HEADLINES

Washington: Doctors Without Borders Marches on Capital Hill Today

By Alistair Reign. December 8, 2015. Alistair Reign News Blog.

Doctors w o Borders header x600 inx

On Wednesday, December 9th, MSF staff and supporters will march on Capital Hill in DC to demand that President Barrack Obama allow the independent investigation of the US-led Coalition airstrike that took place on October 3, 2015, targeting a Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) operated hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan; causing the death of “30 staff, patients and assistants and injured 37,” reported General John Campbell to the U.S. Investigation committee on November 25th, at which point he gave his “condolences”.

A hospital bed inside the MSF hospital in Kunduz after it was destroyed by a US airstrike (Photo: ANDREW QUILTY).

A hospital bed inside the MSF hospital in Kunduz after it was destroyed by a US airstrike (Photo: Andrew Quilty).

A patient ward inside the MSF hospital in Kunduz after it was destroyed by a US airstrike (Photo: Andrew Quilty).

A patient ward inside the MSF hospital in Kunduz after it was destroyed by a US airstrike (Photo: Andrew Quilty).

This picture shows the damaged MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which came under fire by a US AC-130 gunship on October 3, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

This picture shows the damaged MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which came under fire by a US AC-130 gunship on October 3, 2015. (Photo: AFP)

The recent investigation held by the USA’s own internal review found that the pilots responsible for the airstrikes on the hospital did not act intentionally, it was simply a case of  “human error“.  General Campbell, the top NATO and US commander in Afghanistan summarized the killing of innocent people and medical staff as a “tragic mistake“. He added that the individuals involved in the attack had been suspended awaiting pending “standard military justice.”

However, for many people the investigation has not answered their questions, nor has it sufficiently resolve the incident with MSF. To the contrary it has opened the gates to an outpouring of disbelief, outrage, and Medecins Sans Frontieres continuing their demand for an independent investigation.

The question remains whether the disregard of these procedures was intentional,” said Kate Clark of Afghan Analysts Network on Monday.

Clark called for an independent international investigation into the US’s October 3 attack on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, which claimed the lives of 30 people.

MSF reported that several doctors and nurses were killed immediately, and patients who could not move burned to death in the ensuing fire after the AC-130 gunship fired 211 shells at the compound. In its report, the medical charity said the strike lasted for almost one hour.

Ms Clark said it was hard to believe the crew did not know that the building they had in their sights was the MSF hospital, “a highly distinctive building … the only one lit up at night in a city without electricity“. [02]

MSF Hospital compoud, arial view before and after bombing. (Photo: MSF)

Kunduz, Afghanistan, MSF charity-operated Hospital compound: the left aerial view shows the span of the hospital compound is approximately a city block, highly visible, with no surrounding interference to confuse a trained pilot. Photo on the right reveals the empty space where the busy hospital once stood. (Photo: via MSF/VOX)

Medecins Sans Frontieres’ independent investigation report has provided a horrific account of how medical staff, doctors, and patients (including children) were killed, or severely wounded by a US gunship attack. The following quotes are snippets from medical staff testimony:

The view from inside the hospital is that this attack was conducted with the purpose to kill and destroy,” stated Christopher Stokes, General Director of MSF.

The report states:

Patients burned in their beds, medical staff were decapitated and lost limbs, and others were shot by the circling AC- 130 gunship while fleeing the burning building. At least 30 MSF staff and patients were killed.

One MSF staff member described a patient in a wheelchair attempting to escape from the in-patient department when he was killed by shrapnel from a blast,”

An MSF doctor suffered a traumatic amputation to the leg in one of the blasts. He was later operated on by the MSF team on a make-shift operating table on an office desk where he died.”

Other MSF staff describe seeing people running while on fire and then falling unconscious on the ground. One MSF staff was decapitated by shrapnel in the airstrikes. The US airstrikes stopped between 3:00am and 3.13am.

It is clear that MSF staff are not the only people unhappy with the outcome of the US internal investigation, represented by the number of people worldwide who added their voice to the MSF petition addressed to President Barrack Obama, ‘Tell President Obama to Consent to Independent Investigation of Kunduz Hospital Bombing’, below is the number of supporters at the time I wrote this article. You can click here, or on the image to sign the MSF petition.

Activists marching on Capital Hill this Wednesday carry the demands of over half a million people.

Over half a million people have signed the MSF petition demanding POTUS allow an independent investigation. (Snapshot from petition 07/12/2015).

People marching with one reasonable request

“What we demand is simple: a functioning hospital caring for patients, such as the one in Kunduz, cannot simply lose its protection and be attacked; wounded combatants are patients and must be free from attack and treated without discrimination; medical staff should never be punished or attacked for providing treatment to wounded combatants,” states the public news release of the initial MSF internal review document, signed on November 5, 2015 by Dr Joanne Liu, MSF International President.

I admire Dr. Liu, and have included a brief bio of the amazing woman standing up for the human right of safe, life-saving medical care for both soldiers, and civilians in war zones. The full article can be read here on Salute Lives.

Dr. Joanne Liu (IMHL Module 4 participant) has been elected President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, effective October 1, 2013. Joanne Liu, raised a French Canadian, was born in Quebec city to her Chinese immigrant parents. Joanne has been passionate engaged about the world from an early age. When she was 13, she read “ Et la Paix dans le monde docteur”, a physician’s account of working with MSF during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. Greatly inspired by this book, she dreamt of herself one day becoming “<em>a doctor without borders</em>”. She joined the Canadian Katimavik Youth programme after secondary school in order to experience community service projects.<em> Click on her photo to read the wonderful profile of the amazing Doctor Joanne Liu.(Photo/quote: SaluteLives.com).

Dr. Joanne Liu (IMHL Module 4 participant) has been elected President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, effective October 1, 2013. Joanne Liu, raised a French Canadian, was born in Quebec city to her Chinese immigrant parents. Joanne has been passionate engaged about the world from an early age. When she was 13, she read “Et la Paix dans le monde docteur”, a physician’s account of working with MSF during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. Greatly inspired by this book, she dreamt of herself one day becoming “a doctor without borders”. She joined the Canadian Katimavik Youth programme after secondary school in order to experience community service projects. Click on her photo to read the wonderful profile of the amazing Doctor Joanne Liu. (Photo/quote: SaluteLives.com).

Personally, my solidarity with the MSF request for an independent investigation falls within the rules of war under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, as defined in the Geneva Convention in 1894, now set forth in the First, Second and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949. [01]

The staff of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, demonstrates in Geneva, Switzerland November 3, 2015, one month after the U.S. bombing of their charity-run hospital in Kunduz in Afghanistan. REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE

The staff of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), demonstrates in Geneva, Switzerland one month after the US bombing of their charity-run hospital in Kunduz. (Reuters: Denis Balibouse)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a database of the 161 rules of customary international humanitarian law in 2005. The following excerpt is from Rule 25. Medical Personnel, and outlines the internationally recognized rules applicable to the US-led hospital airstrike:

‘Respect for and protection of medical personnel

State practice contains the following specifications with respect to the meaning of the term “respect and protection”. According to the UK Military Manual and US Field Manual, the term “respect and protection” means that medical personnel “must not knowingly be attacked, fired upon, or unnecessarily prevented from discharging their proper functions”.[27]  Germany’s Military Manual and Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual contain a similar understanding.[28]  Spain’s LOAC Manual states that protection includes the duty to defend, assist and support medical personnel when needed.[29]  The military manuals of Benin, Croatia, Madagascar, Nigeria and Togo state that medical personnel may not be attacked, and must be allowed to carry out their tasks as long as the tactical situation permits.[30]  Additional Protocol I also requires that “if needed, all available help shall be afforded to civilian medical personnel in an area where civilian medical services are disrupted by reason of combat activity”.[31]  Additional Protocol II requires that medical personnel “be granted all available help for the performance of their duties”.[32]

Baynazar Mohammad Nazar was a husband and a father of four (Photo: Andrew Quilty)

Baynazar Mohammad Nazar was a husband and a father of four, and a patient killed during the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz. (Photo: Andrew Quilty)

Freelance reporter Andrew Quilty was the first journalist to set foot inside the demolished ruins of what was once a busy hospital. He discusses what he saw, and why he published the pictures. Click here to watch his video report on Drum, (warning: some viewers may find the images of death distressing). However, I still recommend reading his article titled, ‘The Man on the Operating Table’ (warning: the article, and photos depict graphic images of injury, and death).

Why are hospitals being bombed in both Yemen and Syria?

I cannot provide proof as to the why, but I will express my personal belief in upholding the laws governing the human rights for every person on the planet, and that includes equal justice for everyone, which also means holding every country, and their ruling government accountable to international law set forth by the Geneva Conventions and United Nations.

I believe that the President of the United States should be setting an example that no country can defy the rules of war. In my opinion, President Obama is telling the world that the rules of war no longer apply, and this is happening at a time when war crimes in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia are being reported and documented in a greater occurrence than has been witnessed in my 45 years, certainly for most Westerners this is true.

In the MSF internal review final paragraph, the statement is posed, “The attack on our hospital in Kunduz destroyed our ability to treat patients at a time when we were needed the most. We need a clear commitment that the act of providing medical care will never make us a target. We need to know whether the rules of war still apply.”

US refusal to comply places them above international law

“On 7 October 2015, MSF launched a call for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission. Although the IHFFC has made itself available for an investigation, the United States and Afghan Governments have yet to consent to this request. Consenting to the IHFFC is a critical step in demonstrating a commitment to the Geneva Conventions,” the MSF internal review said.

The world has already had a taste of the President of the United States bullying the UN under the Bush Administration, and look at the mess the US made of that maneuver to initiate war against another country, (a country which had not declared war on the US until after they were attacked by the US-led coalition).

Eye-witnesses use social media to record history

What I witness daily through social media appears to be a contagious disease spreading disrespect for human life, between government cover ups, and biased news reports it is no wonder several country leaders are becoming braver with their attacks on civilians – no one is holding them accountable. This alone makes me question the circumstances behind the airstrikes on the Kunduz hospital.

Personally, I do not want to believe the US pilots knew they were being sent to bomb a large, busy Doctors Without Borders hospital.

What I want to know is where did those target coordinates come from? Who ordered the strike on that location? Why did the strikes continue for 30 minutes, after MSF alleges they were in communication with officials telling them to stop bombing the hospital? The attack lasted steady for one hour before it stopped.

mfs 4 pics scrI can testify to the fact the MSF twitter sites were posting, almost immediately after the first bombs hit, that the Kunduz hospital was under attack. I follow most of MSF twitter accounts, and I watched in horror as several of the MSF accounts were posting photos of the hospital damage during the bombing, photos of patients crying, people cowering in corners with their hands over their heads, as if they could prevent the building from crushing them.

Since that attack, the exact events have been shrouded in mystery, and we can be certain, that if the shoe were on the other foot, and another country “mistakenly” bombed, destroyed, and killed patients in an American operated hospital with Caucasian tourists and US citizen victims, the UN would not find it so easy to sweep the gruesome facts under the carpet. Unfortunately it appears that a Canadian founded hospital, in a country we are taught to fear, how easily the media can convince us “Westerners” that we have no choice but to accept what is called ‘civilian casualties’ in order to keep us safe from ISIS – way over here across the ocean.

Have people become obsessed with the motto ‘we will kill you before you can kill us‘?

Sadly the ‘you‘ versus ‘us‘ is only going to cause more hatred, and more wars, that still can be avoided, if the UN leaders will act like leaders, because this is not a time for the politics of neutrality. Not when several countries are currently pushing, and pushing, testing the limits of how many ‘civilian casualties’ they can get away with, under this banner of ‘War on Isis’.

The facts speak for themselves in reports documenting the coalition led airstrikes which have allegedly killed more civilians, than ISIS or ISIL related attacks. For example, you can read here for Syria statistics, and here for Yemen statistics.

From where I am standing, I see danger coming from within – the apathy within the United Nations

The neutrality of health care facilities and staff is not being respected. Health facilities are deliberately attacked and surgical and medical supplies are also being blocked from reaching hospitals in areas under siege,” said the deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, Kedir Awol Omar. The press release states that, “Close to a hundred similar incidents [bombing of Al-Thawra hospital] have been reported since March 2015.”  [03]

“Deliberate attacks on health facilities represent a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law (IHL). All those taking part in the fighting are, in accordance with IHL, obliged to protect medical facilities and personnel at all times.

Taiz city. Al-Thawra hospital after being hit by shells. The three patients who had been laying in this room were pulled out of their beds when the shelling started. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / W. Al-Absi

Taiz city. Al-Thawra hospital after being hit by shells. The three patients who had been laying in this room were pulled out of their beds when the shelling started. (CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / W. Al-Absi)

Doctors Without Borders nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs, pictured in 2013, was sleeping when the airstrike pounded the Kunduz hospital. (Photo: MSF)

Doctors Without Borders nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs, pictured in 2013, was sleeping when the airstrike pounded the Kunduz hospital. (Photo: MSF)

Doctors Without Borders withdraws from Kunduz post after airstrike that killed 22, left patients burning in beds (Photo: MSF)

Doctors Without Borders withdraws from Kunduz post after airstrike that killed 22, and left patients burning in beds. (Photo: MSF)

We have received apologies and condolences, but this is not enough,” said Dr. Joanne Liu. “We are still in the dark about why a well-known hospital full of patients and medical staff was repeatedly bombarded for more than an hour. We need to understand what happened and why.

I agree with the stance MSF has taken, I want to know, I believe most of the world wants to know what exactly happened, in the hopes of preventing the hospital bombings from continuing.


Please do not re-blog this report without consent from Alistair Reign. Send inquiries and requests to Alistair.Reign@Gmail.com, thank you.

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