The Despondency of Prisoners of War
By Dr Hameedullah Zabuli
The Mujahideen have set up various prisons for captured regime soldiers in areas under our control. One of such prisons was located in Nad Ali’s Zarpul area in Helmand province. This prison housed some of the soldiers imprisoned in the recent campaign. It is the Islamic Emirate’s policy that those soldiers and police members captured in our offensives – provided that they are not accused of crimes against the people or other war crimes including torture, extrajudicial killings etc – are kept imprisoned for a short period of time and then under their family’s guarantee and assurances that they will not return to the battlefield, released back to their families. We consider this benign policy as a just measure to ease the pain of our people.
It has been this just and compassionate policy that has facilitated the return of thousands of erstwhile serving troops from the battlefield to their homes. A few days ago the Mujahideen released dozens of soldiers under these guidelines in Konduz. Similar actions have taken place elsewhere in the past as well.
Two days ago the Islamic Emirate had also planned this conditional bailment for the prisoners in Helmand. The families of the prisoners had been summoned to vouch that these prisoners – once released – will not join the regime in their fight against the people. The summoned families had expressed willingness to accept this condition. This prisoner release deal was in the final stages of implementation when American planes bombed the prison facility, killing 22 prisoners and wounding many more. Three of the Emirate’s prison guards were also martyred in this bombing.
On the 28 of June this year, the American committed a similar crime in Konduz, bombing a Taliban prison facility resulting in the death of 14 prisoners. The regime authorities adopted a muted response while the American forces simply stated that they will investigate the matter further.
Now it is comprehendible that the Americans would wantonly and indiscriminately kill Afghans including their allied POWs. It is also understandable that their ex-communist and previously exiled allies would turn a blind eye to such killings since both parties attach no value to Afghan lives. The Americans would gladly see Afghans embroil in an endless civil war throat-slitting. Their ex-communist allies similarly have no compassion for their people – including their own soldiers – because they sold their fatherland many decades ago and consequently lived exiled lives in the west until the American invasion gave them an opportunity to return back to Afghanistan and once again profit from the war economy. They will happily see Afghanistan bleed so long as their coffers are filled with American dollars.
It is interesting to note that this incident failed to provoke a government response and received virtually no coverage in the media. The young men fighting on the regime’s side should contemplate deeply this fact. They are putting their lives on the line for a regime that cares naught for them and their families. They are being marched to the slaughterhouse where everyone is taking turns butchering them.
While this is not the place for a long-winded discussion on the legality of such operations it is worth noting the facilities containing prisoners of wars are designated as protected places under international humanitarian law and belligerents are required to abstain from actions that put the lives of these prisoners in danger.
The Islamic Emirate ensures to the best of their means to protect and accommodate these prisoners and release them back to their families at the earliest convenience. Yet the foreign invaders regularly raid these prisons to score cheap political points. Their reckless action in this regard not only endangers the lives of these prisoners but also makes it difficult to arrange conditions for their earliest release.
This new American tactic of deliberately bombing prison facilities and killing the interned is clearly against the American rules of engagement as well as the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners. We call on the United Nations to fully investigate these incidents and declare the legal implications of such actions under international humanitarian law. The UN and its local branch – UNAMA – should not yield to political conveniences but rather fulfill their duties under international law and thoroughly investigate these reckless actions against prisoner facilities.
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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”.