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The Poor People’s Campaign: United Nations Must Address President Trump’s War Crimes

For Immediate Release

Jan. 9, 2020

The Poor People’s Campaign: United Nations Must Address President Trump’s War Crimes

Leaders Request Meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Raleigh, NC — Following the assassination of Iran’s General Qassim Soleimani, and retaliatory ballistic missiles fired at two U.S. housing bases in Iraq, faith leaders and moral advocates today appealed to the United Nations. The faith leaders demanded the United Nations hold President Donald Trump accountable for war crimes and for violating a UN Charter. They also requested a meeting with the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Their appeal was an effort to prevent further escalation of violence in the Middle East and in the United States.

“Indeed, these are dark and dangerous days,” said the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, executive director of the Kairos Center and national co-chair of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “The lives of poor and marginalized people all over the world hangs in the balance. As a pastor, a bible lover and scholar, a mother and daughter, I hold my breath as the world teeters on the brink of war. People are urging Congress to reclaim its constitutional power to determine war and peace. Communities are coming out in record numbers protesting impending and already existing war. As moral leaders, as poor people, who are disproportionately impacted by war, and leaders in the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, stand with these movements. We are making connections between war, militarism and peace and the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, ecological devastation, the war economy and the distorted narrative of Christian nationalism. Internationalism must be at the core of our activism in the U.S.”

“As moral advocates and faith leaders, we are appealing to the United Nations to take up the responsibilities of its Charter to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” said Bishop William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach, pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church and national co-chair of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “President Trump’s recent reckless actions in the Middle East, have not only bypassed Congress, violated our constitution and placed U.S. soldiers at risk, coupled with his assassination of General Qassim Soleimani, a leader of a sovereign country, was itself an act of war. His direct threat to commit 52 new war crimes attacking Iranian civilian and cultural sites shows his disdain for international law. He has violated international law and ignored a host of international treaties. By threatening harsher sanctions, when what is need is more diplomacy, the U.S. President is making clear that his threat of war remains, and this is a violation of our deepest religious values that call us to be peacemakers and not peace breakers.”

In a letter to the United Nations explaining their request for U.N. intervention, Bishop Barber, Rev. Dr. Theoharis, and two dozen signers, noted:  “we believe that the United Nations, alongside mobilized social movements of poor and marginalized and committed people, must respond to these violations of human rights, the violations of international law, the threats of more war crimes to come.”

“Throughout this country people are urging Congress to uphold their constitutional power to determine when we go to war and when we stay at peace,” said the Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner, National Director for Religious Affairs, Repairers of the Breach, and minister with Beacon Unitarian Universalist Church in Summit, NJ. “We demand a halt of escalation and accountability for our president and government. We know that accountability must come from within the United States and from the international community. If the United States is permitted to violate our core agreements as global citizens, then the very elemental promises that preserve the peace we do have, will dissolve. As religious leaders, we would be hypocrites to the core tenants of our faith to be silent in the face of such reckless, immoral and unlawful actions. We see the inaction and the enabling of our government, the silence of those who hold elected office and the refusal to take meaningful action to pull us back from the brink of war. We call upon the United Nations for intervention.”

The leaders discussed their concerns via a January 9, 2020 conference call. To access audio from the call, email Jennifer Farmer,