KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 5, 2007): About 2,000 peace activists applauded today as the leaders of the United States and Britain were branded "fascist war criminals" in a conference featuring gruesome exhibits of their alleged crimes.
Outspoken former Malaysian premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who hosted the conference here, won a standing ovation after opening it with a call for George W. Bush and Tony Blair to be tried by an unofficial tribunal for war crimes in
"We shouldn't hang Blair if the tribunal finds him guilty," said Mahathir, who seemed to save his strongest venom for the British prime minister in an hour-long speech illustrated by pictures of wounded children, deformed babies and tortured men.
"He should always carry the label war criminal, killer of children and liar."
Mahathir, a controversial figure whose own government was accused of human rights abuses bordering on torture, has been leading a campaign to highlight what he calls the human-rights abuses and hypocrisy of U.S.-led forces fighting for democracy in the Middle East.
That campaign reached new heights of graphic intensity today, with an exhibit of alleged war crimes by
As Mahathir spoke in the main conference room, packed with students and legions of his supporters, tape-recorded screams of tortured men and orphaned babies echoed around the War Crimes Exhibition, a house of horrors on the floor below.
Visitors to the exhibition start by walking through a mock spray of white phosphorus, a chemical agent that burns flesh, before entering a torture chamber labelled "Torture methods used here were used on prisoners of
Here, figures of naked men were gagged and strapped upside down to a metal-framed bed. Another was strapped to a chair, his legs and arms bristling with nails driven into his flesh, while another was bombarded with loud, incessant disco music.
"Who would have imagined the cheerful music of Boney M. could be used as an instrument of pain and torture?" a label said.
The exhibit also took visitors through the Vietnam War, including the My Lai massacre of civilians by
Speakers in the conference include former
It also features Ali Shalah, billed as the man famously pictured in a hood with electrodes attached to his fingers at Abu Ghraib, a U.S.-run prison in
"Anyone who has looked at the (conference) programme knows what this is all about," a
A British embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment. - Reuters