Saturday, July 11, 2009

Update: Obama to look into Aphganistan Dasht-e-Leili massacre.

Note: Do not expect much deep digging by the Obama Administration on this re-revelation of the problematic mass killing in Afghanistan, more likely more cover-up. Sad.

Obama orders probe of alleged Afghan mass killings

WASHINGTON, July 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said he has ordered an investigation into allegations that the former Bush administration failed to probe into alleged killings of hundreds of Taliban prisoners by a CIA-backed Afghan warlord.

"The indications that this had not been properly investigated just recently was brought to my attention," he said during an interview to be broadcast on CNN later Monday.

"So what I've asked my national security team to do is to collect the facts for me that are known, and we'll probably make a decision in terms of how to approach it once we have all of the facts gathered up," the president said.

The inquiry stems from the deaths of at least 1,000 Taliban prisoners who had surrendered to the U.S.-backed Afghan Northern Alliance in late 2001.

At the time, the prisoners were in the custody of Abdul Rashid Dostum, a prominent Afghan warlord supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA.

Franks was the U.S. general leading the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. He also led the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.Revelations of the killings first surfaced in a 2002 Newsweek report, prompting U.S. General Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Afghanistan, to request an investigation. (Franks was the U.S. general leading the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. He also led the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.)

However, according to recent U.S. media reports, the former Bush administration had repeatedly discouraged efforts to investigate the case.


Previously:


President Obama's refusal to open up comprehensive investigations into war crimes becomes a criminal act by purposefully covering up criminal activity. The US should be `out in front' investigating past actions of the previous Administration, rather than allowing other countries and groups to expose US atrocities. Recently outside investigations of a massacre in Afghanistan uncovered the Bush Administrations impediment of US investigations.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)have sued for the release of government documents, in hopes to uncover more information about an Alleged Massacre of Up to 2,000 Prisoners in Afghanistan.

in the wake of a major New York Times story with new evidence that the Bush Administration impeded at least three federal investigations into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan in 2002.

PHR is calling for the Department of Justice to investigate why the Bush Administration impeded an FBI criminal probe of the alleged Dasht-e-Leili massacre.

Suffocated in Container Trucks

According to US government documents obtained by PHR, as many as 2,000 surrendered Taliban fighters were reportedly suffocated in container trucks by Afghan forces operating jointly with the US in November 2001. The bodies were reportedly buried in mass graves in the Dasht-e-Leili desert near Sheberghan, Afghanistan. Notorious Afghan warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who was reportedly on the CIA payroll, is allegedly responsible for the massacre.



General Abdul Rashid DostumGeneral Abdul Rashid Dostum (born 1954) is the Deputy Defense Minister of Afghanistan and an Uzbek warlord. General Abdul Rashid Dostum (born 1954) is the Deputy Defense Minister of Afghanistan and an Uzbek warlord. As the leader of Afghanistan's minority Uzbek community, he is a controversial figure who has often changed sides in Afghanistan's complex web of shifting alliances.

In 1996, following the rise of the Taliban and their capture of Herat and Kabul, Dostum realigned himself with Rabbani against the Taliban. Along with General Mohammed Fahim and Ismail Khan, Dostum was one of three factional leaders that comprised the Northern Alliance. While much of the rest of Afghanistan was in ruins, his stronghold of Mazar-e-Sharif - a city of around two million people - was thriving.General Dostum grew rich, but his rule was harsh. He is reported to have frequently ordered public executions of criminals, who were usually crushed to death under tanks. It is claimed that he financed his army with profits from the opium trade. At the height of his power in 1997 - at the age of 43 - he controlled a kind of mini-state in northern Afghanistan.

The Taliban's capture of Mr. Dostum's fortress and airfield in Mazar-e-Sharif in 1997 forced him into exile in Uzbekistan and Iran. In 1998, he fled to Turkey. He returned in 2000 to join the Northern Alliance, seeking to avenge himself on the Taliban. He found that opportunity in 2001, when he drove the Taliban from power on the heels of a U.S.-led bombing campaign. The leader of the second largest party in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, General Dostum directed the campaign to recapture Mazar-e-Sharif - the town he once ruled. Dostum then consolidated his power base in the north, strengthening his hold on an area which covered six provinces with a population of around five million.

Dasht-e-Leili massacreKarzai appointed him as a special adviser on security and military affairs, with effective control over security affairs in the northern Afghan provinces of Balkh, Jowzjan, Sar-e Pol, Samangan, and Faryab. Today he runs parts of the country's north as his own fiefdom, nominally serving as a deputy defense minister to the national government in Kabul but operating almost totally independent of the government. Dostum's force of some 20,000 militia fighters is composed mostly of ethnic Uzbeks who are members of his political group, Junbish-e Melli. Within his areas of control, he encourages women to live and work freely, as well as music, sports, alcohol, and allows for people of other religions.

In November of 2002, the United Nations began an investigation of alleged human rights abuses by Dostum. Witnesses claimed that Dostum jailed and tortured witnesses to prevent them from testifying in a war crimes case. Dostum is also under suspicion for the events of the Dasht-i-Leili massacre.
Abdul Rashid Dostum (also known as Heavy D, D-Diddy)
In March of 2003, he established a North Zone of Afghanistan, against the wishes of interim president Hamid Karzai. On May 20, 2003, Dostum signed an agreement to no longer serve as Karzai's special envoy for the northern regions.

Forces loyal to Dostum continue to clash with forces loyal to Tajik General Atta Mohammed.

General Dostum has run unsuccessfully against Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the country's presidential election.

The Attorney General of Afghanistan, Abdul Jabar Sabet suggests that Dostum is such a powerful commander in northern Afghanistan that, in the current security environment, he might be above prosecution. "Anyone who commits a criminal act must be brought to justice," Sabit says. "But in reality, I must admit that there will be some difficulties. In this war situation, in many cases, it is difficult for us to implement the law."

Sabit says that "because of the war there is no law, and you cannot implement the law in the south of the country or in many districts -- even in those places where the rule of law does exist, sometimes we cannot enforce the law over some people."

Afghan political analyst Fazel Rahman Oria sums it up this way: “Dostum is putting pressure on the government. He wants to show people that the government is subject to him. And, indeed, this is true".

Physicians for Human Rights, which shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, first documented the existence of the alleged mass grave in Afghanistan in January 2002 and since then:

Advocated for witnesses to be protected, the mass grave site to be secured, and for a full and impartial investigation; Conducted preliminary forensic investigations -- including exposing 15 remains and conducting three autopsies -- under UN auspices at Dasht-e-Leili; Successfully sued for compliance with a PHR Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the release of US government documents that reveal US intelligence knowledge of the magnitude of the alleged crime and awareness of the execution and torture of witnesses to the incidents;Helped identify the US chain of command likely responsible for impeding federal investigations into the alleged massacre;
Discovered and reported on alleged tampering of the site; and
Requested satellite image analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that appears to demonstrate that tampering occurred soon after PHR filed its FOIA request in June 2006.

"Physicians for Human Rights went to investigate inhumane conditions at a prison in northern Afghanistan, but what we found was much worse," stated Susannah Sirkin, PHR Deputy Director. "Our researchers documented an apparent mass grave site with reportedly thousands of bodies of captured prisoners who were suffocated to death in trucks. That was 2002; seven years later, we still seek answers about what exactly happened and who was involved."

Senior Bush Administration officials impeded investigations by the FBI and the State Department, and the Defense Department apparently never conducted a full inquiry, the New York Times reports in the story for the July 11 print edition by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter James Risen.

"The Bush Administration's disregard for the rule of law and the Geneva Conventions led to torture of prisoners in Guantanamo and many other secret places," noted Nathaniel Raymond, PHR's lead researcher on Dasht-e-Leili.

Obama Must Open Investigations

"Contrary to the legal opinions of the previous Department of Justice, the principles of the Geneva Conventions are non-negotiable, as is their enforcement. President Obama must open a full and transparent criminal probe and prosecute any US officials found to have broken the law."

"The State Department's statement to the New York Times that suspected war crimes should be thoroughly investigated indicates a move towards full accountability," added Raymond. "We stand ready to aid the US government in investigating this massacre. It is time for the cover-up to end."

Sirkin added, "President Obama must set a different course by signaling publicly that in all of its operations anywhere in the world, the US and its allies will respect the Geneva Conventions and safeguard the rights of prisoners of war, as well as all captured combatants and detainees to be treated humanely."

PHR reiterated its call on the Government of Afghanistan, which has jurisdiction over the alleged mass grave site, to:

Secure the area with the assistance of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan);Protect witnesses to the initial incident and the ensuing tampering; and
Ensure a full investigation of remaining evidence at the site, including the tracing of the substantial amount of soil that appears to have been removed in 2006.
"Gravesites have been tampered with, evidence has been destroyed, and witnesses have been tortured and killed," stressed Sirkin. "The Dasht-e-Leili mass grave site must finally be secured, all surviving witnesses must be protected, and the Government of Afghanistan, in coordination with the UN and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), must at last allow a full investigation to go forward."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. PHR was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical commitments, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them. PHR mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity and justice and promotes the right to health for all. PHR has documented the systematic use of psychological and physical torture by US personnel against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram airbase and elsewhere.

PHR's International Forensic Program (IFP) has conducted forensic assessments and investigations of human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and genocide in many countries. IFP is dedicated to providing independent forensic expertise to document and collect evidence of human rights violations and of violations of international humanitarian law. Since the 1980s, PHR has mobilized forensic scientists and other experts worldwide to respond to inquiries by governments, organizations, families and individuals.



Reference Articles:

http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/07-10-2009/0005058098&EDATE=

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-07/13/content_11703350.htm

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