Tuesday, August 08, 2006

US Human Rights Abuse Continues

A copy of Abeer's identity card indicating she was just 14 at the time of her 12 March murder. Source: Reuters

There have been countless Mai Lai's in the US war against Iraq but nothing seems to pervade the press long enough to make this killing stop.

The UK Independent has today (buried in the middle, but at least there on page 23) two new installments of the failure of US troops to follow even the minimum of international laws intended to uphold the rights of civilians. These troops got away with the prehistoric incivility of Abu Ghraib which in itself was a sad statement on the condition of so-called international law today. But today's headlines are about two new incidents in George W. Bush's "fabulous" army's record of brutal and downright cruel human rights violations, the first story is about Iraq, the second one is about Afghanistan.

The Raping of Abeer

The first is the tragic story of 14 year old Abeer Al-Janabi -- an Iraqi girl who was gang raped then murdered by 3 or possibly 6 members of a US troop squad in a town just south of Baghdad. Her mother, father and 6 year old sister were also brutally murdered during the incident. Today began the US military trial of 5 of the apparent rapists. And this horrible incident was the vindictive culmination of an extended period of harrassment against this innocent child. According to USA Today these soldiers of the US army are being charged with premeditated murder and are "accused of targeting the girl after seeing her near the Iraqi town of Mahmoudiya earlier this year."

As is typically the case, these soldiers are all from poor and broken family backgrounds, several of them being minorities. All of them looked set to propagate their miseries on their own offspring, with out-of-wedlock children from multiple unmarried partners, previous criminal convictions and other hopeless tallies on the list of things not to do for a successful life. They have been named as James P. Barker (whose mother was born in Mexico), Paul E. Cortez, Jesse V. Spielman, Bryan L. Howard, Anthony W. Yribe, and Steven D. Green who was actually honorably discharged for being a nutcase, sorry, having "personality disorders" before the incident came to light in early July.

The whole trial seems a suspicious attempt by Herr Bushler to redeem himself and his military which he says consists of "the finest people [he's] ever known" (yes, he knows each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of US military personnel) by sweeping under the rug what he is selling as an exception and not the rule of US military behavior -- something most of us stopped believing long ago.

That's right Herr Bushler, put a bunch of insane boys behind bars while you continue to breed deeply disturbed boys just like them in a society that seems conducive to such fundamental family and mental problems that they clearly suffer from, only to replace their vacated spots with a new batch of the same type of psychologically disturbed moldable clay figures that your military thrives on.

The Murders at Khair Kane

The reason why the US has gotten away with so much is the same reason it has always been in history: there is no evidence to prove their carnage and violence. As we all know, things changed with the advent of the televised images of Vietnam and now bit by bit we are getting more and more information -- though it is arguably still very far from sufficent. May 29th in Khair Kane, a district north of Kabul in Afghanistan is one such exception. As US troops fired away and murdered up to six unarmed civilians in what one can only presume is routine behavior, unbeknownst to them the incident was preserved on film.

How did the world find out? Because 34 year old photographer Atif Ahmadzai, who was also grazed in the thigh by one of these bullets managed to get 20 photographs of the incident which he then took to the US embassy to complain on deaf ears. Eventually, the

UK Independent found out about the pictures. However, the Independent fails to tell us how this information got out to the press -- though it was most probably because Ahmadzai, who seems quite resourceful to say the least, managed to get in touch with the press himself.

This is an inspiring story of how individuals can and should make a difference in media coverage of otherwise clandestine potential news items. In this case, one man's efforts could bring, if not justice for the Afghan victims, at least international recognition of the specifics of US war crimes in Afghanistan. This is grassroots journalism at its best and let's hope there is more to come.

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