A Swedish charity that runs a hospital in Afghanistan is accusing the US military of storming into the hospital, breaking doors, and tying up staff while searching for militants.
KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. troops burst into a Swedish charity-run hospital in Afghanistan and tied up patients' relatives and staff, the charity said on Sunday, in what it called a breach of deals between the military and aid groups.
The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan has issued a press release.
On Wednesday evening September 2 at 10 pm coalition vehicles drove up at SCA’s Hospital in Shaniz, Wardak province along the main highway from Kabul to Ghazni. They entered the hospital compound, reportedly without giving any reason or justification for entering the hospital compound. They searched all rooms, even bathrooms, male and female wards. Rooms that were locked were forcefully entered and the doors of the malnutrition ward and the ultrasound ward were broken by force to gain entry. Upon entering the hospital they tied up four employees and two family members of patients at the hospital. SCA staffs as well as patients (even those in beds) were forced out of rooms/wards throughout the search.
According to the SCA press release, upon leaving the hospital, the military instructed the staff "that on receiving any patient that could be an insurgent the hospital staff has to report to the Coalition Forces who would then determine if the hospital would be permitted or not of treating such patient."
"This is simply not acceptable. It is not only a clear violation of globally recognized humanitarian principles about the sanctity of health facilities and staff in areas of conflict but also a clear breach of the civil-military agreement between NGOs and ISAF. We demand guarantees from the IMF command that such violations will not be repeated and that this is made clear to commanders in the field. SCA can not and will not tolerate this kind of treatment by the IMF. Nor is the SCA bound by any orders from IMF regarding to whom treatment can be given" says Anders Fange, Country Director, SCA.
SCA's spokesperson added:
"There is the Hippocratic oath. If anyone is wounded, sick or in need of treatment ... if they are a human being, then they are received and treated as they should be by international law."
The US is investigating:
Navy public affairs officer Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker confirmed that the hospital was searched last week but had no other details. She said the military is looking into the incident.
"We are investigating and we take allegations like this seriously," she said. "Complaints like this are rare."
The rules for medical facilities are clear:
U.N. spokesman Aleem Siddique said he was not aware of the details of the particular incident, but that international law requires the military to avoid operations in medical facilities.
"The rules are that medical facilities are not combat areas. It's unacceptible for a medical facility to become an area of active combat operations," he said. "The only exception to that under the Geneva Conventions is if a risk is being posed to people."
In light of stories like this one, and the recent reports that Afghan civilians were wounded during a bomb attack by the US coaltion forces, I think Progressives should take it upon themselves to pay more attention to this war and how it's conducted.
As someone who personally wrote a lot about the occupation of Iraq under Bush, I think it's important for us to know how US incursions are being conducted, no matter which party is in charge in the US.