Posted on January 10th, 2021


USA does not have a good human rights record and it does not care either. In the domestic sphere, US has the largest prison population in the world, mainly drug users, and the highest per-capita incarceration rate. 3000 odd were on death row in 2016.  2.3 millions American were behind bars. Many adults died in prison.  Children can be sentenced to prison under US law.

In 2010 USA came under the Universal Period Review of the UN Human Rights Council. After which, UNHRC issued 228 recommendations on how US can address its HR violations. US dismissed many of the recommendations.

US has a horrifying record of human rights abuses abroad, said critics. US armed forces have committed war crimes in most of the wars it has participated in.  By ‘war crimes ‘is meant crimes as defined by the ICC and in the Geneva Conventions.   USA does not care. US military cannot be brought before the ICC. US has not signed the Rome Statute and does not come under ICC scrutiny. But the charge of war crimes remains.  Here are some instances of US war crimes.

US soldiers killed German prisoners of war and surrendering SS soldiers at the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945 during World War II .This is known as the Dachau Massacre.

U.S. troops of the 45th Infantry Division   killed about 75 unarmed prisoners, mostly Italian. In July 1943 in Sicily in two separate incidents. This is known as Biscari massacre.

In Canicatti, Italy, one officer, Lieutenant-Colonel McCaffrey had killed eight unarmed Italian civilians in 1943 when they were helping themselves to items in a soap factory. The American soldiers under his command had flatly refused to carry out the order. This killing was exposed in 2005  when Joseph S. Salemi of New York University, reported it. His father had been in Canicatti as a corporal. Canicattì had already surrendered when U.S. troops entered, therefore this was a war crime. It is known as the Canicatti massacre

Operation Teardrop” was a  US Navy operation during World War II, conducted between April and May 1945, to sink German U-boats. Eight  captured crewmen from the sunken German submarine  U-546 were tortured by US military personnel. Historian Philip K. Lundeberg has written that the beating and torture of U-546’s survivors was motivated by the interrogators’ need to quickly get information on potential missile attacks by German submarines. But there were no such missile attacks.

American soldiers in the Pacific deliberately killed Japanese soldiers who had surrendered. According to  Richard Aldrich, Professor of History at Nottingham University, it was common practice for U.S. troops not to take prisoners.   British historian Niall Ferguson,  said that, in 1943, “a secret [U.S.] intelligence report noted that  it was  with difficulty that American troops were prevented from killing surrendering Japanese.”

 Ulrich Straus said that troops on the front line intensely hated Japanese military personnel and were “not easily persuaded” to take or protect prisoners. Army interrogator Captain Burden noted that  many prisoners at Guadalcanal, were shot during transport because “it was too much bother to take them in”.

During WWII submarine USS Wahoo had fired on survivors of the Japanese transport Buyo Maru. The US strafed thousands of adrift survivors of eight sunken Japanese troop transports in 1943.

Secret wartime files made public in 2006 reveal that US soldiers committed 400 sexual offences in Europe, including 126 rapes in England, between 1942 and 1945, said Wikipedia. A study by Robert J. Lilly estimates that a total of 14,000 civilian women in England, France and Germany were raped by American GIs during World War II. It is estimated that there were around 3,500 rapes by American servicemen in France between June 1944 and 1945 and one historian has claimed that sexual violence against women in liberated France was common.

US  continued to violate military norms in its  subsequent wars. In the 1950  No Gun Ri massacre in Korean War there was a mass killing of Korean refugees  at a bridge near the village of No Gun Ri.  This was reported by the Agence Presse in 1999. Over the years survivors’ estimates of the dead have ranged from 300 to 500.

During the Vietnam War (1955-1975) US forces committed horrifying atrocities in Vietnam. Information on these were collected by Vietnam War crimes Working group of the  Pentagon  and sent to the US archives. These files show that atrocities by U.S. forces during the  Vietnam War were more extensive than had been officially acknowledged. US Army investigators found 320 incidents excluding Mai Lai Massacre.

The Mai Lai Massacre was a mass murder of 347 to 504 unarmed citizens, carried out by US army on 16 March 1968 in the hamlets of Mai Lai and My Khe  in South Vietnam.  Those killed were almost entirely civilians, most of them women and children. Some of the victims were raped, beaten, tortured, or maimed. some of the bodies found were mutilated.

In 1969 US launched “Operation Breakfast”,  a  covert carpet-bombing of  neutral Cambodia.  US also dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on Laos during the Vietnam War. Khammouan province in Central Laos is still littered with unexploded bombs, said National Geographic” in 2015.  One bomb went off at a picnic, when they lit a fire over it.

In 2003 a United States-led coalition invaded Iraq and threw out  its US  stooge, Saddam Hussein.  An estimated 151,000 to 1,033,000 Iraqis were killed in the first three to four years of conflict. Luis Moreno-Ocampo former first  Prosecutor of the  ICC had said that he was willing to start an inquiry by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and possibly a trial, for war crimes committed in Iraq by  US and UK.

US went into Afghanistan in 1999 and is still fighting there. A presidential memorandum of September 7, 2002 authorized U.S. interrogators of prisoners captured in Afghanistan to deny the prisoners  the basic protection required by the Geneva Convention.This was a violation of the Convention  and constituted war crimes.”  Afghan prisoners  were    subject to cruel and inhuman treatment said critics.

War on Terror”, was an international military campaign launched by the  US after the attack  of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Centre in Manhattan, New York. US targeted  Muslim  armed groups ( which they had  helped create) particularly  Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Taliban.

Analysts observed that there was evidence of US war crimes in the War on Terror. A leaked report by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the July 2007 report by Human Rights First and Physicians for Social Responsibility could be used as evidence of war crimes if there was a Nuremberg-like trial regarding the War on Terror.

The war crimes of the US are not confined to  invading and killing. The US has  bombed countries and assassinated heads of state. US has assassinated  around 40  heads of state, including Lumumba, Allende, said Shenali Waduge. Shenali   has   provided a list of all the bombings carried out by US, from Nagasaki in 1945. The countries include  Guatemala, Korea, Indonesia, Cuba, Congo, Peru, Vietnam, Cambodia,  Libya, Nicaragua, Iran, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan. 

US is guilty of using biological weapons. US biological weapons were first tested on American prisoner and solders, without their knowing.   Agent Orange was tested on prisoners.  Then it was unleashed on Vietnam.US is  also largest provider of live land mines. 

US has engaged in torture. The best known is Guantanamo. The Guantanamo Bay detention camp was a  US  military prison holding prisoners  of  the  War on Terror. The activities of Guantanamo were so bad that they were eventually  investigated. USA admitted before the UN Committee against Torture that they had ‘crossed the line’ at its CIA site at Guantanamo.    

Analysts  observed that at Guantanamo US  practiced precise, refined torture,   including use of isolation, hoods, using detainees individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress and many more ‘treatments’. 

There was abusive and degrading treatment at Guantanamo, beatings, sleep deprivation, prolonged constraint in uncomfortable positions, prolonged hooding, cultural and sexual humiliation, enemas as well as other forced injections, and other physical and psychological mistreatment.  These had been authorized by the Pentagon.

,”On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times, they had urinated or defecated on themselves and had been left there for 18, 24 hours or more, said an FBI agent.”

 UN tribunals set up at the behest of the US and its NATO allies have been charged with bias. They were not impartial, they were influenced by the US said critics.

In 1997 Louise Arbor, investigating the killing of all passengers on board a Rwandan presidential aeroplane when it was shot down, covered up the results when it was revealed that it had not been the Hutu extremists but the Ugandan-RPF and US forces [the CIA was also implicated] who had shot down the plane. Arbor was thus an accomplice to a war crime and obstructed justice for which she was rewarded with a number of lucrative positions.

 Christopher Black, a lawyer specializing in International Law who has appeared for individuals brought before UN tribunals   commented on the way in which these tribunals have conducted the inquiries. Many individuals brought before these tribunals had been falsely accused, he said.

These tribunals use criminal methods against  persons that  the US wants punished, such as first throwing them in prison with no indictments shown or prior appearance before a court. Prisoners suddenly disappear, isolation being a method used to exert psychological pressure on them, Black continued.

A respected Rwandan General who had saved many Rwandan lives was arrested in 2000. Eleven years later the trial judges concluded that the arrest had been illegal and politically motivated because he had testified that the US and the UN forces had been directly involved in the violence unleashed in that country.

Tribunals pressurize the accused to use lawyers either in their pay or whom they could bend to their will to do their bidding, or those in the pay of the West.  Documents and relevant disclosures are withheld from these lawyers. Indictments/charge sheets are often false and propagandist and often have parts blackened so that the defense lawyers cannot understand that whole charge. Lawyers are subject to harassment, intimidation, are followed, their hotel rooms are broken into and rumours are spread about them to discourage their appearing for the accused, Black concluded.

Everybody knew or at least suspected that terrible things were happening in the US campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.  But there was no evidence.  Wikileaks provided the evidence.  In 2010 Wikileaks released a trove of classified State Department and Pentagon files detailing the realities of the US campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These came from US army intelligence official Chelsea Manning who had secretly fed spectacular dump of 725,000 classified files to Wikileaks. They showed possible war crimes by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan,

 The most striking piece of evidence was a video and audio clip from an Apache helicopter gunship attacking civilians in Baghdad in 2007. The crew spray their targets with machine-gun fire, making comments like “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards” and “It’s their fault for bringing their kids into battle”. They even shot at a vehicle that stopped to help the wounded.

The vindictiveness of the American security establishment towards whistle-blowers is awesome to behold, said Gwynne Dyer. Chelsea Manning, was given a 35-year sentence. She was pardoned by Obama in 2016 but was  jailed again for eight months in 2019 in an attempt to force her to incriminate Assange. Manning held out under huge pressure, accumulating $1000 fines for each day she refused to talk, and was finally released in March 2020 after attempting suicide. The fines still stand, however, and she is now a bankrupt who owes the US government $256,000.

A British judge has finally rejected the US attempt to extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and jail him forever in a high-security ,supermax prison reported  Gwynne Dyer. Judge Vanessa Baraitser at the Old Bailey in London had to work quite hard to thwart the US government’s campaign to get its hands on Assange. In the end she ruled that while the American prosecutors had met the legal criteria for Assange to be extradited to the US for trial, their request was denied because the US authorities could not prevent him from attempting to take his own life.

The road of the whistle-blower is long and lonely. Edward Snowden, who alerted the world to the scale of the US global electronic surveillance operation in 2013, is still in exile in Russia. But such people are among the few protections we have against  misdeeds.  Daniel Ellsberg was  celebrated for his theft and publication of the Pentagon Papers” detailing the US government’s crimes in Vietnam. Assange is firmly in that tradition. His revelations about the US military’s misdeeds in Iraq were as valuable as Ellsberg’s about Vietnam. So take a moment to honour Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. They have earned it,  said Dyer. ( continued)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress