'Erger dan de mishandeling in Abu Ghraib

woensdag 31 mei 2006 22:26 | Truthseeker | 3532 keer bekeken | 1 reactie | 0 x aanbevolen

NEW YORK - VS-mariniers zouden 24 Iraakse burgers in koelen bloede hebben vermoord. De moordpartij in Haditha dreigt bekend te worden als het ernstigste wangedrag van Amerikanen in Irak.

‘Haditha is erger dan Abu Ghraib.’ John Murtha, een Democratisch Congreslid en oud-marinier, zei het maandag stellig.

Net nu de mishandelingen in de Iraakse Abu Ghraib-gevangenis enigszins naar de achtergrond verdwijnen, komen de details van een nieuw schandaal boven water.

Amerikaanse mariniers zouden op 19 november 2005 24 burgers in de Iraakse plaats Haditha koelbloedig hebben afgemaakt, nadat twee soldaten in de eenheid door opstandelingen waren omgebracht. Mogelijk is de misdaad vervolgens stilgehouden door leidinggevenden in het leger.

‘We kunnen ons niet verlagen tot het niveau van de terroristen’, zei Murtha tijdens een tv-interview. En hij herhaalde zijn oproep: ‘Het is tijd om terug te trekken.’

Anderen waarschuwen dat het te vroeg is voor conclusies. ‘Het leger is nog bezig met twee onderzoeken. Een om uit te zoeken wat er is gebeurd, en een om uit te vinden waarom de legerleiding pas in februari hoorde van de beschuldigingen. Zodra het leger hiermee klaar is, begint het Congres met een eigen onderzoek’, heeft de Republikeinse senator John Warner aangekondigd.

Totdat de feiten bekend zijn, is kalmte geboden, vonden Warner en Peter Pace, de stafchef van het leger. ‘We zullen openbaar maken wat er is gebeurd’, zei Pace. ‘Maar het is voor niemand goed om nu te speculeren.’

Amerikaanse journalisten in Irak zijn zelf op zoek gegaan naar de toedracht. The New York Times bracht deze week een verhaal waarin nabestaanden en overlevenden hun verhaal vertelden. Dit was de berichtgeving waarop generaal Pace noodgedwongen reageerde. Want de reconstructie suggereerde dat het ‘incident’ in Haditha, een van de gevaarlijkste plekken in Irak, nog ernstiger was dan werd aangenomen.

Een kleine groep mariniers trok van huis naar huis en schoot de burgers dood zonder directe provocatie. Ook ouderen, vrouwen en kinderen stierven. Slechts een enkeling wist te overleven. ‘Toen ze mijn vader Walid vermoordden, verstopte ik me in bed’, vertelde de 7-jarige Abdul Rahman.

Een Iraakse mensenrechtenadvocaat, Miysar al-Dulaimi, reisde twee dagen na de moorden naar Haditha. Volgens hem controleren de Amerikanen alleen hun eigen basis ter plekke. ‘Als de Amerikanen in een buurt zijn geweest, komen de opstandelingen en voeren mensen weg.’ Al-Dulaimi vertelde in The New York Times wat geestelijk leiders in Haditha dezer dagen prediken: ‘De Amerikanen beloven dat ze vrede en veiligheid brengen, maar ze verspreiden paniek, angst en terreur onder het volk.’

Het schandaal ontvouwt zich geleidelijk. De eerste geruchten over ‘Haditha’ zijn maanden oud. Het tijdschrift Time schreef in maart over de ‘vernietigende, gewelddadige reactie van een groep Amerikaanse troepen die een van hun (mensen) hadden verloren in een dodelijke aanval van opstandelingen, en meenden dat ze onder vuur lagen.’

Volgens de recente berichten volgde de moordpartij inderdaad op de dood van twee mariniers uit dezelfde eenheid. Zij sneuvelden door bomaanslagen van opstandelingen, kort vóór 19 november.

In de VS worden al vergelijkingen getrokken met My Lai, vooral op weblogs waar Bush en de Irak-oorlog altijd onder vuur liggen. Bij die slachtpartij in Vietnam werden in 1968 honderden ongewapende burgers vermoord.

Als de moordpartij inderdaad gebeurd is, dan zal ‘Haditha’ met afstand het ernstigste strafbare wangedrag van de Irak-oorlog zijn. Maar met My Lai is dit schandaal niet vergelijkbaar, schreef de blogger en oud-militair Brian Preston. Hij stelde dat ‘Haditha’ desondanks een verenigend thema zal worden voor critici van de oorlog en voor de tegenstander in Irak. ‘Deze mariniers hebben de vijand een belangrijke overwinning in de schoot geworpen, die hij nooit had kunnen winnen in een echte veldslag.’ De verdachten bevinden zich op hun basis in Californië.

De commandant van de mariniers in Irak zei dat ‘het risico op onverschilligheid tegenover het verlies van menselijk leven’ moet worden afgewend. Generaal Peter Pace benadrukte dat soldaten moeten begrijpen wat van hen wordt verwacht: ‘Wat 99,9 procent al doet, en dat is eervol en dapper vechten.’

Zie ook Google News voor meer berichtgeving hierover.

Bron: Volkskrant

Reacties

    Iraqi Accuses U.S. of 'Daily' Attacks Against Civilians

    vrijdag 2 juni 2006 11:27 | Truthseeker |

    NY Times By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr, June 2, 2006

    Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.
    As outrage over reports that American marines killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha last year continued to shake the new government, the country's senior leaders said that they would demand that American officials turn over their investigative files on the killings and that the Iraqi government would conduct its own inquiry.

    In his comments, Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by many troops in the American-led coalition who "do not respect the Iraqi people."

    "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," he said. "This is completely unacceptable." Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added.

    The denunciation was an unusual declaration for a government that remains desperately dependent on American forces to keep some form of order in the country amid a resilient Sunni Arab insurgency in the west, widespread sectarian violence in Baghdad, and deadly feuding among Shiite militias that increasingly control the south.

    It was also a sign of the growing pressure on Mr. Maliki, whose governing coalition includes Sunni Arabs who were enraged by news of the killings in Haditha, a city deep in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province. At the same time, he is being pushed by the Americans to resolve the quarreling within his fragile coalition that has left him unable to fill cabinet posts for the Ministries of Defense and the Interior, the two top security jobs in the country.

    Military and Congressional officials have said they believe that an investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis in Haditha on Nov. 19 will show that a group of marines shot and killed civilians without justification or provocation. Survivors in Haditha say the troops shot men, women and children in the head and chest at close range.

    For the second day in a row, President Bush spoke directly about the furor surrounding the case. "Obviously, the allegations are very troubling for me and equally troubling for our military, especially the Marine Corps," President Bush said Thursday, in response to a question from a reporter after a meeting of his cabinet. Referring to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, he added, "I've spoken to General Pace about this issue quite a few times."

    Investigators are examining the role of senior commanders in the aftermath of the Haditha killings, and trying to determine how high up the chain of command culpability may rest.

    Marine officials said Thursday that Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson, who was the top Marine Corps commander in Iraq during the Haditha killings, had been set to be promoted to become the service's senior officer in charge of personnel, a three-star position.

    General Johnson is widely respected by the Marine Corps' senior leadership, yet officials said it was unlikely that the Pentagon would put him up for promotion until the Haditha investigations were concluded.

    The Washington Post reported Thursday that a parallel investigation into whether the killings were covered up has concluded that some officers reported false information and that superiors failed to adequately scrutinize the reports about the two dozen deaths.

    The newspaper said that the inquiry had determined that Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, a squad leader present at Haditha, made a false statement when he reported that a roadside bombing had killed 15 civilians. The inquiry also said that an intelligence unit that later visited the site failed to highlight that civilians had gunshot wounds.

    In Baghdad, senior Iraqi officials demanded an apology and explanation about Haditha from the United States and vowed their own inquiry.

    "We in the ministers' cabinet condemned this crime and demanded that coalition forces show the reasons behind this massacre," Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie, one of the most powerful Sunni Arabs in the new government, said in an interview.

    "As you know, this is not the only massacre, and there are a lot," he said. "The coalition forces must change their behavior. Human blood should be sacred regardless of religion, party and nationality."

    Mr. Zubaie, also the acting defense minister, acknowledged that Iraqi officials would probably not be able to force the extradition of any troops suspected of culpability in the Haditha killings. But he said a committee of five ministers, including defense, interior and finance, would investigate the killings with the expectation that American officials would turn over their files. "We do not have the security file because it is in the hands of the coalition forces," he said. "We hope there will not be obstacles ahead."

    The crisis over Haditha and other disputed killings in Sunni areas comes just as it appears that military operations may be needed to retake some Sunni areas at risk of falling to the insurgency.

    This week American forces ordered 1,500 troops from Kuwait into Anbar Province, a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency, in the latest sign that insurgents and terrorist groups including those led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi control much of the sprawling desert region.

    In interviews on Thursday, two senior Republicans — Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is next in line to be committee chairman — both said it was too soon to tell whether the episode would undermine support for the war. Still, both expressed concern.

    Senator Warner, who has promised to hold hearings as soon as the military completes its investigation, said he had been urging Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to wrap up the inquiry as swiftly as possible.

    "In the interim, frankly, the public opinion on this matter is being influenced by misinformation, leaks and undocumented and uncorroborated facts," he said.

    Mr. McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, said the incident harked back to the My Lai massacre during the war in Vietnam. He added, "It certainly is harmful, but I can't assess the extent of the damage."

    Neither he nor Mr. McCain would say whether Mr. Rumsfeld should be called as a witness.

    "I think it depends on what we find out," Mr. McCain said. "I can't say until we really know what happened. There are allegations, and I emphasize allegations, that there was a cover-up. If so, then obviously more senior people would have to be the subject of hearings."

    On Wednesday, American troops near the restive city of Samarra shot and killed two Iraqi women, including one who might have been pregnant and on her way to a hospital, after their car did not heed what the American military command said were repeated warnings to stop.

    At a news conference in Baghdad, a senior American military spokesman, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, said that "about three or four, at least," allegations of wrongdoing by American troops were being investigated and that anyone found guilty of offenses in those incidents or in the Haditha case would be punished. "This tragic incident is in no way representative of how coalition forces treat Iraqi civilians," he said.

    In Baghdad, the top American ground commander in Iraq ordered that all 150,000 American and allied troops in the country receive mandatory refresher training on "legal, moral and ethical standards on the battlefield."

    In a statement, the officer, Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, did not specifically cite the civilian deaths in Haditha as the reason for the unusual order.

    But he said commanders would be provided with training materials and sample vignettes to use to instruct on professional military values and conduct in combat, as well as Iraqi cultural sensitivities.