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OpEdNews, August 28, 2012

Murder and Rape Rampant in Afghanistan

By Willy Scanlon

Last evening I was watching an episode of Bill Maher on HBO and he put up a copy of the New York Times that showed the 2,000 pictures of Americans killed in Afghanistan since the war began. Having been to Afghanistan I thought how ludicrous it was. Maybe what they should have shown were the more than 36,000 pictures of the unarmed men, women and children who were killed or raped by American forces in Afghanistan. Or the stories of female American soldiers raped or sexually assaulted by their male counter parts in Afghanistan. Then we could all get the real truth about American behavior there. On December 13, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking Pentagon records in order to get the real facts about the incidence of sexual assault in the ranks.

The Pentagon has consistently refused to release records that fully document the problem and how it is handled. This journalist has filed several Freedom of Information requests to see them come back stating that material is deemed "classified". Sexual assaults on women in the US military have claimed some degree of visibility, but about male victims there is absolute silence.1 in 3 women in the U.S military according to one survey have experienced sexual assault at the hands of their male counterparts in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Pack Parachute, a non-profit in Seattle, assists veterans who are sexual assault survivors. Its founder Kira Mountjoy-Pepka, was raped as a cadet at the Air Force Academy. In July 2003 she was member of a team of female cadets handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld, at the time the secretary of defense, to tell their stories of having been sexually assaulted. The ensuing media coverage and a Pentagon investigation forced the academy to make the aforementioned major policy changes . But that's all they did was to write a new policy as it has yet to be enforced by most commands.

In May of 2004, as the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal was dominating headlines, the Boston Globe printed pictures of what appeared to be the rape of a Middle Eastern woman by American soldiers. The pictures were also published on the Internet and continue to be circulated both online and in print throughout the Muslim world to this day.

The photos helped trigger a firestorm of implied allegation and innuendo that ran in articles with headlines like "Women Raped Before their Husbands" and "American Perverts Gang-Rape Defenseless Women." A trip through the message boards finds that, for many, the rape of Iraqi women by Americans has become a self-evident axiom that is impervious to either proof or disproof. As one writer put it (in trying to justify terrorism), "What else are you supposed to do when you find that American soldiers have raped your mother, your sister and your daughter?"

Given the serious nature of rape, however, one would expect these sensational accusations to be supported by plenty of hard evidence, including an alarming level of reported rape. If Americans are targeting Iraqi women for rape, including young girls and old women, then specific accusations would be made. Defendants would be named. Trials would be held. Verdicts handed down "

But in fact, peeling away the surface of rumor and anecdote reveals" more rumor and anecdote. Instead of an apple, my inquiry discovers the issue to be more like an onion, where the layer below is not much different than the layer above. It's a tough issue to get Muslim women to talk about. In that culture rape carries shame because one's virginity is taken away and they no longer are eligible for marriage. In Islamic culture sex outside of marriage is rare and frowned upon. Adultery and fortification are punished by death by stoning in most Muslim countries. Hence getting women to come forward is sometimes almost impossible and many Americans know that which makes the act seem even more heinous.

US soldier posing next to the corpse of Gul Mudin, an unarmed Afghan civilian killed by their unit on Jan. 15, 2010
The images are repulsive. A group of rogue US Army soldiers in Afghanistan killed innocent civilians and then posed with their bodies. SPIEGEL published some of the photos. (Photos: Der Spiegel)

On March 24,2011 the German news outlet Der Spiegel published photographs of what appear to be two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing over the bodies of dead Afghans - images which threaten to further complicate the American military effort there. Two images show the soldiers kneeling by a bloody body sprawled over a patch of sand and grass. A third shows what appears to be two bodies propped up, back to back, against a post in front of a military vehicle. Der Spiegel identifies the soldiers as Spc. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, who are both facing charges relating to the wrongful deaths of Afghan civilians.

Holmes and Morlock are among 12 soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade accused of taking part in a plot to murder three Afghan civilians, plant weapons on them and cover up the alleged crimes. Holmes and another soldier Pfc.Gibbs are accused of cutting off some of the men's body parts to keep as war trophies. He faces a potential life sentence in a military prison if convicted and has said the killings were justified under Army rules of engagement. Morlock has already been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

In a low, often mumbling voice, Morlock Thursday detailed how he and his fellow soldiers abused drugs and after Gibbs joined their ranks they plotted to kill Afghan civilians and plant "drop weapons" on the men to make them appear as if they were insurgents. Morlock said he and Gibbs talked about how the "drop weapons" would make it look like the soldiers had first come under attack before firing. They left the timing of the alleged killings, he said, up to chance. "There was never anything planned," Morlock testified. "Like this date, this time. We found an opportunity." Several soldiers are also charged with taking pictures of the corpses, and one soldier is charged with stabbing a corpse.

On March 11, 2012 up to 20 US forces murdered 16 Afghan men, women, and nine children, aged two to 12. Children were massacred while they slept. Two women were also raped before soldiers killed them. Major media scoundrels whitewashed the crimes by shamelessly blaming one soldier to absolve others, and most of all, higher-ups responsible for permitting a culture that condones and encourages them. According to Pajhwok Afghan News: "A parliamentary probe team on Thursday said up to 20 American troops were involved in Sunday's killing of 16 civilians in southern Kandahar province."


Two grief-stricken Afghan men look into the van where the body of a badly burned child lays, wrapped in a blue blanket
Disbelief: Two grief-stricken Afghan men look into the van where the body of a badly burned child lays, wrapped in a blue blanket. 17 civilians were murdered by a U.S. soldier in a horrific house-to-house killing spree. An investigation later found out that about 20 US troops were involved in the rampage and women were also sexually assaulted before being killed. (Photo: EPA)

It spent two days interviewing surviving family members, witnesses, and tribal elders. They also gathered evidence where killings took place. Two groups of US soldiers were involved. Attacks occurred in separate villages one and a half kilometers apart. "We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time." Most victims were women and children. Parliamentarian Hamidzai Lali demanded that the UN and international community ensure those responsible are prosecuted in Afghanistan. Lali said the Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan's lower House of the People, won't stay silent until prosecutions occur, adding: "If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians." I have spent time on the ground in both Afghanistan and in Iraq. In all US war theaters, slaughter, sadism, and other atrocities are institutionalized. Rape becomes a weapon of war. On June 19, 2008, the Security Council agreed, adopting Resolution 1820. It demanded an "immediate and complete halt to acts of sexual violence against civilians in conflict zones." It said: "women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group." These offenses also "constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide." Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manifred Nowak said rape constitutes torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment used as a weapon of war to inflict greater pain and suffering. Author Slavenka Drakulic described it as "slow murder." The Nuremberg Tribunal called it a crime against humanity.

Nothing, however, stops it, and UN resolutions fall woefully short. The latest Afghan rape and multiple murder atrocity reflects countless others. It's because US soldiers are trained to be violent in war theaters and show no mercy. Anything goes and does. Women and young girls are especially vulnerable. In May 2009, Britain's Daily Telegraph said former US General Antonio Taguba said the Obama administration sought to suppress images of US soldiers raping and sodomizing Iraqi prisoners. He called photos he saw explosive, saying they "show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency. The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough. Take my word for it." These and similar incidents aren't isolated. Nor are a few "bad apples" alone involved. They're widespread, tolerated, and sanctioned up to the highest government, military, and intelligence levels in all US war theaters.

Victims are helpless targets, including young girls and boys sodomized with phosphorescent tubes, clubs, wire, and other implements to inflict pain. Instead of holding those responsible accountable, Obama and his predecessor George W.Bush suppressed their crimes. As a result, they continue. The latest Afghan victims represent a drop in the ocean. International and US law principles are ignored. Atrocities follow others repeatedly. Wars reflect more than hell. They manifest generations of condoned US barbarity. It's been institutionalized to permit wanton rape, sodomy, torture, sadism, murder, and virtually all other imaginable atrocities with impunity.

America the beautiful is an illusion only young children and fools believe. Ugly war theater wickedness reveals its true dark side even in America. Its victims attest to how monstrous it truly is.

Category: US-NATO, HR Violations - Views: 26025


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