NATO airstrike, at least 11 Afghan civilians dead


This 2013 video is called NATO Airstrike Kills 11 Children Under 8 in Kunar, Afghanistan.

From Deutsche Welle in Germany today:

NATO airstrike kills at least 11 Afghan civilians

At least 11 Afghan civilians have been killed in a NATO airstrike targeting Taliban fighters in the eastern province of Kunar. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned the attack “in the strongest terms.”

A NATO airstrike late on Tuesday in Kunar, one of the Afghanistan‘s most volatile provinces, killed 11 Afghan civilians and wounded another 12, local officials said on Wednesday.

Provincial police chief Abdul Habib Sayedkheli said the NATO airstrike in the district of Narang had been requested by Afghan soldiers and police after coming under attack from the Taliban.

Tensions

A statement from the Afghan presidential palace said President Hamid Karzai had condemned the attack “in the strongest terms.”

Civilian casualties caused by misguided NATO aircraft remain highly sensitive in Afghanistan, occasionally triggering street protests and heightening tensions between NATO and Karzai’s government.

According to Assiocated Press, the death toll is fourteen.

United States warplane killed own soldiers in Afghanistan


This video from Afghanistan is called 500 Pound Bomb Dropped on U.S. Soldiers By Mistake.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Afghanistan: US bombing that killed five US soldiers and an Afghan was ‘avoidable mistake’

Saturday 6th September 2014

A US bombing in Afghanistan that killed five US soldiers and an Afghan in June was an avoidable mistake, the military admitted on Thursday.

US Central Command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan, cited a collective failure by soldiers, commanders and aircrew members to communicate and execute the fundamentals of the mission.

As a result, the soldiers and the Afghan were mistaken for enemy forces and were hit with laser-guided bombs.

The crew of the B-1 bomber were faulted by investigators for not taking reasonable precautions to identify where friendly forces were located.

Despite discrepancies in reported US troop locations, the aircrew did not take necessary steps to validate its information before launching the bombs, the command said.

Ground forces were blamed for incorrectly communicating troop positions.

They were also criticised for not knowing that the bomber’s targeting gear was incapable of detecting friendly marking devices.

War crimes in Afghanistan not investigated, Amnesty says


This video is called ‘Untried war crimes': Amnesty slams US military actions in Afghanistan.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

‘Flawed US military justice fails to recognise war crimes, says Amnesty International

Amnesty claims civilian deaths in Afghanistan have not been properly investigated

Cahal Milmo, Chief Reporter

Monday 11 August 2014

Dozens of potential war crimes committed by American forces in Afghanistan have gone uninvestigated by Washington because of a “deeply flawed” military justice system, Amnesty International alleges today.

The human rights group says thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces, who are due to pull out of the country at the end of this year, but have little chance of forcing the Pentagon to hold those responsible to account where deaths were unlawful.

In an 84-page report published today, Amnesty calls on the US to end what it says is a culture of secrecy surrounding military discipline and consider replacing its “commander-driven” investigations, which rely on soldiers’ own accounts of their actions, with civilian-managed courts martial.

The organisation studied 10 American military operations which resulted in the deaths of 140 civilians between 2009 and 2013 but said none had resulted in prosecutions, despite apparent evidence of atrocities. It said that since 2009, there had been just six trials of US personnel for the alleged illegal killing of Afghan civilians.

Richard Bennett, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific director, said: “The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses. None of the cases we looked into were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

Amnesty said it had interviewed 125 witnesses and family members in connection with the Afghan cases, many of which involved operations by US special forces.

In two cases there was “abundant and compelling” evidence of war crimes, including the attempted cover-up of the shooting of pregnant women and torture of captives, according to the group.

American troops shot or fatally wounded five people during a night-time raid on a house where a family celebration – attended by guests including an Afghan police investigator and prosecutor – was taking place in the eastern Paktia province.

The dead included two pregnant women – one a mother of 10, the other a mother of six – and a 17-year-old girl. Witnesses told Amnesty’s investigators that after the raid in 2010, the American forces removed evidence, including digging their bullets out of walls and the bodies of the dead women.

A press release issued on behalf of US forces claimed that the troops had found the “bound and gagged” bodies of the three women in the house and suggested they may have been victims of a “traditional honour killing”.

The claims were later withdrawn and Nato admitted responsibility for all five deaths but no prosecution ever took place.

In the second case, the human rights group said there was evidence that an elite special forces unit – known as ODA 3124 – had carried out extra-judicial killings and torture during a three-month period ending in February last year in the central Wardak province.

Under international law, not every civilian death in war is unlawful. But if they have been targeted deliberately or indiscriminately then a full and impartial investigation must be held, Amnesty said.

THE families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice, Amnesty International said in a new report released on Monday: here. And here.

United States woman jailed for photographing pro-peace protest


This 11 July 2014 video from the USA is called Grandmother Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison After Protest at U.S. Drone Base.

From Alternet in the USA:

By Alyssa Figueroa

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Photographing a War Protest

‘We are losing a generation because of drones’ says activist Mary Anne Grady Flores.

July 26, 2014

Warplanes have long been based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY. But in 2009, something new arrived: MQ-9 Reaper drones that were flown remotely over Afghanistan, dropping missiles and bombs and unleashing terror.

Organizers in Upstate New York started protests soon after the drones arrived and founded Upstate Drone Action in 2010. In 2011, one longtime activist and member of the Catholic Worker movement, Mary Anne Grady Flores, 57, joined the struggle. As part of the “Hancock 38” in April that year, she was arrested for protesting at the base’s main entrance by participating in a die-in to illustrate the indiscriminate killing of civilians overseas by drones.

She was arrested again in October 2012 for another act of “civil resistance,” as she puts it, not “civil disobedience,” to uphold the U.S. Constitution and international treaties the U.S. signed. That led to Grady Flores and the 16 others being placed under court orders restricting their protest rights. Frustrated by the protesters’ persistence, a base commander, Col. Earl Evans, sought and received an orders of protection — usually reserved for domestic violence victims — which was used over time to bar approximately 50 protesters from the base’s grounds.

In February 2013, Grady Flores stood in the public intersection beyond the driveway leading to the air base taking pictures of the eight protesters participating in an Ash Wednesday action. Those witnessing were asking for forgiveness for what we as American citizens are doing with killer drones. She was later arrested across the street and down the road for “violating the order of protection.” A higher court has found the use of the order invalid.

But on July 10, DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon gave Grady Flores the maximum sentence of one year in jail for a second-degree criminal contempt charge, leaving a courtroom of supporters in shock. He defended his harsh sentence by claiming that she “would simply thumb her nose at the law once again.” DeWitt Town judges are planning on holding 20 upcoming trials from August 2014 through 2015, threatening to send each activist to one year in jail.

On Wednesday, July 23, eight protesters went back to the air base to issue their own “people’s order of protection” on behalf of drone victims around the world. Seven were arrested and charged with trespass. Two of the protesters — Grady Flores’ sister Clare and Martha Hennessey, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker — were charged with violating their orders of protection and are being held on $10,000 bail. All of them refuse to post bail and remain in jail pending their Aug. 6 court dates.

“These judges are out to try to stop the protests on behalf of the base,” Grady Flores said, who is out on $5,000 bail pending her appeal.

Grady Flores spoke to AlterNet about what motivates her to protest against drones, the connections she sees between our foreign and domestic policies, and what gives her hope.

Alyssa Figueroa: You joined these anti-drone protests in 2011. What made you start?

Mary Anne Grady Flores: Drones are a critical issue for people in the countries that are under attack, and it’s important for those of us in the States to make the connections between poverty, racism and colonialism. As many black and Native feminists have pointed out, the violence that has historically and continues to be perpetrated inside the so-called borders of the United States sustains American imperialism abroad.

Foreign soldiers killed Afghan peasants


This video says about itself:

Investigative journalist Jon Stephenson talks about New Zealand’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Marae Investigates TVNZ 24 April 2011.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Civilians were killed in New Zealand-US raid on Afghan village

5 July 2014

An investigation by journalist Jon Stephenson, broadcast on Maori Television on Monday, found that a raid on an Afghan village on August 22, 2010, involving New Zealand, US and Afghan soldiers, resulted in 21 casualties, all of them innocent civilians.

According to the report—based on interviews with survivors, NGOs and Afghan government officials, and cell phone videos of the dead—six people were killed, including a three-year-old girl, and 15 were wounded.

The night-time raid on the village of Tirgiran in Baghlan province was in retaliation for an insurgent attack on New Zealand soldiers in neighbouring Bamiyan province on August 4 that killed Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell.

The US-led attack, which unleashed awesome firepower against an apparently defenceless village, was typical of the operations of the occupation forces. The war, which has lasted more than 12 years and caused tens of thousands of deaths, is a neo-colonial venture that faces widespread and entrenched opposition. The aim of such attacks is to terrorise the population into submission.

US helicopter gunships repeatedly fired on houses and dropped off NZ SAS troops, who burst into people’s homes. According to a press statement at the time by the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 12 “insurgents” were killed. But ISAF also said there was a “possibility” of civilian deaths because a helicopter gun “malfunction” led to soldiers shooting into the wrong building. The New York Times quoted district governor Mohammed Ismail two days after the raid, who said eight people had been killed, including two women and a child.

In April 2011, NZ’s then defence minister Wayne Mapp told TVNZ that the raid was necessary “to protect our people.” He said allegations of civilian deaths had “been investigated and proven to be false.”

However, Said Ahmad, a 38-year-old farmer, who received shrapnel wounds from the raid, told Stephenson: “There were no Taliban. All of the people that were killed or wounded were innocent people … The helicopters were going, coming, going and coming in circles and firing on people. They shot at us and killed and wounded defenseless people.”

Mohammad Iqbal, another farmer who still has shrapnel lodged in his back and is unable to work, claimed that nine of those wounded were women.

Dr Abdul Rahman, one of the first people who arrived after the attack, showed Stephenson pictures of the dead and the wounded, and explained that he helped to bury a three-year-old girl named Fatima. Rahman provided a certificate issued by the former district governor, listing the names of the dead and wounded.

Stephenson noted that the United Nations and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission both acknowledged the civilian casualties in a 2011 report. He also stated: “SAS troopers who took part in the mission are concerned that civilians died there.” He said there were no claims that NZ troops had themselves killed civilians.

Despite the extensive evidence that the raid on Tirgiran resulted in a massacre of innocent people, the NZ government dismissed Stephenson’s report. Prime Minister John Key told TV3 last Tuesday that a “thorough review” by the Chief of Defence Force had found that “there were insurgents that were killed but that was it.”

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman was more evasive. He told reporters: “New Zealanders were not involved—and that’s categorical—in any civilian casualties or deaths.” Then he added that he “couldn’t rule out” that civilians had died in the raid “through actions taken by other forces.”

Stephenson hit back at the government, telling TV3 that, in addition to the eyewitness accounts in his report, “I did a lot of other investigation and confirmed from very senior Afghan officials, and from people like hospital directors and NGOs, that those accounts were accurate. So I think the prime minister’s in another world if he thinks that all this evidence counts for nothing and that he is categorically right.”

Stephenson has been harassed and spied on by the government and the military for previous reports exposing the complicity of NZ forces in war crimes—including a May 2011 report that revealed NZ troops had handed over prisoners to US and Afghan authorities for torture.

Last year the Sunday Star-Times revealed that the NZ military collaborated with US spy agencies to monitor Stephenson’s phone calls, and those of his associates, when he was in Afghanistan. A Defence Force manual leaked to the newspaper said “certain investigative journalists” should be regarded as a subversive “threat.” It said they could “obtain politically sensitive information” that could “bring the Government into disrepute” and called for “counter-intelligence” operations against them.

In June 2011, Stephenson complained to police after allegedly receiving a death threat from a senior SAS officer at a Wellington bar. Police said they investigated but did not lay charges.

Following Stephenson’s latest report, the political establishment closed ranks to defend the military. Labour leader David Cunliffe made a vague call for an “investigation” into the raid, while declaring that “New Zealand’s military has a proud record … It’s likely that New Zealand troops are not culpable but I think all New Zealanders would want to see the air cleared and the New Zealand military’s honour upheld.”

It was the 1999-2008 Labour government, supported by the “left wing” Alliance Party, that first sent SAS commandos into Afghanistan in 2001. More than a hundred NZ soldiers remained in the country until April 2013. Ten of them died.

Journalist Nicky Hager’s 2011 book Other People’s Wars revealed that intelligence agents from NZ’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) also worked throughout the war under US commanders, helping to select targets for assassination by ground troops or air strikes across Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Greens, who supported the main troop deployment to Afghanistan, have remained silent on Stephenson’s revelations. So has the Maori nationalist Mana Party and its electoral ally, the Internet Party.

The coverup is driven by a definite agenda. Successive governments have strengthened military and intelligence ties with Washington, on which NZ’s ruling elite relies to conduct its own neo-colonial interests in the South Pacific.

Labour and the Greens, along with the National Party government, have not only indicated that they would support direct US intervention in Syria and Iraq. The political establishment backs the US military build-up in the Asia-Pacific, aimed at preparing for war against China. Key’s visit to Washington last month signalled closer collaboration with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia.”

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NZ government aligns more closely with US amid rising tensions with China
[2 July 2014]

AFGHAN Defence Ministry spokesman General Mohammmad Zahir Azimi blamed a “terrorist in an army uniform” yesterday for a shooting spree that left a US general dead and 15 soldiers wounded. …Earlier, 200 people took part in an angry demonstration in Herat after a Nato helicopter strike killed four Afghan civilians: here.

On Tuesday, a soldier in the Afghan army opened fire on a group of high-ranking NATO coalition members, killing an American major general. The attack, which occurred at the British-run Marshall Fahim National Defense University outside of Kabul, comes amidst an increase in violence in Afghanistan over the past year: here.