'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

No One Asked Their Names 

UPDATE 2: Afghan officials retract an earlier claim that there are eyewitness villager accounts of several soldiers involved in the massacre: The evidence collected from the villagers was not enough to confirm that there was more than one shooter. Accounts of multiple gunmen were based on hearsay.

UPDATE 1: Did Staff Sergeant Robert Bales kill and wound all of the victims, or did other troops in his unit participate as well? Consider, for example, this troubling information:

Residents of an Afghan village near where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians are convinced that the slayings were in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on US forces in the same area a few days earlier.

In accounts to The Associated Press and to Afghan government officials, the residents allege that US troops lined up men from the village of Mokhoyan against a wall after the bombing on either March 7 or 8, and told them they would pay a price for the attack.

Consider also that witnesses have told an Afghan investigative team that a substantial number of troops were involved in the massacre:

Between 15 and 20 American soldiers were involved in the March 11 massacre of civilians in Kandahar Province, according to a parliamentary probe of the killings, not merely one sergeant as has been widely reported for the past week. An investigative team of parliament members spent two days in the province, interviewing members of the victims' families and tribal elders and gathering evidence related to last Sunday's murders in which 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, were killed and their bodies set on fire. The attacks lasted one hour Sunday morning and were carried out by two groups of U.S. soldiers, the leader of the investigative team told Pajhwok Afghan News.

The villages are one and a half kilometre from the American military base, Hamidzai Lali said. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups. The investigation indicates 15 to 20 soldiers took part in the killings, said Lali, who has asked the Afghan government, the United Nations and the international community to ensure the perpetrators are punished in Afghanistan. He expressed anger that the one soldier arrested by the U.S. military in connection with the murders had been flown from Afghanistan to Kuwait. People interviewed by the lawmakers warned that if the killers were not punished, they would launch a movement against the Afghan authorities who had agreed to the presence of foreign troops in the country in 2001, Lali said.

Meanwhile, Bales' defense attorney is suggesting that he had nothing to do with the massacre because he purportedly doesn't remember anything. His attorney has also stated that, to date, the Pentagon has not provided him with any information connecting Bales to it. Implausible? Probably, but, then again, the mainstream media has been recycling Pentagon press releases about the incident without requiring any actual proof to the point of incredulity.

INITIAL POST: Qais Azimy identifies the anonymous victims of the Afghan massacre:

The dead:
Mohamed Dawood son of Abdullah
Khudaydad son of Mohamed Juma
Nazar Mohamed
Shatarina daughter of Sultan Mohamed
Zahra daughter of Abdul Hamid
Nazia daughter of Dost Mohamed
Masooma daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Farida daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Palwasha daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Nabia daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Esmatullah daughter of Mohamed Wazir
Faizullah son of Mohamed Wazir
Essa Mohamed son of Mohamed Hussain
Akhtar Mohamed son of Murrad Ali

The wounded:
Haji Mohamed Naim son of Haji Sakhawat
Mohamed Sediq son of Mohamed Naim

As emphasized here in the days after the massacre, Azimy contrasts the anonymity of the victims with the obsessive interest in the details of the accused perpetrator's life: We even know where his wife wanted to go for vacation, or what she said on her personal blog.

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