Tell Obama: Even War Has Rules

| Petitions and Online Actions

Above photo: Dr. Joanne Liu, President of MSF International, while visiting Kunduz Trauma Center, Afghanistan, February 2015. Kim Clausen. MSF.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls for State activation of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to investigate Afghanistan bombing.

Note: Popular Resistance joins MSF’s call for an independent investigation into the US Military’s bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The US Military cannot be trusted to investigate itself because it has already tried to avoid blame for the bombing and it is refusing to release key evidence, the cockpit tapes from the bomber.

Sign the petition below to send an email to the White House saying, “Release the audio and video tapes of the cockpit recordings made during the bombing by the United States of the Doctors Without Borders’ hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

The refusal of the Department of Defense to release the video tapes underscores the need for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission under the Geneva Convention, as requested by MSF.”  – Margaret Flowers

[emailpetition id=”30″]

Afghan Children Ask You To Join Them In Saying #Enough To War:

From Dr. Hakim in Kabul, Afghanistan: “I felt empty when I heard that to the north of where I work in Kabul, bombs were dropped on a ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Hospital in #Kunduz, for a full hour.

After filming the spontaneous answers of the street kids, I wanted the world to hear what they said, and to struggle with the questions they asked.

There is nothing like seeing and hearing from children, but this time, we needn’t carry on with our busy, disconnected lives.

We can allow them to move and change our understanding, and to help all of us take a different course in life, starting with our own #independentinvestigation, in our hearts, minds and in civil public spaces.

Schwaib is the last street kid who speaks in the video. He has needed special glasses since his birth, and together with this visual disability, he stammers and quivers when he speaks. But he was very clear on this occasion, “We should save children from war.”

#Enough! #savechildrenfromwar. Sign their petition here: The Peoples’ Agreement to Abolish War

Speech delivered by Dr Joanne Liu, MSF International President, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland:

Geneva, Switzerland – On Saturday morning, MSF patients and staff killed in Kunduz joined the countless number of people who have been killed around the world in conflict zones and referred to as ‘collateral damage’ or as an ‘inevitable consequence of war’. International humanitarian law is not about ‘mistakes’. It is about intention, facts and why.

The US attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz was the biggest loss of life for our organisation in an airstrike. Tens of thousands of people in Kunduz can no longer receive medical care now when they need it most. Today we say: enough.  Even war has rules.

In Kunduz our patients burned in their beds. MSF doctors, nurses and other staff were killed as they worked. Our colleagues had to operate on each other. One of our doctors died on an improvised operating table – an office desk – while his colleagues tried to save his life.

Today we pay tribute to those who died in this abhorrent attack. And we pay tribute to those MSF staff who, while watching their colleagues die and with their hospital still on fire, carried on treating the wounded.

This was not just an attack on our hospital – it was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be tolerated. These Conventions govern the rules of war and were established to protect civilians in conflicts – including patients, medical workers and facilities. They bring some humanity into what is otherwise an inhumane situation.

Surgery activities in one of the remaining parts of MSF's hospital in Kunduz. In the aftermath of the bombings on the 3rd October 2015.

Surgery activities in one of the remaining parts of MSF’s hospital in Kunduz. In the aftermath of the bombings on the 3rd October 2015. MSF.

The Geneva Conventions are not just an abstract legal framework – they are the difference between life and death for medical teams on the frontline. They are what allow patients to access our health facilities safely and what allows us to provide healthcare without being targeted.

It is precisely because attacking hospitals in war zones is prohibited that we expected to be protected. And yet, ten patients including 3 children, and 12 MSF staff were killed in the aerial raids.

The facts and circumstances of this attack must be investigated independently and impartially, particularly given the inconsistencies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened over recent days. We cannot rely on only internal military investigations by the US, NATO and Afghan forces.

Today we announce that we are seeking an investigation into the Kunduz attack by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. This Commission was established in the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions and is the only permanent body set up specifically to investigate violations of international humanitarian law. We ask signatory States to activate the Commission to establish the truth and to reassert the protected status of hospitals in conflict.

A destroyed area of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan is visible at first light on 03 October 2015, the morning after the facility was hit by sustained bombing. MSF.

A destroyed area of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan is visible at first light on 03 October 2015, the morning after the facility was hit by sustained bombing. MSF.

Though this body has existed since 1991, the Commission has not yet been used. It requires one of the 76 signatory States to sponsor an inquiry. Governments up to now have been too polite or afraid to set a precedent. The tool exists and it is time it is activated.

It is unacceptable that States hide behind ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ and in doing so create a free for all and an environment of impunity. It is unacceptable that the bombing of a hospital and the killing of staff and patients can be dismissed as collateral damage or brushed aside as a mistake.

Today we are fighting back for the respect of the Geneva Conventions. As doctors, we are fighting back for the sake of our patients. We need you, as members of the public, to stand with us to insist that even wars have rules.

More details available in our fact-sheet

The complete press conference can be viewed here

  • larrysherk

    Clearly the total mechanization of war symbolizes our losing for winning. Now that we can do almost anything remotely, we remove what last shred of sense there ever may have been to war. It’s all blowback now, and the stories about the Kunduz hospital and the latest Yemen wedding are simply signs of how to lose a war: namely by letting it out of our hands.

    The negotiation with Iran has shown that we ARE grown up enough to settle our affairs with negotiation. I am living to see the beginning of the end of war, and not a moment too soon. At least, in wars of the past, ships have stopped to pick up stranded sailors and then to later consider their nationality. Now there is no ship to pick up anyone. And we don’t care, because we can’t see what we are destroying and abandoning. But how can we doubt the price will be paid? Since the French Revolution, we have been seen as saviours, and now we are serial international war criminals. An opportunity passed by.

  • Brian Moreau

    The United States government is a criminal enterprise whose main interest is the almighty dollar and ‘full spectrum dominance’. War for the U.S. is merely a delivery system for investors; a religion of sorts where myths about American history and good intentions comfort the faithful. It seems to me that Obama as Criminal in Chief could care less that some of “our patients burned in their beds’. The U.S. is a sick, sick, puppy. Thanks and have a good day!

  • Aquifer

    She didn’t mention that stuff because those are political questions – her concern, as a doctor, which is what she is speaking as, is for the patients and the staff who care for them …

    I think her tone was just right ….

  • Jon

    Please be careful with the word “we” and related pronouns “”us” and”our.” People aligned with Popular Resistance (including readers) are not guilty of these awful crimes, but are doing what we can do prevent them. I can accept responsibility for that (preventing) but do not accept guilt for what I not only did not do, but vehemently oppose.

  • Vivek Jain

    Aquifer: “those are political questions – her concern, as a doctor, which is
    what she is speaking as, is for the patients and the staff who care for
    them … I think her tone was just right ….”

    What an UNENLIGHTENED comment! It was Virchow, himself a physician who said in the 19th century, “Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing more than medicine on a grand scale.” Health IS political, genius. Sickness is political. Liu as the leader of an organization that deals with illness and injury in places destabilized by imperialism cannot escape criticism for her anti-political and thus irresponsible and unprofessional, timid response. Doctors without Borders, but more largely, all physicians and healthcare professionals must not let their careers in medicine get in the way of their duty (as human beings and health professionals) to oppose Imperialism and Fascism. By taking the cowards’ path, by staying silent about “political questions”, we become collaborators with fascism and we abandon our patients, communities, and colleagues. Let’s not be cowards.

  • Vivek Jain

    Michael Parenti says, “[W]e should stop saying ”we” do this and ”we” do that, since we really mean policymakers within the national security establishment who represent a particular set of class interests. Too many otherwise capable analysts have this habit of referring to ”we.” It is a shorthand way of saying ”U.S. national security state leaders” but it is a misleading use of a pronoun. The point is of more than semantic significance. Those who keep saying ”we” are more likely to treat nations as the basic unit of analysis in international affairs and to ignore class interests. They are more likely to presume that a community of interest exists between leaders and populace when usually it does not. The impression left is that we are all responsible for ”our” policy, a position that takes the heat off the actual policymakers and evokes a lot of misplaced soul-searching by well-meaning persons who conclude that we all should be shamed and saddened by what ”we” are doing in the world.”

  • Aquifer

    Fine, so criticize her comment, but by the same token accept criticism of your own …

    Their “careers in medicine” are bounded, or should be by the Hippocratic Oath – have you taken it?

    There are physicians who are practicing “political medicine”, Jill Stein, Margaret Flowers being examples. I assume you support them in their political efforts?

  • Aquifer

    Well, “we” oughta be – and until “we”, as a nation, take responsibility nothing will change ….

  • Vivek Jain

    Have you read the Hippocratic Oath, that thing that you invoke? The Hippocratic Oath is not a binding oath. Besides, it’s inadequate in many ways as a code of ethics. For example, it doesn’t explicitly compel all health professionals to protect the right to health by fighting the capitalist-imperialists. It’s like you’ve never heard of the imperative “have the courage to think for yourself” (“Sapere aude”). If you knew anything about modern medicine, you’d realize that the capitalist deformation of the profession is itself a violating force that should be resisted by health professionals, but isn’t. For example, why didn’t more health professionals come out in opposition to the right wing program known as Obama.
    Also, don’t reduce politics to running for office or casting ballots. (Do you know what politics is about? Have you ever read Howard Zinn?)

  • Jon

    Exactly my point, Vivek. Thank you for reinforcing it. And Aquifer, yes we need to take responsibility for the change, but not for the crimes of those of the ruling class. Misplaced guilt is not only a waste of time, but psychologically onerous.

  • Aquifer

    Yeah, i read it, i took it … in my book, it is rather binding …

    No, you’re correct, it doesn’t require us to fight “capitalist-imperialists” – in fact if one of them shows up in our ER with a bullet wound, it requires us to treat him/her – I guess that would qualify as an “inadequacy” in your code of ethics, no?

    And yeah – i know a fair amount about “modern medicine” and resist its “deformation” by the market model of life that has infected just about every aspect of modern life. As for “opposition to the right wing program known as Obama”, by which I assume you mean the ACA, do you know anything about PNHP?

    Yup, read Zinn’s People’s History … great piece .. but disagree with him on his attitude toward electoral politics .. i do, indeed, “know what politics is all about” ..

    You want physicians to stand up to the system? Yes? So do you support at least 2 of those who are, the 2 mentioned above?

  • Aquifer

    As long as we continue to enable it by returning the folks engaged in it to office – yeah, we need to take a good chunk of responsibility –

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  • naturesmeds

    Screw YOUR elections, AND your excuse for misplaced blame. They are both a sham. I have taken responsibility for change, but it has not simply been through voting.

  • Major Cora

    Aun nos comerán las telarañas del olvido mientras esperamos que Cruz Roja Internacional y la Onu, sean las primeras en condenar enérgicamente este atentado contra personal civil, asi como sabemos de su incapacidad total frente al poderío del sistema financiero; que permite este tipo de crímenes y otros, tal como que un país invada a otro sin respetar acuerdos internacionales y desde el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial no tenga mas objetivo que medrar y aumentar sus imperialistas fronteras a costa de un pueblo indefenso al que masacra desde entonces, impunemente. Ese país genocida, es Israel, al que protegen y amparan descaradamente la Onu y EEUU.

  • Aquifer

    Well, if you live in this country and are bound by its laws and affected by its policies – they are YOUR elections, too, whether you like it or not …

    I have NEVER said that responsible voting is ALL we need to do, only that it is important that we do it … for all the importance of individual actions, they are not enough – we need to act as a society as well …

  • MSF is not a political organisation but a medical one.

    All those that have been involved with the ordering and carrying out of war crimes should not be able to place themselves above the law.

    The sooner that they are held accountable, the better for humanity.