Wyden, Merkley Introduce Anti-War Crimes Resolution That Denounces Trump Threats to Attack Iranian Cultural Sites

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) joined with five other senators today to introduce a resolution condemning Donald Trump’s threats to attack cultural sites in Iran and demanding he refrain from violating the laws of armed conflict.

“If Donald Trump follows through on his threat to bomb Persian cultural sites it would be an abomination on the level of what the Taliban did to Buddhist relics in Afghanistan,” Wyden said. “Congress cannot let Trump commit war crimes that further endanger Americans at home and abroad.”

 “President Trump’s reckless decision to assassinate General Soleimani has had a wide range of negative effects on the stability of the region and the security of our nation,” said Senator Merkley. “The President’s threats to destroy cultural sites integral to the history of the Middle East—a move that would undoubtedly be regarded as a war crime around the world—is a particularly provocative development in this series of rapidly escalating missteps. Words and threats matter in foreign policy and Congress must stand up against the President’s impulsive and rash escalations so we don’t slide into another war.”

The Senate resolution responds to 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’.

Also introducing the resolution were Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) 

A copy of the Senate resolution is here.

A web version of this release is here.