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3/25/03 - IRAQI WAR CRIMES WILL BE PUNISHED - 2003-03-25

Since the beginning of military action by a U.S. led-coalition, thousands of Iraqi troops have chosen the wise and honorable course of refusing to fight for Saddam Hussein. But some Iraqis who have chosen to fight for the doomed regime have committed serious violations of the rules of war.

American soldiers were captured by irregular Iraqi forces on March 23rd. Some of the prisoners of war, including one who was injured, were paraded before news cameras and interrogated by Iraqi officials. The propaganda show was broadcast on Al Jazeera television, along with video of the bodies of dead American soldiers. Two of them appeared to have been shot, execution-style, in the head. A senior Iraqi official had previously said that captured coalition troops would be regarded as "criminals and bandits."

President George W. Bush spoke out about the inhumane treatment of the captured American soldiers:

“The POWs [prisoners of war] I expect to be treated humanely. Just like we're treating the prisoners we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals.”

In the few short days of this conflict, the pattern of Iraq's war crimes is growing. Reports are emerging, including that Iraq is using human shields against their will, improperly using white flags and false surrender to unlawfully deceive coalition forces into being ambushed. Iraqi military and security forces have reportedly worn civilian clothes while carrying out armed attacks. The Iraqi regime is positioning troops and equipment in civilian areas.

Only the quick and effective action of coalition forces has prevented agents of Saddam Hussein from destroying much of the oil belonging to the Iraqi people and causing terrible damage to public health and the environment.

War crimes are nothing new to the Saddam Hussein regime. It has killed thousands of Iraqi civilians with poison gas and conventional weapons. It committed atrocities against Iranian soldiers in the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s. It abused U.S. prisoners of war during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Saddam Hussein will soon be brought to account for his crimes. Those who join him in these crimes will share his fate.