Bush is judge, jury and executioner: Pretoria mayor

The war on Iraq, being based on greed, could not be condemned enough, Tshwane mayor Smangaliso Mkhatshwa said on Thursday night.

“The perpetrators of this war even have the guts, the arrogance not only to destroy cities and human beings, but have already budgeted certain amounts to rebuild Iraq to their own design,” he told about 150 people at an anti-war protest outside the United States embassy in Pretoria.

The aggressors had given their own companies the tenders to rebuild Iraq, the mayor said. “This is a form of callousness that is difficult to imagine.”

Mkhatshwa said the Iraqis were not the only victims of the US-led war on their country.

“It is brutalising soldiers fighting an unjust war. It is brutalising those who have ordered war.”

On one side of the circle of protesters a banner said “George W Butcher” with the word “butcher” written as if dripping blood.

Another portrayed US President George Bush as a Roman emperor holding the globe between his fingers and wondering “Who’s next?”

African National Congress chief spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said a very evil precedent had been set in the world.

“One country decides who the victim is and prosecutes that victim.
That country will judge on its own and it will execute, completely exterminate the victim.”

This happened with no opposition because international law had been rendered completely useless, he said.

“The will of the nations of the world through the United Nations has been destroyed.”

Also present among protesters from political, religious and civil society groups was Suriyaya Osman, who returned from Iraq on Tuesday and preferred the term peace volunteer to the label human shield.

She spoke about a four-year-old boy whose whole family had been wiped out, and of an eight-year-old girl who would never walk again because of shrapnel lodged in her spine.

“I don’t see any mark of the mercy soldier. I don’t know how much more blood is going to be shed.”

Mkhatshwa said: “This is not an ordinary war. It is a war that will decide whether peace or unjust violence will become the victor.”

Both he and Ngonyama urged those who opposed the war not to stop their efforts.

“We will win,” said Ngonyama. “We may appear somehow helpless but we will win because we are right.”

The mayor warned: “You can win many battles, but still lose the war in the end.”

All around the circle little puddles of dried candlewax bore testimony of similar protests during the past two weeks. Mkhatshwa said a lit candle symbolised hope,

“Light dispels darkness,” he said. - Sapa

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