Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Torture and body counts

As a follow-up to an earlier post, Surgical Strike in Falluja, here are two items: one on the complicity of US military doctors and torture, the other on the systematic elimination of the means to assess civilian casualties of the occupation and the means to reduce them, a clear abrogation of the duty to care of occupying forces under international law.

From The Boston Globe:
December 6, 2004
WE ARE outraged by the International Committee of the Red Cross report about torture inflicted on detainees held at Guantanamo, and especially with the finding of complicity and involvement by US medical personnel, including physicians.

As physicans who care for survivors of torture on a daily basis, we see the direct and horrific psychological and physical sequelae of torture on individuals. We also see the destruction of trust that occurs with our patients when physicians have been involved in their torture.

We demand a full investigation of this report, and prosecution of all people involved in planning and carrying out acts of torture, including medical personnel. Torture cannot be tolerated, nor can physicians who violate international humanitarian law be allowed to practice medicine.

Boston Center for Refugee
Health and Human Rights
Boston Medical Center
And from The Guardian:
You asked for my evidence, Mr Ambassador. Here it is: In Iraq, the US does eliminate those who dare to count the dead
David T Johnson,
Acting ambassador,
US Embassy, London

Dear Mr Johnson,

On November 26, your press counsellor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating". ....

Eliminating doctors

The first major operation by US marines and Iraqi soldiers was to storm Falluja general hospital, arresting doctors and placing the facility under military control. .... Two days earlier, a crucial emergency health clinic was bombed to rubble, as well as a medical supplies dispensary next door. Dr Sami al-Jumaili, who was working in the clinic, says the bombs took the lives of 15 medics, four nurses and 35 patients. The Los Angeles Times reported that the manager of Falluja general hospital "had told a US general the location of the downtown makeshift medical centre" before it was hit.

Whether the clinic was targeted or destroyed accidentally, the effect was the same: to eliminate many of Falluja's doctors from the war zone. As Dr Jumaili told the Independent on November 14: "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja." When fighting moved to Mosul, a similar tactic was used: on entering the city, US and Iraqi forces immediately seized control of the al-Zaharawi hospital. ....

There is more, much more, none of it pretty. See the Full Article here. (Thanks to readers Deb and Doug).