Bush Reponsible For Afghanistan War Crimes

UN Official Would Support Riot Investigation By Mike Wendling CNSNews.com London Bureau Chief November 30, 2001 London (CNSNews.com) - The U.N.'s chief refugee official said Friday that she would support an investigation into the quelling of a prison riot by anti-terror alliance forces near the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif. "I am concerned about the prison revolt. We don't really know in detail what happened, but we do know that a lot of people got killed," said Mary Robinson, the U.N.'s high commissioner for refugees. "It may well be that the best inquiry would be done by international human rights organisations." Speaking in a live BBC webcast, Robinson said she was concerned about unanswered questions after the revolt. "It would be important to go back over the full sequence - who was there, what happened," she said. "If there are contraventions of standards, the leaders of forces should be disqualified from a future government and the worst perpetrators brought to justice." The Pentagon played down reports of a massacre, saying they were "not believable." Human rights groups and non-governmental organizations were quick to call for an inquiry after hundreds of pro-Taliban soldiers were killed inside the Qala-e-Jhangi prison fort earlier this week. Northern Alliance commander Gen. Rashid Dostum said a group of prisoners attacked a general he had sent to assure the captured soldiers that they would be treated humanely. After the attack, the lightly guarded prisoners seized a weapons depot inside the fort and brandished assault rifles and grenade launches against their captors. The Northern Alliance said it lost 40 of its fighters in the battle to keep control of the prison, and U.S. warplanes launched about 30 air strikes to help quell the rebellion, which lasted three days. About 500 non-Afghan Taliban prisoners were being held at the fort after surrendering at Kunduz. Reports said that nearly all were killed during the uprising. Also killed during the uprising was CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann, the first American known to have died inside Afghanistan during the present conflict. Five other Americans were injured when a U.S. bomb went astray. London-based Amnesty International has led calls for an investigation into the revolt and the attempt to put it down. "The circumstances surrounding the fighting that followed are still not clear," Amnesty said in a statement. "An urgent inquiry should look into what triggered this violent incident, including any shortcomings in the holding and processing of the prisoners, and into the proportionality of the response by United Front, U.S. and U.K. forces. "It should make urgent recommendations to ensure that other instances of surrender and holding of prisoners do not lead to similar disorders and loss of life," the organization said. An opposition British political party even joined the fray. Menzies Campbell, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said the party supported an investigation "The United Nations should institute an immediate inquiry into the events at the prison in Mazar-e-Sharif," Campbell said. "It appears that the Taliban prisoners set out to try and cause as much disruption as they could and were ready to take lives in the course of doing so." Officials from the International Red Cross were still collecting and attempting to identify bodies inside the fort Friday. On Thursday, a Pentagon spokeswoman denied reports that Northern Alliance troops committed war crimes. "There have been reports of a massacre of 160 prisoners by opposition forces," spokeswoman Victoria Clark told reporters. "We have worked really hard to run this one to ground and reports are just not believable." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has also ruled out an inquiry. Errors revealed in siege of Afghan fort Luke Harding in Mazar-i-Sharif, Nicholas Watt, and Ewen Macaskill Saturday December 1, 2001 The Guardian A series of catastrophic errors lay behind this week's prison siege at , where up to 400 Taliban troops died, a Guardian investigation reveals today. As Amnesty International attacked the government for rejecting an inquiry into the killings, it emerged in Mazar-i-Sharif last night that the captured troops were never meant to be incarcerated in the Qala-i-Jhangi fortress. Amir Jan, a former Taliban commander who negotiated the troops' surrender, said they were only taken to the fortress after American forces vetoed a plan to take them to an airfield outside the town. Mr Jan said the first mistake was made early last Saturday after the downfall of the Taliban in Kunduz. The foreign fighters were meant to surrender at Erganak, 12 miles west of the town. Instead, they travelled to Mazar. At this point another mistake was made by Mullah Fahzel, the Taliban commander at Kunduz. He had instructed the fighters to give up their weapons, but had failed to tell them they would be taken into custody. After three to four hours of negotiation the Taliban fighters agreed to surrender. They were disarmed by alliance forces loyal to the alliance warlord General Rashid Dostam. The Taliban forces were put on trucks and taken to his fortress - but only three of the five trucks were searched for concealed weapons. This allowed a Taliban soldier to detonate a hidden grenade at the fortress late on Saturday afternoon, blowing himself up and killing Gen Dostam's police chief. On Sunday the riot erupted when Taliban soldiers thought they were about to be shot as they were tied up. The soldiers believed that two television crews from Reuters and the German ARD station were soldiers who had come to film their execution. Alarmed also by the presence of two CIA officers, the soldiers attacked one of the guards and grabbed his gun. The riot led to the deaths of up to 400 prisoners over three days from a combination of alliance forces and American warplanes. The row came as the talks on the future of Afghanistan stalled in Bonn. They are expected to resume in Kabul next week. November 25, 2001 It seemed too good to be true, the foreign fighters of the Taliban, following their surrender at Kunduz, had not been immediately murdered, a common practice of America's freedom-loving friend, the Northern Alliance. And it was too good to be true. Hundreds of foreign fighters for the Taliban were slaughtered in their prison early Sunday. A German film apparently shows Northern Alliance troops firing down from prison walls into the crowds below. The AP reports an American Special Forces soldier named David calling in air strikes on prisoners being shot completes the ugly picture. Virtually the entire population of prisoners was killed. With the Pentagon's claim that the slaughter resulted from a prison riot, we are witness to an event surely in every respect worthy of Nazi Germany, a feeble lie used to excuse the mass murder of prisoners. The quelling of no prison riot in history required every rioter be slaughtered. And with air strikes to complete the job and destroy forensic evidence? It comes just shortly after Mr. Rumsfeld, honorable man that he is, publicly suggested that all the foreign fighters captured should be killed or permanently walled away. Rumsfeld's words were clearly not wasted on the brutal General Dostum nor on American Special Forces, the thugs who used to murder civilian village leaders in Project Phoenix during the Vietnam War. Afghan News Network ==================== Battle rages anew for fortress in northern Afghanistan after al-Qaida prisoners rise up BURT HERMAN, Associated Press Writer MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan (AP) -- Mortar shells exploding around them, hundreds of anti-Taliban fighters -- and some U.S. soldiers -- rushed into a mud-walled fortress Monday where dozens of captives loyal to Osama bin Laden were said to be fighting to the death. Hundreds of the prisoners had been killed a day earlier in fighting and U.S. airstrikes after they pulled weapons from their tunics and attacked their outnumbered guards, according to the Pentagon and the northern alliance. Two witnesses and an alliance commander claimed at least one American soldier had been killed -- the commander said in a U.S. airstrike -- but the Pentagon said no U.S. military personnel were killed in the fighting. Both the Pentagon and the alliance had declared the uprising over Sunday night, but alliance reinforcements poured into the fortress throughout the day Monday as U.S. warplanes streaked overhead. The prisoners, trapped around a tower, fought with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars they had raided from an ammunition warehouse. "They're fighting until death. For this reason it has continued," said Alam, an alliance commander outside the fort coordinating attacks with a walkie-talkie. "They won't hand themselves over alive." By nightfall, Alam said, 2,000 alliance troops were inside the sprawling, 18th-century fortress, 10 miles west of the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. He said more were on their way. In the late afternoon, a van filled with six U.S. soldiers in desert camouflage stopped alongside Alam, and one of them got out to hug Alam and ask him in a local language who was in charge in the fort. He got back in the van and sped off toward the fortress. The death toll among the prisoners was undetermined but appeared high. The alliance said most of the prisoners in the fortress were killed, and estimates of how many had been there ran from 300 to as high as 800. "They were all killed and very few were arrested," alliance spokesman Zaher Wahadat said. Alim Razim, an adviser to the fortress' commander Gen. Rashid Dostum, 40 northern alliance troops were killed in the fighting. He added that any prisoners still alive wouldn't be for long. "Those who are left over will be dead," he said. "None of them can escape." The fighting was fierce Monday afternoon. At one point, a group of soldiers could be seen running into one part of the fort under the cover of machine-gun fire. Fifteen minutes later, mortar shells began to explode and they made a hasty retreat. The prisoners, mostly Arabs, Chechens and Pakistanis, surrendered Saturday from the besieged city of Kunduz and were being held under the terms of a surrender deal to determine their ties to bin Laden's al-Qaida network. U.S. military officials said the prisoners smuggled weapons under their tunics and seized an ammunitions depot to do battle with their captors. After several hours, about 500 alliance reinforcements arrived, backed by U.S. airstrikes. Alex Perry, a journalist for Time magazine who was inside the fort during the uprising, said 800 people were involved in the fighting, and that an American soldier was killed. "There were two American soldiers inside the fort: one of whom was disarmed and killed -- he was called Mike," Perry reported on the website Time.com. Footage taken by a crew from Germany's ARD television network also showed a U.S. special forces soldier inside telling his commanders he believed an American had been killed. Alam, indicating a large hole in the fortress' wall, also said a U.S. bomb had missed its target, hitting the area of the fortress where the alliance troops were based. He said it killed six alliance fighters and one American. Pentagon spokesman Marine Lt. Col. David Lapan said no U.S. military personnel were killed in the uprising. - Article added at 8:37 AM (CST) on 11/26/2001. Another Alliance commander, Shujan Uddin, told AFP that 300 to 400 foreign Taliban fighters who staged a bloody uprising at a prison fortress in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Sunday had been killed. He said the prisoners were killed by US bombing and Alliance troops, leaving only a few resisters holed up in a basement inside the fortress. US and British special forces joined the fighting and called in air strikes on the POWs, who were mostly Arab, Pakistani and Chechen fighters linked with al-Qaeda, according to Alliance sources. We are watching them to prevent them escaping. If they try, we will open fire," Alam said. "Some among them who tried to tried to leave were bombed." Geneva Convention ===================== Article 2 In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them. The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance. Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof. Article 3 In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: 1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) Taking of hostages; (c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. 2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict. The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention. The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict. Article 4 A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy: GENERAL PROTECTION OF PRISONERS OF WAR Article 12 Prisoners of war are in the hands of the enemy Power, but not of the individuals or military units who have captured them. Irrespective of the individual responsibilities that may exist, the Detaining Power is responsible for the treatment given them. Prisoners of war may only be transferred by the Detaining Power to a Power which is a party to the Convention and after the Detaining Power has satisfied itself of the willingness and ability of such transferee Power to apply the Convention. When prisoners of war are transferred under such circumstances, responsibility for the application of the Convention rests on the Power accepting them while they are in its custody. Article 13 Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest. Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/91.htm ============================ International humanitarian law governs the conduct of parties to international and internal armed conflicts. It comprises, among other treaties, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two protocols of 1977, the Hague Conventions of 1907 regulating the means and methods of warfare, and those principles that, because of their wide acceptance by the community of nations, have become customary international law binding on all states and belligerents. For most of the last decade through October 7, 2001, Afghanistan was embroiled in a civil war governed by the laws relating to internal armed conflicts. The U.S.-led military action against Afghanistan beginning on October 7 is governed by the laws of international armed conflict, which provide the strongest and most developed protections to civilians and soldiers alike. The cornerstone of international humanitarian law is the duty to protect the life, health and safety of civilians and other non-combatants such as soldiers who are wounded or captured or have laid down their arms. It is prohibited, for example, to attack or deliberately injure. The distinction between combatants and non-combatants is fundamental in international humanitarian law. While it is legitimate under this law to target and use lethal force against enemy combatants and their commanders, it is never legitimate to target civilians and other noncombatants. In addition, as described below, the anticipated harm to noncombatants in any given attack may never be disproportionate to the expected military advantage. http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/september11/ihlqna.htm http://www.army.dnd.ca/LF/references/ref_geneva_e.html ======================== The 1949 Geneva Conventions, which codified IHL after World War II, also marked the first inclusion in a humanitarian law treaty of a set of war crimes --the grave breaches of the conventions. Each of the four Geneva Conventions (on wounded and sick on land, wounded and sick at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians) contains its own list of grave breaches. The list in its totality is: willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment (including medical experiments); willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health; extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; compelling a prisoner of war or civilian to serve in the forces of the hostile power; willfully depriving a prisoner of war or protected civilian of the rights of a fair and regular trial; unlawful deportation or transfer of a protected civilian; unlawful confinement of a protected civilian; and taking of hostages. Additional Protocol I of 1977 expanded the protections of the Geneva Conventions for international conflicts to include as grave breaches: certain medical experimentation; making civilians and nondefended localities the object or inevitable victims of attack; the perfidious use of the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem; transfer of an occupying power of parts of its population to occupied territory; unjustifiable delays in repatriation of POWs; apartheid; attack on historic monuments; and depriving protected persons of a fair trial. Under the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I, States must prosecute persons accused of grave breaches or hand them over to a State willing to do so. The grave breaches provisions only apply in international armed conflicts; and they only apply to acts against so-called protected persons or during battlefield activities. Protected persons are, in general, wounded and sick combatants on land and sea, POWs, and civilians who find themselves in the hands of a state of which they are not nationals. The Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) lists as war crimes for international conflicts not only the grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, but some twenty-six serious violations of the laws and customs of war, most of which have been considered by States as crimes since at least World War II. http://www.crimesofwar.org/thebook/categories-of-warcrimes.html