This is footage taken by a Reuters camera crew in Harem on the Syrian-Turkish border. The perpetrators of this war crime are members of the Free Syrian Army Idlib Martyrs Brigade. The Turkish government is complicit in this crime as it has been arming and providing bases for the insurgency, an insurgency which is destroying the ordinary Syrian people’s hopes for a peaceful and prosperous future, living in harmony with one another. Continue Reading…
Archives For War crimes
In the two videos below, uploaded to YouTube, we see prisoners, including wounded, being killed in cold blood.
The unit involved is the Dawud Battalion led by Hassan Aboud (and possibly elements of the Al Khamsa and Ansar Al Haq Battalions) of the Sham Falcons Brigade (Suqur al-Sham). The Sham Falcons Brigade is one of the largest formations of rebels in Syria and commanded by Ahmed Abu Issa (real name Al Moujahed Sheykh Ahmed) who is also the head of the Syrian Liberation Front, probably the biggest alliance of rebels, reportedly supplied by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi was reportedly captured and shot dead 20 October. As the evidence below shows the Libyan leader and his son Mutassim were summarily executed by the rebels, sharing the fate of so many Libyans in this conflict. Continue Reading…
The background to the video and image below is the ongoing bombardment of Sirte by NATO aircraft in support of the rebel brigades who are indiscriminately firing tank, mortar and artillery shells into this urban, civilian-populated area. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has refused to comment on why NATO is not fulfilling its UN mandate to ‘protect the civilian population.’
As is now well documented, the rebellion in Libya began with violent attacks on police stations, such as this one in Al-Bayda where people locked inside were reportedly burnt to death:
An intensive propaganda campaign systematically distorted the facts on the ground, including in particular allegations that the Libyan airforce was bombing peaceful protestors and that Libyan soldiers were being massacred for not shooting on unarmed protestors (since proven to have been a false flag operation). This propaganada allowed a mobilisation of the international community and the passing of UN Resolution 1973 which imposed the No-Fly Zone.
It is UN Resolution 1973 which NATO argues provides the legal basis for the coalition operation in Libya as NATO makes clear in their Factsheet on Operation Unified Protector:
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 mandates “all necessary measures” to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack. In line with this authorisation, NATO conducts reconnaissance, surveillance and information-gathering operations to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians and civilian-populated areas.
Notwithstanding this NATO supported the rebels as they escalated the level of violence directed against those who opposed them, civilians and guest workers with attacks using Grad rockets, artillery, tanks and mortars – in fact any weapons that could be looted from arms dumps or supplied by NATO, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Here is an early example from Misrata of rebel forces nonchantly firing mortars, in between drinking cups of tea:
With the brutal assault on Sirte, which is facing a bombardment from the air, surpassing Guernica, the indiscriminate assaults on civilian areas are now being taken to a higher level:
As we have seen, NATO’s official justification for their operations includes a requirement “to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians or civilian-populated areas.”
Furthermore the justification includes this:
Targeting depends on the decisions of operational commanders. Targets struck to date have included tanks, armoured personnel carriers, air-defence systems and artillery around and approaching key civilian areas including Misrata, Ajdabiyah and Zintan. [My emphasis]
Yet clearly NATO is supporting the rebel use of tanks and artillery around and approaching the key civilian area of Sirte; indeed NATO and its allies are almost certainly supplying the ammunition for these big guns.
Many journalists are having trouble processing this information, let alone communicating it to their readership, as it does not fit in with the overriding paradigm of an operation “intended to protect civilians.”
It remains to be seen, which journalists have the intelligence to realise that the old paradigm is dead and the courage to communicate this fact to their readers. A new paradigm is required, a new framework to understand the NATO war on Libya, one which recognises that the mantra of “responsibity to protect civilians” which NATO repeats at every press conference and in every press release is nothing more than:
1) A propaganda device, aimed at the fooling the public into supporting a war of aggression.
2) A legal device whereby the NATO command seeks to escape responsibility for war crimes.
Human Rights Investigations has been following the situation of the Tawergha closely and here we draw the information together and find, based on the reports of witnesses, journalists and human rights workers, the situation of the Tawergha is not just one of ethnic cleansing but, according to the legal definition, genocide.
On Saturday 17th September, as reported by Al Jazeera, Ahmed Bani, the interim government’s military spokesman, said gave army personnel still loyal to Gaddafi a last chance to join the ranks of former rebel fighters:
“The soldiers and officers who will not heed this last call will be accused of high treason.”
The invocation of high treason in civil war (“non-international armed conflict”) situations is a highly disreputable manoevre designed to deny any legal obligations to adversaries due under international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977.
It is worth noting the irony given that
- Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as “…[a]…citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation].”
- It was allegedly the very prospect of the old government using excessive force in suppressing rebellion which motivated the rebellion in the first place.
The dangers of the path being pursued by Ahmed Bani (and his NATO advisors presumably) is that this course of action (and this is well established in the annals of history), tends to lead to a situation where each side:
“sinks into barbarity and tries to outdo each other in the cruelty of their reprisals.” (Bluntschli, Das moderne Völkerrecht der civilisirten Staaten als Rechtsbuch dargestellt, 1868,288, para.512)
The Geneva Conventions
Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 sets minimum standard for the use of civil war opponents:
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.
Given the situation on the ground in Libya, and the certainty of further atrocities if a ceasefire and negotiated solution is not found, and the real danger of genocide against certain tribes, Human Rights Investigations again appeals strongly for an immediate end to the NATO bombing, (which has unfortunately just been extended) a ceasefire and negotiated end to the conflict.
“Real power begins where secrecy begins” – Hannah Arendt, The Origin of Totalitarianism
A new report states that Bradley Manning, who is currently in military custody in the United States awaiting trial for passing information to Wikileaks, “acted as a whistleblower and should be treated as such.”