IAC is collecting tributes and statements about Ramsey Clark’s
send your memories to: RamseyClarkTribute@gmail.com
Ramsey Clark was a
founder of the International Action Center and inspired the political activists
who used its structure to defend liberation struggles, oppose U.S. wars of
aggression, defend political prisoners whether in U.S. prison-industrial
complex or in the U.S.-backed dictatorships worldwide. IAC militants joined
international delegations that defied the blockade of Cuba and sanctions on
Iraq, contested the U.S.-NATO war on Yugoslavia or joined the wave of
resistance then sweeping Laten America.
He guided the production
of hundreds of books and videos, mass meetings, internet campaigns and
demonstrations the IAC organized.
We salute Ramsey Clark, who died April 9, 2021, an outspoken
defender of all forms of popular resistance to oppression, a leader always willing
to challenge the crimes of U.S. militarism and global arrogance. He remained
optimistic that the power of people could determine history. His courageous
voice will be missed.
Ramsey Clark will be remembered by people and struggles around
the world as a prominent individual who used his
name, reputation and legal skills to defend people’s movements and leaders who
the corporate media had thoroughly demonized.
Clark’s early belief in the U.S. role turned, through harsh
experience and observation of what he considered U.S. war crimes, to a
determination to challenge U.S. policy and defend the victims of U.S.
aggressions regardless of personal cost. His actions, leadership and writings
showed his political development over the past 60 years, above all, his
Born into a prominent Texas family in 1927, his father Supreme
Court Justice Tom Clark, Ramsey was raised to believe in the power of U.S.
laws. He came of age at the apex of U.S. power at the end of World War II and
experienced the U.S. empire’s long decline and decay. He was appointed
assistant attorney general in 1961 during the John F. Kennedy administration
and attorney general during the Lyndon Johnson administration in 1967.
The 1960s power of the Civil Rights Movement and Black liberation
struggle demanded sweeping change in government. As attorney general Clark
enforced desegregation of schools across the South and
supervised the drafting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil
Rights Act of 1968. He drafted housing legislation and enforcement of
Indigenous Nations Treaty rights.
Unlike nearly every other Cabinet level official, who leveraged
their post into a multi-million dollar career after
leaving government, Ramsey Clark leveraged his role as former attorney general
to act for the impoverished and voiceless.
Iran, Cuba, Venezuela
In 1972 he traveled to North Vietnam during President Richard
Nixon’s bombing campaign. He was in Tehran, Iran in 1979 on days when millions
of Iranians braved machine guns of the Savak Police and
overturned the brutal U.S. backed shah and his whole regime. He visited Cuba
numerous times to challenge the U.S. blockade and express deep admiration for
the dramatic changes the Cuban Revolution made possible.
Along with demonstrations of tens of thousands against U.S. wars
in 1991 and 2003, Ramsey Clark headed significant mass meetings in
Solidarity with Cuba at Javits Convention Center in 1992 and with Bolivarian
Venezuela at Town Hall in 2005,
Clark stood by the 1979 Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and
the struggle for liberation of El Salvador in the 1980s against a U.S. backed
dictatorship. He traveled to Panama after the December 1989 U.S. invasion to
document the enormous toll in life.
While many embraced the collapse of the Soviet Union as ending
the Cold War and ushering in an era of peace and prosperity, Clark held the
view that this would lead to endless wars of U.S. expansion and an effort to
recolonize many countries.
U.S. war on Iraq
At great personal risk Ramsey Clark traveled to Iraq during the
height of the 1991 U.S. bombing. Extending personal courage to political and
legal skill, he wrote a 19-point indictment of the Bush administration for War
Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity that resonated around the world.
The indictment became the basis of a Commission of Inquiry that
held mass popular hearings in 19 countries and 26 U.S. Cities. Ramsey attended
every mass hearing. The final tribunal was held in New York City in February
1992 before thousands of people and international delegates. The events drew
strong media coverage around the world, and total censorship in the
corporate U.S. media.
During the years of the deadliest sanctions on Iraq that caused
the death of a half-million Iraqi children within four years, Ramsey brought
international delegations each year to challenge and expose the impact of the
These fact-finding and human rights delegations almost always
included videographers, journalists and photographers
to document the impact on defenseless civilian populations. He encouraged
others to also organize solidarity delepations.
Following the 2003 U.S.-British invasion and occupation of Iraq
and under even more dangerous conditions, Clark traveled to Iraq numerous
times. He provided legal defense for Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s captured president,
who the U.S. and its Iraqi lackeys put on a show trial.
Though the outcome was inevitable, Clark was determined to
expose that the real crime was the U.S. destruction of Iraq and was
unapologetic for his defense of Saddam Hussein. Three of his Iraqi defense
lawyers were assassinated for their role defending him. Saddam Hussein was
executed on Dec. 30, 2006.
In 1998 the U.S. bombed a small
pharmaceutical plant producing the only anti-malaria drugs in Sudan claiming it
was a secret VX Nerve gas facility. Ramsey immediately organized doctors, pharmacists and videographers to expose this crime against
the civilian population.
In the biggest and most dangerous aggression in European borders
since 1945, the U.S., determined to expand the NATO military alliance into the
Balkans and Eastern Europe, launched the 1999 war to dismember and destroy
Yugoslavia, during the Bill Clinton administration. Ramsey Clark was in
Yugoslavia twice during the 78 days of relentless U.S. bombing, expressing
solidarity with people under attack documenting that the Pentagon consciously
Clark gave priority to visiting bombed schools, hospitals, market places, water purification plants, grain silos and
pharmaceutical plants, as he did in other countries the U.S. bombed. Following
the war, he drew up a public indictment of Clinton and other leaders of NATO
countries and inspired a mass People’s Tribunal on U.S. war crimes in
Yugoslavia, whose final hearing was in June 2000.
Clark dared to meet with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
in Yugoslavia during the U.S. bombing and later at the Hague after the
kidnapped president faced an international kangaroo court the U.S. established
to try Yugoslav leaders. Ramsey’s view was that the wrong leaders were being
charged. According to his indictment for the 2000 tribunal, Clinton should have
been in the dock, along with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the
corresponding leaders of Germany, Britain, France and
other NATO powers.
While much of Ramsey Clark’s work focused on defense of nations
under attack by the U.S., he also defended dozens if not hundreds of political
prisoners of the empire, in and outside the United States. These included Indigenous
activist Leonard Peltier; Imam Jamil Al-Amin (aka H. Rap Brown), who is held in
a Super Max prison. He and Lynne Stewart were willing to defend Egyptian Sheik
Omar Abdel Rahman. (For her role, Stewart was charged and imprisoned).
He supported independence for Puerto Rico and freedom for its
many political prisoners. He traveled to Peru to defend U.S. citizen Lori
Berenson, held by Peru’s dictatorship and to the Philippines. He defended
Jose Maria Sison against “terrorism”
charges. Clark publicly supported Dr. Aafia
Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman tortured in Afghanistan and serving 86-year
sentence in U.S. Federal prison as well as Mumia Abu-Jamal Pennsylvania State
He traveled to Nepal when a revolutionary upheaval brought in a
new government and to DPRK North Korea to protest against
U.S. war games and nuclear threats.
When Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was targeted by U.S. and
Israeli forces, Clark met with him in Lebanon, and later traveled to Gaza under
total Israeli shutdown and met with Hamas leadership.
Clark’s long years of support of the Palestinian struggle for
liberation meant Zionist forces always denounced him.
Clark denounced every aspect of the “U.S. War on Terror” as a
War Against Islam with endless military operations, sanctions, drone strikes,
regime change operations, assassinations, secret detentions
and a series of bases throughout Africa to Central Asia and the Gulf States.
In 2011, NATO imperialists took advantage of an opening provided
by the Arab Spring and the mass upsurge that overthrew the dictatorships in
Tunisia and Egypt, to open a 220-day bombing of Libya and murder Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi. This destroyed the country with the highest standard of living
U.S. imperialism then turned its full efforts into pulling down
the government of Syria. Ramsey traveled to Syria several times in an effort to again focus attention on the impact of U.S.
subversion on civilians. Traveling at personal risk, Clark exposed what U.S.
sanctions, the arming of tens of thousands of mercenaries and then bombing
vital infrastructure was doing to whole countries.
Even as decades rolled by Ramsey maintained an intense schedule
of listening to and involving activists in challenging projects, along with
speaking, traveling and consulting with peoples under