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[Fwd: Fw: US War Crimes]

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  • Kristen E Cheney
    ... Kristen Cheney Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology University of California at Santa Cruz Social Sciences I Faculty Services 1156 High Street Santa Cruz, CA
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 26, 2003

      A good article from the Guardian, especially in light of Ari Fleischer's refusal to address Helen Thomas's question about the Geneva Convention and Guantanamo Bay in yesterday's press conference...
      Beth :-)
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Giovanna Pompele
      Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 5:15 PM
      Subject: US War Crimes

      One rule for them
      Five PoWs are mistreated in Iraq and the US cries foul. What about
      Guantanamo Bay?
      George Monbiot
      Tuesday March 25, 2003
      The Guardian
      Suddenly, the government of the United States has discovered the
      virtues of
      international law. It may be waging an illegal war against a sovereign
      state; it may be seeking to destroy every treaty which impedes its
      to run the world, but when five of its captured soldiers were paraded
      front of the Iraqi television cameras on Sunday, Donald Rumsfeld, the
      defence secretary, immediately complained that "it is against the
      convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is
      humiliating for them".
      He is, of course, quite right. Article 13 of the third convention,
      concerning the treatment of prisoners, insists that they "must at all
      be protected... against insults and public curiosity". This may number
      the ! ! less heinous of the possible infringements of the laws of war, but
      conventions, ratified by Iraq in 1956, are non-negotiable. If you break
      them, you should expect to be prosecuted for war crimes.
      This being so, Rumsfeld had better watch his back. For this
      convert to the cause of legal warfare is, as head of the defence
      responsible for a series of crimes sufficient, were he ever to be
      tried, to
      put him away for the rest of his natural life.
      His prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, where 641 men (nine of whom
      British citizens) are held, breaches no fewer than 15 articles of the
      convention. The US government broke the first of these (article 13) as
      as the prisoners arrived, by displaying them, just as the Iraqis have
      on television. In this case, however, they were not encouraged to
      the cameras. They were kneeling on the ground, hands tied behind the! ! ir
      backs, wearing blacked-out goggles and earphones. In breach of article
      they had been stripped of their own clothes and deprived of their
      possessions. They were then interned in a penitentiary (against article
      where they were denied proper mess facilities (26), canteens (28),
      premises (34), opportunities for physical exercise (38), access to the
      of the convention (41), freedom to write to their families (70 and 71)
      parcels of food and books (72).
      They were not "released and repatriated without delay after the
      cessation of
      active hostilities" (118), because, the US authorities say, their
      interrogation might, one day, reveal interesting information about
      Article 17 rules that captives are obliged to give only their name,
      number and date of birth. No "coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of
      to secure from them information of any kind whatever". In the hop! ! e of
      breaking them, however, the authorities have confined them to solitary
      and subjected them to what is now known as "torture lite": sleep
      and constant exposure to bright light. Unsurprisingly, several of the
      prisoners have sought to kill themselves, by smashing their heads
      the walls or trying to slash their wrists with plastic cutlery.
      The US government claims that these men are not subject to the Geneva
      conventions, as they are not "prisoners of war", but "unlawful
      The same claim could be made, with rather more justice, by the Iraqis
      holding the US soldiers who illegally invaded their country. But this
      redefinition is itself a breach of article 4 of the third convention,
      which people detained as suspected members of a militia (the Taliban)
      or a
      volunteer corps (al-Qaida) must be regarded as prisoners of war.
      Even if there is doubt about how such people should be clas! ! sified,
      article 5
      insists that they "shall enjoy the protection of the present convention
      until such time as their status has been determined by a competent
      tribunal". But when, earlier this month, lawyers representing 16 of
      demanded a court hearing, the US court of appeals ruled that as
      Bay is not sovereign US territory, the men have no constitutional
      Many of these prisoners appear to have been working in Afghanistan as
      teachers, engineers or aid workers. If the US government either tried
      released them, its embarrassing lack of evidence would be brought to
      You would hesitate to describe these prisoners as lucky, unless you
      what had happened to some of the other men captured by the Americans
      their allies in Afghanistan. On November 21 2001, around 8,000 Taliban
      soldiers and Pashtun civilians surrendered at Konduz to the Northern
      Alliance commander, General Abdul Ra! ! shid Dostum. Many of them have
      been seen again.
      As Jamie Doran's film Afghan Massacre: Convoy of Death records, some
      hundreds, possibly thousands, of them were loaded into container
      lorries at
      Qala-i-Zeini, near the town of Mazar-i-Sharif, on November 26 and 27.
      doors were sealed and the lorries were left to stand in the sun for
      days. At length, they departed for Sheberghan prison, 80 miles away.
      prisoners, many of whom were dying of thirst and asphyxiation, started
      banging on the sides of the trucks. Dostum's men stopped the convoy and
      machine-gunned the containers. When they arrived at Sheberghan, most of
      captives were dead.
      The US special forces running the prison watched the bodies being
      They instructed Dostum's men to "get rid of them before satellite
      can be taken". Doran interviewed a Northern Alliance soldier guarding
      prison. "I was a witness wh! ! en an American soldier broke one prisoner's
      The Americans did whatever they wanted. We had no power to stop them."
      Another soldier alleged: "They took the prisoners outside and beat them
      and then returned them to the prison. But sometimes they were never
      returned, and they disappeared."
      Many of the survivors were loaded back in the containers with the
      then driven to a place in the desert called Dasht-i-Leili. In the
      of up to 40 US special forces, the living and the dead were dumped into
      ditches. Anyone who moved was shot. The German newspaper Die Zeit
      investigated the claims and concluded that: "No one doubted that the
      Americans had taken part. Even at higher levels there are no doubts on
      issue." The US group Physicians for Human Rights visited the places
      identified by Doran's witnesses and found they "all... contained human
      remains consistent with their designation as possible grave si! ! tes".
      It should not be necessary to point out that hospitality of this kind
      contravenes the third Geneva convention, which prohibits "violence to
      and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel
      and torture", as well as extra-judicial execution. Donald Rumsfeld's
      department, assisted by a pliant media, has done all it can to suppress
      Jamie Doran's film, while General Dostum has begun to assassinate his
      It is not hard, therefore, to see why the US government fought first to
      prevent the establishment of the international criminal court, and then
      ensure that its own citizens are not subject to its jurisdiction. The
      soldiers dragged in front of the cameras yesterday should thank their
      stars that they are prisoners not of the American forces fighting for
      civilisation, but of the "barbaric and inhuman" Iraqis.

      Do you Yahoo!?
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      Kristen Cheney
      Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology
      University of California at Santa Cruz
      Social Sciences I Faculty Services
      1156 High Street
      Santa Cruz, CA 95064

    • Vyrle Owens
      26 March 2003 Dear all, I had an occasion to meet a person (Ken Sehested) two weeks ago who had just returned from Baghdad after a three week stay. He had a
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 26, 2003

        26 March 2003


        Dear all,


        I had an occasion to meet a person (Ken Sehested) two weeks ago who had just returned from Baghdad after a three week stay.  He had a very interesting report, far too lengthy to repeat.  The jist:  Life was reasonably normal at the time he was there, hospitality was good, even for American peace activists (or maybe especially for American peace activists) but a very real anxiety about possible attack. 


        The below crossed my screen earlier in the week.  Transcends the rhetoric.


        I trust some of you will appreciate it,






        >Published on Friday, March 14, 2003 by CommonDreams.org


        >This Present Moment: Living in Baghdad on the Eve of War

        >by Ramzi Kysia


        >"The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is

        >the door to all moments."

        >- Thich Nhat Hanh


        >I am in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team, and we will stay here

        >throughout any war. We will share the risks of the millions who live

        >here, and do our best to be a voice for them to the world. Our risks

        >are uncertain. Thousands here will surely die. But most Iraqis will

        >survive, and so too, I hope, will I.


        >A banner the government put up a few blocks from where we stay reads

        >simply, " Baghdad : Where the World Comes for Peace."


        >It's meant as propaganda, I'm sure, flattering Saddam Hussein. But

        >without knowing it, it states a simple truth: that the world must be

        >present for peace. We must be present in Baghdad as in America - in

        > Kashmir or Chechnya , the Great Lakes , Palestine and Colombia - where

        >there is war, and rumors of war, we must be present to build peace.


        >We are present.


        >My country may arrest me as a traitor, or kill me during saturation

        >bombing, or shoot me during an invasion. The Iraqis may arrest me as

        >a spy, or cause or use my death for propaganda. Civil unrest and mob

        >violence may claim me. I may be maimed. I may be killed.


        >I am nervous. I am scared. I am hopeful. I am joyous, and I joyously

        >delight in the wonder that is my life.


        >I love being alive. I love the splendor of our world, the beauty of

        >our bodies, and the miracle of our minds. I bless the world for

        >making me, and I bless the world for taking me. I feed myself on the

        >fellowship we inspirit, in standing one with another in this, this

        >present moment, each moment unfolding to its own best time.


        >Different things move different members of our team, but all of us

        >are here out of deep concern for the suffering of our brothers and

        >sisters in Iraq. 20 years of almost constant war, and 12 years of

        >brutal sanctions, have killed hundreds of thousands of innocents in

        > Iraq .


        >We are here, today, because most of the world refused to be present,

        >then. What more right do I as an American have to leave then all the

        >people I've come to love in Iraq ? An accident of birth that gives me

        >a free pass throughout the world?


        >All of us are here out of a deep commitment to nonviolence. Peace is

        >not an abstract value that we should just quietly express a hope

        >for. It takes work. It takes courage. It takes joy. Peace takes



        >War is catastrophe. It is terrorism on a truly, massive scale. It is

        >the physical, political and spiritual devastation of entire peoples.

        >War is the imposition of such massive, deadly violence so as to

        >force the political solutions of one nation upon another. War is the

        >antithesis of democracy and freedom. War is the most bloody,

        >undemocratic, and violently repressive of all human institutions.

        >War is catastrophe. Why choose catastrophe?


        >Even the threat of war is devastating. On March 11th, when we

        >visited a maternity hospital run by the Dominican sisters here in

        > Baghdad , we found that eight new mothers that day had demanded to

        >have their babies by Caesarean section - they didn't want to give

        >birth during the war. Six others spontaneously aborted the same day.

        >Is this the spirit of liberation?


        >Don't ask me where I find the courage to be present in Iraq on the

        >eve of war. 5 million people call Baghdad home. 24 million human

        >beings live in Iraq . Instead, ask the politicians - on every side -

        >where they find the nerve to put so many human beings at such

        >terrible risk.


        >We're here for these people, as we're here for the American people.

        >The violence George Bush starts in Iraq will not stop in Iraq . The

        >senseless brutality of this war signals future crimes of still

        >greater inhumanity. If we risk nothing to prevent this, it will

        >happen. If we would have peace, we must work as hard, and risk as

        >much, as the warmakers do for destruction.


        >Pacifism isn't passive. It's a radical challenge to all aspects of

        >worldly power. Nonviolence can prevent catastrophe. Nonviolence

        >multiplies opportunities a thousand-fold, until seemingly

        >insignificant events converge to tumble the tyranny of fears that

        >violence plants within our hearts. Where violence denies freedom,

        >destroys community, restricts choices - we must be present:

        >cultivating our love, our active love, for our entire family of



        >We are daily visiting with families here in Iraq . We are daily

        >visiting hospitals here in Iraq , and doing arts and crafts with the

        >children. We are visiting elementary schools, and high schools. We

        >are fostering community. We are furthering connections. We are

        >creating space for peace.


        >We are not "human shields." We are not here simply in opposition to

        >war. We are a dynamic, living presence - our own, small affirmation

        >of the joy of being alive. Slowly stumbling, joyous and triumphant,

        >full of all the doubts and failings all people hold in common - our

        >presence here is a thundering, gentle call, to Americans as to

        >Iraqis, of the affirmation of life.


        >We must not concede war to the killers. War is not liberation. It is

        >not peace. War is devastation and death.


        >Thuraya, a brilliant, young girl whom I've come to love, recently

        >wrote in her diary:

        >"We don't know what is going to happen. We might die, and maybe we

        >are living our last days in life. I hope that everyone who reads my

        >diary remembers me and knows that there was an Iraqi girl who had

        >many dreams in her life..."


        >Dream with us of a world where we do not let violence rule our

        >lives. Work with us for a world where violence does not rule our

        >lives. Peace is not an abstract concept. We are a concrete, tangible

        >reality. We the peoples of our common world, through the

        >relationships we build with each other, and the risks we take for

        >one another - we are peace.


        >Our team here doesn't know what is going to happen any more than

        >does Thuraya. We too may die. But in her name, in this moment, at

        >the intersection of all our lives, we send you this simple message:

        >We are peace, and we are present.


        >Ramzi Kysia is a Arab American peace activist and writer. He is

        >currently in Iraq with the Voices in the Wilderness' (www.vitw.org)

        > Iraq Peace Team (


        ), a project to keep

        >international peaceworkers to Iraq prior to, during, and after any

        >future U.S. attack, in order to be a voice for the Iraqi people. The

        >Iraq Peace Team can be reached through







        >Thank you all for supporting this work by forwarding it to everyone

        >you know.


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        >Open to the possibilities... www.greatmystery.org


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Kristen E Cheney [mailto:kcheney@...]
        Wednesday, 26 March, 2003 11:06
        To: echeney@...; funkydrummer@...; recheney@...; lkelley@...; wingsofwellbeing@...; newmanjs@...; newmanjess72@...; ujeni@yahoogroups.com; louisew@...
        Subject: [ujeni] [Fwd: Fw: US War Crimes]

        A good article from the Guardian, especially in light of Ari Fleischer's refusal to address Helen Thomas's question about the Geneva Convention and Guantanamo Bay in yesterday's press conference...

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