|The News Line: Editorial
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
UK government must answer war crimes charges in both Iraq and Yemen!
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL has condemned UK war crimes in both the Yemen and in Iraq. In the Yemen UK-supplied weaponry to Saudi Arabia has been used to kill and maim tens of thousands of civilians, with many, many more starving, and with over 100,000 struck down by cholera.
In Iraq, the air bombardment of western Mosul by the UK and US air forces has killed tens of thousands of civilians and made many more homeless, as the UK and US practice the principle that a mass killing of civilians is inevitable if IS is to be destroyed in the city.
Amnesty called the UK court ruling that the British government is entitled to continue authorising arms supplies to Saudi Arabia a potentially deadly setback to Yemeni civilians. The High Court in London dismissed a legal challenge from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which claimed that such arms transfers should not take place because of the clear risk that the weapons supplied would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen’s armed conflict.
Amnesty commented: ‘This is a deeply disappointing outcome . . . Extensive and credible reports, including Amnesty International’s own research on the ground in Yemen, have in our view demonstrated that such weapons have been used to commit serious violations, including war crimes, against civilians in Yemen and that – in light of the clear risk – authorising further transfers would be counter to the UK’s obligations under international law.’
Amnesty also accused the UK and US governments of carrying out war crimes in Iraq with its mass bombing of Western Mosul killing thousands of civilians. Amnesty’s report, ‘The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul’, says bombardments by Iraqi and US-led coalition forces have killed a ‘huge number’ of civilians and that ‘Iraqi and coalition forces fighting Islamic State (IS) militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul used unnecessarily powerful weapons.’ Amnesty called for an independent commission to investigate the number of civilian deaths.
Examining hostilities in the west of the city from January to mid-May, it accused coalition forces of having failed to adapt their tactics even when it was clear that IS militants had forced civilians into areas most likely to come under attack. They used ‘imprecise weapons with wide-area effects in densely-populated urban environments’ and subjected them to a terrifying barrage of fire, the report says.
Consequently, as IS lost territory, the areas remaining under its control became increasingly crowded with civilians. ‘Iraqi government and US-led coalition forces subjected these areas to relentless attacks using explosive weapons with wide area effects. These attacks wreaked havoc, killing and injuring thousands of trapped civilians.’
Amnesty International’s research shows that IS committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. However, it states: ‘Iraqi and coalition forces appear to have repeatedly carried out indiscriminate, disproportionate or otherwise unlawful attacks, some of which may amount to war crimes.’
‘Amnesty International calls on Iraqi and coalition forces to immediately end the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas. Members of the US-led coalition and the Iraqi government must conduct effective investigations into allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and ensure that victims and their families receive full reparation.’
The western media, which sought to mount a huge hue and cry over Syrian and Russian strategic bombing of military targets in Aleppo, has observed a deadly silence over the mass murder from the air by the UK and US air forces in west Mosul. Everybody knows that all this tactic will do is create the conditions for thousands of young terrorists to emerge out of the ruins to avenge the civilians that US and UK airforces have slaughtered.
British workers must demand that the UK government appear before the Court at the Hague to answer war crimes charges both in Yemen and Iraq, and also the immediate withdrawal of all UK forces from Iraq, Syria and the Middle East, and an end to the arming of the Saudi regime.
This is the way forward to a real peace in the Middle East!
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