Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mounting evidence of British war crimes

Chris Marsden, wsws.org, Nov 3, 2010

Britain’s armed forces stand accused of torture and murder, perpetrated in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The scale of the abuses involved cannot be attributed to a few “rogue” individuals, or covered up by the routine excuse that Britain simply got “too close” to the United States and is guilty only by association. They present prima facie evidence for war crimes charges.

Revelations regarding Afghanistan focus on the documents released by WikiLeaks, listing 21 British attacks on civilians, including children. But a separate document seen by the Daily Telegraph suggests coalition forces are responsible for up to 1,000 civilian deaths since 2006. This number has doubled in the past four years.

WikiLeaks also cited three reports recording cases of direct abuse by British troops against Iraqi detainees that coincide with mounting evidence of “systemic” abuses of detainees and other civilians.

A preliminary high court ruling in July found, “There is an arguable case that the alleged ill-treatment was systemic, and not just at the whim of individual soldiers”. The court was presented with evidence on behalf of 102 Iraqis held as prisoners by the British military in an action by Public Interest Lawyers headed by solicitor Phil Shiner. The evidence lists the cases of 59 Iraqi civilians who say they were hooded by British troops, 11 subjected to electric shocks, 122 alleging that ear muffs were used for sound deprivation, 52 deprived of sleep, 39 who were subjected to enforced nakedness, and 18 forced to watch pornographic DVDs.

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