Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Monday, April 12, 2010

Aboriginal News Group condemns US murder of journalists and civilians

Aboriginal News Group condemns US murder of journalists and civilians
Aboriginal News Group Press Statement

“If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”
-- Justice Robert H. Jackson, Prosecutor, Nürnberg War Crimes Trials

To the Original Peoples of the Fourth World and all International Press Services:

At this time, the editors of the Aboriginal News Group wish to extend our condolences and solidarity to the families, friends and colleagues of Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, Saeed Chmagh, and to the other innocent Iraqi non-combatants shot to death as the result of an unprovoked aerial assault on the civilian neighbourhood of New Baghdad on July 12th, 2007 by American military forces. It is in the spirit and desire for justice, peace and an end to the war and occupation that we present the following commentary:

As of this writing, more than 2.5 million people have viewed a copy of a classified military video that was clandestinely obtained, analysed and eventually made public on April 5th of this year, at great personal risk, by,1 a citizen-journalism portal that specialises in making whistle-blower data available to the general public. Presented as a piece of evidence, this video has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that the 2007 incident was not only unnecessary but completely inconsistent with the initially-reported “dangerous conditions” on the ground that supposedly led to the attack in the first place.2

Although it is duly acknowledged that skirmishes had occurred earlier that morning in a related region, (the very reason for the presence of the two Reuters reporters) there was no visible fighting or disturbances on the street in which Noor-Eldeen, Chmagh and the other unfortunate victims were walking through. Not only does the video show in graphic detail the vicious needlessness of the initial shooting attack, but more importantly, it documents the purely sadistic second attack on the family, which included two young children, that stopped to rescue a severely wounded survivor of the initial ambush.

This is very bad business indeed, and there is little a civilised person can say about a case in which more than a dozen innocent civilians are shot and killed without reasonable cause by American military personnel other than to state what is blatantly obvious. This incident is not simply another story about the unfortunate casualties of war, it is an empirical testament as to why the United States has absolutely no business occupying, much less waging war against, the people of the nation of Iraq. This massacre is a particularly gruesome and undeniably illuminating example of a war crime in progress and it deserves due recognition as such under the established rules of international law.

Without reservation, the editors of The Aboriginal News Group roundly condemns the unprovoked attack on our fellow journalists and the other innocent Iraqi civilians wrongfully shot to death in the residential community of New Baghdad, Iraq, 06:21:09 Zulu Time, July 12th, 2007 as an act of unmitigated colonialist violence. In our view, the video documentation of this incident is empirical evidence of clear violations of the US military Rules of Engagement for Iraq; the established principles of international law as recognised by the Fourth Geneva Convention in relation to the protection of civilian persons in time of war; the “Martens Clause” addendum to the Hague Convention of 18993; the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court4 (adopted 07.17.1998); the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 33145 (adopted 12.14.1974) and Principles: IV, VI(b)(c); The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (General Assembly Resolution 260) and VII of the 1945-46 Nürnberg Trials as codified in draft by the International Law Commission6 as it concerns the definition of war crimes as acts of:

“Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity”.7

While we wholeheartedly support the growing public demand that the Obama administration immediately compel the United States military to objectively reinvestigate this matter without delay or prejudice, the Aboriginal News Group does not believe that the US government can be expected to investigate or judge its own illicit use of deadly military force impartially. Instead, we call for the creation of an autonomous, citizen-led review commission based on the model of the Russell International War Crimes Tribunals of 1966-67 that would serve to critically reaffirm the rule of international law and the responsibilities of combative states to protect common citizens from unwarranted military violence.

This international commission would independently and objectively investigate the 2007 ‘New Baghdad Massacre’ by attempting to answer the following questions:
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