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[casi] Collective Punishment for Downing Black Hawk?

November 08, 2003

Collective Punishment for Downing Black Hawk?

By Abu Spinoza
 Fox News reported,2933,102449,00.html on
Friday, Nov. 7, 2003 from Tikrit, Iraq:

  "The U.S. military swept through Iraqi neighborhoods early Saturday,
firing at houses suspected to be harboring hostile forces in the wake of an
apparent attack on a Black Hawk helicopter that killed six U.S. soldiers."
The report quotes the commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regimen,
Lt. Col. Steven Russell, as saying, "This is to remind the town that we have
teeth and claws and we will use them."

No doubt Iraqi civilians are finding out who has "teeth and claws." Lest one
forgets that the Fourth Geneva Convention , relative to the Protection of
Civilian Persons in Time of War (Aug. 12, 1949), adopted after the world
learned about the horrors of war crimes of World War II, states very

In Article 33,

  a.. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not
personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of
intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
  b.. Pillage is prohibited.
  c.. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.
In Article 53,

  Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property
belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State,
or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations,
is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely
necessary by military operations.
Is the U.S. military committing war crimes? Who will hold Lt. Col. Steven
Russell et al. responsible? Under international laws, it is a war crime to
punish Iraqi civilians for the Iraqi resistance downing U.S. military

The international media, including the U.S. press, has responsibility to
expose suspected war crimes and to investigate it thoroughly. The crimes
being committed by the occupying powers of Iraq should not remain buried for

Only recently the Toledo Blade published an account of war crimes
committed by an "elite" military unit during the United States military
intervention in Vietnam. The international press has recently revealed the
collective burial grounds that existed under Saddam Hussein's regime and
various other violations of human rights, but alas it was way too long after
these crimes were actually committed. The media must not shut its eyes to
the war crimes that are being committed right now and which can be


Abu Spinoza is a columnist for Press Action.

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