Aims of the Cambridge Clarion Group

"Nothing justified the killing of innocent people in the United States on September 11, and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere else. " (John Pilger The Mirror, 1 November 2001 )

The Clarion Group exists because the United States and its allies are bombing Afghanistan and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people.

The aims of the group are to stop the bombing of Afghanistan and to stop the bombing of innocent people everywhere.


Some reasons for supporting these aims

The motivation for these aims is three-fold, and we hope to provoke some careful thought...

1. Do you care about the killing of innocent people in a far away country?

On a fundamental moral and humanitarian level, the killing of people is wrong whether they are citizens of the United States or citizens of Afghanistan.

The United States government has been dropping 15,000 lb fuel-air bombs on Afghanistan. These bombs create a fireball one mile in diameter burning at 5,500 C (Kim Sengupta, Independent 7 November 2001)

The United States government has also been dropping cluster bombs onto Afghanistan. A cluster bomb is a canister which is dropped from the air. It typically scatters 200-600 small bombs called bomblets over an area the size of a football pitch. These are about the size of a Coca-Cola can. Those that do not explode on impact with the ground remain as landmines, waiting to explode. However, they are much more dangerous than conventional landmines because they explode much more easily. The exact proportion of bombs that wait to explode is disputed but it seems to be accepted that it lies between 5-30%. The lowest figure quoted is 5% which is the manufacturer's own estimate. See for example a report on Kosovo by Richard Norton-Taylor Guardian 8 August 2000. See also Clarion's dossier Are "cluster bombs" aerially-deployed landmines?

There is an eye-witness account of the horror of Afghan people treading on the unexploded bomblets (Justin Huggler Independent 27 November 2001) . He was nearby when an old man and a fifteen year old boy fell victim to one in Khanabad.

"We were picking our way through the bombed-out ruins of Khanabad when we heard the explosion. When we got there, struggling through the collapsed remains of houses, an old man sat in his blood blinking and shaking his head in bewilderment. Beside him, a 15-year-old boy lay bleeding and unconscious".

Whatever the proportion that may or may not explode on impact, Justin Huggler reports the fields and roadside around Khanabad as being "littered" with unexploded cluster bomblets. The article also reports other American bombing atrocities against Afghan civilians in Khanabad.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world with an infant mortality rate of 165 per 1,000 births and a life expectancy of 46 years. The war in Afghanistan is creating "the most serious, complex emergency in the world ever," according to United Nations official Stephanie Bunker (see. Heather Cottin)

"As many as 100,000 more children will die in Afghanistan this winter unless food reaches them in sufficient quantities in the next six weeks," Eric Laroche, UNICEF spokesperson, said in an interview with the Times of India on 29 October 2001

But the heavy bombing of Afghan cities and supply routes by the United States, as well as the bombing of food supplies like the Red Cross warehouse in Kabul, has choked off relief efforts.

2. Regardless of people in Afghanistan, what about yourself and the people you know?

On a personal and practical level for us living in the western world, the bombing of innocent people will provoke a hatred of the west which will inevitably result in more terrorist attacks on us.

Many of the people of Afghanistan are unaware of the tragic events that occurred on the 11th September 2001, some of these do not even know who the Taleban are or who Osama bin Laden is, but they do know that they are being bombed by the United States and its allies. If you were living in the poverty of Afghanistan, your country is being bombed for reasons that have nothing to do with you, this will create hatred and a desire for revenge. This in turn may result in the creation of further terrorist and more terrorist attacks. So even if you think that bombing a country somewhere far away doesn't affect you, it does! Even if they capture or kill bin Laden, how many more terrorists will you let them create?

Given the current proliferation of nuclear materials, this could mean a nuclear bomb exploding in London. Even if terrorists do not obtain a nuclear bomb, the deliberate distribution of radioactive materials could have horrific consequences.

3. Legal grounds

Prof. Michael Mandel (of Law) Osgoode Hall Law school, Toronto wrote in the Globe and Mail 9 October 2001

"A well-kept secret about the US-UK attack on the Afghanistan is that it is clearly illegal. It violates international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter. Despite repeated reference to the right of self-defence under Article 51, the charter simply does not apply here, Article 51 gives a state the right to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure until the UN security council can take steps necessary for international peace and security. The security council regulations do not allow the US or UK to attack once the attack on the World Trade Centre is over".

This page was written in 2002. It was updated on 10 October 2006 to reflect a less credulous attitude to so-called "cluster bombs".