Afghans and human rights advocates around the world expressed deep disappointment Tuesday after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Germany in a case brought by victims of a 2009 NATO airstrike that killed as many as 90 civilians.
The New York Timesreports a 17-judge panel of the ECHR ruled unanimously that the German government adequately investigated a September 3, 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province that targeted two fuel tankers stolen by Taliban fighters. Believing the militants might use the trucks as a mobile bombs, Col. Georg Klein, the German commanding officer of a nearby NATO base, ordered U.S. warplanes to destroy the vehicles.
According to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, prosecutors said Klein made several calls to an informant to ensure there were no civilians present before the strike. However, scores of Afghan civilians including children flocked to the trucks – which were stuck on a sandbank in the Kunduz River – to siphon off fuel at the Taliban’s invitation.
A broad coalition of progressive organizations on Monday sent an open letter to the Justice Department urging it to undo a “grave threat to press freedom” by ending efforts to extradite jailed journalist Julian Assange from Britain to the U.S. and dropping the charges against him.
The letter – organized by the Freedom of the Press Foundation and signed by two dozen groups including Amnesty International USA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Knight First Amendment Institute, and Reporters Without Borders – expresses “profound concern about the ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings relating to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”
Two Yemeni families who lost dozens of relatives to U.S. drone strikes and a botched special operations forces raid during the Obama and Trump administrations filed a petition this week against the United States government, accusing it of “unlawful” killing.
Agence France-Presse reports the international legal advocacy organization Reprieve filed the petition Monday through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on behalf of the Al-Ameri and Al-Taisy families.
The petition states that “seven attacks at issue have resulted in the unlawful killing of at least 48 people, including 17 children, and in the serious injury of at least seven others, as well as the destruction of their personal property and livelihoods.”
Thirty-four of those killed were members of the two families. Vicereports the Al-Ameris and Al-Taisys had come together on December 12, 2013 in al Baydah province to celebrate the marriage of Abdullah Mabkhout Al-Ameri and his wife Wardah Al-Taisy. The families were traveling in a traditional wedding procession from the bride’s home when a US unmanned aerial drone launched four missiles at them, killing 12 people.
Sixty years to the month after President Dwight D. Eisenhower prophetically warned against the “unwarranted influence” of the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, the chief executive of one of the world’s biggest weapons makers affirmed that ongoing war in the Middle East is good for business.
During a Tuesday earnings call, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told investors he anticipated the Biden administration would temporarily block the sale of 7,500 of his company’s Paveway bombs to Saudi Arabia, a nearly $500 million deal sealed during the final months of former President Donald Trump’s tenure. Hayes quasi-cryptically said that a certain “offensive weapons system” to a certain “customer in the Middle East [who] we can’t talk about” was coming off the company’s books.
No single sale, not even one for half a billion dollars worth of so-called precision bombs, is going to seriously dent Raytheon’s profits. On Tuesday’s earnings call, Hayes sounded upbeat: “Look,” he told investors, “peace is not going to break out in the Middle East anytime soon. I think it remains an area where we’ll continue to see solid growth.”
Sahrawi independence advocates defiantly dismissed an announcement Thursday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the United States would open a “virtual” diplomatic mission in Western Sahara as a first step toward establishing a permanent consulate in the Moroccan-occupied territory.
Pompeo said in a statement that the US was “inaugurating a virtual presence post for Western Sahara, with a focus on promoting economic and social development, to be followed soon by a fully functioning consulate.”
The State Department said that the virtual post – which will allow US officials to conduct consular and other business remotely – will be managed by the American Embassy in Rabat, the Moroccan capital.
On the night of December 2, 1980, Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel, Catholic missionaries from the United States, were kidnapped, beaten, raped, and murdered by a U.S.-backed death squad while working to help the poor and oppressed people of El Salvador.
In their lives, work, and tragic, untimely deaths, the women inspired people in El Salvador who, deeply moved by their ultimate sacrifice, would at long last prevail in their freedom struggle.
Four Women, One Calling
Maura, Jean, Ita, and Dorothy were four very different women united in their common calling to serve their God and the suffering Salvadoran people. Maura, who was 49 when she was killed, was the oldest and most experienced missionary of the group. She grew up in an Irish American family in Queens, New York and joined the Maryknoll Sisters, an order of nuns dedicated to helping needy people overseas, when she was 19.