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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

King to launch anti-war foundation

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, will launch the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War Incorporated at a royal charity dinner at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Friday.

Held under the joint patronage of Tuanku Mizan and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah, dinner organising committee chairman Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali said it hoped to raise about RM3 million to fund the foundations activities. This includes acquiring a building here for its headquarters and the establishment of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim and Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal have also been invited to attend the dinner.The foundation, a non-govermental organisation established under Malaysian laws, was founded by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on March 12, 2007.

Dr Mahathir had said that war was not an option in this modern world, not just because of the massive deaths and destruction that modern weaponry can inflict, but also because the cost of war had gone up so much that even rich countries like the US could be bankrupted.

Among the foundations principal objectives are to undertake all necessary measures and initiatives to criminalise war and energise peace, and to provide relief, assistance and support to individuals and communities suffering from the effects of war and armed conflict wherever they occur and without discrimination on the grounds of nationality, racial origin, religion belief, age, gender or other forms of impermissible differentiations.

It will also promote the education of individuals and communities suffering from the effects of war or armed conflict and foster schemes for the relief of human suffering as a result of war or armed conflict.

Dr Siti Hasmah told a news conference here that there would be cultural performances by children who had been affected by armed conflicts and a multimedia presentation during the dinner.

She said seats were still available for the dinner and donations to the foundation would be tax-exempted. Details are available from tel. no. 03-8885 8900.Elaborating on the activities of the foundation, its secretary-general and one of its trustees, Datuk Dr Yaacob Hussain Merican, said it had four departments — the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission; Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal; Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Legal Team; and Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Secretariat.

Under the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Legal Team, it would have four divisions for investigation, prosecution, defence and victims.Dr Yaacob said persons identified for prosecution would be notified directly or through their embassies or high commissions.

If they refused to attend the trial in Kuala Lumpur, they would be tried in absentia and all the principles of international law would be applied. Accused persons would also be assigned defence lawyers of international standing.

Dr Yaacob said that while the tribunal had no legal powers under international laws to enforce its verdict, the convicted persons would bear the stigma of being labelled war criminals.

He said several retired judges and law professors from abroad and locally had volunteered to serve in the foundation.Dr Yaacob said the foundation would be looking at war crimes committed after the Second World War.


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