[Marxism] Uribe admits Red cross symbol used in prisoner rescue

Stuart Munckton stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Wed Jul 16 20:16:02 MDT 2008


Uribe admits Red Cross emblem used in hostage rescue http://afp.google.
com/article/ ALeqM5hZtUFCEVKW rV8waVrAielHFSrq
Ag<http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hZtUFCEVKWrV8waVrAielHFSrqAg>

5 hours ago

BOGOTA (AFP) — Colombian President Alvaro Uribe acknowledged Wednesday that
his army used the Red Cross emblem in its bloodless July 2 rescue of 15
hostages, a move the humanitarian agency swiftly denounced as "abusive."

Uribe allowed that one army official wore a vest with the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) emblem but said that it was because the
official was nervous about the operation and there were many leftist rebels
on the scene.

So "the official took a piece of cloth out of his pocket with the initials
CICR (ICRC) on it, and he put it on his vest; we are sorry that this has
happened," Uribe said, suggesting there was no effort at deception.

CNN television has reported seeing unpublished photos and video through a
military source in which a military official is seen using the emblem of the
international humanitarian organization in what some said could be deemed a
"war crime."

Uribe said he presented his apologies to the ICRC on Wednesday morning, but
the Red Cross outrage over the incident was immediate.

"The emblem of the Red Cross needs to be respected in all circumstances and
cannot be used in an abusive manner," the ICRC said in a statement from
Bogota.

In Geneva, ICRC spokeswoman Florian Westphal said: "The respect of the
emblem is crucial so the ICRC can bring help to people affected by the
conflicts in Colombia or elsewhere."

Westphal said it was important that Uribe "had admitted the error that had
been committed."

The organization did not say whether it would take any action as a result of
the misuse.

Hours after the dramatic rescue of the hostages from the hands of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's army commander
General Mario Montoya publicly denied -- in Uribe's presence -- that his men
used emblems from the humanitarian organization.

"Not one insignia, Mr. President, not from the Red Cross or anything like
it, nor from any humanitarian mission whatsoever," Montoya had said, in
describing the operation which tricked the Marxist rebels into handing over
the 15 hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and
three US defense contractors.

It was not immediately clear how Uribe's revelation will affect the ICRC's
role in ongoing attempts to free an estimated 700 hostages still held by
FARC.

ICRC, which reports having 318 staff in Colombia including 57
non-Colombians, has been active in dialogue with the rebels for years, as
various groups including the Colombian, French and Swiss governments have
sought to negotiate hostage releases.

On its website, the ICRC warns that "perfidy" -- "making use of the emblem
in time of conflict to protect combatants or military equipment" -- violates
the Geneva Conventions.

"Perfidious use of the emblem is a war crime in both international and
noninternational armed conflict," the ICRC states on its website.

The lawyer of Gerardo Aguilar and Alexander Farfan, the two FARC members
captured in the operation, said his clients told ICRC representatives they
had been tricked by the soldiers' use of emplems of the Red Cross and of the
Telesur television network.

"They have said it on several occasions, indicating that the (Colombian)
army pretended to be the International Red Cross, and that three or four
people in the operation used Red Cross emblems," attorney Rodolfo Rios told
AFP.

Colombia's general prosecutor Mario Iguaran said he believed the act of
"perfidy" could not be applied in the hostage-rescue case, because "the
objective of the military operation was to liberate hostages and not to
attack or harm the adversary."

Uribe said the name of the official in the rescue operation would not be
disclosed to protect him from threats and "because we do not want to harm
his career."
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