Posts Tagged ‘Afghan civilians killed’

The Obama Killing Machine in Afghanistan

March 8, 2010
The “under-reporting” of civilians killed by foreign forces

by Prof. Marc W. Herold

Global Research, March 8, 2010
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Let the numbers tell the story. The following presents a detailed summary and analysis of Afghan civilians killed directly – so-called impact deaths – by U.S/NATO forces in Afghanistan during a single month, February 2010. The Obama killing machine left 80-86 dead Afghan and Pashtun civilians. By contrast, the number in February 2009 was 50. The intent here is to set the record straight as regards Afghans killed by the U.S/NATO, and in so doing challenge the UNAMA to move beyond its “faith-based” counting. Regrettably, data put out by the UNAMA gets widely cited less for its validity (which cannot be fact-checked given the organization’s refusal to publish disaggregated data) and more because of a vague public yearning to believe (have faith in) in the U.N’s alleged impartiality and credibility. As I have repeatedly demonstrated, the UNAMA data barely captures one-half of the Afghan civilians killed by U.S/NATO direct actions and by so doing serves Obama and the Pentagon in their news management effort.[1]
In a cemetery marked by green and white flags in Helmand’s provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, 20 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of Marjah, men buried one Marjah resident who died of his injuries suffered in what his brother said was coalition bombing three days ago. “I buried him here, because I couldn’t take him back to my village,” the brother, Sayed Wali, a thin man in a faded blue tunic (from http://www1.cw56.com/news/articles/world/BO136048/ ).

Veteran reporter, Kathy Gannon, with a record of independent reporting on Afghanistan going back to October 2001, noted that the Taliban fighting foreign forces in Marja are villagers.[2]  She also provided rare details on victims of foreign forces there: Musa Jan’s home was hit by an aircraft around February 16th killing five occupants inside including children; Sayed Lal was outside in a field with a friend when he was shot by foreign soldiers. Assadullah, 22, was riding his motorcycle when the Americans fired at him shattering his arm; Abdul Hamid, 12, was in front of his home when raiding foreign forces arrived,

…they were running and shooting. I tried to get back in my house, but they shot me in the leg, and there were more bullets, and they shot me again in the belly. Near me some other people fell into a canal. They called a plane and they bombarded.[3]

On 27 February, foreign soldiers killed three people, including two children, in Alasai district of Kapisa province. Mohammad Ashraf, a tribal elder of Kotki area of Alasai district, giving details of the incident, told AIP that last night at around 2200 local time, French soldiers descended from their helicopter in an area far from Waldikhel village of Kotki area.and and laid an ambush. When people of the area learned about the arrival of these forces, they started fleeing from their village when the French forces opened fire at them.” The tribal elder added: “As a result of the firing, three people have been martyred, one of whom was nine-year-old Joma Gul, son of Gholam Rasul, another was 10-year-old Aghar Khan, son of Morad Mohammad, and the third one was Faqir Mohammad, a young man.”

A man who identified himself as Hamidullah said he had been in the home as some 20 people gathered to celebrate the birth of a son when a group of men he described as “U.S. Special Forces” surrounded the compound. Saying he witnessed one man’s death, Hamidullah said, “Daoud was coming out of the house to ask what was going on. And then they shot him.” Then they killed a second man, Hamidullah said. The rest of the group were forced out into the yard, made to kneel and had their hands bound behind their back, he said, breaking off crying without giving any further details. A deputy provincial council member in Gardez, Shahyesta Jan Ahadi, said news of the operation has inflamed the local community that blames Americans. “Last night, the Americans conducted an operation in a house and killed five innocent people, including three women. The people are so angry,” he said.

Occupied Afghanistan, March 5, 2010. An Afghan horse cart approaches a U.S. occupation force Stryker armored personnel carrier near Shah-Wali-Kot, Kandahar (photo by John Moore, Getty Images at http://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/97456605/Getty-Images-News )

Rare photo of an injured victim of U.S/NATO forces., shot during U.S. offensive near Marjah, February 14, 2010

(photo by AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito at http://topics.philly.com/photo/09Opdbv6joaZZ )
LASHKARGAH, Feb 17, 2010: An eight-year-old girl weeps while laying head on her knees as foreign soldiers handed over the bodies of her family members killed during the ongoing operation Moshtarak in southern Helmand province. The girl, resident of Marja district, lost her 10 family members in a NATO missile strike (Source: http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/02/17/bodies-of-12-civilians-killed-by-nato-handed-over-to-families.html )

The following Table details the 80-86 Afghan civilians killed by direct U.S/NATO actions along several dimensions. The numbers represent a low-count insofar as they do not include many Pashtun civilians killed in the Pakistani border regions by U.S drone strikes. The Table demonstrates that close to three-quarters of all civilian deaths resulted from air strikes (including the rocket strike in Marja on February 14th). U.S/NATO occupation forces killed civilians in the provinces of Uruzgan, Helmand, Kunduz, Kandahar, Paktia, Kapisa, Farah and in Miranshah (drone strike in Pakistan). The average number of civilians killed in an air strike was ten, whereas in a ground attack it was 2.4. But ground attacks are more deadly for foreign occupation forces. Some 46% of civilian casualties were accounted for by two deadly air strikes – the HiMars rocket strike upon a home in Marjah on February 14th and that by U.S. Special Forces in Dai Kundi, Uruzgan on February 22nd. A Marjah resident noted,

Always when they storm a village the foreign troops never care about civilian casualties at all. And at the end of the day they report the deaths of women and children as the deaths of Taliban.[4]

Table  Afghan and Pashtun Civilians killed by U.S/NATO Occupation Forces during February 2010

Day Location Number killed Victim demographics

Female        male         children        undet

Cause of death

Air strike      ground    combined      undet

Feb 5 Kunduz 1 1 1
Feb 12/13 Paktia 5 3                 2 5
Feb 14 Farah 2 2 2
Feb 14 Helmand 12 5                 5                  2 12
Feb 14 Helmand 3 (-15) 3 3
Feb 15 Kandahar 5 5 5
Feb 15 Helmand 1 1 1
Feb 17 Helmand 5 5 5
Feb 16-24 Helmand 3 1                 2 3
Feb 18 Kunduz 7 7 7
Feb 20 Helmand 1 1 1
Feb 22 Kapisa 3 1                   2 3
Feb 22 Uruzgan 27-33 4                                     1                22-28 27
Feb 24 Pakistan 5 5 5
Totals All areas 80-86 13              27                  6                34-40 61             17                                    2

And what is reported in the mainstream western press? For the first two months of 2010, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission’s Fareed Hamidi trumpeted a dip in civilian deaths, announcing for all those willing to listen that 71 civilians had died at the hand of Afghan and foreign forces.[5]  The UN naturally parroted this gross under-count. In fact, as I reported, foreign forces alone killed 150-156 Afghan civilians during the first two months of 2010.[6]  In other words, the AIHRC only counts one in two Afghan civilians killed by foreign forces. Another font of propaganda, the Soros-bankrolled Open Society Institute, reassured its readers that protecting civilians and protecting troops in Afghanistan was part of the “new” counterinsurgency-style offensive.[7]

In 2008, the UNAMA captured about 70% of Afghans killed by foreign forces, but in 2009 the figure was under 40%, justifiably earning UNAMA’s performance as being faith-based (or ideologically-inspired) counting. Sadly, ‘groupies’ like the western media, peace groups and even the World Socialist Web Site (wsws) uncritically go about citing spurious UNAMA figures, for example endlessly mentioning that Afghan civilian deaths caused by “coalition forces” have declined: naturally they have since the UNAMA missed only 30% of such deaths in 2008, but 60% in 2009.

As I have argued and documented, in fact a trade-off exists between protecting foreign occupation forces and Afghan civilians.[8]   Such trade-off is best captured by the ratio of Afghan civilians killed per dead foreign occupation soldier. This ratio was 4.97 in 2007, 3.19 for 2008, 1.94 for 2009, and for Jan-Feb 2010 it was 1.48.[9]  In effect, the Obama regimen involved trading off US/NATO soldier deaths for fewer Afghan civilian ones in order to placate critical NATO members.[10]

Conclusion

Air strikes still kill the majority of Afghan civilians. The absolute number of Afghan civilians killed by foreign occupation forces is not declining.[11]   The mainstream western media with few exceptions and organizations like UNAMA and the AIHRC de facto serve the Obama news management effort by severely under-reporting Afghan civilians killed by foreign forces.

Notes

1. Most recently in my “Technology Spectacles: the Country that Produced MRE’s now gives Afghans Drones and GRR (Government-Ready-to-Rule) Kits,” RAWA News (March 3, 2010) at http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/03/03/technology-spectacles-the-country-that-produced-mres-now-gives-afghans-drones-and-grr-government-ready-to-rule-kits.html

2. Kathy Gannon, “Afghan Wounded Tell of More Left Behind in Marjah,” Associated press (February 24, 2010) at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iEB2VT9-Ux1pdXs8XuxMSo6zcajgD9E2N4Q00

3. Ibid

4. Jay Boone, “Thousands of Civilians flee Afghan Region as NATO Plans Onslaught,” The Guardian (February 5, 2010)

5. “Afghanistan: Dip in Civilian Deaths in First Two Months of 2010,” IRIN News (March 1, 2010) at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/SHIG-835JLW?OpenDocument

6. Herold (2010) in Table 1.

7.  Erica Gaston, “Protecting Civilians and Protecting Troops in Afghanistan,” The AFPAK Channel (February 19, 2010) at http://blog.soros.org/2010/02/protecting-civilians-and-protecting-troops-in-afghanistan/

8.  In my “Killing the Innocents to Save ‘Our Troops’,” RAWA News (October 15, 2009) at http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2009/10/15/killing-the-innocents-to-save-our-troops.html

9. Herold (2010), op. cit

10. See my “Obama’s Unspoken Trade-Off,” Frontline. India’s National Magazine 26, 18 (August 29 – September 11, 2009) at http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2618/stories/20090911261813000.htm

11. See Table 1 in Herold (2010), op. cit.

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AFGHANISTAN: Media Outrage Over Coalition Killing of Reporter

September 19, 2009

By Killid Correspondents, Inter Press Service News, Sep 19, 2009

KABUL, Sep 19 (IPS) – For many Afghans, slain Afghan journalist Sultan Munadi has become a symbol for all that is wrong with the United States-led war in Afghanistan.

One thousand and thirteen Afghan civilians died due to the conflict in the first six months of this year, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, a 24 percent increase over the same period in 2008, when 818 civilians were killed.

Continues >>

Shambles in Afghanistan: Why Are They Dying?

December 7, 2008

Brian Cloughley | The Smirking Chimp,  December 6, 2008

There can be few things more shameful or degrading for a head of state to have to admit than “I wish I could intercept the [US] planes that are going to bomb Afghan villages, but that’s not in my hands.” But Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai was forced to say this last week. In 2008, so far, at least 190 Afghan civilians have been killed by air strikes; about the same number as died in the atrocious slaughter in Mumbai. But there haven’t been any protests about the killing of civilians in Afghanistan, except by Afghans, of course. But who listens to Afghans?

No, it’s not in Karzai’s hands to rule his country, as he was elected to do. It is in the hands — or fists — of the occupying powers, who, through a pathetic combination of arrogance, ignorance and incompetence, are, in Karzai’s words, “still…not able to defeat the Taliban”.

The Taliban (or whatever one might call them — crazy criminal barbarians, many of them) thrive and kill because there was no viable political plan to administer Afghanistan after the invasion, and the country was thus doomed to chaos. First to arrive at the end of 2001 were American B-52 bombers, laying waste the land until their Strangelove-like controllers ran out of targets.

Then the brutal northern warlords surfaced, bought with millions of US dollars, and wreaked unspeakable atrocities upon their tribal and personal enemies whom they dubbed ‘Taliban’ while laughing at their paymasters’ ingenuousness at believing their vicious deceptions.

Last came a combination of international agencies, bless their well-meaning hearts, and American troops who have caused so much disruption, alienation and hatred. In the middle are the Brits, the Canadians, the Dutch, the Australians and a few other nations whose soldiers are being killed.

For what, exactly?

As I write this, there is news that two British Marines and an Australian officer have been killed in Afghanistan. They were in 42 Royal Marine Commando and 4th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, with both of which I was an artillery forward observer in Borneo when we were defending Malaysia against the Indonesian army in the mid-1960s. As anyone who has worn uniform knows, every soldier has lasting loyalty to his regiment and to other units with which he has had served. And I grieve for those who died almost as much as do their immediate comrades.

But I ask: Why did they die? For what reason do their comrades and families mourn their loss? For what cause did they give up their lives?

Did they die for democracy? Hardly. Because Afghanistan will never — ever — be a democracy in Western terms. This is an unattainable and therefore stupid objective.

Did they die for honesty in government? Hardly. Because the British and Australian governments joined the illegal invasion of Iraq, and lied at the time and forever after about the reasons they did so. (The real reason they helped invade Iraq was that they didn’t want to offend Bush and his cabal of demented warniks.)

It goes deeper than this in military terms. The British defence minister, a clever political animal called David Miliband (I met him once, when he was a junior education minister, and never have I witnessed such an unintentionally side-splitting parody of the main character in the BBC’s wonderful “Yes, Minister”), last week announced that “If there are requests [by the US for more British troops in Afghanistan], we’ll look at them hard… We have never been in blanket refusal.”

No, you poor fellow, you’ve been wrapped in a blanket of ignorance. Because numbers of troops in a campaign do not — must not — depend on political machinations. What happens (or should happen) is this:

A government decides that there should be military action of some sort. The defence minister then calls for his military chief and tells him the precise objective of the proposed campaign. The chief goes away and has his staff do the calculations. He goes back to the minister and says we need X thousand troops to do this, and we must have such-and-such equipment.

And if the politicians won’t give him that number of troops and the equipment he asks for, he resigns. Well, no, he doesn’t, of course, because he’s looking forward to retirement directorships and so forth. What he does is defer to the ignorant politicians, whereupon he commits his soldiers to a war for which they are ill equipped and appallingly under-strength.

Soldiers die in wars. That’s taken for granted. We all took our chances. But soldiers are dying in Afghanistan because politicians were silly enough to get their countries involved without proper planning, and because of the spinelessness of their military leaders. This is no way to fight a war. Not only is it being fought with too few troops, but every national contingent has different rules of engagement. Some can’t fight at night; some aren’t permitted to fight at all; some are reluctant to cooperate with other foreign forces. The two US contingents operate entirely separately, and US Special Forces are tasked from their HQ in the States. There is no unified joint and combined command that has a single clear military mission. It’s a martial shambles.

As I’ve written before: If a young officer at any staff college in the world was presented with the Afghanistan problem and came up with a military solution such as in now in place, he would be sent packing.

Either foreign forces in Afghanistan are given proper military direction and provided with the troop numbers and equipment they need, or the whole dismal campaign should be abandoned. It is extremely stupid — indeed it is monstrously wicked — to place soldiers in danger without the basic necessities to carry out their duties. There should be very many guilty consciences among western politicians and senior officers. But if they had consciences, they wouldn’t have got into this mess in the first place.

Brian Cloughley’s book about the Pakistan army, War, Coups and Terror, has just been published by Pen & Sword Books (UK). His email is beecluff@gmail.com.

Mind the gap

October 18, 2008

George Barnsby, Oct 17, 2008

We have divided the world into nuclear maniacs who are prepared to see the world destroyed and civilised people who wish to survive and the gap between them widens every day. An article in the Guardian today by Seumas Milne who says that civilian dead are a trade-off in Nato’s war of barbarity. In this year alone for every occupation soldier killed at least three Afghan civilians have died at the hands of the occupying forces.
They include the 95 people, 6o of them children killed by a US assault in Azizabad in August;  the infamous wedding guests dismembered by US bombardment in July and the four women and children killed in a British rocket attack six weeks ago in Sangin.

The most comprehensive research into Afghan war casualties has been by Marc Herold, a US professor at the University of New Hampshire. In his latest findings Herold estimates that  the number of civilians killed since 2006 is  3,273. But most telling is   the change of military tactics underlying these figures. Close air support is now the favoured practice which means that the infantry call up air support and those killed are inevitably civilians. The tactics is self defeating, even the puppet Afghan president has railed against Nat’s recklessness with Afghan blood, but it inevitably creates further resistance and the demand that these imperialist forces leave their country. There is no possibility that the war in Afghanistan can be won any  more than there is in Iraq and the only choice the imperialists have is to leave at once or to be chucked
out.

The war they all agree on

September 19, 2008

America’s two ruling parties came together in August to plan the escalation of the U.S. war on Afghanistan.

IN EARLY September, the Pentagon closed its investigation into allegations that U.S. bombs killed 92 Afghan civilians, including as many as 60 children, as they slept peacefully in the village of Nawabad on the night of August 21.

Columnist: Sharon Smith

Sharon Smith Sharon Smith is the author of Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States, a historical account of the American working-class movement, and Women and Socialism, a collection of essays on women’s oppression and the struggle against it. She is also on the board of Haymarket Books.

Despite protests from the UN, human rights organizations and the villagers themselves, Pentagon officials insisted for weeks that only seven civilians had been killed, along with 35 Taliban fighters, during a legitimate military operation aimed at capturing Taliban commander Mullah Sadiq.

Indeed, they claimed that the attack, which included bombardment with a C130 Specter gunship, was a necessary response to heavy fire emanating from a meeting of Taliban leaders in the village.

In its defense, the Pentagon cited evidence from an embedded Fox News correspondent who had substantiated its claims. Unfortunately, that correspondent turned out to be former Marine Lt. Oliver North, who has been known to bend the truth in the past.

North’s military career was cut short after his role was revealed in the Iran-contra scandal in the 1980s. At the time, North admitted to having illegally channeled guns to Iran while funneling the profits to the CIA-backed contra mercenary force fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s democratically elected Sandinista government–and then lying to Congress about it. In recent years, North has nevertheless cultivated a lucrative broadcasting career at Fox.

U.S. soldiers take up positions in the town of Gangikhel in southeastern Afghanistan  (Sgt. Sean Terry | U.S. Army)U.S. soldiers take up positions in the town of Gangikhel in southeastern Afghanistan (Sgt. Sean Terry | U.S. Army)

Although North assured Fox viewers, “Coalition forces…have not been able to find any evidence that non-combatants were killed in this engagement,” video footage taken on the scene by a local doctor showed scores of dead bodies and destroyed homes, documenting a civilian death toll at Nawabad that is the largest since the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan nearly seven years ago.

Thus, the U.S. military was forced to reopen its own investigation on September 8, only days after it had exonerated itself. A red-faced official told reporters that “emerging evidence” had convinced the Pentagon to investigate the matter further.

On that same day, Human Rights Watch issued a report that U.S. and NATO forces dropped 362 tons of bombs over Afghanistan during the first seven months of this year; bombings during June and July alone equaled the total during all of 2006.

The rising civilian death toll in Afghanistan rattled even the normally placid New York Times, which argued, “America is fast losing the battle for hearts and minds, and unless the Pentagon comes up with a better strategy, the United States and its allies may well lose the war.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AS NEWS of the Nawabad massacre unfolded, another atrocity was also gaining media attention, further exposing the gangster state installed and maintained by U.S. forces to run Afghanistan since 2001.

President Hamid Karzai, the U.S.’s handpicked puppet, reportedly pardoned two men convicted of brutally raping a woman in the northern province of Samangan in September 2005.

At the time, Mawlawi Islam, the commander of a local militia, was running for a seat in Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections. “The commander and three of his fighters came and took my wife out of our home and took her to their house about 200 meters away and, in front of these witnesses, raped her,” the woman’s husband told the Independent.

The couple has a doctor’s report that the rapists cut her private parts with a bayonet during the rape, and then forced her to stagger home without clothes from the waist down.

Mawlawi won a seat in parliament in September 2005, as the U.S. media celebrated the elections as proof that democracy was flourishing in Afghanistan thanks to U.S. occupation. But Mawlawi was assassinated, mafia-style in January of this year.

His past had caught up with him. Mawlawi had first fought as a mujahideen commander in the 1980s, but switched sides to become a Taliban governor in the 1990s. He switched sides yet again when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and re-joined the former mujahideen, which had morphed into the Northern Alliance–the group of warlords installed by the U.S. to run Afghanistan as a collection of private gangster fiefdoms.

Karzai issued a press statement expressing his “deep regret” in response to Mawlawi’s death in January. Bypassing the rape charge, he expressed nothing but praise: “Mawlawi Islam Muhammadi was a prominent jihadi figure who has made great sacrifices during the years of jihad against the Soviet invasion.”

Mawlawi’s three subordinates were finally convicted for the rape this year, and one died in prison. But although they were sentenced to 11 years, Karzai reportedly issued a pardon for the other two in May, claiming the men “had been forced to confess their crimes.”

The drug-running warlords who have controlled Afghanistan since 2001 have no interest in either democracy or women’s rights. Indeed, it is not uncommon for poor poppy farmers who cannot repay loans to local warlords to offer up their daughters for marriage instead.

Gang rapes and violence against women are on the rise, according to human rights organizations. As a member of parliament, Mir Ahmad Joyenda, told the Independent, “The commanders, the war criminals, still have armed groups. They’re in the government. Karzai, the Americans, the British sit down with them. They have impunity. They’ve become very courageous and can do whatever crimes they like.” In this situation, Afghan warlords again produce 90 percent of the world’s opium, without legal repercussion.

Women’s prisons, in contrast, are teeming once again. As Sonali Kolhatkar, the author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords and the Propaganda of Silence, argued on Democracy Now! “Women are being imprisoned in greater numbers than ever before, for the crime of escaping from home or having, quote-unquote, ‘sexual relations’–‘illegal sexual relations.’ Most of these women are simply victims of rape.”

Continued . . .

Killings of Afghan civilians sharply up, U.N. says

September 17, 2008

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, Sept 16 (Reuters) – Nearly 1,500 Afghan civilians were killed in the first eight months of this year, many in attacks on schools, medical clinics, bazaars and other crowded areas, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The death toll, up 39 percent from the same period in 2007, includes 800 killings blamed on Taliban and other militants as well as 577 caused by Afghan forces and their U.S.-led coalition allies. Responsibility for another 68 deaths was not clear.

The U.N. human rights office said the spike in fatalities had coincided with “a systematic campaign of intimidation and violence” by Taliban forces targeting doctors, teachers, students, tribal elders, civil servants, former police and military personnel and public construction workers.

“The number of killings by the Taliban and other anti-government forces almost doubled by comparison with the first eight months of 2007, with the numbers killed by government and international military forces also increasing substantially,” it said in a report.

There were 330 civilians killed in Afghanistan in August alone, spokesman Rupert Colville said.

“That’s the highest number of civilian deaths to occur in a single month since the end of major hostilities and the ousting of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001,” he told a news briefing in Geneva, where the U.N.’s human rights work is based.

Air strikes by international forces caused nearly 400 civilian deaths in the year through August, the U.N. office said, calling for accountability and greater transparency about those attacks.

The Taliban carried out 142 summary executions and also used suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices, according to the report drawn up by human rights officers attached to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

COMMUNITIES FEARFUL

In a statement, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanetham Pillay said there was “substantial evidence” that the Taliban was seeking to intimidate aand attack Afghan civilians thought to support the Afghan government, the international community and military forces.

While most Taliban attacks focused on military and government targets, “such operations were frequently undertaken in crowded civilian areas such as bazaars or busy roads,” the U.N. report found.

“Such attacks terrorise communities and make them fearful of supporting or even associating with the government,” it said. “Schools and medical services, in particular, have become prime targets for attack by anti-government elements”.

It singled out a suicide bombing during a dog fight in Kandahar province last February which killed 67 spectators, and a bomb in July at the Indian embassy in Kabul which killed 50.

An air strike on a wedding party in Nangahar province last July killed 47 civilians, including 30 children, and a strike in Azizabad village in western Herat’s Shindand district on Aug. 22 caused 92 civilian deaths, including 62 children, it said.

The U.S. military, which initially said 30 to 35 militants were killed in Azizabad, plans to reopen the investigation into the incident after a cellphone video emerged showing bodies of people said to have been killed in the strike.

Pillay, a former International Criminal Court judge who took up as the top U.N. rights official this month, said civilians must to be shielded from the ongoing fighting in Afghanistan.

“It is also imperative that there is greater transparency in accountability procedures for international forces involved in incidents that cause civilian casualties,” she said. (editing by Laura MacInnis and Robert Hart)

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Afghan human rights commission: US troops are committing war crimes

September 3, 2008

RINF.Com,Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

By Parwiz Shamal

AN AFGHAN human rights organisation has accused the United States army of committing war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on Tuesday that, according to their own investigations, civilians are killed in most operations conducted by US forces.

AIHRC expressed strong concern about the death of innocent Afghans during military operations and urged those responsible for the killings to face trial.

“According to our investigations, 98% of civilian casualties caused by the coalition forces in Afghanistan are intentional,” the head of the AIHRC, Lal Gul, said.

“The actions of the coalition forces, especially the American forces, are not only against the human rights laws, but are considered war crimes. Therefore, these forces have committed war crimes in Afghanistan,” he said.

Foreign forces maintain that they try their best to minimise civilian casualties in their operations.

They also accuse the Taliban of using civilians as human shields by taking shelter in residential homes and areas.

A spokesman for the AIHRC, Nadir Nadiri, said: “Whenever a military force, or one of the two sides in a war, kill innocent people intentionally, it has broken the international human rights law, and according to the human rights law, such people must be tried.”

NATO and the US-led coalition have come under fire from Afghan politicians, ordinary people and the local media for killing innocent civilians in recent weeks.

On Monday, residents accused foreign troops of killing four members of the same family during a midnight raid in Kabul, a claim the international troops strongly deny.

On August 22, a coalition raid on a village in the western province of Herat killed as many as 90 civilians, 60 of them children, a United Nations investigation into the ground and air operation revealed.

Karzai, who has also chided western generals for their failure to minimise civilian casualties, says the death of innocent Afghans only plays into the hands of the Taliban, who use the killings to turn people against the government.

More than 500 civilians have been killed during operations led by foreign and Afghan forces against militants this year, according to the Afghan government and some aid groups.

The UN says the civilian death-toll has increased “sharply” this year on last.

Stars, Stripes, War and Shame

August 31, 2008

By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE | Counterpunch, August 30 / 31, 2008

The Pentagon says “only” five civilians were killed Friday, a week ago, by US aerial bombardment. According to Afghan officials and a United Nations report, 90 Afghan civilians died, 60 of whom were children.

Just days after this carnage, the Democrats, so many dressed in red, white, and blue, opened their convention in Denver. In the wake of the barbarity in Afghanistan and the continued suicide bombings in Iraq, the revelry and flag waving in Colorado seemed inappropriate. Sure, I understand that hope was and is in the air, but I reached for the remote and powered off.

Thursday night, I tuned in to hear a sweet, young voice, pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of American. “With freedom and justice for all.”

Freedom and justice are concepts we can no longer take for granted. They aren’t guaranteed by stars, stripes, and platitudes. The truth is that George and Dick have sucked the life out of our Constitution, aided by Congressional Republicans and Democrats as well as too many among the electorate who are guilty by reason of fear or complacency.

The events of 9/11 sent masses rushing to either purchase or dust off their Bibles and reference scripture for guidance and to to justify “an eye for an eye.” Never mind that we leveled a country with no link to those who used our commercial airplanes as weapons. The attack on our soil provided the neocons the excuse they needed to implement their plan for domination of Earth’s bounties. Add to this the groupies convinced that George Bush was chosen by God to be president at this particular time of crisis. That Bush himself believed this should have been a red-flag warming that the path he demanded we follow would lead us, not to an Eden of security and prosperity but, to a miasma of endless conflict and contempt from most of the world.

The warmongers forgot the song learned in childhood:

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

The lyrics crawl through my consciousness as war rages on and candidates for the highest office in our land spar in their own war of words for the power prize, which is the authority to declare war. To John Bomb Bomb McCain, war is something about which to joke, promote, and accelerate. He reminds us repeatedly of his years as a tortured prisoner of war. Yet he never mentions the targets whose eyes he didn’t see–all those Vietnamese peasants, men, women, and children, whose bodies he melted. For Barack Obama who opposed the invasion of Iraq but, without fail, has voted to fund it, the prudent foreign policy strategy is to send more troops to the “right” hotspot, Afghanistan. Russia must love this.

Monday is the beginning of the Republican version of Denver. When McCain, who seems to have a “thing” for beauty queens, speaks, we’ll probably hear about that trip he’s going to take to the “gates of hell.” Also, he’ll offer the usual “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here,” and “if we leave too soon, they’ll follow us home,” and that we “must achieve victory.”

But no one is defining victory, so allow me: Victory is pledging allegiance to peace.

Imagine if we had a candidate who said:

So much of the history of our country has been sanitized. The truth is that we have battled unnecessarily, illegally, immorally. We have sent our sons and daughters to die, to return maimed, to sustain traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder while destroying the lives of those we call the enemy, the other. We have invaded for resources that we call our “interests” and for superior positioning. Just to show we can. Just to show our might. Not to defend ourselves. I say no more. Not on my watch. As your president, I pledge allegiance to the people. I pledge allegiance to peace.

Actually, we do have aspirants who have said as much. Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney certainly are transformational choices. Bob Barr, the Libertarian, gets it, too, when he says that war “should be the last rather than the first resort.” But our corporate media give them little credibility and even less airtime.

So, we wait. Some wave their flags and hope while others feel despair and shame at what continues to be done in our names.

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com

US-led forces kill more Afghan civilians

July 23, 2008
By Jerry White | World Socialist Web Site, 22 July 2008

US and NATO forces killed at least 13 Afghans over the weekend, adding to the toll of civilian deaths as the military intensifies efforts to crush opposition to the nearly seven-year-old US occupation.

The two latest incidents occurred as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama visited Afghanistan and called for more US troops to be sent to the war-ravaged country.

On Sunday, US-led coalition forces killed four Afghan police officers and five civilians in the Anar Dara district in the western province of Farah, near the Iranian border. Coalition forces, which entered the area around midnight, waged a four-hour firefight and called in air strikes after reportedly receiving small arms fire from a group of local policemen.

Provincial Deputy Governor Younus Rasuli said the US-led convoy of troops never informed local police or officials of their plans to be in the area, and the policemen mistook them for Taliban fighters.

The US military issued a perfunctory statement justifying the action against what it described as a “non-uniformed hostile force.” Coalition forces, the statement said, had “engaged the enemy with precision close air support.”

In a separate incident Saturday night, NATO forces killed at least four civilians in eastern Paktika province when International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) fired two mortar rounds that landed nearly half a mile short of their target. The Associated Press reported that NATO was investigating whether three other civilians were also killed in the attack, which occurred in the Barmal district, an area made up mostly of Sunni Pashtun people.

The ISAF issued a statement saying it “deeply regrets this accident” and would investigate the incident. The alliance acknowledged it was providing medical aid to four others who were wounded in the attack.

As has been the case in previous such incidents in which, all told, thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed by US-led forces, military commanders insisted they were taking every precaution to prevent civilian deaths, which they said, were ultimately the fault of the insurgency.

The slaughter of innocent men, women and children, however, is inevitable given the neo-colonial character of the war and the counter-insurgency methods the US and NATO forces are using against growing popular resistance.

The number of attacks launched against the occupation forces has jumped by over 40 percent this summer. For the first time last month, US and allied casualties in Afghanistan surpassed those in Iraq.

In response to the deteriorating military situation, 646 bombs were dropped in June—the second highest total for any month of the war. In the first half of 2008, 1,853 bombs and missiles were used, 40 percent more than the same period last year.

The escalating violence took place as Obama visited Kabul on Sunday. In the morning he met with US troops at Camp Eggers, a heavily fortified military base in the city, praising them for their “excellent work.”

Later, in a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he pledged additional military support to the puppet regime. Karzai’s spokesman said Obama was “committed to supporting Afghanistan and to continue the war against terrorism with vigor.” He said Democrats and Republicans “are friends of Afghanistan and no matter who wins the US elections, Afghanistan will have a very strong partner in the United States.”

In an interview from Kabul broadcast by CBS News on Sunday, Obama said the situation in the country was “precarious and urgent” and reiterated his position that Afghanistan had to become the focus of US military action, as opposed to the “strategic mistake” in Iraq that had diverted the US from the so-called “war on terror.”

Obama said as US troops left Iraq, at least 7,000 should be sent to the Central Asian country and that plans to increase US presence should not wait until the next administration takes office.

The massacre of Afghan civilians exposes the brutal, neo-colonial reality of US imperialist policy that is supported by both parties and both presidential candidates.


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