Kunduz Hospital: Afghan Raid Means US Knowingly or Neglectfully Guilty of War Crime

Claire Bernish
October 7, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Kunduz, Afghanistan — Yet another startling discovery revealed that just three months prior to the suspicious U.S. bombardment of the Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) Kunduz hospital, hostilities erupted when Afghan special forces carried out a violent raid on the facility. Tension between the charitable group and Afghan officials had not subsided at the time the bombing was called in by Afghan troops.

“A thousand curses on you Ashraf Ghani and Stanekzai that you bloodied and covered in dust the people of Kunduz with your blind bombings,” wrote MSF Dr. Ehsan Usmani on Facebook — the day before the bombing of the Kunduz hospital — in reference to the President of Afghanistan and Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Afghan Minister of Defense, both of whom MSF contacted after July’s raid on the hospital.

Disregarding even MSF’s repeated notifications to all parties involved in conflict in the region of the Kunduz hospital’s precise coordinates, the raid all but proves Afghan forces knew that location was a hospital.

Either U.S. forces knew and are guilty of knowingly bombing a medical facility or they criminally neglectedto verify and cross-check the target’s coordinates before attacking.

On July 1st, according to an MSF statement posted online at the time,

heavily armed men from Afghan Special Forces entered the MSF hospital compound, cordoned off the facility and began shooting in the air. The armed men physically assaulted three MSF staff members and entered the hospital with weapons. They then proceeded to arrest three patients. Hospital staff tried their best to ensure continued medical care for the three patients, and in the process, one MSF staff member was threatened at gunpoint by two armed men. After approximately one hour, the armed men released the three patients and left the hospital compound.”

Possible motive for the raid remains unclear, though speculation suggests Afghan aversion to providing medical treatment to insurgents — common practice at the Kunduz hospital — may have stoked enmity between MSF and Afghan government.

“In all conflicts where MSF works, we never take sides,” said Dr. Bart Janssens, MSF Director of Operations, in the aforementioned statement about the raid. “Our doctors treat all people according to their medical needs and do not make distinctions based on a person’s race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or political affiliation. Any injured or wounded person in need of urgent medical care will receive it at MSF’s trauma center in Kunduz.”

The Taliban has taken advantage of the ongoing animosity for a stark comparison between the Afghan raid and its own hands-off policy regarding the hospital.

“Spit, spit, spit, spit on your faces,” Dr. Ehsan wrote. “Hey people, share this message that since this afternoon the bombers of this dirty and unclean government have been killing, maiming, and wounding the innocent people of Kunduz.”

On Wednesday, international president of MSF, Joanne Liu, called for signatories of the Geneva Conventions to summon the never-before-used International Fact-Finding Commission to conduct a thorough investigation of the U.S. bombing. At a press conference in Geneva, Liu stated:

“It is unacceptable that the bombing of a hospital and the killing of staff and patients can be dismissed as collateral damage or brushed aside as a mistake. This was not just an attack on our hospital. It was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be tolerated. If we let this go as if it were a nonevent, we are basically giving a blank check to any country [involved in armed conflict]. It’s about being able to care for populations in conflict areas.”

Saturday’s bombardment continued for at least 30 minutes after forces were alerted they were hitting the hospital — as patients burned in their beds and doctors found themselves on the receiving end of treatment.

“One of our doctors died on an improvised operating table — an office desk — while his colleagues tried to save his life,” Liu stated.

Chief legal counsel for Médecins Sans Frontières, Françoise Saulnier, explained the investigation would be just the starting point — and, in line with what many around the world are openly accusing, she added:

“We work on the assumption of a war crime.”

This article (Kunduz Hospital: Afghan Raid Means US Knowingly or Neglectfully Guilty of War Crime) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.