The killings fields of Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Lebanon ...

More tragic news from Iraq, with reports saying that 15 women and children were killed yesterday in a US air strike in northern Iraq. The American military has apologised, while saying that the attacks were targeting senior al-Qaida fighters.


As the experience of Afghanistan has shown time and time again, though, these air strikes far too frequently kill innocent people on the ground. With the US private military company Blackwater now being sued for alleged killings of civilians in Iraq, the focus is once again on whether some conflict killings in Iraq are indiscriminate and possible war crimes.

No-ones saying its not difficult for soldiers operating in a war zone, but even Radio 4s Thought For The Day this morning touched on the question of morality and war.

And theres a lot of related discussion around on whether the UK is treating its armed forces properly - financial payments for injuries, due respect for what theyve been through. Its an important point. My own brother was in the army and if hed ever gone somewhere dangerous (he didnt, if you dont count Osnabruck in Germany) Id definitely have wanted him to get a fair deal from the army establishment.

Meanwhile, the Metros got a story about a British man who was killed by a cluster bomb in Lebanon yesterday. He was working with the UN to clear the unexploded bomblets that are always failing to detonate after theyve been released. They leave behind cluster bomb minefields.

So, this guy was killed in the massive clear-up operation after last years Hizbullah-Israel conflict. The UN reckons that at least 36 people have been killed and 227 wounded by unexploded ordnance since the fighting ended last August. The war ends, but people still die. The Metro says that a six-year-old boy and a shepherd were also killed in the same area just last week.

This has got to stop. Amnesty International is supporting calls for a total ban on cluster bombs - they kill indiscriminately and have no place on the modern battlefield.

Finally, staying in the Middle East today new reports are showing that since April 122,000 people in Iran have been warned by the police about dressing in an un-Islamic way. Nearly 7,000 of them have had to attend guidance classes to ensure that they understand that women must cover their hair and wear loose clothing that doesnt show the shape of their bodies. Men, meanwhile, have to avoid Western haircuts, including spiked hair.

I guess governments around the world are free to encourage whatever dress codes and lifestyles they think suitable for their population - but when it becomes enforceable by law, then thats where the trouble starts. I see the odd dodgy Shoreditch Mullet near the Amnesty office most days - but Im not looking to have their owners arrested and forced to undergo re-education classes (however tempting).

So, hope thats got you thinking. Now please go away and Mulletover.

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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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