Who Are the Real Criminals?

US officials are reportedly planning trials for alleged Iraqi war criminals, those they claim to have committed violations against American forces and against humanity.

W. Hays Parks, a special assistant to the US Army Judge Advocate General, spelt out the Iraqi Government's "three specific violations" of the Geneva Convention and related laws of war on Monday.

Violation No 1, showing on TV on March 23 deceased US or coalition service members.

Violation No 2, airing the interrogations of five US prisoners of war (POWs) and the last, showing white flags - a sign of surrender - only to attack, in addition to wearing civilian garb to draw coalition forces into ambushes.

To build a stronger case, US and British authorities have dispatched investigators to collect evidence of alleged Iraqi crimes in the present and past wars.

It should not be difficult to trump up more charges given the American's standards.

US President Bush had admonished Iraqis, upon ordering his troops to invade Iraq, that anybody who resists risks being charged with war crimes.

In relation to the images of the five interrogated American POWs aired by Iraqi TV, Parks said: "Suffice it to say that the tape made at the direction of the Iraqi regime shows fundamental violations of Geneva Convention obligations."

"Perfidy" and abuse of POWs does constitute a violation of war decency.

It does not matter how much the Afghan prisoners at Guantanamo - whom the Americans denied the label of POWs - have suffered from American maltreatment, it seems the Iraqis will be held accountable.

But what about a breach of the more fundamental principle of non-aggression underlying all laws of war?

The US/British invasion of the sovereign state of Iraq is illegitimate - that is why the United Nations (UN) Security Council had tried hard to prevent it.

The Iraqis are entitled to the "inherent right" of self-defence authorized by article 51 of the UN Charter.

Parks says: "The Iraqi regime has displayed a pattern of systematic disregard for the law of wars."

Then what has Washington displayed in its invasion of Iraq? What does "war crimes" mean in the White House's political dictionary?

On his weekly radio address on Saturday, Bush said: "The Iraqi regime is terrorizing its own citizens, doing everything possible to maximize Iraqi civilian casualties, and then to exploit the deaths they have caused for propaganda. These are war criminals and they'll be treated as war criminals."

Make no mistake about it, Mr President, nothing is more traumatic for innocent Iraqi civilians than US/British bombs. Of course, war criminals should be treated as war criminals. But who are they? (China Daily News)

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