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|The Slaugheter of Prisoners|
|12/09/01 at 17:22:08|
The Slaughter of Prisoners
December 3, 2001
This week the spotlight is on the mass killings of prisoners that appear to have been committed by the Northern Alliance that the United States has been using to fight the Taliban in its so-called "war on terror." According to a BBC report by Fiona Symon, the Northern Alliance is a religiously and ethnically mixed group of rebels with little in common, except their wish to topple the Taliban (http://news.bbc.co.uk).
However, other reliable reports, including statements from the White House, openly connect the Northern Alliance to Russia, and the U.S.'s new confidant, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The scene of the largely unreported slaughter was the Qalai Janghi Fortress outside Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan, an old fort where between 300 and 400 Taliban volunteers had been brought after surrendering. According to Northern Alliance commander, General Rashid Dostum, the prisoners had suddenly begun shooting and firing rockets, and two of his generals were killed in a grenade attack. How the prisoners obtained the weapons is unknown.
With the help of U.S. air strikes and U.S. special forces and other covert troops believed to be British, Gen. Dostum's Northern Alliance troops put down the rebellion on November 29th in an assault that left nearly all of the prisoners dead--around 450, though the precise number is uncertain. Journalists who visited the scene the next day saw fields covered with bodies, many of which had hands tied behind their backs, raising fears that they had been executed (http://thestar.com).
American bombs had reduced the fortress itself to a pile of rubble, and Alliance soldiers were seen stripping the bodies of belongings like boots, machine guns and even the fillings of a corpse's teeth (http://news.independent.co.uk).
Although the Allies justify the mass killing of the Taliban prisoners on grounds that it was a "pitched battle" and not a massacre or reprisal, international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the UN Commission for Human Rights are investigating possible violations of the Fourth Geneva Conventions (http://www.us-israel.org), which protect the rights of prisoners of war to humane treatment. Commissioner Mary Robinson and Red Cross workers are also questioning the necessity and proportionality of the assault.
The Guardian reports that "The criticism of the bombing comes amid growing British disquiet at the tough language adopted by the US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who said America was 'not inclined to negotiate surrenders' and that he hoped al-Qaida forces would 'either be killed or taken prisoner'. 'Belligerence is not helpful,' a British defense source said. A 1977 protocol to the Geneva convention makes it illegal 'to order that there shall be no survivors'." (http://www.guardian.co.uk).
Right Point Comment
Keeping track of America's international wheeling and dealing can be confusing. Today the US is using the terrorist Northern Alliance to fight the "terrorist" Taliban; yesterday it used this same terrorist Taliban to fight the terrorist Communists. General Rashid Dostum, The Northern Alliance commander, was formally the commander of the Soviet surrogate regime known as the Najibullah, which was supported by the Soviet Union after its defeat and withdrawal in 1989. Dostum is a notorious warlord whose fighters had in 1997 thrown Taliban prisoners into wells and tossed grenades in with them to finish them off-- I expect that, if it serves the interests of those in power who pull the warmaking strings, our country could be using some other terrorist organization to fight the "terrorist" Northern Alliance tomorrow.
What kind of a "war on terror" is it that itself uses terrorist fighters and terrorist tactics?
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