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Tell Obama: Even War Has Rules

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

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