16. Summary of the Second Session

FIRST, on the complicity of Japan, Thailand and the Philippines:

1. The American army, in utilizing the land, naval and air bases of Okinawa, in disposing of all Japan for the movement of its troops, in taking advantage of Japan's highly developed technical capacity and abundant equipment for the repair of its war and merchant fleets and planes and for all kinds of supplies and equipment, has made Japan, with the complicity of its government, one of the essential elements of its strategic system in its struggle against Vietnam. As Mr Stennis, chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee of the US Senate, has declared, without the help of Japan, `operations in south-east Asia would encounter serious difficulties'. Already, during the Stockholm session, the Tribunal condemned the complicity of Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. Concerning this last country, the Tribunal received precise evidence that it was not only an accomplice to the crime of aggression, but that its army had committed war crimes. The Tribunal has not received information on this point as to the armed forces of the other accomplice powers.
     2. From the reports and documents furnished to the Tribunal, it is clear that the government of Thailand has afforded the United States diplomatic help, that it has offered it the possibility of setting up bases on its territory from which are launched the most murderous American air attacks against Vietnam. These bases are extremely valuable to the USA because they make it possible to bombard Vietnam under infinitely easier and more economical conditions, and with lesser risks for the pilots. Finally, the Thai government has completed its complicity by sending to South Vietnam an expeditionary corps, fighting directly by the side of the American armies. The complicity of the Thai government {344} is likewise direct, as concerns the acts of aggression against Cambodia and Laos of which we shall speak later.
     3. The government of the Philippines, whose policies are almost totally aligned with the policy of the United States, affords the latter the use of the bases which it has kept on the territory of the Philippines, after the accession of that country to a purely formal independence. It is rightly that the Philippines have been qualified as a typical example of a state under the neo-colonial domination of the United States. In addition, the government of the Philippines has sent troops to South Vietnam; this contingent is at the present time 2,000 men strong and it will undoubtedly be augmented.

SECOND, on the use of prohibited weapons and products:

The Tribunal wishes to recall the uncontested principles of the law of nations, as well as those which were set down in The Hague in 1907, and with respect to which the legality of a weapon must be appraised: the principle of the immunity of the civilian population, the prohibition on the use of toxic products, the prohibition of weapons that may cause superfluous harm. It has attached a special importance to the Martens clause, which appears in the preamble of the Hague Conventions of 1907, and according to which the law of war depends on the principles of the law of nations resulting from the usages established between the civilized nations, the laws of humanity and the requirements of the human conscience. It is in the application of these principles that the official manual of the American army (Department of the Army field manual) entitled The Law of Land Warfare, published in July 1956 under the reference FM 27-10, by the Department of the Army, makes it an obligation for campaigning armies not to use any kind and degree of violence not really necessary for military objectives and aims.
     The Tribunal has already condemned in Stockholm the use of fragmentation bombs (CBU bombs and pellet bombs), which are by definition intended to strike civilian populations, being inoperative against installations or protected military men. It has been informed that the use of these weapons has become intensified {345} and that they have been perfected in the form of delayed-action bombs.

The Tribunal wants today to condemn:
     The wholesale and indiscriminate use of napalm, which has been abundantly demonstrated before the Tribunal.
     The use of phosphorus, the burns of which are even more painful and prolonged and have, in addition, the effects of a poison on the organism.
     As for the use of gases, the Tribunal considers that the failure of the United States to ratify the Geneva Protocol of 17 June 1925, concerning the prohibition of the use in war of toxic or similar asphyxiating gases, is without effect, as a result of the voting by the General Assembly of the United Nations (a vote joined in by the United States) on the resolution of 5 December 1966, inviting all states to conform to the principles and objectives of the said Protocol, and condemning all acts contrary to these objectives.
     The scientific reports of the most qualified experts, which have been submitted to the Tribunal, demonstrate that the gases used in Vietnam, in particular CS, CN and DM, are used under conditions which make them always toxic and often deadly, especially when they are blown into the hideouts, shelters and underground tunnels where a large part of the Vietnamese population is forced to live. It is impossible to classify them as simple incapacitating gases; they must be classified as combat gases.
     The Tribunal has studied the current practice of the American army consisting of spraying defoliating or herbicidal products over entire regions in Vietnam. It has noted that the American manual on the law of war already cited forbids destroying, in particular by chemical agents - even those theoretically non-harmful to man - any crops that are not intended to be used exclusively for the food of the armed forces.
     It has found that the reports of the investigative commissions confirmed the information, from both Vietnamese and American sources, according to which considerable areas of cultivated land are sprayed by these defoliating and herbicidal products. At least 700,000 hectares [about 1,750,000 acres] of ground were affected in 1966. {346}

THIRD, on the treatment of prisoners of war:

The Tribunal recalls that prisoners of war must receive humane treatment, under conditions which are defined by the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which the United States has signed, and the terms of which it has incorporated in its own manual of the law of war. Tortures, mutilations and serious physical and mental coercion are not only prohibited but must be punished. The prisoner is entitled to life and to the medical aid that his state requires.
     Numerous testimonies, both Vietnamese and American, were heard (among the American witnesses was a former soldier whose function for ten months had been to question prisoners from the time of their capture), and it was established that these principles are a dead letter for the Americans in Vietnam. The finishing off of the wounded on the battlefield and summary executions are frequent. Prisoners are thrown into the air from helicopters. Torture in all forms, by electricity, water, burns and blows, is practised daily. All the witnesses have confirmed that these practices always occur in the presence and under the direction of American soldiers, even when they do not themselves participate. These tortures are aimed at obtaining information or confessions. Medical care is systematically refused to the wounded and ill who refuse to speak.
     Finally, in contempt of the provisions of the Geneva Convention, the prisoners held by the United States, which is the detaining power within the meaning of this Convention, are handed over to the authorities of the so-called Saigon government, which engages in a dreadful repression accompanied by acts of torture, numerous examples of which have been furnished, including those in which women are frightfully tortured.

FOURTH, on the treatment of civilian populations:

The Convention of the Hague of 1907, the Nuremberg and Tokyo judgements, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 4th Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, lay down the undeniable principle of the protection of civilian persons in time of war. The manual of the law of war of the American army includes {347} as one of its parts the entire 4th Convention of Geneva, the binding character of which is undeniable.
     The Tribunal heard: the testimony of three American veterans, the report of the interrogations undertaken by its investigative mission in the United States, some Vietnamese victims, the report to the investigating mission of the Tribunal in the areas controlled by the NLF (which has collected 317 depositions, the minutes of which have been put into its files) and an important witness, a citizen of the German Federal Republic, who has lived several years in South Vietnam. It considers that the following facts are established:
     First, in the course of raiding operations which take place both systematically and permanently, thousands of inhabitants are massacred. According to serious information from American sources, 250,000 children have been killed since the beginning of this war, and 750,000 wounded and mutilated for life. Senator [Edward] Kennedy's report, 31 October 1967, points out that 150,000 wounded can be found every month. Villages are entirely levelled, fields are devastated, livestock destroyed; in particular, the testimony of the American journalist Jonathan Schell describes in a startling way the extermination by the American forces of the population of the Vietnamese village of Ben Suc and its complete destruction. Precise testimony and documents that have been put before the Tribunal have reported the existence of free-fire zones, where everything that moves is considered hostile which amounts to saying that the entire population is taken as a target.
     Second, one third of the population of Vietnam has been displaced according to the very terms of the address of Senator Kennedy at the International Rescue Committee, and shut up in the strategic hamlets which are now baptized new life hamlets. The living conditions, according to published reports that have been brought to the Tribunal's attention, are close to those of a concentration-camp life. The interned - women and children in most cases - are parked like cattle behind barbed-wire fences. Food and hygiene are almost entirely lacking, which often makes survival impossible. The social structures and traditional structures of the Vietnamese families are thus destroyed. One must also take account of the fact of the impressive number of prisoners held in the {348} jails of South Vietnam - 400,000 according to estimates that are worthy of attention. Arbitrary arrests, parodies of justice, interrogations accompanied by abominable tortures, are current practice. All the testimony agrees in establishing that inhuman and illegal methods are daily being used by the American armed forces and their satellites against the civilian populations, who are thus threatened with extermination.

FIFTH, on the extension of the war to Laos and Cambodia:

As a corollary to the American aggression in Vietnam, the security of the two neighbouring countries is seriously compromised.
     1. The Laotian people are plunged into war by the direct extension on their territory of American aggression. On the one hand, the violation of the Geneva Agreements on Indochina of 1954, like those of the Geneva Agreements on Laos of 1962, and the support given by the governments of the United States and of Thailand to the local pro-American forces, constitute a blatant intervention in the domestic affairs of Laos, and have revived the war in Laotian territory. Moreover, military personnel of the United States and its satellites - South Vietnamese and Thai - have been introduced into Laos, transforming the part of the territory controlled by the Vientiane Administration into a military base in the service of American aggression, both against Vietnam and against the rest of Laos. Finally, American planes that leave from bases situated in Thailand regularly assault the Laotian population, accumulating deaths and ruin.
     2. Cambodia, as the Tribunal has emphasized in its Stockholm judgement, is the victim of repeated violations of its frontiers perpetrated by the armed forces of Thailand and of the government of Saigon, in the pay of the United States. It is also the victim of repeated bombings, both aerial and artillery, from the American forces. The situation analysed in Stockholm has only become aggravated, and the heaviest menace hangs over the Kingdom of Cambodia, as its Chief of State has pointed out to the Tribunal.

SIXTH, on genocide:

The Tribunal adopted the following statement by Jean-Paul Sartre.

{349}

Back to Table of Contents

Scanning & HTML Rae West. Zipfile 98-01-31