Recently, the U.S. army announced that it suspended ten military personnel who have been held responsible for the bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan last October. The attack, which was clearly a war crime according to different human rights organizations including the United Nations, killed at least 42 civilians, mostly medical staff members and patients.
Nevertheless, no criminal charges will be filed. The "punishments" are largely administrative, such as letters of reprimand and no further promotion.
Days after the attack, the White House changed its version of the events several times, from claiming that Taliban fighters were inside the hospital, to accusations that the Afghan military itself ordered the attack. Finally, after a one-sided investigation, the U.S. government stated that the airstrike took place because of "human error."
(A) close look at Afghanistan proves that a lot of these "human errors" have been happening there since the NATO-invasion started.
Well, a close look at Afghanistan proves that a lot of these "human errors" have been happening there since the NATO-invasion started. And unfortunately, the responsible persons are always getting away with it.
For example, four years ago, on March 11, 2012, 16 people were killed in Kandahar's Panjwai district in southern Afghanistan. Most of the victims were children, women and elderly people. All of them were brutally massacred at night when – according to the official version – U.S. Sergeant Robert Bales left his base and entered two nearby villages.
Before the trial even began, military officials and media outlets were describing Bales as a labile person, suffering from depression and other psychotic illnesses. The narrative was more than clear: Bales was a lonesome soldier and a sick person. He was an exception, who committed one of the worst known massacres during the NATO occupation, among his fellow soldiers, the usual democracy fighters who bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. In 2013, according to Al Jazeera, Bales was sentenced to life in prison by a military court in Seattle.
However, the Afghan narrative strongly opposed the one of the White House. According to an investigation team which was sent by the government in Kabul to Panjwai in the first days after the massacre, at least 15 to 20 U.S. soldiers were in the villages that night, said RT news.
The team repeatedly insisted that the extent of the destruction could not have been done by a single soldier. Besides, locals pointed out that they had even heard helicopters on that murderous night. The government's investigation also came to the conclusion that the two villages were too far away from each other to be reached by foot by a single person in such a short timespan.
During the trial, the judge even ordered the victim's relatives and other witnesses who arrived from Panjwai to just answer those questions which had been asked. Anything else was of no interest, including the truth.
In another war crime, in September 2009, NATO jet fighters attacked two gas tanks which had been captured by local Taliban fighters in the northern province of Kunduz. More than 150 people were killed, all of them were civilians who gathered around the tanks get petrol. Not a single person has been held responsible.
After a NATO investigation, it came out that Klein himself violated a couple of NATO guidelines.
Georg Klein, a then-colonel of the German Army ordered the bombing of the tanks after he falsely concluded that all the people on the ground were Taliban fighters. After a NATO investigation, it came out that Klein himself violated a couple of NATO guidelines, with his murderous order, according to the Local. General Stanley McChrystal, then-commander of The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, tried to dismiss Klein after the attack but failed because the German Ministry of Defense resisted the dismissal.
In 2010, the Federal Public Prosecutor in Germany announced that Klein was free of all charges. In 2013, the Colonel was promoted to general. When the people in Kunduz heard about Klein's promotion, the message was very clear: "It seems that in the West, you get rewarded when you kill our people", one man from a nearby village said in an interview.
After such crimes, NATO members often try to compensate the civilian deaths with money. In the case of the Kandahar massacre for example, Mohammad Wazir, who lost 11 family members, including his little daughters and his brother, got US$50,000 for each victim. "I cannot bring them back with this money,” he repeated many times.
Because of the fact that the Kandahar Massacre got a lot of media attention, the compensation money was vastly higher compared to other cases. It is also known that in the past, the U.S. paid about US$2,400 for dead children or US$2,200 for some dead cows, according to the Intercept. In other cases, the compensation money for destroyed vehicles was equal or even higher than compensation for human lives.
Karim Popal, an Afghan-German lawyer who is representing the victims in Kunduz, is still fighting for compensation. His last lawsuit against the German government failed in April 2015. "I will fight until I reached the last instance,” Popal insisted.
According to the German Army, goods worth 150,000 euros were given to different people in Kunduz who were affected by the air strike. The goods mainly consisted of rice, beans, cooking oil or sugar.
Regarding the Doctors Without Borders hospital bombing, the U.S. military promised compensation money again. But also in this case, it is obvious that what the people in Afghanistan demand is not taken into consideration. The one and only serious step would be a reliable investigation including a criminal charge at The Hague.
Western military forces are allowed to commit any crime in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, it is very clear that this will not happen. While the International Criminal Court has become a joke, mainly focusing on African dictators, the pattern is more than obvious. Western military forces are allowed to commit any crime in Afghanistan. Back home, the worst case scenario for them is a suspension or, if possible, a scapegoat, like Robert Bales, who is made responsible for everything. If it works good, one could even get a promotion like Georg Klein did.
Meanwhile, Afghan lives, apparently cheap and easy to replace, are compensated with money. In one of his last interviews, Mohammad Wazir, who left his village after his family had been murdered, found very clear words: "We believe in justice by God. There has not remained anything else to believe in."