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[EDITORIALS]U.S. must end POW abuse

May 03,2004
Amid the growing international criticism on the Iraq War, video footage showing American and British soldiers’ sexual abuse and cruelty against Iraqi prisoners was made public. That astonished the world’s public.
Abu Ghraib, the prison where the incident occurred, is a place where cruel torture and abuse were rampant during the Saddam Hussein regime, when he attempted to oppress his political dissidents.
It is surprising to see that American soldiers sent to Iraq to stop the abusive Saddam regime engaged in even more serious sexual abuses and many other forms of cruelty in the same prison. Such acts will not only undermine Washington’s justification for the war but also brings sadness and disappointment to the whole population of the globe.
Concerns about American soldiers’ cruelty have already been raised by some human rights organizations and media agencies during the last couple of months. U.S. authorities launched an investigation into the case and arrested most of the soldiers involved. The U.S. general in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison was suspended as well.
But we believe that the incident would not have caused this kind of international public outrage had Washington strictly punished the soldiers involved and offered an apology to the Iraqi people and international communities when it became aware of the abuses. Now Washington is under suspicion of not having taken appropriate measures and having tried to conceal the case.
Abuse against prisoners of war is a violation of the Geneva Convention and a crime against humanity. The United States and the United Kingdom should thoroughly investigate the cases, punish the soldiers involved and offer apologies. They will also have to make clear explanations about the suspicion that the cruelty was planned and that intelligence agencies were involved. Only by doing so can Washington show that the barbarism of some soldiers does not represent the entire American society. That is the only way that Washington can argue that the war was staged to defend humanity’s universal values and freedom and show that its justification for the war would not be undermined by the barbarian and shameful acts of a few soldiers.


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