Leahy Joins In Introducing Anti-War Crimes Resolution That Denounces Trump Threats to Attack Iranian Cultural Sites

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, Jan. 8, 2020) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in introducing a Senate resolution condemning President Trump’s threats to attack cultural sites in Iran and demanding the President refrain from violating the laws of armed conflict.  The resolution responds to President Donald Trump’s repeated threats on Twitter and in a press conference that the United States would make cultural sites a target of attack if conflict with Iran escalates. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has contradicted the President and said that the Pentagon would not violate the laws of armed conflict by attacking Iranian cultural sites.

The resolution highlights that Article 53 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits any act of hostility against cultural objects, that the destruction of cultural sites violates the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, and that the Department of Defense Law of War Manual states that ‘‘[c]ultural property, the areas immediately surrounding it, and appliances in use for its protection should be safeguarded and respected.’

“Attacking cultural sites in Iran would be a war crime under the Geneva Conventions,” said Senator Leahy. “Abiding by the laws of war are what distinguishes us from terrorists.  Every American soldier knows that, and it is time that President Trump learned it as well.”

“Attacking cultural or historic sites is a war crime, and President’s threats to break international law are a new low,” said Senator Markey. “The destruction of cultural heritage is morally wrong, a violation of international law, and destroy years of American diplomacy that has respected religious and cultural groups.  This resolution makes clear that Congress will not stand for the United States overturning international law and aligning ourselves with terrorists who engage in this kind of terrible destruction.”

A copy of the Senate resolution can be found HERE.

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