Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital bombing impunity update


Kunduz hospital after the bombing, AFP photo

From Doctors Without Borders/MSF:

Kunduz: Initial reaction to public release of U.S. military investigative report on the attack on MSF trauma hospital

29 April 2016

NEW YORK, APRIL 29, 2016 — The United States military today released its investigative report on the attack on the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on 3 October 2015. The attack killed 42 people, including 14 MSF staff members, and wounded dozens more. …

MSF acknowledges the U.S. military’s efforts to conduct an investigation into the incident. Today, MSF and other medical care providers on the front lines of armed conflicts continually experience attacks on health facilities that go un-investigated by parties to the conflict. However, MSF has said consistently that it cannot be satisfied solely with a military investigation into the Kunduz attack. MSF’s request for an independent and impartial investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission has so far gone unanswered.

“Today’s briefing amounts to an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area, during which U.S. forces failed to follow the basic laws of war,” said Meinie Nicolai, MSF President. “It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the U.S., the attack was not called off.”

The hospital was fully functioning at the time of the airstrikes. The U.S. investigation acknowledges that there were no armed combatants within – and no fire from – the hospital compound.

“The threshold that must be crossed for this deadly incident to amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law is not whether it was intentional or not,” said Nicolai. “With multinational coalitions fighting with different rules of engagement across a wide spectrum of wars today, whether in Afghanistan, Syria, or Yemen, armed groups cannot escape their responsibilities on the battlefield simply by ruling out the intent to attack a protected structure such as a hospital.”

The nature of the deadly bombing of the MSF Kunduz Trauma Centre, and the recurring attacks on medical facilities in Afghanistan, demand from all parties to the conflict a clear reaffirmation of the protected status of medical care in the country. MSF must obtain these necessary assurances in Afghanistan before making any decision on if it is safe to re-start medical activities in Kunduz.

“We can’t put our teams – including our colleagues who survived the traumatic attack – back to work in Kunduz without first having strong and unambiguous assurances from all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan that this will not happen again,” said Nicolai. “We need explicit agreement from all parties to the conflict, including the Afghan authorities and the U.S. military, that there will be no military interference or use of force against MSF medical facilities, personnel, patients and ambulances. Equally, we must be assured that MSF staff can safely provide medical care based solely on medical needs, without discrimination, and regardless of their religious, political or military affiliations. Every day that passes without securing these assurances adds to the death toll from the attack, given the loss of lifesaving medical services to people in the region.”

The administrative punishments announced by the U.S. today are out of proportion to the destruction of a protected medical facility, the deaths of 42 people, the wounding of dozens of others, and the total loss of vital medical services to hundreds of thousands of people. The lack of meaningful accountability sends a worrying signal to warring parties, and is unlikely to act as a deterrent against future violations of the rules of war.

At the same time, it has become clear that the victims and their families have neither the option to pursue legal action against the U.S. military, either in Afghanistan or in the US, nor to claim compensation for loss of life and livelihood. This has only compounded the devastation of the attack.

U.S. Military Investigates And Finds Itself Not Guilty Of War Crimes In Afghan Hospital Bombing: here.

Impunity for Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital bombing


Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital after the bombing, photo Najim Rahim / AFP

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

No prosecution for United States attack on MSF clinic

Today, 18:28

The American soldiers who were involved in an attack on a Doctors Without Borders/MSF hospital in Afghanistan will not be prosecuted. They will only be disciplined by the military, the Pentagon announced. During the attack last October, 42 people were killed. …

Inexcusable

Injured people and relatives of killed people have reacted angrily to the US decision not to prosecute the soldiers involved. Zabibullah Neyazi, a nurse who lost his left arm, an eye and a finger of his right hand, told Associated Press he thought the attack was “inexcusable.” He said he and other victims want justice.

Only administrative penalties are insufficient according to Neyazi. “There should be a trial in Afghanistan, in our presence, in the presence of the families of the victims, to be just to them.”

Dutch video on World War II anti-nazi resistance


This Dutch amateur video was made in June 1943, in the Evertsbos forest near Anloo village in Drenthe province in the Netherlands. Resistance fighters against the German nazi occupation then built a hut there to hide from the occupiers.

In September 1944, German occupation soldiers discovered the hide. Five of eight anti-nazis present there managed to escape; three people were caught and executed.

In April 2016, just before the liberation of Drenthe, the nazis killed ten resistance fighters at the hide.

This Dutch video is about that history.

Iraq war 2003-2016, new film


This film trailer video from Belgium says about itself:

…WHOSE PEACE WILL IT BE?

18 December 2015

Exploring a future for Iraq and the Middle East, we interviewed all kinds of people. We let people speak for themselves in their true colors. Fiction meets reality in poetry of the image and in esteem of the human kind! – a production of The BRussells Tribunal with the support of theWizard.

You can watch the film here.

From the filmmakers:

…WHOSE PEACE WILL IT BE?

A documentary by Luc Pien

ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY

War is intensifying in Syria and Iraq … with the support of our governements. Life has become unbearable in both countries. Hundreds of thousands of refugees seek safe haven in Europe. Many drown attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Others make it across only to discover that there is no place for them in Hotel Europa. A peaceful life seems a distant dream …

Drawing on voices other than those we hear, see and read daily in the media, “… Whose peace will it be?” traces the origins and causes of the present disaster. The documentary weaves memories of the past through experiences of the present to create a mosaic within which the pathway to peace might be discerned. It provides an impetus to think differently about the future and act accordingly. But, above all, the film seeks to chart a pathway to peace.

Iraqi academics in the diaspora muse about the need for freedom, education and humanity in the Arab world. Refugees from Iraq and neighboring countries highlight the horror of the catastrophe. Artists discuss other ways of social thinking and acting. United Nations officials recount what has gone wrong in recent decades. European philosophers and experts explain how knowledge of, and respect for, other cultures has gotten lost.

In what sense are we, “the West,” complicit in—perhaps even responsible for—the disaster that has struck Iraq and Syria? What political action should the UN take? What’s stopping the supposedly enlightened nations from entering into genuine dialogue, with respect for the identity of all concerned?

What means do we have at our disposal to restore the human and cultural riches of Iraq and Syria? How can we show solidarity with the desire of people to decide their own fate? What can we do to make sure Iraq and the entire region become, once again, a secure and decent place to live? Can so much suffering be forged into hope? Whose peace will it be once the war is over?

All these questions have led to a movie full of options and possibilities for the future. We do not show the atrocities of war: we know them all too well. Nor do we show the unbearable and self-destructive side of human behavior. We let people speak for themselves, in all their uniqueness and sincerity. Utopia and reality meet in the poetry of the narration, and respect for everyday people.

This video from London, England says about itself:

At the invitation of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass and Lord Clarke of Hampstead, a conference was held at the House of Commons on 10 June 2014 “11 Years After the Occupation of Iraq” to discuss the major concerns in Iraq including the situation of human rights, the lack of security, absence of social developments and Iraq’s international obligations.

Participants in the conference included Mr Sabah Al Mukhtar, official of Arab Lawyers and Legal Consultant in UK, Dr Isam Al Chalabi, Former Iraqi Oil Minister, Prof. Saad Naji Jawad, Professor of Political Science and visiting professor at LSE, Dr Subhi Toma, Expert on Minorities and Immigrants, His Excellency Sid Ahmed Al Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria, and Messrs Denis Halliday and Hanz von Sponeck, former Assistant Secretary Generals at the UN.

United States Republicans Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina


This video from the USA says about itself:

Cruz Appoints Fiorina Vice President Of Imagination Land

27 April 2016

Major news! Ted Cruz has decided he’s going to name his pick for Vice President: Carly Fiorina. Now all he has to do is go back in time and prevent his past self from constantly losing primaries. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) intends to name former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate if he succeeds in winning the GOP nomination, multiple sources reported Wednesday.

Cruz’s move is seen as a last-minute gambit in hopes of shaking up the race and blocking front-runner Donald Trump, who easily swept five primary states across the Northeast on Tuesday.”

Read more here.

That time Carly Fiorina swore ‘Ted Cruz cannot possibly beat Hillary Clinton’: here.

Twitter tees off on Fiorina joining Cruz — and her singing: ‘Every plant in my house just died’: here.

Inside the social media backlash against Carly Fiorina’s crooning embrace of Ted Cruz: here.

JOHN BOEHNER TOOK OFF THE GLOVES He called Ted Cruz, “Lucifer in the flesh.” [Igor Bobic, HuffPost]

This video from the USA says about itself:

Ted Cruz Tries Pandering To Indiana Hoosiers Fans, Fails

27 April 2016

Ted Cruz desperately needs to win Indiana to have any chance at a brokered convention, and the nomination. He recently bungled an attempt at pandering to a crowd of Indiana Hoosiers fans. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“In what will henceforth be remembered as Ted’s Terrible Tuesday, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) bricked big in the night’s primaries and in an even more damning misstep, he completely botched a re-enactment of the timeless movie “Hoosiers” when he called a basketball hoop a “ring.”

Cruz chose to hold a rally outside Indianapolis at the gym where the iconic basketball movie was filmed. The GOP presidential candidate has touted his love of the 1986 film, which tells the inspiring tale of a small-town high school basketball coach played by Gene Hackman who leads his team to the state championship. Cruz elected to stump in Indiana instead of hanging around for a primary drubbing in five northeastern states.”

Read more here.

As the American political establishment enters the final stages of the primary contests to choose the presidential nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, the acute danger confronting the US and international working class emerges more clearly. The leading contenders in both parties, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, are committed to a vast military escalation following the November election: here.

Bobby Knight praises Donald Trump for being willing to start a nuclear war: here.

Scottish 17th century lady-in-waiting’s gown discovered off Texel


Painting by Sir Anthony van Dyck, on the occasion of the wedding of William II and Mary Stuart

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Texel gown belonged to member of royal court of Queen Henrietta Maria

20 April 2016

Archival research has revealed that the wardrobe discovered near Texel belonged to the royal court of the English Queen Henrietta Maria. In March 1642 the queen was travelling to the Netherlands on a secret mission when one of her baggage ships sank in the Wadden Sea. This discovery was made by cultural historians Nadine Akkerman from Leiden University and Helmer Helmers from the University of Amsterdam.

Divers had found the gown in a shipwreck off Texel in 2014.

The 17th-century dress, photo Kaap Skil museum on Texel

Scottish lady-in-waiting

The now famous silk gown is still remarkably well preserved and is the showpiece of a larger archaeological find near Texel. It probably belonged to Jean Kerr, Countess of Roxburghe (approximately 1585-1643), lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669). There was also a younger lady-in-waiting whose clothes were being transported in the ship, but the more outdated style and size of the gown indicate strongly that it belonged to Kerr, the elder of the two.

Elizabeth Stuart

Cultural historians Nadine Akkerman and Helmer Helmers are experts on the British Royal House of Stuart. Their findings are based on a letter written by Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), the Stuart princess who found refuge in The Hague after being exiled from the Kingdom of Bohemia. In this letter to the English diplomat Sir Thomas Roe, dated 17 March 1642, Elizabeth describes how her sister-in-law lost a baggage ship during the crossing. In addition to the clothing of two ladies-in-waiting and their maids, the queen herself lost the chalices from her private chapel in the shipwreck.

A secret mission

The official story behind Henrietta Maria’s trip to the Dutch Republic was one of royal connections: she was delivering her 11-year-old daughter Mary to the court of William II, Prince of Orange and future stadtholder, whom the girl had married the previous year. This was only a ruse, however: her real mission was to sell the crown jewels and use the proceeds to buy weapons. These were essential for King Charles I to take on Parliament in the English Civil War. According to Akkerman and Helmers, the find at Texel represents a tangible reminder of the strong Dutch involvement in this conflict.

Winter Queen

Akkerman, Assistant Professor of Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University, and Helmers, Assistant Professor of Early Modern Dutch Literature and Culture at the University of Amsterdam, were able to solve the mystery of the unknown owner of the gown reasonably quickly. Akkerman: ‘Once Helmer alerted me to the find, it took us about five minutes to unearth the relevant letter, as I remembered transcribing and deciphering it in 2006. We are still finding even more references.’ Akkerman is the editor of the Correspondence of Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia, while Helmers is the author of The Royalist Republic, on Anglo-Dutch relations in this period.

Unnecessary speculation

The mystery and speculation in the Dutch press surrounding the origin of the wardrobe were unnecessary. With the discovery of the family crest, the evidence quickly started pointing towards the Stuarts. Helmers: ‘It’s a pity we weren’t consulted sooner – the puzzle would have been solved much earlier. The archaeological experts have focused primarily on the material side. That’s important, of course, but the historical texts also tell a thrilling story.’

(CvB)