‘Afghan hospital bombing was deliberate, not a mistake’

A Doctors Without Borders worker, injured by the Uniited States air force attack on the Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“Signals for targeted attack on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz

Today, 20:21

President Obama has apologized to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the attack on the hospital in Kunduz. Yesterday United States General Campbell already said that the attack was a mistake.

Anonymous sources from around ​​the general reported today to the New York Times that he was also convinced that the Americans did not follow their own guidelines.

Although the Americans have largely withdrawn from Afghanistan, they are still present with combat aircraft and 10,000 troops. Only in three cases the US Americans may carry out air strikes: there must be intervention to eliminate terrorists, or to protect United States troops or to assist the Afghan army and prevent land being lost.

NOS correspondent Arjen van der Horst says that according to General Campbell in the bombing of the MSF clinic not any of these three conditions was met. Van der Horst: “The picture emerges of a bombardment that deliberately targeted this hospital. had There are more and more puzzle pieces confirming this.”

The report that the MSF clinic was under fire for thirty minutes and was the target of several waves of attacks, according to Van der Horst has not been contradicted by the Pentagon. The hospital was also the only building in the area which was hit.

Puzzle pieces

One of the other pieces of the puzzle is the fact that the Americans used the so-called AC-130 aircraft; because of its firepower it is sometimes called a flying tank. Van der Horst: “The plane is flying pretty low, operates always at night and therefore always support is needed on the ground. Units designating a target and that was the case in Kunduz. That information came from the Afghan army. One wonders whether the Americans relied blindly on their coordinates.”

The Afghan government have called the attack justified because the Taliban supposedly used the hospital for warfare. This is strongly denied by MSF, but they do point out that the Afghans actually admit that the hospital was a target. According to Van der Horst, this is further evidence that it was not a mistake, not collateral damage.

As a possible motive for the attack he names the friction that exists between the charity and the Afghan government. MSF is a neutral organization and treats injuries of all warring parties, including Taliban fighters. The Afghan army had a bone to pick with MSF. In June the military had already invaded the hospital to arrest wounded Taliban fighters.

Van der Horst: “Over the past fourteen years, there have often been innocent Afghan casualties, but their voices are rarely heard, and when they are heard, then they are bulldozed by statements from the Pentagon which are adopted uncritically by the US American media. This time the victim is a western organization with eloquent spokespersons, an organization for which also in the USA respect exists. They do get listened to.”

THE international Red Cross joined Doctors Without Borders (MSF) yesterday in calling for an investigation of last week’s US bombing of a hospital in northern Afghanistan: here.

US officials seek to contain fallout from hospital massacre in Afghanistan: here.

Afghan hospital bombed, Doctors Without Borders distrusts Pentagon investigation

This Reuters video says about itself:

MSF says Kunduz hospital bombing could be a ‘war crime

6 October 2015

Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres dismisses claims that an air strike on an Afghan hospital was targeting militant fighters. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Suspicious MSF/Doctors Without Borders demands independent investigation about Kunduz

Today, 13:36

MSF demands an independent investigation into the bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. The organization has no faith in the investigations which the United States, NATO and Afghanistan have announced.

When the bombardment happened last Saturday, 22 people were killed. US warplanes targeted the clinic. Initially it was said that this occurred at the request of the Afghan government, but now the US has said that the US military itself commanded this. General Campbell has acknowledged that the attack was a mistake.

Special commission

MSF calls the attack a war crime and wants a special committee to do the fact-finding. This committee, the IHFFC, was established in 1991 to investigate serious violations of international law and derives from the Geneva Conventions. Up to now, the committee has never been deployed.

The founding treaty of the committee is signed by 76 countries. The United States and Afghanistan are not amongst them. The committee can only get to work if all parties agree.

See also here.

Doctors Without Borders: we received no advance warning of US airstrike. Such action would be a violation of the US Defense Department’s own manual governing the rules of war, as President Obama calls MSF president to apologize: here.

German human rights activists help refugees escape from Hungary

Some of the over 100,000 who marched in London, England on September 12th 2015 against the Conservative government's asylum policies and in support of refugees

From daily News Line in Britain:

Monday, 5 October 2015


GERMAN ‘escape helpers’ are driving to Hungary with cars and vans to collect refugees and ferry them across European borders, and back into Germany to start a new life.

Volunteers are with an activist group called ‘The Peng Collective’, they have helped organise and coordinate more than 100 volunteers. The 100 Germans call themselves ‘Fluchthelfer’, which roughly translates as ‘escape helpers’. The term has a unique historical significance in this country. During World War II, German Fluchthelfer helped Jews escape and hide from the Nazis.

The heroic actions, though carried out by volunteers and unpaid, are still considered ‘human smuggling’ under European law, meaning that ‘escape helpers’, if caught, can face jail. ‘Peng Collective’ movement has arisen in reaction to a controversial European Union law called the Dublin Regulation. It states that asylum seekers must be processed in the countries in which they first arrive in Europe.

On September 2, when Ole Seidenberg flicked on the morning news in Berlin and saw an image of a 3-year-old Syrian refugee who had washed up on a Turkish beach, he decided to become a ‘Fluchthelfer’. Seidenberg cancelled a holiday in the countryside that he and his wife had planned.

Instead, the 32-year-old drove out of Germany, through Austria, and into Hungary to pick up refugees and ferry them back to his home country, a move that would help them gain asylum.

Modern-day Fluchthelfer, for their part, are creating an underground ferrying service to sneak people from Hungary into Germany, so that the asylum seekers could have a better chance at gaining refugee status in Europe. ‘At the moment, there’s a lot of acceptance in society for Fluchthelfer,’ said Max a volunteer with the Peng Collective. ‘All the escape-helping movements in the past have been illegal,’ he said. ‘But they were justified in the books of history afterward.’

Ole Seidenberg’s first ‘escape helper’ journey began in early September. With a friend, he rented a silver Volkswagen Sharan, and left Berlin at night, driving through the Czech Republic and Slovakia to reach Hungary by Saturday morning. They heard that an area about 31 miles from the Austrian-Hungarian border had become a hotspot, and that if they drove through the countryside toward the border from Budapest, they would find refugees looking for a ride.

The group drove their two cars through Budapest’s streets and on to the refugee hotspot. As they neared the border, they saw hundreds of refugees, along with a handful of cars opening their doors. When Seidenberg opened the doors of his Volkswagen, a family from Iraq immediately got in. The car was so full that Seidenberg’s friend had to get out and wait while Seidenberg drove the family to the border.

By 1am, after ferrying several groups of refugees back and forth, Seidenberg and his friend reunited at a gas station on the Austrian side of the Hungarian border. They spotted a family carrying a bunch of plastic bags, seemingly left behind. The family, originally from Syria, was hesitant to accept a lift. They had just paid 500 euros to traffickers who left them at the gas station in the middle of the night, and were wary of strangers.

‘They thought we must be traffickers ourselves,’ said Seidenberg. ‘Why would we appear in the middle of the night in the gas station?’ After a tense negotiation, Seidenberg and his friend agreed to drive three men and three children to Frankfurt. Alex and his driving partner took another three adults who were headed to northern Germany. In Seidenberg’s car, the refugees fell asleep within 10 minutes.

‘They were completely exhausted,’ Seidenberg said. They were on their feet for 17 days. They had lived in Turkey in a refugee camp for 10 months.’ From Turkey, they had travelled by boat to Greece and from Greece to Macedonia, Serbia, then Hungary. We drove through the night, scared, because there were so many police at every gas station,’ Seidenberg said.

The ‘escape helpers’ risk serious consequences. In Austria, they could be fined for smuggling people in this fashion. In Hungary, they could face up to four years in jail. In Germany, they were risking up to 10 years of prison time under trafficking laws. ‘Hungary is closing their borders more and more; there are more controls on the Austrian-Hungarian border,’ said Seidenberg.

But the ‘escape helpers’ adapt to these changes, often communicating with encrypted messages. ‘As the refugees’ routes change, so do the routes of the escape helpers. They are not going to stop us,’ Seidenberg said. The situation will only become more dire during the winter, worsening what is already Europe’s most urgent refugee emergency since World War II.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015. In September, 168,000 people crossed the Mediterranean, the highest monthly figure ever recorded and almost five times the number in September 2014.|

As of Friday morning, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea since the beginning of the year, more than 153,000 of them in September alone. The nine-month 2015 total compares to 43,500 such arrivals in Greece in all of 2014. Ninety-seven per cent are from the world’s top 10 refugee-producing countries, led by Syria (70 per cent), Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Iraq (4 per cent). All three are countries that imperialism has attacked and bombed.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said: ‘There was a noticeable drop in sea arrivals this week, along with the change in the weather.’ Edwards said that on Sept 25th, for example, there were some 6,600 arrivals. The next day, it dropped to around 2,200. From an average of around 5,000 arrivals per day recently, it has fallen to some 3,300 over the past six days with just 1,500 yesterday.

‘Nevertheless, any improvement in the weather is likely to bring another surge in sea arrivals.’

The current cooler, windy weather has made the crossing from Turkey to Greece even more perilous.

Last Thursday, there were at least two rescue operations in waters off Lesvos. On Wednesday, there were four separate rescue operations on Lesvos in which 283 people were recovered. But the death of a woman and a young boy brought the total toll of dead and missing in Greek waters to at least 102 this year.

In all, nearly 3,000 people have died or gone missing this year crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Despite daily ferry departures carrying between 3,000 and 6,000 refugees and migrants from the islands to Athens, new arrivals continue and island ports can still be crowded with some 10,000-14,000 people on any given day awaiting transfer. UNHCR said it is concerned that the lack of reception capacity in Greece could seriously jeopardise the relocation programme agreed upon by the European Council, as eligible refugees have nowhere to stay while awaiting relocation.

Greece’s Prime Minister told the United Nations on Thursday that Athens was doing all it could to help the refugee and migrant crisis, and criticised the building of walls to keep them out. In cooperation with the EU and other international organisations, we are doing all we can to manage these flows in an effective and humane way,’ Alexis Tsipras told the General Assembly.

Greece is ‘improving reception facilities and identification procedures’ and setting up hot spots to facilitate relocation, Tsipras said, criticising European countries trying to keep them out. On Thursday, Hungary attached razor wire to a fence erected at its border with Croatia and last month sealed its border with Serbia, cutting off the main entry point for tens of thousands of migrants. ‘We do not believe that the future of Europe or our world can be built on ever higher walls, or children dying at our doorstep,’ said Tsipras.

‘We cannot allow racism and xenophobia to destroy our common principles,’ he added.

Some 500,000 people have come to Europe so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration says, many of them taking perilous journeys across the Mediterranean on inflatable dinghies.

The bodies of at least 95 refugees have been found washed ashore in Libya over the past week according to the country’s Red Crescent charity, in the latest tragedies stemming from the region’s unprecedented refugee crisis: here.

Pentagon pretexts on Afghan hospital bombing rejected by Doctors Without Borders

This BBC video says about itself:

5 October 2015

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called for an independent investigation of an air strike on its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

MSF said it is “disgusted” by Afghan government statements justifying the violence, calling it an “admission of a war crime“.

MSF said the statement implies US and Afghan forces decided to bomb the hospital because of claims Taliban members were inside. Vickie Hawkins, from MSF UK, insisted that there were no members of the Taliban operating from inside the hospital.

From Doctors Without Borders:

MSF Response to Pentagon Claim That Afghan Forces Called For Kunduz Airstrike

October 05, 2015

“Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government. The reality is the US dropped those bombs. The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”

Christopher Stokes, General Director, Médecins Sans Frontières

Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days. Commander of war in Afghanistan tells Senate panel that US forces had called in airstrike at Afghan request – ‘an admission of a war crime’ says MSF chief: here.

See also here.

The massacre of 22 people—12 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, along with 10 patients, three of them children—in Saturday’s airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical center in Kunduz, Afghanistan is an appalling war crime: here.

OBAMA CONSIDERING LEAVING TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN “President Obama is seriously weighing a proposal to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, according to senior U.S. officials, a move that would end his plans to bring U.S. troops home before he leaves office.” [WaPo]

‘NATO Kunduz hospital bombing is a war crime’

This video says about itself:

Kunduz attack may amount to war crime – UN Human Rights chief

4 October 2015

The US military said it launched an attack around the time a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) charity hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz was hit by an airstrike, killing 19 people: staff, patients and children.

“The strike may have led to collateral damage to a nearby medical facility,” according to a statement from US Army Colonel Brian Tribus, Spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan.

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein led a chorus of condemnation.

Read more here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

MSF/Doctors Without Borders speaks of war crime in Kunduz

Today, 10:28

MSF says that the bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city Kunduz is a war crime. “The Afghan government admits they have okayed this premeditatedly,” says Director Arjen Hehenkamp of MSF in the Netherlands. …

Gates closed

“It is totally unacceptable,” said Hehenkamp. “The Afghan government says there was a deliberate and purposeful bombing of a hospital in the middle of the night because there might maybe have been Taliban fighters.”

According to the organization, the gates of the hospital were all closed, so at the time of the attack only staff and patients were there. “We know for sure that it was not used for combat operations. Because of the heavy fighting, our team spent the past week continually at the compound.”

Hehenkamp recognizes that there may have been wounded Taliban fighters in the hospital, but that should be no reason to attack, he stressed. MSF treats all injuries, whether they are of civilians, Taliban fighters or coalition troops. “It is a violation of the law of war, because people can be sued for this. A hospital is sacred, especially in wartime.”

It was not inaccurate, not accidental or collateral damage, it was very purposeful.
Arjen Hehenkamp

According to Dutch Major General (retired) Frank van Kappen it does not matter whether there were combatants or not. “Even then you should not do it. You can not under international law just throw a bomb on a hospital.” …

Hehenkamp says he has heard other stories from his colleagues. “They attacked very specifically a very specific building in that large area several times, the intensive care unit. That was the only building that was hit. It was not inaccurate, not accidental or collateral damage. It was done quite deliberately.”

MSF demands an independent investigation into the incident, in which 22 people were killed, including twelve Doctors Without Borders workers and three children. …

US silent

MSF has already removed its staff from Kunduz. Thus the only hospital in the city is closed. Patients are brought to hospitals in the region. Because there are thirty seriously wounded people, Hehenkamp expects the death toll will continue to rise.

The United States, which was probably

‘Probably’? Does anyone believe seriously the Taliban have warplanes?

involved in the incident, has said nothing about this, says Hehenkamp. “It is incomprehensible that they do not seek contact in an active way after such a big butchery.”

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS LEAVES KUNDUZ AFTER DEADLY BOMBING The loss of medical services after an alleged U.S. airstrike, which killed 22 patients and staff, will be catastrophic for a region already lacking in medical support. And hear what a nurse who survived the bombing Saturday has to say about the tragedy. [NYT]

A protracted series of precisely targeted US airstrikes ripped through a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical center in Kunduz, Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 22 and wounding at least 37. The dead included 10 patients, including three children, and 12 members of the MSF staff: here.

Nato’s bombs fall like confetti, not containing conflict but spreading it, by George Monbiot. Syria, Isis, Iraq … there are no easy solutions. But killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere draws more people into insurgencies: here.

Saudi Arabia, oppression, resistance and war

This video says about itself:

Inside Saudi Arabia: Butchery, Slavery & History of Revolt

3 October 2015

Meet the new head of the United Nations panel on Human Rights: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Abby Martin takes us inside the brutal reality of this police-state monarchy, and tells the untold people’s history of resistance to it. With a major, catastrophic war in Yemen and looming high-profile executions of activists, The Empire Files exposes true nature of the U.S.-Saudi love affair.