinton, to make the future based on justice for all.”