Saturday, July 01, 2006  

More war crimes...

The latest allegations coming out of Iraq are the rape of an Iraqi woman and the murder of several of her family members as well as herself by members of the 502nd Infantry Regiment.
BAGHDAD, June 30 -- The U.S. Army is investigating allegations that American soldiers raped and killed a woman and killed three of her family members in a town south of Baghdad, then reported the incident as an insurgent attack, a military official said Friday.

The alleged crimes occurred in March in the insurgent hotbed of Mahmudiyah. The four soldiers involved, from the 502nd Infantry Regiment, attempted to burn the family's home to the ground and blamed insurgents for the carnage, according to a military official familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was providing details not released publicly (snip)Another local resident, Sadeq Muhammed al-Janabi, a farmer, said the woman who was raped and killed was an elementary school teacher.
Washington Post
The US military is investigating whether American soldiers raped an Iraqi woman and then killed her and three members of her family, including a child, south of Baghdad in March, officials said yesterday. It is the latest in a series of military investigations in which US troops are suspected of killing civilians in Iraq.
The Independent

The alleged crime is hard to piece together because details float up out of news stories.

Some stories say that the soldiers followed the woman home, others say they had had their eyes on her for a few days. Several stories mention that the body had been burned and the house torched in an effort to hide the crime.

An anonymous US military official seems to think the kidnappings and subsequent torture and murder of two soldiers from the same company are unrelated. I think he is either dogpaddling for dear life or seriously full of it.

The two were kidnapped nearly three months later from a town, Yusufiah, very near Mahmudiyah, where the alleged murder took place. The soldiers were brutally tortured and killed. Very little has been said of the state of their bodies, except that one had been beheaded. I suspect that one or both may have been tortured in such a way as to avenge the rape and murder.

How this official comes to this conclusion is beyond me. It is the same kind of reasoning that looked at the ambush and killings of the Blackwater contractors outside of Fallujah and saw no reason (and then approved of the horrendous seige of Fallujah which included the use of white phospherous- another war crime). We find out later about Abu Ghrab, but what no one seems to be able to connect to the contractor deaths is that news about Abu Ghraib and the torture and rape going on there had reached Fallujah at least a month before.

Interestingly enough, someone else must have made the same connection between the rape and kidnapping/murders. A soldier involved in the incident is alleged to have come forward in June after the soldiers were kidnapped, out of guilt for what he had done in March.

Fog of war is not going to explain this one away.

While I understand war is hell, etc., etc. (really, no shit...what did you think it was going to be, like going clubbing?), what I don't get are the following:

a) do US soldiers think that women in an occupied country are some kind of prize to be awarded for hanging in there- that they can help themselves to whomever they want?

b) what part of rape and murder are crimes is not clear? If these allegations are true- in the US, this would probably be a special circumstances case given the fact they tried to burn the bodies and the house. It really doesn't matter where you are, if you rape someone, you are a rapist. If you murder someone, you're a murderer- simple as that.

Rape is not a crime of passion, it is a crime of power. And under an occupation army, it is doubly so, and has been classified as a war crime. Recently, rape has been treated as such in the cases of Bosnia and Rwanda.

Here is what David J. Scheffer, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes had to say at Fordham University in 1999:
In the past, as many in this room are all too aware, rape and acts of sexual violence against women went unrecognized and unchallenged. In many conflicts, some soldiers, perpetrators, and world leaders viewed rape as a fringe benefit of war, an unspoken perk. While some observers have dismissed incidents of rape, with the reason that men, or as so often seen, boys, simply get out of hand or out of control after a rough day on the battlefield, recent history has shown that organized, systematic patterns of rape are a component of deliberate ethnic cleansing. The world community, on occasion, ignored the truth that these acts are not simply acts of recklessness, but acts of torture.

I wonder what David Schiffer would say today...

Zazou, years ago in a political science class, our professor, talking about the rape that happened during the Balkan wars (hey, the breakup of Yugoslavia are pretty similar with what's happening in Iraq..sectarianism unleashed). He basically considered it a thing where 'men have needs' and being away at war they couldn't help themselves basically. I don't know how much of a need they must have when they're raping elderly women over 70 because aren't men so used to masturbating at a young age? I put up my hand and told him that rape was an act of agression and not a sexual one. Even the younger guys in my class (I was early 30s) shook their head in disbelief of this professor's claim..
War brings out the most primal in people and why would American soldiers be any different? There are more reason than one to want to avoid war at all cost; it dehumanizes the soldiers just as much as anyone else.
Hi Ingrid! Happy 4th!

Good for you- I agree that there are some strong parallels with teh Balkans here and anyone with some post-colonial background can tell you that occupying a nation has a tendancy to "re-sex" that nation in terms of narrative to a female position- as in "possessed" and what is the ultimate show of posession and control? Acting upon trhe bodies of women and children- society's most vulnerable members and the ones most likely to inflame the male members of a population so that you can contain, control, whatever, them some more.

Add that to a volatile situation in which dehumanization of the occupied is a regular thing and you have a full-blown disaster just waiting for the time and place.

I think this incident puts the song Hadji Girl in perspective-especially the part about following her home.

And I will say this here, but not in the open blog part that I have read accounts where the kidnapped soldiers bodies were multilated. Considering the rape and murders, I would imagine they got their privates handed to them.
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