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“starvation of civilians as a method of warfare” I


Omens of a story that could be explosive. That ought to be explosive. But that in all likelihood will be defused. A damp squib. Just as sure as Judith Miller will be rehabilitated. The U.S. and UN will set the Iraqi people on the road to freedom and democracy. And American voters will return Republicans and Democrats to high office some 12 or 13 months on.

Given Saturday’s referendum in Iraq on whether to adopt or to reject the new Constitution (such as it is), a friend asked whether I could determine if any news source has reported the immensely important charge by the UN Commission on Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, to the effect that “U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq [have been] cutting off food and water to force civilians to flee before launching attacks on insurgent strongholds,” as Associated Press reported Ziegler’s charge on Friday, October 14.

Hardly at all.

Besides this single AP report, I’m also aware of a single report by Reuters, and a single report by UPI.

As early as Friday (Oct. 14), Al Jazeera ran the Reuters report, as did AlertNet. While SwissInfo Online posted an original report.

Saturday’s Independent (London) picked up the AP report; the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times picked up the one by Reuters, as did the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Science Daily the UPI. (For copies, see below.)

The BBC News World Edition ran its own report; so did The Scotsman.

But aside from these wire services and print dailies—nothing else that I can find. At least not in the English language.

Still. I’m dying to learn what else Jean Ziegler has to say. Whether his interim report (my presumption is that his report has interim status, anyway) will be destroyed prior to its release by the UN. And whether the American and British news media will bother to report its contents at all.

Human Rights Bodies of the United Nations (Homepage)
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Homepage)
Commission on Human Rights, 61st Session, Geneva, March 14 – April 22, 2005
List of documents for the Sixty-first session of the Commission on Human Rights, UN Human Rights Commission

U.S. troops starving Iraqis, says UN,” Al Jazeera, October 14, 2005
Swiss urged to intervene over abuses in Iraq,” Adam Beaumont, SwissInfo Online, October 14, 2005
U.S. troops ‘starve Iraqi citizens’,” BBC News World Edition, October 15, 2005
U.S. Forces Starving Iraqi Civilians: UN,” Islam Online, October 15, 2005
UN official: US uses food as weapon,” Science Daily, October 15, 2005
Allies charged with ‘starvation warfare’,” Francis Cocker, The Scotsman, October 15, 2005

2005 International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration of the United States (a.k.a. the “Bush Crimes Commission“)

Statement of Conscience Against War and Repression, Not In Our Name

XXI Century (a documentary), The Cat’s Dream, 2005

Postscript (October 17): Believe it or not, the status of this blog about establishment news sources (i.e., the lack thereof—particularly when the news runs so contrary to the establishment’s deceptive image of itself) hasn’t needed to be revised one bit in the 48 hours since I composed it Saturday, October 15.

In other words, the U.S. and U.K. media simply aren’t interested in pursuing the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler’s charge that the American and British occupying forces in Iraq are “using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population,” to quote Reuters October 14 report of Ziegler’s news conference that same say.

The Laws of War (Homepage), The Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Geneva Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (1950-)
Geneva Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea (1950-)
Geneva Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (1950-)
Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1950-)

Recall that it was with respect to these four Geneva Conventions (among scores of others—no doubt the U.S. Constitution too) that the current Attorney General advised his client in the White House back in January, 2002 that their rules and restrictions don’t apply: That the American President had proclaimed a new kind of war, along with a new set of rules; therefore, the rest of the world had to comply, like it or not.

That is to say, that the U.S. form of government is a Tyranny, and that the American President is The Law—and The Truth flows from Him. Not only within immediate U.S. jurisdiction. But over the whole planet.

Super Predator,” ZNet, October 7, 2005
‘starvation of civilians as a method of warfare’,” ZNet, October 15, 2005

Postscript (December 9):

Human Rights Commissioner Says Fight Against Terrorism Can Only Be Won If International Human Rights Norms Are Fully Respected,” Press Release, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, December 7, 2005
UN Commissioner for Human Rights Says Total Ban on Torture Under Attack in ‘War on Terror’,” Press Release, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, December 7, 2005
Human Rights Day: Independent Experts Reaffirm Prohibition of Torture Is Absolute, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, December 9, 2005

FYA (“For your archives”): Am depositing here everything that I’ve been able to find through the present moment on Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler’s charge. Hopefully, a lot more will follow. But I am not holding my breath.

Al Jazeera (Reuters)
US troops starving Iraqis, says UN
Friday 14 October 2005 6:19 PM GMT

A United Nations human rights investigator has accused the US and British forces in Iraq of breaching international law by depriving civilians of food and water in besieged cities.

But the US military denied the charge and said that while supplies were sometimes disrupted by combat, food was never deliberately withheld.

Jean Ziegler, a former Swiss sociology professor who is UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said on Friday that the Geneva Conventions banned military forces from using “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare”.

But he said that in Falluja, Tal Afar and Samarra, Iraqi and US-led forces had cut off or restricted food and water to encourage residents to flee before assaults on entrenched Sunni fighters over the past year.

“A drama is taking place in total silence in Iraq, where the coalition’s occupying forces are using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population,” Ziegler told a news briefing in Geneva.

Geneva Conventions

Two 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which lay down rules of conduct in armed conflicts, ban using deprivation of food or water as a weapon of war. They also prohibit destruction of food stocks or interruption of food supply lines.

Ziegler said he understood the military rationale of the US-led forces that were “facing such a horrible enemy – these insurgents who do not respect any law of war and who use the civilian population of cities like Falluja or Tal Afar as human shields, who keep them as hostages”.

But he said their actions were nevertheless a “flagrant violation of international humanitarian law”.

Ziegler said he hoped the General Assembly would “condemn this strategy of the coalition forces” when he presents his report on the right to food in New York on 27 October.

US denial

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, a spokesman for the US military in Iraq, said Ziegler’s accusations were baseless.

“Any allegations of us withholding basic needs from the Iraqi people are false,” he said.

“In conjunction with our combat operations, we take all precautions to ensure that the Iraqi people are taken care of, as does the Iraqi government,” Boylan said.

“There have in the past … been some supplies that have been delayed due to combat operations, but they were due to transit the area once it was deemed safe. It does not do relief supplies any good if you have them going into a firefight.”

Ziegler said that he had been in touch with the British authorities on the issue, and “a channel seems to be opening”, but that attempts to start a dialogue with the US authorities had been fruitless.

[Reuters]

Associated Press Worldstream
October 14, 2005 Friday
HEADLINE: UN expert claims coalition cuts off food to Iraqis before attacks; US denies accusation
BYLINE: BRADLEY S. KLAPPER; Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: GENEVA

A U.N. rights advocate accused U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq of cutting off food and water to force civilians to flee before launching attacks on insurgent strongholds – a claim the U.S. military flatly denied.

Jean Ziegler, a U.N. expert on food rights, cited reports from private organizations and the media in making the accusations. He said the Geneva Conventions on warfare, which form the basis of international humanitarian law, not only forbid denying food to civilians but also require the occupying force to provide food.

“This is a flagrant violation of international law,” he told reporters.

However, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, dismissed the criticism as inaccurate.

“Any accusations of coalition forces refusing basic needs from the citizens of Iraq are completely false,” he said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

The 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission appoints outside experts who are assigned countries or subjects and are given wide latitude in their reports. Ziegler first was appointed in 2000 and was given a second three-year mandate by the commission in 2003.

Ziegler said he would present a report Oct. 27 to the U.N. General Assembly in New York expressing his “outrage” at the alleged practice and calling on countries to condemn it in a resolution. He cannot submit a U.N. resolution himself.

Ziegler, however, conceded that the U.S. military saves “tens of thousands of lives” by allegedly cutting off food and water because it removes them from the line of fire.

“I can understand the military rationale, facing such a horrible enemy, this insurgent, who does not respect any law of war,” Ziegler said, citing the U.S.-led offensives in Fallujah, Samarra and Tal Afar. “But many civilians cannot come out.”

Most of the civilians in Fallujah – a city of 300,000 west of Baghdad – fled in advance of a U.S. assault last November.

The Iraqi Red Crescent was the first independent organization to go into the city after two weeks of heavy fighting, during which the U.S. military said it turned back aid convoys because of security risks and was caring for the local people’s food and other needs.

Ziegler, a Swiss sociology professor, has previously had run-ins with the United States, Israel and other countries.

Three months ago, Ziegler compared the Gaza Strip to an “immense concentration camp.”

Both U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour criticized Ziegler for the comparison.

U.S. officials have accused Ziegler, who opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion, of misusing his mandate to voice his opposition to the war.

UPI
October 15, 2005 Saturday 11:38 AM EST
HEADLINE: U.N. official: U.S. uses food as weapon
DATELINE: GENEVA, Switzerland, Oct. 15

A United Nations human rights official accuses the United States of driving Iraqis out of insurgent strongholds by cutting off food and water.

Jean Ziegler, a sociologist from Switzerland who opposed the invasion of Iraq, made the claim at a news conference in Geneva, the BBC reported.

“A drama is taking place in total silence in Iraq, where the coalition’s occupying forces are using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population,” Ziegler said.

The U.S. military said Ziegler’s charge is untrue. Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said that sometimes shipments of supplies have been delayed by fighting.

“Any allegations of us withholding basic needs from the Iraqi people are false,” he said.

Ziegler, who gives his annual report to the United Nations on Oct. 27, said he will ask the General Asssembly to censure the practice.

The Independent (London)
October 15, 2005, Saturday
SECTION: First Edition; FOREIGN NEWS
HEADLINE: IRAQ REFERENDUM: US PRACTICE OF STARVING OUT IRAQI CIVILIANS IS INHUMANE, SAYS UN
BYLINE: BY BRADLEY S KLAPPER

The United States-led coalition’s alleged practice of cutting off food and water to force Iraqi civilians to flee before attacks on insurgent strongholds is a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law, a United Nations rights advocate said yesterday. The action is inhumane and causes innocent people to suffer, said Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.

The Geneva Conventions on warfare, which form the basis of international humanitarian law, not only forbid denying food to civilians, but actually make the occupying force responsible to provide it, he said. ‘This is a flagrant violation of international law.’

A US military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt-Col Steve Boylan, dismissed the criticism as inaccurate. ‘Any accusations of coalition forces refusing basic needs from the citizens of Iraq are completely false,’ he said.

Mr Ziegler said he would present a report on 27 October at the UN General Assembly in New York expressing his personal ‘outrage’ at the alleged practice and calling on countries to condemn it in a resolution. He cannot submit a UN resolution himself.

The UN’s food expert presents an oral report each autumn at the UN General Assembly and a written report each spring at the 53-nation UN Human Rights Commission.

‘I can understand the military rationale, facing such a horrible enemy, this insurgent, who does not respect any law of war,’ Mr Ziegler told reporters.

He conceded that the practice helped to ‘save tens of thousands of lives’ but made the point that many civilians were unable to come out.

Those that remained behind in insurgent strongholds such as Fallujah, Tal Afar and Samarra have suffered as a result of broken supply lines, he asserted.

And some have even starved, he claimed. AP

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