Wardak, province where attack took place (Image BBC)
In the latest attack on a health facility in Afghanistan, Afghan authorities appear to have totally disregarded the Geneva Convention which states,
“Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.”
A clinic run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) in Tangi Saidan, Wardak Province came under assault during a night raid which may have included US forces transporting their allies to the area. Patients from all sides of a conflict have the right to be protected whilst receiving medical care. Muhammad Salahuddin Momand, a spokesperson for the SCA told Al Jazeera,
“The Afghan security forces barged in the clinic, misbehaved with some of our staff members and dragged out two injured patients from the health clinic along with their caretaker,”
“The caretaker was a young boy, around 15 years old. All three of them were shot dead outside of our clinic. This is unacceptable. They have violated humanitarian laws. We will protest against this.”
SCA released a statement to the media as follows,
Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) condemns raid on health clinic in Wardak
During the night between 17 and 18 of February a raid was conducted to a health clinic run by The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) in Tangi Saidan, in Wardak Province. According to the information SCA has received two patients and one personal caretaker was killed in the incident. The information from Wardak indicates that the raid was conducted by the Afghan National Army.
“This attack constitutes a gross violation of humanitarian principles and the Geneva Convention that all actors of a conflict have to respect. Medical facilities and medical staff are to provide treatment to anyone in need and patients are to be granted safety according to humanitarian law. SCA is a neutral party in the military conflict that prevails in Afghanistan. The patients who are being treated at our clinics have the right to be protected”, says Jorgen Holmstrom, Country Director of SCA.
“We will further investigate this violation and let those responsible be held accountable”, says Jorgen Holmstrom
Margot Wallstrom tweeted,
Appalled by news of attack against
@SAK_Sweden clinic in Wardak, Afghanistan. Responsible for violations of int law must be held accountable
Islamic Emirate (Afghan Taliban were quick to condemn the attack releasing the following statement
“US-led troops raid Swedish NGO hospital in Maidan Wardag, martyr 4 patients”
This was followed up by a further article in which they stated,
“Human rights, civilians and places of public-welfare has no value for foreign invaders as well as their internal mercenary forces. These things are misused by them for their vested malicious political and imperial objectives only. Numerous indiscriminate bombings of weddings and funeral ceremonies, public gatherings, houses, public transport vehicles, madrassas, schools and health facilities are explicit examples of their felonies and brutalities.
Human Right organs, national and international health and other welfare societies should strongly condemn the indiscriminate attacks of foreign invaders and their internal stooge forces on all civilian foundations especially health centres. Otherwise the oppressed Afghan people will be deprived from the available amenities of life and will inevitably suffer even more while on the other hand, the brutal foreign invaders and their internal stooge forces will be encouraged to further attack civilian people and indiscriminately demolish public welfare structures!!!”
See full article,
“Targeting Health Facilities is a grave Felony!!!”
Human Rights Watch have called on the Afghan government to investigate the killings promptly. Patricia Grossman, their senior Afghanistan researcher stated, “President Ashraf Ghani needs to send a clear message to the Afghan army that killing hospital patients deserves severe punishment. That means prosecuting any officer who ordered the killings as well as the soldiers who pulled the trigger.” HRW highlighted the following,
“Under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, hospitals and other medical facilities are protected from attack unless they are being used for acts harmful to the enemy. Such acts do not include treating wounded and sick combatants. Even if a medical facility is being used to carry out harmful acts, such as to store weapons or as a headquarters, a warning with a reasonable time limit must be given before the hospital can be attacked.”
HRW full statement can be read here,
“Afghanistan: Investigate Army Killings of Hospital Patients
Protect All Medical Facilities, Patients, Health Workers From Attack”
Taliban post film of their own investigation
Abdulqahar Balkhi an account affiliated with Islamic Emirate posted the following tweet,
(Click on following link for video regarding the attack on the clinic)
This is not the first time a health facility has been attacked in Afghanistan. Back in October 2015, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Kunduz trauma hospital came under aerial attack from US forces. Patients and health care staff were burnt alive as the hospital came under sustained assault despite frantic calls to stop the bombing. GPS coordinates had been submitted to relevant authorities and the hospital was marked as such. There are now calls for a transparent and independent investigation into what is alleged to be a “war crime”.
“Kunduz hospital had complained of threats from Afghan Special Forces in July: A full and independent investigation into bombing is essential”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”