Open Letter to Members of Oireachtas
The following letter was sent to all members of Oireachtas na hEireann (Parliament and Senate) today by Shannonwatch's Edward Horgan.
Subject: Ending Irish complicity in US war of aggression and war crimes in the Middle East
Dear Oireachtas Legislators,
Peace activist individuals and groups from all parts of Ireland have been monitoring, and protesting against, US military use of Shannon airport particularly since October 2001, but also previously during the First Gulf War in 1991. Successive Irish Governments by allowing foreign military forces to transit through Irish territory and Irish airspace, while still maintaining that Ireland is a neutral state, have been acting in clear breach of international laws on neutrality. More importantly, such assistance to a military force engaged in wars of aggression makes Ireland and the Irish people complicit in the multiple war crimes and clear breaches of international laws, including the UN Charter that have been committed by US forces. Since 1991 up to one million children and several million adults are estimated to have died directly and indirectly due to war related reasons across the Middle East. Other countries and groups apart from the United States have also been involved in wars of aggression and war crimes in the Middle East, but none of these have been actively assisted by successive Irish Governments.
The reckless assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and up to six others on the orders of US President Trump on Friday 3rd January 2020 by US military drone and missile attack at Baghdad airport is just the latest breach of international law by the US. It was also a breach of Iraqi laws and Iraqi sovereignty, and probably a breach of US laws and the US Constitution as President Trump did not have US Congress approval for these acts of war. Peace activists monitoring US military aircraft over the past week have revealed Irish complicity in these recent US attacks in Iraq and Syria. Several US military aircraft or civilian aircraft on contract to the US military have been refuelled at Shannon airport or transited through Irish air space on each day during this past week, including the following:
1. Of particular concern is a US air force surveillance or spy aircraft that is very likely to have played an active role in the recent US attacks in Iraq and Syria, including in the assassination of General Soleimani. This aircraft is a Boeing C-32B registration number 99-6143, belonging to 486th Test Flight Squadron based at Eglin AFB Florida. It is a specially designed surveillance and special operations aircraft that has been known to be used at different times by US Special Forces, the CIA and even by the FBI. The attached map shows some of the flight paths of this aircraft leaving its home base at Eglin AFB in Florida on 1st January 2020 and travelling to the Middle East via with Washington and Portugal. It was located in the Jordan, Syria and Iraq areas during the period 2/3 January 2020 when the US military carried out several attacks including the assassination of General Soleimani on Friday 3rd January 2020. On Saturday 4th January it travelled from the Middle East back across Europe with a stop over at Ramstein US air base in Germany, and then flew through Irish airspace as shown in attached map around noon on Saturday 4th January.
2. An Omni Air International aircraft number N351AX arrived at Shannon airport on 3rd January most likely carrying armed US soldiers from Fort Biggs air base in El Paso Texas and travelled on to Kuwait. It then returned through Shannon airport on Saturday 4th January on its way back to Fort Biggs air base in El Paso Texas.
3. A US air force military Hercules C130J-30 aircraft registration number RS 11-5734 was refuelled at Shannon airport also on 4th January.
4. Two Miami Air civilian aircraft registration numbers N735MA and N758MA on contract to the US military were refuelled at Shannon airport on Saturday evening 4rd January. Both of these aircraft were travelling from Pope air field at Fort Brag in North Carolina to the Middle East so were most likely transporting some of the additional US troops from the 82 airborne brigade which is based at Fort Brag that President Trump ordered to be deployed to Iraq. One of these, N735MA was at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on 30th December 2019, and the other one N758MA was at Guantanamo Bay Cuba on Friday 3rd January. Both of these Miami Air aircraft were again refuelled at Shannon airport on the night of Sunday 5th January on their way back from Kuwait towards the USA, and both have since landed again at Pope air base Fort Brag, North Carolina on Monday morning 6th January 2020.
5. On Sunday 5th January a US Hercules C130 J registration number 16-9534 took off from Aldergrove airport Belfast at 1pm and then travelled west over Co Donegal in breach of international laws on neutrality as the US is engaged in wars of aggression at this time, so the Hague Convention V on Neutrality applies.
6. On Sunday evening 5th January a Saudi Arabian air force aircraft registration number HZ-101 landed at Shannon airport. Since Saudi Arabia has been waging a war of aggression in Yemen for several years that according to the United Nations may have caused the deaths of up to 100,000 children, any such transit of Saudi Arabian air force aircraft through Irish territory would be in breach of international on laws on neutrality.
Among the questions that need to be asked of, and answered by, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Mr Simon Coveney TD are:
1. Was permission sought by the US military or the US Embassy for US military aircraft Boeing C-32B registration number 99-6143 to travel through Irish airspace on 4 January 2002, and if so, was permission granted, and if so why was permission granted, given that any such permission is in breach of international laws on neutrality.
2. Was permission sought by the US military or the US Embassy for US military aircraft Hercules C130J-30 registration number RS 11-5734 to land and refuel at Shannon airport on 3rd or 4th January 2020? Were any steps taken to ensure that this aircraft was not carrying arms or munitions? Given that this aircraft is of itself a serious weapon of war, why are such US military aircraft allowed to transit through Ireland while clearly on military operations, in breach of international laws on neutrality?
3. Was permission sought by the US military or the US Embassy for US military aircraft Hercules C130 J registration number 16-9534 to fly over Co Donegal on 5th January 2020, and was that permission approved and if so why?
4. Since successive Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Trade frequently claimed that the US military aircraft transiting through Shannon airport or Irish air space are not carrying weapons or munitions, why does he or his department raise no objections to the decisions by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport that allows civilian aircraft on contract to the US military to refuel at Shannon airport even though both ministers know and have acknowledged, that these aircraft are also carrying automatic assault rifles for each of the soldiers on board these aircraft?
5. Was permission sought for the landing of the Saudi Arabian Air Force plane number HZ-101 to land at Shannon airport, and if so, was that permission granted, and if so, why was it granted?
6. Can the minister please explain repeated assurances and statements by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, that none of the well-over ten thousand US military aircraft that have transited through Shannon airport and through Irish air space since September 2001, have not been carrying weapons, or munitions, and have not been engaged in military operations or training, or in intelligence activities, given that none of these US military aircraft are allowed leave their US military bases unless they are on specific military operations or training exercises
The following questions need to be asked of, and answered by, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Shane Ross TD:
1. Why is he and his department allowing civilian aircraft on contract to the US military carrying armed US soldiers to and from US war zones in the Middle East to transit and refuel at Shannon airport given that these soldiers are engaged in wars of aggression, including the overthrow of the sovereign governments of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and the attempted overthrow of the government of Syria, all in gross breach of international and national laws?
2. At least three civilian aircraft on contract to the US military were refuelled at Shannon airport on Saturday 4th January, including OMNI Air N351AX, Miami Air N735AX, and Miami Air N758AX. The OMNI air N351AX was refuelled at Shannon on Friday 3rd January on its way to Kuwait and was refuelled again on Saturday 4th January as it returned from Kuwait to the USA. The two Miami air flights were both travelling from Pope air field at Fort Brag in North Carolina to the Middle East so were most likely transporting some of the additional US troops from the 82 airborne brigade that President Trump ordered to be deployed to Iraq. One of these N735MA was at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on 30th December 2020, and the other one N758MA was at Guantanamo Bay Cuba on Friday 3 January. How many US troops and/or military cargo were being carried on each of these aircraft and did the minister approve the carriage of weapons and ammunition on these aircraft?
3. Is the minister comfortable with the fact that Ireland is supporting unlawful imprisonment of up to 40 prisoners who are still in Guantanamo some of whom have been there for up to 15 years and have never even been tried for any offence?
4. Why are the same restrictions with regard to carrying weapons not imposed by his department on civilian aircraft on contract to the US military as are supposedly imposed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on US military aircraft?
The following questions need to be asked of, and answered by, An Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Mr Leo Varadkar TD:
1. Given his stated support for Irish neutrality, and the persistent support of the vast majority of the Irish people for neutrality, why does he as leader of the Irish Government and as Minister for Defence not take action to end US military use of Shannon airport and Irish air space?
2. Given that Ireland has contingents of peacekeeping soldiers with UNIFIL in Lebanon, and with UNDOF in the Syrian Golan Heights, and UN observers with UNTSO, is the Irish Government’s decision to allow US military to use Shannon airport and Irish airspace, not putting these Irish peacekeeping soldiers in grave danger?
3. The United States of America have waged illegal wars of aggression against the peoples and the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria and supported wars against the people of Yemen and elsewhere, thereby treating the peoples and the governments of these countries as enemies of the United States of America. By supporting these US wars of aggression, successive Irish governments have treated the peoples of these countries as enemies of the Irish people. On what basis have the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen and elsewhere become enemies of the Irish State and enemies of the Irish people?
The following questions need to be asked and answered by all members of Oireachtas na hÉireann:
1. Why have the majority of Oireachtas members so far taken no effective legislative and other actions to protect and restore Irish neutrality?
2. Ireland, and by default the Irish people, have been complicit in the deaths of up to one million innocent children, and many more adults, due to war related reasons in the Middle East since 1991. How many more innocent children must die in the coming weeks and months and years before members of Oireachtas na hÉireann take action to restore Irish neutrality and comply with articles 28 and 29 of Bunreacht na hÉireann.
Articles 28.3.1 of Bunreacht na hÉireann states that:
War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dáil Éireann.
Article 29 of Bunreacht na hÉireann
1 Ireland affirms its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.
2 Ireland affirms its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination.
3 Ireland accepts the generally recognised principles of international law as its rule of conduct in its relations with other States.
In addition to breaches of international laws that arise from US military use of Shannon airport, Irish Government ministers, who have command responsibility in such matters, and other officials, including members of An Garda Síochána at all levels, have arguably been guilty of serious offences under Irish laws, including Criminal Justice (UN Convention Against Torture) Act, 2000, and complicity in very serious war crimes committed outside the Irish jurisdiction, by their failures to take appropriate actions to investigate and prevent Irish territory being used for such crimes, or bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice. By their failures in these matters these government ministers and other officials and Gardai may be guilty of the additional offence of perverting the course of justice.