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NGOs Fabricating Evidence Against Syria

By Tim Hayward | February 18, 2017

Last week, Amnesty International published a report that was severely criticised for literally fabricating evidence to support implausible accusations against the Syrian government.[1]  The report included a project of ‘Forensic Architecture’ that served in guiding the imagination as to the horrors that might be perpetrated in a building used for torture and execution. Computerised modelling of this kind may have its uses, but it clearly has limitations when it comes to determining who may have done what in a building. A computer can only simulate on the basis of inputs. The inputs come from elsewhere, and they may or may not be reliable or appropriately detailed.[2]

This week, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced that they too have been commissioning  research in Forensic Architecture. This might seem a strange thing for an organisation of doctors to be doing.  Still, their ostensible concern is that the bombing of hospitals – something contrary to the law of war and human morality – should not go unrecorded nor, ultimately, unpunished. An added difficulty is that ‘often, the only real redress available to MSF is to publicly denounce perpetrators of bombings in the hope that the damage to their image will incite them to modify their practices.’ Denunciations may have little enough effect, particularly when even the grounds for them is uncertain. Where there is a known threat of danger to the staff running a hospital, MSF prudently does not even attempt to operate.  The organisation does sometimes offer support of some kind to medics who do work in war zones, however, like the province of Idlib in Syria.

Just over a year ago, the MSF-supported Ma’arat Al Numan hospital in Idlib province was hit by an airstrike. At the time, ‘Dr Mego Terzian, president of MSF’s French section, publicly accused the Russian-Syrian coalition of being responsible for the bombings – a conviction based on an analysis of the context, the military forces present and testimonies from Syrian civilians (some known to MSF for some time) who were at the scene.’ However, the accusation sparked ‘much heated debate within the MSF Movement. On what grounds is MSF accusing Russia and Syria? How reliable are the witness statements it is using to support its allegations?’ (See also my recent article on How We Were Misled About Syria by MSF.)

Now, MSF tells us, ‘The Forensic Architecture team has conducted an investigation based on videos and photographs circulating on social media, taken by medical personnel, activists and ordinary citizens.’

And?

‘While their investigation does not provide solid evidence, it does confirm MSF’s conviction as to the responsibility of Syrian and Russian forces in the bombing of the hospital in Ma’arat Al Numan.’

So, no evidence, and yet a confirmation of a ‘conviction’?

I think perhaps the research team promoting this new use of computerised modelling should make clear the limitations of its proper use. The recent case of Amnesty International appealing to the same source of non-evidence highlights an overreach that the researchers now risk seeming complicit in. The timing of the release of these dramatic pieces of non-evidence hardly looks accidental to any serious observer. Do the people at Forensic Architecture really want to be seen as partners in a continued drive to destabilise the Middle East?

As for MSF, and this goes for Amnesty International too, their publications on Syria sometimes read like the worst kind of tabloid journalism. Exaggerated headline claims backed up by no supporting evidence, and with crucial caveats, if included at all, tucked away where they are unlikely to register with any but the most cautious readers.

Is there something going on in the direction of those organisations that is not quite what ordinary supporters among the public believe?

[1] On the fabrication see Tony Cartalucci. The report was critically analysed by Rick Sterling as well as Moon of Alabama. The former UK Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, who had earlier visited the prison in question, stated the report ‘would not stand scrutiny’. A former prisoner there, who remains an opponent of Assad, stated that while atrocious things certainly occurred, the scale of Amnesty’s claims was preposterous. Further critical discussions are cited here.

[2] MSF say, ‘Investigations use amateur photographs and video footage to help reconstruct the “crime scene”‘. Specifically, they add, ‘Using cartography, image analysis, and legal and architectural expertise, research agency Forensic Architecture collects and analyses images taken of a crime committed by a State to establish the facts and ascertain who was responsible.’ An obvious question concerns the difference between establishing the facts of physical changes undergone by a structure and attributing responsibility for causing them, since the latter challenge necessarily involves input of extra-architectural data.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

How We Were Misled About Syria: the role of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF)

By Tim Hayward | December 30, 2016

MSF doctor treating Syrian burn victim in 2015

I have unbounded admiration for the doctors who volunteer for the invaluable and often dangerous work of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF). The question concerns MSF’s policy of ‘bearing witness’. MSF will speak out – even against governments – when it thinks a humanitarian situation could and should be dealt with differently by those it holds responsible.[1] It has done so in Syria. But if none of MSF’s international doctors have been on the ground in Syria’s war zones since 2015,[2] how can MSF claim to bear witness for what is happening there?

MSF has relayed reports from the rebel-held areas to which, exclusively, its supplies and support have been dispatched. The reports – including allegations of government attacks on hospitals and civilians – come from people working with the permission and protection of such groups as Al Nusra, Isis and other foreign jihadis and mercenaries. These anti-government forces are known to exercise a rule of terror and to be not overly concerned about ordinary citizens’ access to medical attention. That is precisely why the MSF doctors withdrew from the areas under their control.[3] So there is scope to ask who the medics on the ground were, and who they were treating.

My question, though, simply concerns the reliability of uncorroborated witness statements coming from potentially compromised sources. For while press statements have been issued from various MSF offices around the world, it appears MSF had no independent access to verifiable information from Syria.

In fact, the public unavailability of detailed or verified information is a matter of record: even John Kirby of the US State Department could only assert that ‘relief agencies that we find credible are levelling these accusations’.[4]

The most prominent relief agency, and visible in all video footage linked to the alleged bombings, is the White Helmets.  It is a matter of record that the White Helmets are funded by the NATO and Gulf states whose avowed aim is regime change in Syria; it is generally believed that they work closely with terrorist organisations (how else could the Netflix documentary have shown them roaming so freely in a zone where MSF and Western journalists dared not set foot?[5]). Their independence and integrity are widely questioned.[6]

So while MSF has often been cited as an independent source of support for White Helmet testimony, its press statements have in fact merely repeated White Helmet claims![7]

Whether intending it or not, MSF thereby became complicit in purveying a particular narrative that suffused the Western media during the period from 22 September to 22 December 2016.[8] Before September, the media had been perfectly clear that the citizens of eastern Aleppo were being held captive, effectively as human shields, by forces dominated by jihadist terrorists.[9] That changed following the uncompromising statement by Samantha Power to the UN Security Council, in which she invoked the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian aggression.[10]

Western governments and media re-designated the terrorist groups as ‘moderate rebels’.[11] Concurrently, anti-government activists like Lina Shamy started tweeting in English, the celebrated twitter account in the name of the child Bana was created, and there followed a flow of ‘famous last webcams’ from purported ordinary civilians voicing fears of impending massacre by the Syrian government.

Those of us in the West who were uncertain about the authenticity of all this social media activity in a zone lacking basic infrastructure, let alone wifi,[12] were coaxed to accept the mainstream narrative because a respected organisation like MSF apparently bore witness to it.[13] Few of us realised that MSF was merely repeating White Helmet testimony, not independently verifying it.

The consistent testimony now coming from the people who have been liberated in eastern Aleppo suggests a quite different story from the one that Netflix and our media have promoted.[14] The Helmets themselves appear to have melted away with the departure from Aleppo of the jihadists and mercenaries. If there were any genuinely independent doctors working with them in Aleppo, they too have yet to be heard from. But most telling, in view of White Helmet claims to have saved some 70,000 lives (or whatever exact number we are invited to believe), is that not a single person interviewed in liberated Aleppo has thanked them.

So, in seeking to bear witness against the Syrian government, MSF has made claims on a basis that is uncertain and contested.[15]  By so publicly associating itself with the White Helmets and their narrative it may have risked compromising the reputation it relies on to attract international doctors.

Those of us who deeply appreciate the service to humankind of MSF’s international doctors are left to hope the organisation coordinating their work can be more sure to avoid bearing false witness.[16]

The problem with the false narrative is no trivial one, for it perpetuates a fundamental misrecognition of the causes of the war – and thus of all the casualities the doctors have to deal with.  A false narrative not only gives impunity to the guilty but it supports them in moving ever onwards with their murderous designs. It distracts from the ethical truth, too, that the jihadis and the states supplying them with arms and opportunity are in fundamental breach of the law and morality of just warfare.

Notes:
[1] The background for this founding principle – of témoignage (‘bearing witness’) – is cited on their website: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people died in the Biafran war because of a deliberate government policy. On their return from the region, a group of young French doctors were frustrated and outraged by the inability of the Red Cross to say publicly what had happened.’
https://www.msf.org.uk/advocacy-and-temoignage

[2] ‘MSF Voice from the Field in Syria: Dr. Nathalie Roberts’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61cmnPLk6uE [3] Dr Nathalie Roberts has described how in the earlier days of the war in Syria, MSF had followed its usual working procedures in opposition-held areas but with the arrival of Islamic State group that became impossible: “they were not allowing all the patients to access the hospital”, they then started appropriating MSF supplies and even kidnapping MSF staff. They could not continue to work in a place where the occupying groups would not allow the doctors to do their medical job. (Dr Roberts interviewed on 13 March 2015)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oQVUssxK-U [4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-spokesperson-loses-temper-with-rt-journalist-over-syria-bombing-questions-a7423146.html [5] I personally first became curious about the White Helmets from viewing the Netflix documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wj4ncIEDxw), and the question I mention in the text here is the one I simply could not get past. I was therefore not surprised to find that others had already offered powerful critiques of the organisation.I also had trouble imagining how people working in such desperate conditions would have the leisure to keep up with the latest Western craze of the Mannequin Challenge, and also the insensitivity to do a facsimile rescue for the purpose. The video of this PR own goal was quickly removed by the White Helmets’ promoters but remains available elsewhere at time of writing, e.g.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgl271A6LgQ . A discussion of it is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8bIupYSZeU

[6] The critical sources now on the internet are far too numerous to mention, but indicative examples include:
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/361957-syria-white-helmets-un/
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/12/10/exclusive-president-raed-salehs-terrorist-connections-within-white-helmet-leadership/
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmFFvu5H4f4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_bObdZhqyE
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/09/23/exclusive-the-real-syria-civil-defence-expose-natos-white-helmets-as-terrorist-linked-imposters/ [7] The spokespersons bearing MSF witness to the public are quite numerous and remote from Syria. They seldom make explicit the source of their information, but when they do we find it is the White Helmets. Sam Taylor, for instance, who is Syria communications coordinator for MSF and is based in Jordan, uncritically reproduced White Helmets material: ‘The civil defense, also known as the White Helmets, said the hospital and adjacent buildings were struck in four consecutive airstrikes.’ ‘Video posted by the White Helmets showed lifeless bodies, including children, being pulled from a building and loaded into ambulances amid screams and wailing. Distraught rescue workers tried to keep away onlookers, apparently fearing more bombs.’
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/airstikes-aleppo-hospital-1.3556632 Taylor does mention another authority: ‘Shortly after midday Thursday, new airstrikes in rebel-held areas killed at least 20 people in two neighbourhoods, the Syrian Civil Defense and the Observatory said.’ By ‘Observatory’, he presumably means the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Although this sounds like an independent organisation, it is in fact a single individual named Rami Abdulrahman (sometimes referred to as Rami Abdul Rahman) living in Coventry in the UK; and he is presumably as independent as one can expect from an opposition exile whose small network of informants in Syria consists largely of anti-government activists.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/the-man-behind-the-casualty-figures-in-syria.html

Certainly, he is no more directly a witness than is MSF’s spokesperson. Needless to say, the Observatory’s credibility and independence is disputed:
http://russia-insider.com/en/media-criticism/man-behind-vaunted-syrian-observatory-human-rights-shown-all-his-full-absurdity;
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/syrian-ngos-working-directly-with.html;
http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/12/the-syrian-observatory-for-human-rights-is-a-tool-of-western-propaganda/

Despite this lack of verified independent evidence, Taylor was prepared to state on behalf of MSF that a hospital attack ‘was deliberate’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebrpj689Ib8. While the basis for the accusation is not given, the cumulative effect of this sort of public statement is evident. Pablo Marco Blanco, MSF’s Operations Manager for the Middle East in Barcelona, effectively endorsed the accusation, while admitting that the basis of the information was unconfirmed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5KMAvfYDU. Similar communications came from Muskilda Zancada, ‘MSF head of mission in Syria’ in Barcelona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4s9uEp6Ujs). Zancada also stated that ‘civilians are targeted’ http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-update-airstrike-al-quds-hospital. Paul McPhun, Executive Director MSF Australia, speaking from Australia (10 October 2016) likewise makes categorial statements about targeted bombings in Aleppo, but without indicating the source of his knowledge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHyPtcG5a6M It is even possible that the accusations are true. Yet it is also possible that they are not. The fallibility of MSF sources has been illustrated by how Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo, was clearly being fed her information in Barcelona from people with an oppositional stance towards the Syrian Government because they were ‘afraid of the retaliations they can suffer’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades (see note 7).

While I have no doubt that all MSF statements are made from a standpoint of agonised human sympathy, and in good faith, they take on a life of their own when picked up by the media and disseminated for further purposes.

In the end, it is clear that what matters from the humanitarian point of view is that the bombing should stop. When MSF call for all sides to stop, they can claim to speak for humankind. When they complain of ‘targeted and indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian and Russian armed forces’ (http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-crisis-update-28-november-2016) they create unnecessary controversy: if bombing both targeted and indiscriminate is to stop on the government side, that is as much as to say – from the government’s perspective – that it should simply allow the ISIS and Al Nusra terrorists free rein over the people and sovereign territory that it has a duty to defend. MSF do not want to say exactly this, I assume, but my point is that the organisation seems not to have a firm enough grip on its communications policy or a sufficiently coherent approach to defining its extra-medical mission.

[8] MSF statements from Syria condemning the Syrian and Russian governments have been demonstrably lacking in certainty or detail. For instance, in relaying reports of attacks on hospitals around Aleppo in May they note that ‘one was the MSF-supported al Sakhour hospital in Aleppo city, which was forced to suspend activities after being bombed at least twice on consecutive days.’ (https://www.msf.org.uk/country/syria) An inexact statement like this – being equivocal as to whether the number of bombings was two, three, or some other number – may or may not be true; it cannot claim to have been properly verified, since a verification would make clear whether or not a third or further bombings had occurred.MSF uncritically accepted the veracity of the ‘famous last webcams’ coming out of besieged eastern Aleppo. As late as 14 December 2014 MSF wrote on their own website: ‘Whatever hope remained is rapidly dissipating. People are terrified, almost certain that their own deaths are near. Messages in which they say goodbye to their love ones are proliferating.’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades ]

MSF do not appear to have known as much as one might hope or expect about the doctors they supported in terrorist-held Aleppo and whose words they relay to the public. The doctors communicating from terrorist-held Aleppo whose testimony the MSF publicly cited just prior to the liberation of Aleppo were apparently not looking forward to the end of the siege, and MSF even believed that their forebodings were shared by the ordinary people of Aleppo: ‘Like the rest of the population, “doctors are terrified and losing hope,” says Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo. “They are afraid of the retaliations they can suffer. For the last two days, our exchanges have been more about goodbye messages and requests for evacuation than anything else. They feel abandoned to their fate and with no way out.”’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/02/us-syria-policy-tatters-moderate-rebels-disband [10] As Stephen Cohen has pointed out, the sea change came with the breakdown of negotiations between Obama and Putin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPp8eKBjcyA&t=974s The view was then forcefully asserted against Obama by Samantha Power. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/syria-obama-us-president-putin-russia In her speech to UN Security Council she singled out the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian attacks. She declared: ‘This is not the day, this is not the time to blame all sides, to draw false equivalencies. It is not the time to say that “airstrikes took place,” or “civilians were killed.” It is time to say who is carrying out those airstrikes, and who is killing civilians.’ https://usun.state.gov/remarks/7453 [11] Some insights into the unreliability of the mainstream narrative have occasionally been heard from within mainstream media outlets. For instance:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-aleppo-iraq-mosul-isis-middle-east-conflict-assad-war-everything-youve-read-could-be-wrong-a7451656.html
http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/time-judge-assads-aleppo-campaign-standards-set-mosul/
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-falls-to-syrian-regime-bashar-al-assad-rebels-uk-government-more-than-one-story-robert-fisk-a7471576.html
‘Tulsi Gabbard tells the truth about Syria’ on CNN’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1B2xFqfEgY
‘Carla Ortiz Speaks about her Experience in Aleppo and The Little Syrian Girl’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAE3WawgOX0&feature=shareCriticisms have of course been extensive in the Russian media. Since promoters of the Western narrative do not regard the Russia Today (RT) channel as a reliable source, I mention just a couple of interviews that they might concede have some credibility – one from a Church of England clergyman and one from a former UK ambassador to Syria:
‘Consistent stories of brutality at the hands of the Syrian rebels’ – Rev. Andrew Ashdown’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8iM_eY2viQ
‘U.S. effectively siding with Al-Qaeda in desire to get rid of Assad – former UK ambassador to Syria’ https://www.rt.com/news/345636-us-siding-al-qaeda-ford/

[12] Common sense scepticism on this point is supported by the first hand testimony of Carla Ortiz about trying to get internet connections in Aleppo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il7I1FTRSwY. [13] I have seen MSF cited as a source to discredit the account of Syria given to the UN by Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uap0GwBYdBA). In fact, I was first prompted to do the research that led to writing this blog because a respected and well-informed friend on Facebook invoked MSF as a refutation of Bartlett’s claims. I believe it has since become clear that events have entirely vindicated Bartlett. [14] Some examples of interviews with newly liberated citizens in Aleppo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjPpREHEF1Y
https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beeley/posts/10155907018683868
https://www.sott.net/article/337545-East-Aleppo-Diaries-Testimony-from-Hanano-Shatters-Corporate-Fake-News
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.sott.net/article/338019-Bolivian-actress-Carla-Ortiz-exposes-what-went-wrong-with-Western-media-coverage-of-Syrian-conflict [15] Stronger criticism of MSF than I am making is found in Miri Wood’s ‘Guide to Understanding How ‘Unhospitals’ Cannot Be Bombed’ http://www.syrianews.cc/guide-understanding-unhospitals-cannot-bombed/ ; MSF’s relationship with the Syrian Government is known to be an uneasy one: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12161437/Medecins-Sans-Frontieres-run-by-French-intelligence-says-Assad-regime.html [16] MSF takes a certain pride in fostering debate and allowing some plurality of political views to be aired within the organisation: it does not attempt, as ICRC does, to hold a single public line. (Rony Brauman, ‘Médecins Sans Frontières and the ICRC: matters of principle’, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 888, 31 December 2012: https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/review-2012/irrc-888-brauman.htm)Yet the public hears MSF-branded messages and thinks they represent the honest and considered position of a respected organisation. They are encouraged to do so by the fact that press releases and comments are issued by the organisation and not as independent opinions of particular members.

While it is not my place to tell MSF how to conduct its affairs, I would say that their internal plurality of opinion is not necessarily a virtue: if they cannot agree on certain matters of principle about bearing witness, then the wise option might be simply to refrain, as ICRC do. At any rate, some of their internal philosophical debate strikes this reader as unhelpfully verbose and analytically unclear. More specifically relating to Syria, it is reasonable to believe that the geopolitics of the region and the machinations of its various protagonists are as complex and challenging, in their way, as are the medical emergencies in a war zone. Even the most judicious political analyst would not be much use in dealing with the latter. The people in MSF offices might reflect on whether the converse does not also apply.

We are not in a position to know if Syria or Russia should answer any charges in respect of the conduct of war.  We do know that their enemies must, and, more crucially, that they face the more fundamental charge of having attacked Syria and its people without just cause.

I find a rather bitter irony in the MSF position that they distinguish themselves from the ICRC in not being willing to patch up victims simply in order to make possible further harm to them; for that could be said to be what they are doing by wishing that a sovereign people should not use full lethal force against merciless invaders on its soil.


Tim Hayward is a Professor of Environmental Political Theory, founding Director of the Just World Institute and the Ethics Forum, Convenor of the Fair Trade Academic Network, and Programme Director of the MSc International Political Theory.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

About Bias and Propaganda on Syria

Open Letter to MSF/Doctors without Borders

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | May 4, 2016

Dear MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu,

Your organization is well regarded and influential. I appreciate that many good people work for and support MSF/Doctors Without Borders. However, I need to inquire about your independence and the consequences of your work in Syria. I believe an objective look will reveal that while you are helping in some areas, you are causing harm in others.

Following are questions on this important issue:

  1. As you know, Aleppo is a large city with the government forces holding western Aleppo while other parts of the city are dominated by armed opposition groups, primarily Nusra/Al Qaeda.  About 1.5 to 2 million people live in the government areas with about 200 to 250 thousand in the areas controlled by armed opposition. So 80-90 % of the population is in government-controlled areas. This is rarely mentioned but seems important. Given this fact, is it true that you provide aid and support only to the opposition held areas?

On April 21 the Western and Gulf backed “High Negotiations Committee” announced they were quitting the Geneva negotiations. The next day, hundreds of mortars and bombs started being launched into western Aleppo from the zones controlled by Nusra and other terrorist groups. These bombs are powerful, wounding and killing indiscriminately. Syrian journalist Edward Dark noted that western media and groups such as MSF were silent on this even though hospitals were being hit, dozens of children and civilians killed. On twitter he reported day by day …..

* “West Aleppo is simply being obliterated by rebel shelling. A city of 2 million people is being butchered.”

* “Carnage and devastation as ‘moderate rebel’ bombs fall on west Aleppo like rain”

* “Terrorist rebel bombs are still falling like rain on west Aleppo. 15 people murdered at a mosque in Bab Faraj after Friday prayers”

* “This is the hospital where my son was born. Dabeet Hospital in W. Aleppo completely destroyed by rebel shelling.”

Has MSF denounced these killings and attacks on hospitals in western Aleppo?

The unconcern about indiscriminate attacks and killing in government-held areas of Aleppo has also been denounced by Syrian-Canadian physician Dr. Nabil Antaki. He has recently written:

With regards to recent events in Aleppo, I state very clearly that the mainstream media are lying by omission… All of us here in Aleppo are disgusted by their lack of impartiality and objectivity. They only talk about the loss of life in east of Aleppo which is entirely controlled by Al Nusra…. These are their ‘moderate rebels’ …This same media remains silent on the daily losses and suffering endured in the Western areas of Aleppo living under the rain of mortar fire from these terrorist factions. This media never mentions the continuous bombardment and the carnage we have witnessed in western Aleppo where every single sector has been targeted. On a daily basis we see dozens of people murdered….. For three days now, these media outlets have been accusing the “Assad regime” of bombing an MSF hospital to the east of Aleppo and of killing the last pediatrician in the city. This demonstrates that, for these media, the only priority is this pocket of the city where terrorists are embedded. The three quarters of Aleppo under Syrian government control, where numerous pediatricians are practicing, is of no consequence.

Dr. Liu, will you meet with Dr. Antaki?  Perhaps he could give you a tour and confirm to you what he says. He is a well known and respected doctor in Aleppo and fellow Canadian citizen.

There are many discrepancies in reports about the April 27 attack on Al Quds Hospital. MSF Middle East Operations Manager Pablo Marco, interviewed the next day on CNN and PBS Newshour, said “there were two barrel bombs that fell close to the hospital …. then the third barrel bomb fell in the entrance of the hospital”. Barrel bombs are only delivered by helicopters. In contrast, your press release the same day says “the hospital was destroyed by at least one airstrike which directly hit the building, reducing it to rubble.” A CBC report continued this version, claiming “An MSF-supported hospital in the northern Syria city of Aleppo is now a pile of rubble. Airstrikes brought down the building on Wednesday.” The hospital photograph indicates it is not a “pile of rubble” and it’s unclear where the damage is. The sandbag reinforcement and damaged car in front indicate it might have been a battle scene but the rest is unclear.  Which story is correct and accurate?

The number of fatalities has varied from initial death counts of 14 to later reports of over 50. How are these numbers verified?

MSF representatives Pablo Marco and Muskilda Zancada suggest it was a deliberate and intentional attack on the hospital. In an interview Ms. Zancada says “Al Quds Hospital has been functional for more than 4 years so it was basically impossible that this information was not known… The facts are pointing to this being a deliberate attack.” In contrast with Ms. Zancada’s assertions, most Aleppans have never heard of “Al Quds Hospital”. The “hospital” did not exist before the conflict and the photo shows an unidentified apartment building. Is it accurate to call this facility a “hospital”? Mr. Marco claimed that MSF supported personnel visited the hospital every other week so there must be many reports, documents and photos confirming whether it was a 34 bed hospital. Otherwise, it seems fair to say this was actually a medical clinic in the ground floor of an unmarked and largely abandoned apartment building.

  1.  Can Mr. Marco or Ms. Zancada please identify the damage inflicted by the airstrike (or barrel bomb) at Al Quds Hospital on April 27?  The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a photograph indicating the building had similar damage in October 2015.
  1. As you know, Nusra/Al Qaeda is considered ‘terrorist’ by all parties including the US, French, and Canadian governments. Does the Al Quds Hospital primarily or significantly serve Al Qaeda and/or other terrorist fighters? If so, are your supporters aware they are assisting fighters who launched bombs attacking western Aleppo as shown here and previously destroyed the once prized Al Kindi Hospital with a huge truck bomb as shown here? I appreciate you have a commitment to the hippocratic oath but given the widespread medical needs, why are you prioritizing assistance to Nusra/Al Qaeda?
  1. Many videos from Al Quds Hospital feature members of the “White Helmets”. Are you aware the White Helmets was established by the US and UK with initial training in Turkey by a UK military contractor? Are you aware the organization is not independent or neutral and has explicitly called for western intervention in Syria? The origins of the “White Helmets” is documented here . There is an online petition denouncing this clever but cynical marketing campaign here.
  1. Can you you please compare and contrast the videos showing attacks at MSF- supported Al Quds Hospital with videos showing attacks in western Aleppo? The videos from Al Quds Hospital are here and here with an animated one here. The attacks in western Aleppo including an attack on Al Dabeet Hospital are here, here and here. Do you see the difference between videos from armed opposition area vs. those from western Aleppo? Some look authentic and some look possibly staged.
  1. We know that many Western and Gulf countries are providing funds to help the armed opposition in Syria. For example in 2012 the Canadian government said “the reason the $2 million was being channeled through Canadian Relief for Syria instead of the UN or International Committee of the Red Cross was because it was intended for Syrian opposition groups and was not humanitarian aid.” Is MSF directly or indirectly receiving grants or funds from the Canadian, French or US governments to serve Syrian opposition groups?
  1. There has been a wave of media coverage of Al Quds Hospital and the death of Dr. Moaz (sometimes spelled Maaz). Some of the reports are clearly intended to tug at the heart and natural sympathy of people. Unfortunately propagandists can be effective in this area as they seek to manipulate public opinion. There are many examples with the Kuwaiti babies and incubators being one of the most famous frauds as it successfully won public support for Gulf War 1. Both Amnesty International and the International Red Crescent were (unwittingly) part of the fraud. My point is this: Some of the Al Quds Hospital stories are questionable and may be fraudulent. For example the letter from a fellow physician acclaiming Dr Moaz was published by “The Syria Campaign” which is the marketing creator of the “White Helmets”. The letter is supposedly from a fellow doctor who might or might not be real. They use a false name yet claim he “manages the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo”. Another questionable piece of ‘evidence’ of the death of Dr. Moaz is the video supposedly taken just before the building was hit by missile or bomb. It’s curious that the building would be destroyed and the CCTV cameras (several of them) survive and be ready for editing. Is this real or is it just another example of the “moderate rebel’ social media propaganda?

Biased media coverage on Syria serves to demonize the Assad government and prolong the conflict. It has made it easier for foreign aggressors to continue funding the proxy armies such as Nusra/Al Qaeda. There is danger of vastly increased conflict and bloodshed if foreign governments or NATO intervene directly. In fact, calls for greater aggression are increasing in the wake of publicity around the attack at Al Quds Hospital. Are you aware that the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia seemed to threaten an escalation of the conflict as he said “The world is not going to allow them to get away with this.”?

Dr. Liu, we agree with your insistence that medical personnel and facilities should not be attacked. That is in keeping with the Geneva Conventions on War. There are other international laws, including laws against aggression and the right of self-defense. It is clear that the Syrian government is being attacked by proxy armies funded by a coalition of foreign governments in violation of international law and the UN Charter.

Will you investigate whether the criticisms expressed in this letter are accurate and take appropriate action? It seems that current MSF actions and statements on Syria are biased and effectively serving the coalition of governments waging war on Syria in violation of international law. The bias and propaganda sustain the conflict and threaten to make it even worse.

Best regards,

Rick Sterling

Rick Sterling is a retired engineer and co-founder of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be emailed at: rsterling1@gmail.com.

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

MSF admits withholding Syria hospital coordinates from Damascus & Moscow

RT | February 19, 2016

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) does not provide GPS coordinates of health facilities it supports in Syria to either Damascus or Moscow over fears of “deliberate” attacks, the medical charity said, blaming a recent strike on “probably” Syrian or Russian forces.

“We gave to the Russian ambassadors in Paris [and] in Geneva coordinates for three hospitals located in very intense conflict zones, but not for all of them, and it was a decision taken together with the medical staff of the health facilities that we support,” said MSF operations director Isabelle Defourny.

At least 25 people were killed, including nine medical personnel and 16 patients, when airstrikes destroyed a hospital supported by MSF. Ten others were wounded when four missiles reportedly struck the hospital initially at around 9:00am local time Monday, according to accounts provided by medical staff on site. Forty minutes later, after rescuers arrived, the hospital was allegedly bombed again.

According to MSF, the coordinates had not been shared with the authorities or relevant Russian representatives because of safety concerns that were voiced by doctors operating in Syria.

“The staff of the hospital [and] the director of the hospital didn’t know if they would be better protected if they give the GPS or not,” Defourny said.

The operations director also noted, citing a deadly US airstrike in October on an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that even offering GPS location would not serve as a safety guarantee. But now, after the latest strikes, the charity seeks to remedy the situation and expects its affiliated medical staffers to share their coordinates with the Syrian government officials.

The NGO seeks an independent investigation into the strikes, but has already accused the Russian air force and the Syrian Army of “probably” hitting the Maaret al-Numan hospital, yet at the same time acknowledging that it has no evidence for the assertion.

“We say a probability because we don’t have more facts than the accounts from our staff,” said Dr. Joanne Liu, MSF’s international president.

The Pentagon has also failed to provide any additional intelligence to back the claims of Russia and Damascus involvement in the deadly attack, with Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson Colonel Steven Warren admitting it was all “unclear.”

“Unclear to us whether it was the Russian aircraft, Syrian aircraft or a Russian missile or a Syrian missile, that part at this point is a little bit unclear to us,” Warren said on Wednesday.

“It is important to note that there were no coalition strikes in that area and in fact there have been no coalition strikes in Aleppo this year,” he added, contradicting the information shared by the Russian defense ministry last week.

While the Syrian ambassador said Damascus has “intelligence information” that showed US warplanes had struck the hospital, the Russian presidential spokesman met allegations that the Russian Air Force delivered the strike with a flat denial, urging detractors to provide proof of the “empty” and “unfounded” accusations.

“We vehemently reject such allegations, particularly because those making those statements have always proven to be unable to deliver any proof of their unfounded accusations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

MSF says that attacks against civilian infrastructure and hospitals became “routine”, saying that 101 shelling attacks have hit some 70 MSF-supported facilities over the last 13 months in Syria. At the same time, the MSF noted that it never received official permission from Damascus to carry out work in Syria and operates mainly in areas held by anti-government forces.

The NGO president also noted the dire situation on the Turkish border, where Ankara continues its cross-border shelling of the Syrian Kurds gaining more ground.

“100,000 people are caught in northern Syria, near Azaz. They’re trying to escape the escalating air strikes and ground combat,” Liu said. “They are trapped between the Turkish border and a frontline.”

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Letter to Doctors Without Borders

By Ronald Thomas West | February 17, 2016

Following the most recent attacks on clinics aligned with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in Syria, Mego Terzian, President of MSF France, immediately blamed Russia and Assad. If the finger of superficial appearance had pointed to the NATO aligned nations, there would be calls for investigations rather than immediate trial and conviction by propaganda operations perpetrated in western media. Here is my response:

Dear MSF

A monthly donor of many years, I feel an explanation is in order for my cancellation and further refusal to participate as a MSF “Field Partner.” I am a former military special operations intelligence professional and anti-corruption investigator of many years. Based on my expertise in open source intelligence analysis and closely following several of the ongoing conflicts, including Ukraine and SYRIA, it has become clear MSF is becoming a tool for geopolitical ends. Either you’ve been penetrated by intelligence agencies for this purpose of promoting false flag information operations or your organization is being manipulated to same effect. I cannot, with clear conscious, be a party to this with further contributions.

The several NATO intelligence agencies are in full force pursuing anti-Russian propaganda operations, which likely include the recent attacks on MSF aligned Syrian clinics; purposeful and professional operations intended to smear Russia and President Putin for purposes of generating political capital for pursuit of geopolitical manipulations. Your organization immediately pointing the finger at Assad and/or the Russians, without time taken to properly investigate, is unethical.

NATO aligned intelligence agency false flag examples provided:

NATO’s Turkey suppressing investigation into their intelligence agency, MIT, providing sarin gas to al Nusra (al Qaida) that killed 1,400 Syrians at Ghouta, blamed on the Assad regime, in August, 2013. Turkish parliamentarians complain of the suppressed facts:

http://www.todayszaman.com/national_chp-deputies-govt-rejects-probe-into-turkeys-role-in-syrian-chemical-attack_402180.html

Noteworthy state sponsored crimes committed to demonize Putin include but are not limited to;

The Litvinenko report by the British

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/05/litvinenko-report-get-it-wrong-putin

The Maidan snipers in Kiev trained by the CIA according to Member of European Parliament, backed by a leaked phone call between the EU foreign policy chief and the Estonian Foreign minister revealing the snipers were aligned with the new regime in Kiev. This crime had been blamed on the Russian aligned preceding government.

&

The crimes in Syria against MSF aligned facilities serve the same propaganda purposes and the Erdogan government cannot be ruled out as committing them, whereas it is NOT in the Russian interest to perpetrate these attacks. Here is a list of Turkish support for bad actors in Syria compiled by Jihad Watch:

Report: Turkey collaborating with the Islamic State

It is sad to see MSF go the route of some other organizations and become a pawn of dirty players in geopolitics. I suggest your organization pursue a professional investigation to determine how, and by who, you’ve become manipulated to both a stooge and minion of evil.

Regards

Ron West

http://ronaldthomaswest.com

“The history of the great events of this world are scarcely more than a history of crime” -Voltaire

February 17, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Jaafari: So-Called MSF Hospital Installed without Syria Permission

Al-Manar – February 17, 2016

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari accused the medical aid charity MSF of being a front for French intelligence in Syria and dismissed allegations that Russian air strikes had destroyed one of its hospitals.

“The so-called hospital was installed without any prior consultation with the Syrian government by the so-called French network called MSF which is a branch of the French intelligence operating in Syria,” said Jaafari.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said at least 11 people were killed after the hospital in Idlib province was destroyed on Monday morning, but it did not assign blame for the attack.

“They assume the full consequences of the act because they did not consult with the Syrian government,” Jaafari told reporters.

“They did not operate with the Syrian government permission.”

He repeated Syrian accusations that the US-led coalition had carried out the air strikes that hit the MSF-backed hospital.

The Syrian ambassador spoke following a UN Security Council meeting called by Russia to discuss Turkey’s military action against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

February 17, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

MSF paramedic, civilian first responders killed in Saudi double-tap airstrike in Yemen

RT | January 22, 2016

Almost two dozen people, including civilian rescuers and an ambulance driver from an MSF-affiliated hospital, have reportedly been killed after Saudi-led coalition planes carried out repeated airstrikes on the same target in Sa’ada province, Yemen.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) confirmed the fatal air raids in Sa’ada, saying the “planes went back to bomb areas already hit.”

“An ambulance driver from an MSF hospital [was] killed,” the NGO wrote, explaining that the first responders at the scene had been trying to help those wounded in the first round of strikes.

The ambulance had just picked up the victims when a direct strike killed everyone inside it, said the director of the Jumhuriya Hospital in Sa’ada province, according to the New York Times.

Yemen’s Health Ministry has strongly condemned the coalition’s actions as a “heinous massacre” that first targeted a residential building in Sa’ada, Saba news agency reports, citing ministry spokesperson Dr. Nashwan Attab.

According to reports, at least 20 people were killed and another 35 wounded, in what the medics claim was a deliberate attack. Following the initial air raid in the Dhahyan district of Sa’ada, first responders rushed to the scene to care for the wounded. But the planes soon returned to strike again in an attempt to “completely eliminate the few remaining medical staff in the province,” Dr. Attab said.

WARNING! DISTURBING VIDEO, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

“There are still people under the rubble and it is difficult to get them as a result of targeting by Saudi aggression of paramedics and medical personnel in the region,” he added.

Earlier this week, MSF said that the Saudi coalition continues to engage civilian targets on the ground, in particular medical treatment facilities, noting that over 100 hospitals have witnessed attacks since the Saudi-led intervention began last March.

The constant bombing of health clinics in Yemen has created conditions in which locals fear for their lives and try to avoid hospitals at all costs, MSF said. The United Nations has criticized the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen for the disproportionate number of civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure.

The UN estimates that the violence has resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian casualties, with more than 5,800 people killed in Yemen since March.

READ MORE:

Yemeni hospitals seen as targets, people ‘avoid them as much as possible’ – MSF

January 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Human error’ behind Kunduz hospital attack, US General claims

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Press TV – November 25, 2015

The United States says the deadly airstrike that recently destroyed an Afghan hospital in the northern city of Kunduz was the result of a “human error, compounded by process and equipment failures.”

General John Francis Campbell, the US commander in Afghanistan, made the remarks at a press conference in the capital Kabul on Wednesday, further admitting that the US forces took 17 minutes to act after being warned by Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, which was running the hospital in the country.

Campbell described the October 3 air raid on the hospital, packed with patients and medical staff, a “tragic and avoidable accident, caused by human error.”

“At 2.20am an SOF [special operations forces] officer at Bagram [airbase] received a call from MSF advising that their facility was under attack. It took the headquarters and the US special operations commander until 2.37am to realize the fatal mistake. At that time the AC-130 had already ceased firing. The strike lasted for approximately 29 minutes. This is an example of human process error.”

The general was announcing the results of an internal investigation into the incident, which left at least 30 dead.

US forces “did not know the compound was an MSF medical centre,” said Campbell. “They executed from air and did not take appropriate measures to verify the facility was a military target,” he said, adding that “fatigue” and “high operational tempo contributed to this tragedy.”

More questions after US explanation

MSF General Director Christopher Stokes responded to Campbell’s remarks that were accompanied by a 3,000-page US military report.

“The US version of events presented today leaves MSF with more questions than answers. It is shocking that an attack can be carried out when US forces have neither eyes on a target nor access to a no-strike list, and have malfunctioning communications systems,” Stokes said, adding, “It appears that 30 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people are denied life-saving care in Kunduz simply because the MSF hospital was the closest large building to an open field and ‘roughly matched’ a description of an intended target.”

The MSF official accused the US forces of violation of the rules of war, further reiterating calls for an independent probe into the incident.

“The frightening catalogue of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of US forces and violations of the rules of war. The destruction of a protected facility without verifying the target – in this case a functioning hospital full of medical staff and patients – cannot only be dismissed as individual human error or breaches of the US rules of engagement,” Stokes said.“MSF reiterates its call for an independent and impartial investigation into the attack on our hospital in Kunduz. Investigations of this incident cannot be left solely to parties to the conflict in Afghanistan.”

November 25, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

MSF Rejects Pentagon’s Hush Money in Kunduz Scandal, Still Wants Probe

Sputnik – 10.11.2015

1029893060Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has rejected the Pentagon’s offer to rebuild the Afghan hospital destroyed last month in a US bombing which also killed 30 staff and patients inside the building.

MSF said its policy is not to accept government money for its operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

“This policy allows us to work independently without taking sides and provide medical care to anyone who needs it. This will not change,” the nonprofit said in a statement.

Last week, MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said that the all of the information about the attack released so far makes it “hard to understand” how the Pentagon maintains the bombing was some sort of “mistake.”

MSF believes the attack was deliberate, and therefore a war crime. The group has repeatedly called for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.

But Washington maintains that investigations launched by the US and Afghan governments, as well as NATO, will be sufficient.

Since the attack, much of the debate has centered on whether Taliban patients in the hospital were armed, and if the group was using the building as a base of operations.

Doctors Without Borders released its own findings last week, denying that any combatant, whether the Taliban or the Afghan government’s, was armed inside the compound.

The Pentagon said shortly after the attack that they intended to pay for the repairs and to make “condolence payments” to the families of civilians killed. The Pentagon also promised to pay for additional repairs after smashing the hospital with an armored vehicle.

November 11, 2015 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

‘No armed combatants, no fighting’: MSF issues Afghan hospital bombing report

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RT | November 5, 2015

A Médecins Sans Frontières investigation into the Afghan hospital bombing by US forces has found that there were no armed combatants or weapons within the compound, and no fighting in the direct vicinity of the hospital at the time of the airstrikes.

In its report released on Thursday, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) addressed the “relentless and brutal aerial attack by US forces” which took place in Kunduz on October 3 and killed at least 30 people, including MSF staff.

“The MSF rules in the hospital were implemented and respected, including the ‘no weapon’ policy and MSF was in full control of the hospital at the time of the airstrikes,” the organization stated.

The document also said there were “no armed combatants within the hospital compound and there was no fighting from or in the direct vicinity” of the trauma center at the time of the strikes.

The hospital was “fully functioning” at the time of the airstrikes, with 105 patients admitted and surgeries taking place, according to the findings of the investigation.

In addition, MSF said the “agreement to respect the neutrality of our medical facility based on the applicable sections of International Humanitarian Law was fully in place and agreed with all parties to the conflict prior to the attack.”

Despite that neutrality, the hospital was still the target of a US airstrike, leading MSF to ask how such an attack was allowed to happen.

“The question remains as to whether our hospital lost its protected status in the eyes of the military forces engaged in this attack – and if so, why,” MSF said in its statement.

Presenting the report, MSF general director Christopher Stokes said: “From what we are seeing now, this action is illegal in the laws of war. There are still many unanswered questions, including who took the final decision, who gave the targeting instructions for the hospital.”

The MSF statement described the tragic situation at the hospital.

“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,” it states.

MSF says its 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.”

Following the aerial attack, the Pentagon initially attempted to shift responsibility onto Afghan security forces, claiming they had requested the airstrikes.

However, the commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, later admitted the attack was a “US decision made within the US chain of command.” He went on to say that Washington would “never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”

Read more:

‘US strike on Afghan hospital no mistake’ – Doctors Without Borders

US tank enters MSF hospital in Afghanistan’s Kunduz, ‘destroys potential evidence’ – reports

November 5, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

MSF Slams Obama’s Silence on Kunduz Hospital Bombing

Sputnik – 05.11.2015

Last month, US airstrikes bombarded a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. In one of the deadliest civilian casualty incidents in the history of the Afghan conflict. Thirty were killed, all being medical staff and patients, and another 37 were wounded.

The tragedy elicited an international outcry. But despite almost universal condemnation, no Western nations have stepped forward to hold the United States accountable for its actions.

obama-jail_240x172“The silence is embarrassing,” MSF executive director Joanne Liu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We have seen an erosion over the years of international humanitarian law. Enough is enough. We cannot keep going like this.”

In the days after the bombing, Doctors Without Borders appealed to 76 nations, requesting support for an impartial international investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“Yet today, as we mourn the killing of our staff and patients, none of the 76 countries have stepped forward to show their support for an independent investigation by the Humanitarian Commission,” MSF-USA executive director Jason Cone said during a commemoration event on Tuesday.

“No state has been willing to stand up for the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war.”

While President Obama has publicly apologized to Liu, the United States is still refusing to give consent to an independent investigation.

“That is why we again call on President Barack Obama to give his consent for the United States to participate in an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission,” Cone said on Tuesday.

“Consenting to such an investigation would send a powerful signal of the US government’s commitment to and respect for international humanitarian law and the rules of war.”

MSF has also started an online petition requesting White House consent. It has so far garnered over 430,000 signatures.

“For me the key message is about the safeguarding of the humanitarian medical space in war zones,” Liu said. “No one expects to be bombed when they are in a hospital. Every human being can understand that.”

November 5, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

‘US strike on Afghan hospital no mistake’ – Doctors Without Borders

Sputnik – 19.10.2015

Hitting back at claims from General John Campbell — the commander of NATO and US troops in Afghanistan — who said the hospital had been “mistakenly struck”, Christopher Stokes, the General Director of MSF, said evidence suggested the attack was planned.

“The hospital was repeatedly hit both at the front and the rear and extensively destroyed and damaged, even though we have provided all the coordinates and all the right information to all the parties in the conflict,” Stokes told Associated Press (AP).

“The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital… doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit.”

Clear Explanation Needed

Officials from the charity, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), have said that the bombing attack lasted over an hour, leading to suggestions that it was the legitimate target of the US airstrike.

Stokes also reiterated calls for an independent investigation into the incident to be carried out, saying that the charity wanted “… a clear explanation because all indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime.”

The charity has raised concerns over the joint NATO-US-Afghan probe into the attack, saying that officials couldn’t be trusted to carry out a thorough and independent investigation into the incident.

The October 3 attack on the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan killed 22 people — 12 staff and 10 patients — with reports some victims were burning in their beds as a result of the bombing.

The US has taken responsibility for the attack, with President Barack Obama apologizing to MSF officials.

Despite the apology and claims that the hospital was “mistakenly” hit, there have been major question marks over how the site was bombed, with medical officials repeatedly maintaining that they had informed US and Afghan officials that the site was being used as a hospital.

MSF Dismisses Taliban Hideout Suggestions

MSF’s claims have been backed up by media reports suggesting US forces were aware the facility was a hospital and had been monitoring the site for days leading up to the attack.

According to a report by AP, a former intelligence official familiar with the details of the incident said that American analysts were scrutinizing the hospital before it was destroyed amid fears the site was being used a base for Taliban operatives.

US officials weren’t aware of the media reports, while MSF General Director Christopher Stokes denied any suggestions that armed Taliban forces were present on the hospital site.

“The compound was not entered by Taliban soldiers with weapons.

“What we have understood from our staff and guards is that there was very strong, very good control of what was happening in and around the compound and they reported no firing in the hours preceding the destruction of the hospital,” Stokes said.

The pressure is now building on United States officials, with accusations that the US is guilty of war crimes as a result of the incident.

Legal experts have said that if it can be proved that the US knew the site was being used as a hospital, then it could amount to war crimes.

MSF has already raised concerns around the current investigation into the attack, saying that there were fears the joint NATO-US-Afghan probe could have potentially destroyed vital evidence after entering the bombed hospital site last week.

The charity has launched an online petition calling on president Obama to allow the Swiss-based International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) to carry out an investigation into the attack. However, the US has failed to grant the commission access to the hospital.

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , | 4 Comments