US Forces Demolish Iraq Homes

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Fri Nov 21 15:40:14 MST 2003

US forces demolish Iraq homes
>From correspondents in Washington
November 22, 2003

AMNESTY International said today US forces appeared to be destroying
houses in Iraq as a form of collective punishment for attacks on US
troops and warned that that would violate the Geneva Convention.
A Pentagon spokesman emphatically denied it.

The human rights group said it had sent a letter to US Defence Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld demanding clarification whether the demolitions as a
form of collective punishment or deterrence was officially permitted.

"If such proved to be the case, it would constitute a clear violation of
international humanitarian law," the group said in the letter.

A Pentagon spokesman acknowledged that US forces had destroyed
"facilities", including houses, in the course of recent military
operations but emphatically denied they were intended as a form of
collective punishment or retaliation for attacks.

"We have destroyed facilities that were being used by former regime
loyalists or terrorists either as a place from which to stage attacks,
or as a safe house to avoid capture, or as a facility from which to
construct improvised explosive devices," said Lieutenant Colonel Jim

"The idea that this is some type of collective punishment is just
absolutely without merit," he said.

"In some cases there have been incidents where these thugs have been
using homes to do this, and in all cases where that happened the people
who lived there were evacuated and then afterwards were relocated," he

"But what we are doing here is attacking the terrorist infrastructure to
deny them the ability to plan, organise and initiate attacks," he said.

Amnesty International said it had learned that 15 houses were destroyed
in the Tikrit area since November 16 in military operations.

It said in one case a family in the village of al-Haweda was reportedly
given five minutes to evacuate their house before it was razed by tank
and helicopter fire.

The organisation said it received reports of a November 10 incident in
which soldiers gave people living in a farmhouse near the town of
al-Mamudiya south of Baghdad 30 minutes to leave. The farmhouse was
bombed and destroyed later in the day by F-16 fighters, it said.

It said the bombing appeared to have been carried out in retaliation for
an attack several days earlier on a convoy in which a US officer was

Six people were arrested at the farmhouse a day after the convoy attack
when weapons were found in a truck outside. More weapons and ammunition
were said to have been found in a search of the house, Amnesty said.

"It seems that the destruction of the Najim family house was carried out
as collective punishment and not for 'absolute military necessity',"
Amnesty said.

The organisation noted that Article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention
states: "Reprisals against protected persons and their property are

Article 53 states: "Any destruction by the occupying power of real or
personal property belonging individually or collectively to private
persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social
or cooperative organisations, is prohibited, except where such
destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."

Agence France-Presse


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