Posted on June 26th, 2021


The west, smarting after its defeat in Eelam war IV, raised a war crimes cry   against the Sri Lanka army. Critics returned the compliment by pointing out the war crimes of the west, starting with USA.

 US armed forces have committed crimes which clearly   fall within the war crimes definitions of the ICC and Geneva Conventions, said critics. They have committed war crimes, not in just one war, but in many wars.

During World War II (1939-1944) US soldiers killed German prisoners of war and surrendering Nazi soldiers at Dachau concentration camp.  This was known as the Fachan massacre.  Eight surviving, captured crewmen from the sunken German submarine U-546 were tortured by US military.

During World War II the US strafed thousands of survivors   of eight sunken Japanese troop transports, who were adrift. USS Wahoo had fired on survivors of the Japanese transport Buyo Maru.  US soldiers killed Japanese soldiers who had surrendered. Since this was affecting intelligence, US thereafter ordered that Japanese soldiers be taken live.

 In Sicily, in 1943, during World War II US killed about 75 unarmed prisoners, mostly Italian in Biscari massacre.  US killed eight unarmed Italian civilians in Canicatti massacre. The town of Canicatti had already surrendered when U.S. troops entered, The Canicatti massacre was hidden until it was brought to light in 2005. These are just two of the seven massacres, attributed to the US in World War II.

American GIs committed sexual offences in Europe between 1942 and 1945 during World War II. U.S. servicemen committed around 3,500 rapes in France between June 1944 and the end of the war.

The Korean War (1950-1953) had the No Gun Ri massacre, a mass killing of Korean refugees in 1950 by the US soldiers at a bridge near the village of No Gun Ri.  This was exposed by the Agence Presse in 1999.

During the Vietnam War (1955-1975) US forces committed horrifying atrocities. These were collected in the Vietnam War Crimes Working group files, compiled by Pentagon in the 1970s and held in the US archives.

The best known of these is the Mai Lai massacre of mass murder of 347 and 504 unarmed citizens, most women and children, in the hamlets of Mai Lai and My Khe in 1968. Only one American soldier was convicted out of those charged. Americans who criticized this received hate mail.

The US launched a war against Iraq in 2003 which lasted till 2011. .  It is now suggested that US should be charged for launching an illegal war against Iraq. It qualifies as a ‘crime of aggression’.

US had a horrifying record of human rights abuses in war, said critics. US soldiers committed war crimes in a brazen manner.  In the US-Iraq war US soldiers in a helicopter gunship, ruthlessly cut down a team of Iraqi journalists, despite the fact that the Iraqis were working for Reuters and therefore protected persons. 

USA bombed countries, starting with Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. US also bombed Guatemala, Korean, Indonesia, Cuba, Congo, Peru, Vietnam, Cambodia, Libya, Nicaragua, Iran, Bosnia, Sudan, and Afghanistan. 

US biological weapons were tested on American prisoners and soldiers, without their knowledge.  Agent Orange, used in the Vietnam war from 1961-1971, was tested on prisoners.

The United States Army and the CIA committed a series of human rights violations and war crimes against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, including physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape, sodomy, and murder, during the early stages of the Iraq War.

 US set up a military prison   at Guantanamo Bay in 2002. The largest group (29 percent), of prisoners were from Afghanistan, followed by Saudi Arabians (17 percent), Yemenis (15 percent), Pakistanis (9 percent), and Algerians (3 percent).

 Amnesty International declared this detention camp to be a major breach of human rights. There was indefinite detention without trial. There was abusive interrogation, stress-inducing procedures, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, torture, sexual degradation, forced drugging, and religious persecution. There were at least six reported suicides in Guantánamo

In Guantanamo, Iraqi soldiers were beaten up, tortured,   threatened with rape and intimidated by ferocious guard dogs under the supervision of the CIA. 

Western war criminals are seldom punished, or when punished, the punishment is not proportionate to the crimes committed, said critics. In fact, if you expose the war crimes perpetrated by the west, you risk becoming a target. Such is the situation that Julian Assange finds himself in today, said critics.

US blocks international investigations into events which reveal US involvement. In 1994 the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi was shot down over Kigali, Rwanda as they returned from a summit of regional leaders in Tanzania. Both men died, as did their senior aides and the French aircrew.

In 1997, the investigation team for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda handed over a secret memo to judge Louise Arbour stating that Vice President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was responsible for the shooting down of the presidential plane.  Arbour ordered the investigation to be shut down. The investigator quit in disgust and reported his findings elsewhere. It was rumored that ‘politics’ played a role in this decision. Paul Kagame had been trained by the US and was supported in Rwanda by the US.

The western countries have made sure that they cannot be prosecuted in international criminal courts. USA and UK have openly stated that there is no danger of that.  USA has prohibited international war crimes tribunals from ever trying a US citizen. The US President can use force to obtain the release of any American citizen taken before an international war crimes tribunal.

When the ICC was formed, the UK was one of its founding members .UK said, “This is not a court set up to bring to book Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom or Presidents of the United States.

However, in 2016 the ICC had a preliminary investigation into the conduct of the US military in Afghanistan. Chief prosecutor of the ICC concluded that US may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan, as a deliberate policy. There was evidence of war crimes oftorture and related ill treatment by US military forces in Afghanistan and secret detention facilities operated by the CIA.

Although the United States is not a state party to Rome Statute, American citizens can be investigated if the court is investigating crimes in countries that have joined the ICC. They can be charged but they cannot be arrested. The ICC cannot make arrests. .

The ICC Prosecutor acting on her own initiative commenced proceedings in 2017 to investigate and prosecute the USA.  Washington reacted immediately. ICC came under fire for opening a full-fledged investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by US troops on the territory of ICC member Afghanistan.

 Washington announced, the United States was not a party to the treaty that created the ICC and it will not accept the jurisdiction of the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. If the court comes after us, we will not sit quietly, but will take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, unlawful, so-called court. US also said that the ICC was illegitimate.”

In 2019 Washington revoked the visa of the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, when she indicated that she was going ahead with the case.

Having spent years collecting information on the Afghanistan war, Ms. Bensouda  sought permission in 2020  to open an investigation into claims of war crimes and crimes against humanity attributed to United States military and intelligence personnel, the Taliban and Afghan forces.

Bensouda  said that the court had enough information to prove that U.S. forces had committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, and later in clandestine C.I.A. facilities in Poland, Romania and Lithuania.

The International Criminal Court ruled in  2020 that its chief prosecutor could open an investigation into allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan including any that may have been committed by Americans. This was the first time that US came up for scrutiny at the ICC

Shortly after the ICC announced its investigation in March 2020, the Afghan government said it is conducting its own probe and asked ICC to defer its investigation. Under ICC rules, the ICC can prosecute crimes only when the country concerned is not prepared to do so themselves.

 In May 2021 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she would continue to work with the government of Afghanistan while carrying out her duties under the ICC’s rules.

Australia had also sent troops to Afghanistan.  In 2020 Australian television featured a 60 Minutes Australia report about the murder of children and a ‘killing as a sport’ culture” among Australian fighters deployed in Afghanistan. . 60 Minutes described the killers as a rogue band” of Special Forces Soldiers. Special Forces soldiers were tallying their kills on wall boards, kills that included civilians and prisoners. One especially disturbing episode described how Australian Special Forces soldiers mercilessly slit the throats of 14-year-old boys, bagged their bodies, and tossed them in a river. (Continued)

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