The project War Criminal is a psychic warfare exercise instigated in 2003. It will remain in operation until such time as the individuals it accuses, Tony Blair and George W Bush, are brought to justice in an appropriate international war crimes tribunal.
Since I designed these images, they have been put to use as placards in demonstrations in Europe, USA, Australia and Latin America. They gained international news coverage when former soccer star Diego Maradona wore one these images on a t-shirt when he appeared with Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela at an anti-Bush rally in Argentina.
In 2003, I designed twin portraits of George W Bush and Tony Blair as war criminals. These were put to immediate use as placards in an anti-war demonstration in London. I also made the images available for free download on a couple of activist web sites. I soon heard they were being used as placards in a demonstration in Washington DC.
In November 2005, I opened my newspaper to find a reproduction of one of the images I'd designed, adorning the shirt of soccer superstar turned Third World activist Diego Maradona in an anti-Bush demonstration in Argentina. Images of Maradona bearing this image were prominent throughout the international news headlines on November 5th.
Subsequently, I made the images available in a variety of formats through a print- on-demand Internet company in the USA making a variety of household items - they can now be purchased as badges t shirts, beer mugs, dog blankets. This page documents the ecology and democratic use of these two signs.
Tony Blair has committed British forces to five wars in six years - 'Desert Fox' against Iraq (1998), Serbia(1999), Sierra Leone(2000), Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).
In the invasion of Iraq, George W Bush, supported by the mainstream corporate media, has hidden behind the semantics of "pre-emption." Under international law, a pre-emptive strike is allowed when a nation is preparing for an imminent attack. Bush would be hard pressed to establish that the Iraqi military was an imminent threat to the U.S. Iraq was a defeated, heavily impoverished nation, under economic sanctions and restricted by U.S.- enforced no-fly zones in both its north and south.
Bush's key advisors include the likes of Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, who have been publicly waging a campaign to attack Iraq since the end of the first Gulf War in 1991. A quick visit to the Project for a New American Century website www.newamericancentury.org establishes their blatant disregard for both the UN Charter and Nuremberg principles.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq has left the country in a state of chaos, there are no signs that American or British troops are about to withdraw or hand real power back to any Iraqis, relations with Europe have been thrown into disarray, Britain's special position within the UN system has been undermined, a new front for international terrorism and al-Qaeda has been opened up. The number of civilian deaths in Iraq since the allied invasion is estimated here:
To date, the former heads of state and heads of government that have been charged with war crimes include Karl Dönitz of Germany, ex-Prime Minister Hideki Tojo of Japan and former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is currently on trial accused of committing War Crimes as is former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloevic.
On July 1, 2002 the International Criminal Court, a treaty based court located in The Hague, came into being for the prosecution of war crimes committed on or after that date. However, several nations, most notably the United States, China, and Israel, have criticized the court, refused to participate in it or permit the court to have jurisdiction over their citizens.
The legalities of war have sometimes been accused of containing favoritism toward the winners, as certain controversies have not been ruled as war crimes. Some examples include the United States' use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II; the Indonesian occupation of East Timor between 1976 and 1999.
|War Criminal video documentation
A number of simple placards were printed from original artwork made in a combination of Photoshop and splattered acrylic paint.
In style, the portraits of Bush and Blair resemble the kind of hand-tinted photographs to be found on early 20th century picture postcards, an aesthetic that reflects the nostalgic public image the friendly-faced politicians have exploited.
|Street demonstrations against the Iraq war.
In November 2005, the George Bush image appeared in the world's press, printed on a sweatshirt worn by the soccer superstar Diego Maradona in an anti-Bush demonstration in Argentina.
I presume that someone in South America, perhaps Maradona himself, has downloaded the image and printed it onto his sweatshirt.
Following up from the surprise media exposure, I further recycled the images. I set up a virtual stall at the print-on-demand Café Press site offering the Bush and Blair images for sale on baby clothes, mugs, mouse-mats and dog blankets.
In September 2005, John Catt, an 80-year-old peace campaigner, was stopped by police officers as a terrorist suspect in Brighton for wearing a T-shirt with anti-Blair and Bush slogans. Mr Catt, who served in the RAF during the Second World War, was stopped, searched by police and made to sign a form confirming he had been interviewed under the Terrorism Act.
The official record of the encounter confirms that the "purpose" of the search was "terrorism" and the "grounds for intervention" were "carrying plackard and T-shirt with anti-Blair info" (sic). Mr Catt was offered a caution by police, but refused and plans to plead not guilty at a trial due to start in January 2006.
In December 2005 in three different British courtrooms, three ordinary people stood accused of three different crimes, all based simply on their opposition to the war in Iraq.
In the first case of its kind, Maya Evans, 25, received a criminal conviction for standing outside Downing Street and reading aloud the names of the 97 British soldiers who have died in the Iraq conflict.
At the same time as Maya Evans, 25, appeared in court to become the first person to be found guilty under the legislation designed to create an exclusion zone around Parliament Square, Douglas Barker, 72, a retired businessman from Wiltshire, was told by a magistrate that he faces jail for withholding part of his income tax on his investments, also in protest over Iraq.
In a third courtroom in Aldershot, a military judge heard that Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, 37, an RAF medical officer based in Scotland, faced a court martial for refusing to serve in Iraq on the basis that the war was illegal.
BRING THOSE RESPONSIBLE TO ACCOUNT
On 7th December 2005 Tony Benn and forty three others, including Rose Gentle, Reg Keys, Harold Pinter, and Michael Mansfield QC, sent a letter to The UN and to the UK Attorney General asking them to investigate breaches of The Nuremberg Charter and Geneva and Hague Conventions during the Iraq War, and to bring those responsible to account. The UK is obliged as a Signator to The Conventions to investigate these charges.
STOP THE WAR asks you to join as supplementary signatories by e-mail, or post. We want these signatures to be without end or time limit, and, as citizens of the UK, to make it clear, that the Attorney General must fulfill his obligations. Alternatively we risk these Conventions being torn up, and in the words of Harold Pinter, we will have "torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder," without cease. We want to restore dignity, and humanity to our country, not the rule of Abu Ghraib, the dog lead, and Fallujah.