Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kiev War Crimes

Kiev War Crimes

by Stephen Lendman

Mounting evidence shows Kiev committed horrendous war crimes in Southeastern Ukraine.

Dirty war continues on non-combatant men, women and children. Residential neighborhoods are bombed and shelled.

Banned chemical and other terror weapons are used. Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) member of parliament Miroslav Rudenko said:

"According to our soldiers' information, the Ukrainian forces are using chemical ammunition on DPR territory." 

"Once a shell bursts, a gas affecting sense organs is emitted. We have this information."

In early June, Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters said Kiev forces attacked Semyonovka near Slaviansk with an unknown chemical weapon.

Freedom fighters reported "irrefutable evidence" of a weapon used similar to white phosphorous.

It burns flesh to the bone. It keeps burning until entirely consumed or deprived of oxygen. 

The Hague and Geneva Conventions categorically prohibit use of these type weapons. It doesn't matter. Kiev uses them against civilians.

War without mercy is official Kiev policy. Oligarch president Petro Poroshenko promised to crush "pro-Russian separatist war being waged against our country."

"We will end this terror," he said. He wrongfully blames Russia for Kiev crimes. He shamelessly accuses Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters for regime ceasefire violations.

Indiscriminate shelling of Donetsk continues. Residents say it never stopped. A self-defense force web site statement said "(t)he truce is worst than the battle action."

Chances for durable peace are virtually zero. Full-scale conflict could resume any time. With US support and encouragement. 

In June, Itar Tass said Kiev used cluster bombs in Lugansk. Targeting a regional administration building. 

Five deaths were reported. At least 10 others were injured. Unexploded munitions were found outside the building.

Cluster bombs are illegal. The December 2008 signed/August 2010 entered into force Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) prohibits their use, transfer and stockpiling.

They're terror weapons. They scatter submunition bomblets over a wide area.

To date, 114 nations are CCM signatories. Eighty-six ratified it. Not America. Not Israel or Ukraine.

Those doing so pledge "never under any circumstances to:

  • "Use cluster munitions;

  • Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions; (and)

  • Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention."

Cluster munitions remain dangerous longterm. They're brightly colored. Children mistake them for toys or Easter eggs.

They pick them up for play. They're killed or injured doing so.

Israel's 2006 Lebanon war provided momentum for banning their use. UN officials estimated up to 40% of its cluster bomblets failed to explode on impact.

Norway organized the independent Oslo process. It did so after Geneva disarmament discussions failed.

An Oslo Declaration followed. Forty-six nations committed to:

"Conclude by 2008 a legally binding international instrument that prohibits the use and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and secure adequate provision of care and rehabilitation to survivors and clearance of contaminated areas."

Washington, Israel and other rogue states use cluster munitions unaccountably. So does Ukraine. It bears repeating. They're terror weapons.

On October 20, Human Rights Watch (HRW) headlined "Ukraine: Widespread Use of Cluster Munitions," saying:

"Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in populated areas in Donetsk city in early October 2014…"

"The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and may amount to war crimes."

"During a week-long investigation in eastern Ukraine, Human Rights Watch documented widespread use of cluster munitions in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in more than a dozen urban and rural locations."

"(E)vidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk."

Senior HRW arms researcher Mark Hiznay called it "shocking to see a weapon that most countries have banned used so extensively in eastern Ukraine."

"Ukrainian authorities should make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and join the treaty to ban them."

According to HRW:

"There is particularly strong evidence that Ukrainian government forces were responsible for several cluster munition attacks on central Donetsk in early October."

"In addition to evidence at the impact site indicating that the cluster munitions came from the direction of government-controlled areas southwest of Donetsk, witnesses in that area said that they observed rockets being launched toward Donetsk on the times and days when cluster munitions struck the city."

HRW found evidence of surface-fired 220mm Uragan (Hurricane) and 300mm Smerch (Tornado) cluster munition rockets. It's unclear how many were used.

Kiev neither confirmed or denied guilt. It failed to respond to a Cluster Munition Coalition letter requesting information. Nor one HRW sent.

"Ukrainian forces should immediately make a commitment to not use cluster munitions and to investigate and hold accountable any personnel responsible for firing cluster munitions into populated areas. Ukraine should accede to the treaty banning their use," HRW said.

"Firing cluster munitions into populated areas is utterly irresponsible and those who ordered such attacks should be held to account," HRW's Hiznay added. 

"The best way for the Ukrainian authorities to demonstrate a commitment to protect civilians would be an immediate promise to stop using cluster munitions."

Local self-defense forces discovered mass graves in Southeastern Ukraine. Responding to information provided by area residents. 

They said Ukrainian forces dug them to conceal murders. Covering up their high crimes.

Victims were killed execution-style. Bodies were discovered about 35 kilometers northeast of Donetsk. In areas Kiev forces controlled.

Multiple sites were found. Perhaps many more exist. Sergey Lavrov said over 400 bodies were discovered in Donetsk region mass graves. They were secretly buried. Kiev bears full responsibility.

According to Russia's Investigative Committee head Vladimir Markin:

"For those who have doubts regarding who's responsible for these murders, the Investigative Committee has irrefutable evidence - witness accounts and appropriate examinations - that directly indicates that this crime was committed by fighters from the National Guard and Right Sector."

Mass graves "are further eloquent testimony to the atrocities of the Ukrainian nationalists," he added.

"(A)ll of the victims were tortured before their murder." Kiev whitewashed what happened.

Eyewitness testimonies were suppressed. Mass murder is official Kiev policy. Unaccountability persists.

According to Markin:

"We know the names of many of the commanders of military units, the militants of the Right Sector and the National Guard, who carry out criminal orders of the military and political leadership of Ukraine." 

"In addition to eyewitness accounts, many victims have provided evidence to the Russian Investigative Committee and evidence in the form of soil samples, genetic material." 

"These samples were thoroughly examined, confirming the testimony of witnesses and victims themselves."

Markin criticized Ukraine's general prosecutor's office. It failed to investigate what happened.

"What prevented and is preventing them now from conducting their own investigation into the massacres of the civilian population and to try to protect the innocent population of Donbass instead of making hysterical statements about the alleged 'interference' in the affairs of a sovereign republic," he asked?

Coverup and denial persists. Lavrov urged UN authorities and other international organization officials to investigate crimes of war and against humanity in Ukraine.

"Judging by the fact that no progress was made in investigating these incidents, it is possibly time for international organizations, such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations… to take the responsibility of ensuring an unbiased and fair investigation," he said.

"All countries should soberly assess their position on the Ukrainian issue and realize that accusing militiamen and justifying all actions of the Ukrainian authorities is not the way forward."

On October 20, Amnesty International (AI) lied headlining "Eastern Ukraine conflict: Summary killings, misrecorded and misreported."

Coverup and denial substituted for honest analysis. AI's so-called investigation "found evidence of isolated incidents…"

It bears repeating. Hundreds were tortured and murdered execution-style. In areas Kiev forces control. They bear full responsibility.

Not according to AI. It attributed "isolated incidents…to both sides." No evidence suggests self-defense forces involvement. According to AI's Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen:

"There is no doubt that summary killings and atrocities are being committed by both pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces in Eastern Ukraine, but is difficult to get an accurate sense of the scale of these abuses." 

"It is likely that many have not yet been exposed and that others have been deliberately misrecorded." 

"It is also clear that some of the more shocking cases that have been reported, particularly by Russian media, have been hugely exaggerated."

Reports from Russian media and officials reflect reliable eye-witness testimonies. Local residents aware of what happened. Not according to Dalhuisen, saying:

"The reality behind Russian claims of 'mass graves' in Nyzhnya Krynka is grizzly enough. It points to extra-judicial killing of four local residents by either regular Ukrainian armed forces or volunteer battalions operating in the area." 

"These must now be investigated thoroughly. But it also shows the extent to which accusations of abuses are being inflated, particularly by the Russian authorities, in the parallel propaganda war."

AI turned truth on its head discussing Ukraine's conflict. It ignored fascist putschists usurping power. With full US support and encouragement.

It shamelessly blamed so-called "pro-Russian separatists" for initiating conflict. Kiev bore full responsibility.

Self-defense forces are freedom fighters. They reject fascist rule. They want democratic rights Kiev denies. They deserve universal support. 

AI didn't explain. Or categorically deny Russian involvement. It downplayed Kiev atrocities. It wrongfully blamed self-defense forces for crimes it didn't commit.

It's commonplace AI practice. Francis Boyle says AI "is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money." 

"Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns." 

"To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and woman power, publicity, you name it. They can throw whatever they want at that." 

"But if it's dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it's like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation." 

"They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it's not like the official enemies list."

AI's commitment to human rights is hollow. It's hypercritical. It's on the wrong side of history. It's well compensated for services rendered.

Its reporting on Ukraine reflects coverup and denial. Pointing fingers the wrong way. Whitewashing clear evidence disputing its findings.

Lying about Russia's involvement. Claiming it "fuel(ed) conflict." Supplying a "steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations."

Ukraine's army, its neo-Nazi-infested National Guard and brigades, as well as Blackwater USA (now Academi) type mercenaries bear full responsibility for naked aggression and atrocities.

For high crimes against peace. Southeastern Ukrainian freedom fighters responded in self-defense. Justifiably. Courageously. 

Resisting tyranny is a universal right. So is self-defense. AI didn't explain. It lied suggesting otherwise. It's longstanding AI practice.

Donbas region self-defense forces continue struggling for freedoms too precious to lose. It bears repeating. They deserve universal support.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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