Desecration of dead bodies by US soldiers in Afghanistan

By S. M. Hali

Just when it appeared the US was getting a hold over the Afghan conundrum (mostly of its own making), by agreeing to hold a dialogue with the Taliban and permitting them to establish a political office in Doha, the release of an atrocious video of US Marines desecrating the dead bodies of Taliban creates international furor. The 39 seconds video posted on Youtube depicts combat-ready Marines desecrating the remains of several bodies on the ground; it’s titled "Marines peeing on Taliban."

The monstrous atrocity has been criticized by all and sundry. Among other condemnations, Afghan President Hamid Karzai censured the video showing US Marines urinating on the bloodied corpses of several Taliban fighters. In a statement, President Karzai's office said: "The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans. This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms. We expressly ask the US government to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime."

The Taliban have also criticized the video as "shameful" but said it would not derail attempts at peace talks. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told media that this was not the first time Americans had carried out such a "wild action" and that Taliban attacks on the Americans would continue. But another Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the video "is not a political process, so the video will not harm our talks and prisoner exchange because they are at the preliminary stage". According to Reuter’s news agency, Kabul resident Feda Mohammad commented that "The US soldiers who urinated on dead bodies of Muslims have committed a crime." On the other hand, Afghan Member of Parliament Fawzia Kofi, while recording her sentiments to a British TV channel, said ordinary Afghans, no matter how they felt about the Taliban, would be upset by the video. "Since they've committed such a crime, we don't want them (US soldiers) on our soil anymore. It's a matter of a human being, respect to a human being." She reiterated that "I believe that the brutal acts that the Taliban did here during their government and even now is condemned by Afghans. So is watching a brutal act by international forces. We condemn that as well."

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The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has reacted to the putrid video by stating that it "strongly condemns the actions depicted in the video, which appear to have been conducted by a small group of US individuals, who apparently are no longer serving in Afghanistan". The video has not yet circulated widely in Afghanistan but there are fears of a backlash against the foreign presence in the country once it does. The tempers in Afghanistan are already frayed and the patience of the ordinary Afghan at the continued presence on the occupation forces in their homeland is viewed with anger and angst. The release of the offensive video clip at this juncture is making matters worse.

The US military is investigating the authenticity of the video and the Marine Corps said the actions were not consistent with its core values. The video footage clearly shows four men in military fatigues appearing to urinate on three apparently lifeless men. They have brown skin, bare feet and are dressed in loose-fitting outfits. One appears to be covered in blood. A man's voice is discernible saying: "Have a great day, buddy." The men in military fatigues seem to be aware they are being filmed.

If the US claims that the despicable act presented in the video is contrary to its core values, the statement is to be taken with a pinch of salt. The ghastly images of the torture, rape, sodomy, homicide and other human rights violations of Iraqi detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 are still fresh in our minds. These reprehensible acts were committed by military police personnel of the United States Army together with additional US governmental agencies and brought international chastisement and raised the acrimony towards the US.

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The 2010 exposé resulting from an investigation carried out by the US magazine “Rolling Stone” revealed ghastly images and report of unnerving murders carried out by a “kill team” of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Five US soldiers of the Stryker Brigade killed Afghans with impunity in Kandahar during their deployment there and retained the grisly images with them including the thumbs of slain Afghan civilians. The case displayed the sadistic pleasure taken by the US Marines in stalking and slaughtering them in cold blood.

The US has about 20,000 Marines deployed in Afghanistan, based mostly in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. In total, about 90,000 US troops are on the ground in Afghanistan. If the deployment continues any further, it is quite possible that owing to the mental pressures of their defeat in Afghanistan and the stress they are under, the US soldiers are likely to become further morally depraved and commit even more heinous crimes against humanity. Their moral turpitude needs to be checked. Already US media reports of the mental damage to its troops deployed in Afghanistan. Many of them have been treated psychiatrically to help them return to normalcy.

What is even more appalling is the attitude of the local media and so called experts and analysts. It has become a habit of some national media persons, a few Human Rights activists and purported civil society members to criticize and malign Pakistan Army and the ISI for any incident related to Human Rights violation. Such elements never leave any stone unturned to malign Pakistan’s security institutions and making unnecessary hue and cry on issues which are not even related to Army or the ISI. These same champions of humanity are silent on this issue on their websites which exposes their sole agenda of tarnishing the image of Pak Army/ISI sponsored by foreign powers. Their studied silence speaks volumes of their heinous agenda.

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