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Chris Coverdale

Making war history

For 15 years, local peace activist and anti-war campaigner, Chris Coverdale has dedicated his life to getting local and central government to obey and enforce the laws of war. Here, he confronts HOT readers with some of the agonising questions and dilemmas facing conscientious taxpayers and makes a heartfelt appeal to everyone – to do what they can to end war.

“War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

                   The Judgement of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal 1946

“No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law.”

     The UN Declaration on Principles of International Law 1970

Easter Sunday marks the sixtieth anniversary of the first march to Aldermaston and the formation of CND, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. But despite the best efforts of peace campaigners, nuclear disarmament and world peace seem further away than ever. So the time is ripe for a new approach by law-abiding taxpayers to compel our leaders to abide by the laws of war and peace.

Since 1928 Britain has signed and ratified several major treaties and laws agreeing never to wage war, never to threaten or use force, never to kill people because of their nationality, never to interfere in other nations’ affairs, never to fund the use of firearms or explosives that endanger life, to settle all disputes peacefully, to uphold and enforce the rule of law and work together with all States to bring about a fair just and peaceful world.

So why don’t we keep our promises?

Unfortunately our leaders pay no attention whatsoever to legally binding agreements and have waged war illegally and continuously since November 1998. Since then we’ve spent a trillion pounds of taxpayers’ money taking part in America’s wars, killing one and a quarter million adults and half a million children. In addition to these atrocities, we’ve injured and maimed two million innocent Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan and Syrian citizens and driven fifteen million people into exile and destitution as refugees.

None of our victims had done anything to harm us; none were allowed to defend themselves or their families in court; none were warned so they could escape danger and no-one was shown mercy before they and their homes and communities were blasted off the face of this earth by order of Britain’s political, civil and military leaders with the continuous support of taxpayers.

It is as easy to end a war as it is to start one.

By far the simplest and quickest way of stopping these atrocities and ending Britain’s involvement in war is to persuade the Monarch, as Commander-in-Chief of Britain’s military forces, to uphold the coronation oath and rescind her orders to the troops. Just as it takes her no more than a minute to sign the orders to start a war, it will take her no more than a minute to sign the orders to stop it. So if she really wanted to stop the illegal wars and the bombing, fighting and killing, all she has to do is to convene the Privy Council and use one minute of her time to sign an order rescinding all her active service military commands and our wars will end within minutes.

The best way of stopping war is to stop the flow of money that pays for war. With this principle in mind, international legislators drew up and agreed two binding international treaties that make war and the funding of war and terrorism criminal offences. The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism makes it a universal crime to finance terrorism and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court makes it a universal crime to take part in [fund] a war of aggression. This statute also sets up a new law enforcement system to hold leaders to account for their war crimes at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. So watch out Blair, Brown, Cameron, May and Rudd: your days of freedom and irresponsibility could be numbered!

Ending the funding of terrorism

When Britain’s Parliament ratified these two international treaties by enacting the Terrorism Act 2000 and the International Criminal Court Act 2001, MPs made it a criminal offence in Britain to pay money to an individual or organisation if one suspects that some of the money may be used for the purposes of terrorism or war. The Terrorism Act 2000 stipulates that:

A person commits an offence if he asks for, receives, provides, uses or possesses money knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that it may be used for the purposes of terrorism. 

A person commits an offence if he enters into or becomes concerned in an arrangement as a result of which money is made available to another, and he knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that it will or may be used for the purposes of terrorism.

Because Parliament defined terrorism as the threat or use of firearms or explosives endangering a person’s life to advance a political cause, but failed to exclude money paid to public authorities [taxes] from the criminal offences, and because the UK Supreme Court has said that the military activities of the UK Government appear to be terrorism (see below), and local Councils pay 35% of their income to HMRC as PAYE, NI, VAT etc, it follows that each time a person pays [council] tax knowing that it may be used for military activities, he or she unwittingly commits an offence.

  1. “The legislation does not exempt, nor make an exception, nor create a defence for, nor exculpate what some would describe as terrorism in a just cause. Such a concept is foreign to the 2000 Act. Terrorism is terrorism, whatever the motives of the perpetrators… Terrorist action outside the United Kingdom which involves the use of firearms or explosives, resulting in danger to life … is terrorism.”
  1. “As a matter of ordinary language, the definition would seem to cover any violence or damage to property if it is carried out with a view to influencing a government or IGO in order to advance a very wide range of causes. Thus, it would appear to extend to military or quasi-military activity aimed at bringing down a foreign government, even where that activity is approved officially or unofficially by the UK government.”

R ‘v’ Gul UKSC 64 (2013)

Ending war by prosecuting the funding of war

Similar reasoning applies to the International Criminal Court Act 2001. Because this law makes it a crime to aid and abet war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide and because the actions of Coalition forces in attacking and killing thousands of men, women and children in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria meet the legal criteria for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, every taxpayer becomes unwittingly complicit in an offence of ‘conduct ancillary to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide’ under section 52 of this Act, each time we pay tax.

Why haven’t I heard about these laws?

When Parliament enacted these two new criminal laws, the Government neglected to tell anyone about them or warn us of the criminal offences that they contain. So naturally if no-one knows what a new law says, what duties it contains or what actions it prohibits, no-one is in a position to obey, uphold or enforce it. As a direct result of this communication failure between Government, law enforcement agencies, local authorities and taxpayers, almost no-one in Britain is obeying, upholding or enforcing these laws, so the illegal wars and the killings continue unabated.

The taxpayer’s dilemma

Knowledge of these laws leaves every taxpayer on the horns of a dilemma.

To pay, or not to pay: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to fund the bombs and rockets of outrageous warmongers, or to take a stand against a sea of officialdom and by withholding tax, end war?

On one hand we can keep our heads down, obey Government orders to pay tax and make a small but significant contribution towards the mass murder of innocent men, women and children in Iraq and Syria, or on the other hand we can withhold tax and risk imprisonment for failing to pay our fair share towards the so-called ‘defence’ of the realm. The choice is stark but clear.

What I’ve done

If I truly believed that Britain was being attacked by the armed forces of an enemy State and that our lives and livelihoods were threatened, then I would take every non-violent action under the sun to defend us from attack and expel the attackers. But this is not the case today. Our leaders have lied to us continuously since 2001 and each of the wars that we’ve fought since then has been a criminal war of aggression rather than one of defence. By using weapons of mass destruction to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq and attack Libya and Syria killing and injuring innocent men women and children, our leaders committed the same supreme international crimes that Hitler and Germany’s leaders committed during the Second World War.

I believe these wars and massacres to be the worst atrocities ever committed by Britain and the British people, so I made up my mind in 2002 that I would do all in my power to stop them and force Britain’s political civil and military leaders to answer for their war crimes in court. It is 15 years since I first attempted to obtain an injunction from the High Court to prevent Tony Blair from taking us to war with Iraq in breach of the laws of war. And it is 15 days since my 51st attempt to persuade a court to enforce the law when Magistrates at Hastings Magistrates Court knowingly broke the law and committed crimes by unlawfully granting Hastings Borough Council a liability order, threatening me with imprisonment if I fail to pay council tax.

There’s no fool like an old fool

So despite the rigours of three spells in prison, I remain determined to obey the laws that prohibit the funding of war and mass murder. If the Council, the Government and the Courts continue to ignore these laws and to force me to mend my ways and pay ‘my fair share of tax’, so be it: I’ll have to go to prison again But they should be warned that one day if the tide turns and the laws of war and peace are enforced, they too could be arrested and face war crimes charges alongside Amber Rudd Theresa May and our criminal elite at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Currently I am well and truly stuck between a rock and a hard place (and Lewes prison is certainly a hard place). Therefore I would appreciate any support and help I can get from local and national media, anti war groups, lawyers and law-abiding members of the community to educate political, civil and military leaders and the public on the laws of war and peace and the duties they contain.

In the meantime I will update readers regularly on the progress of the campaign to Make Wars History and the political, legal, financial, educational and organisational actions we can all take to bring a permanent end to Britain’s involvement in warfare and mass murder.

What can you do?

  1. Share this article as widely as possible.
  2. Support me by attending the next court hearing/appeal. (The date will be published in HOT)
  3. If you are a member of a political party, request that your local branch update themselves on the laws of war, approve a motion to discuss, uphold and obey this legislation and make it an explicit part of their party’s policy.
  4. Set up and join a local Taxpayers’ Trust to withhold all tax in trust for HMR&C and councils, until the Government is acting lawfully in accord with the laws of war and peace.
  5. Help to set up and fund a new website, (two previous websites were taken down) so that we can inform everyone of the law of war and peace and ways of ensuring it is enforced.
  6. Join Hastings Against War or the Stop the War Coalition
  7. Question your MP and your prospective local councillors on what they will do to ensure that the laws against funding terrorism and war with taxes are upheld and enforced.
  8. If you are a member of a group, voluntary organisation, church or educational organisation, contact me and set up a meeting to plan and take effective actions to Make Wars History.

Quakers in Britain film: The Unseen March.

Contact Chris Coverdale: ccovers@gmail.com

Two filmed interviews with Chris Coverdale of Make War History:

By Pressenza with Tony Farrell

By Ian from Eerie Investigations

 

Posted 16:32 Wednesday, Apr 4, 2018 In: Politics


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