War crimes and the White House

New revelations have emerged from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) that the Bush White House may have helped to cover up a reported massacre in Afghanistan in 2001 by a CIA-payrolled warlord.

Using forensic analysis and satellite imagery, the organisation has documented the apparent war crime, where in the wake of the US-led invasion in 2001, hundreds of prisoners of war were killed by a US-backed warlord, Northern Alliance ally General Abdul Rashid Dostum, and dumped in a mass grave in Dasht-e-Leili.

Amnesty International USA has blogged the reported massacre – and the subsequent US-supported cover-up – at The Huffington Post:

"In 2002, PHR investigators discovered the presence of a mass grave site in Dasht-e-Leili, outside of the city of Sheberghan in northern Afghanistan. The grave site is reported to contain anywhere from hundreds to thousands of Taliban prisoners of war. Forensic analysis suggests that most of the prisoners died from suffocation. They reportedly died while inside closed metal shipping containers.

"Upon returning to the site in 2008, Stefan Schmitt, Director of PHR's International Forensic Program, noticed that the mass grave might have been tampered with. To gather additional evidence, PHR requested satellite imagery from the area, which showed two sizeable pits, compromising the original area. The satellite imagery obtained by the AAAS indicated that there was earth-moving equipment present on August 5, 2006 along with one of two new pits. Later imagery on October 24, 2007, revealed the second pit in the same location as the earth-moving equipment from August 5."

PHR have produced an excellent campaign video and website documenting the alleged war crime.  Amnesty – and the world – is still waiting to see if President Obama is up to the job of ensuring accountability for human rights violations under the Bush administration. Will the President order an investigation of this alleged war crime which his predecessor sems to have tried to make disappear? It's a real test of his vision of an America which, in the words of his inaugural speech, "reject[s] as false the choice between our safety and our ideals".

Add your voice to the calls for justice.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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