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US crimes in the name of spreading democracy

By Wael Khalil Yassine | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-08-25 07:09

An American flag flies outside of the US Capitol dome in Washington, US, Jan 15, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Elites, intellectuals and historians from the Middle East describe their region as a geopolitical theater where the United States has committed innumerable human rights crimes. The region, to be sure, has witnessed the highest number of violations against humanity and human rights.

The US has not only committed a series of crimes against children and women but also violated international law. It has committed war crimes, and arbitrarily detained, abused and tortured people, which are gross violations of human rights.

The US has frequently launched wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, and plunged the region into conflicts and security dilemmas while seriously undermining the rights of the local people to life, health, dignity, freedom of religious belief, survival and development. It has launched wars to effect regime change, depose leaders, and install agents in the name of spreading democracy, ensuring freedom and protecting human rights.

The list of the US' human rights crimes is very long-in the hundreds, if not thousands-and stretches from Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan to Syria and Lebanon.

Massacre at Iraq's Al-Amiriya shelter

The average Arab person asks: What does it mean for a shelter to be bombed and dozens of innocent civilians, children and women, and the elderly to be killed? The Al-Amiriya massacre took place on Feb 13, 1991, when the US attacked a bomb shelter in the Al-Amiriya neighborhood in the Mansour district of Baghdad.

The Iraqi people, especially Baghdad residents, remember the day with much pain and observe it a "Black Day". What makes the US crime even more heinous is that it dropped the bomb at 4:30 am when people were sleeping. Two "smart missiles" specially made to destroy concrete structures hit shelter No 25, with the first penetrating the fortified ceiling and the second reaching inside and exploding, killing 408 people, including 261 women and 52 children, the youngest of whom was just 7 days old.

Is this how the US spreads democracy and protects human rights worldwide?

Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal a crime

The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, which included stripping and humiliating prisoners and forcing them to assume sexual positions-all this while US troops posed nearby, smiling at the camera-dealt one of the most serious blows to the US' international image. The photographs that emerged from the prison just outside Baghdad city were a disgrace for the US and both the Republican and Democratic parties.

The incident exposed Washington and its lies, and showed how it sanctions non-US entities allegedly violating human rights in other countries but covers up the black deeds of the US armed forces.

There are many documented testimonies of people who were detained, tortured and humiliated in the Abu Ghraib prison (now called Baghdad Central Prison), including journalists who had highlighted the reality about the prison, the bombing of Baghdad airport or Fallujah, or exposed the US troops' other crimes. Some were detained or arrested and tortured because they did not buy the American narrative of spreading democracy and protecting human rights.

One journalist recounted that he was subjected to the most horrific forms of torture, from electric shocks and waterboarding to sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation for about a year. He was subjected to different types of physical and psychological abuse. He also said that prisoners were tied to dogs, piled up naked on top of each other and made to walk on all fours like dogs with a leash around the neck.

Hundreds of lawsuits have reportedly been filed against the crimes committed by the US troops, which included a group of mercenaries and dismissed, retired or racist officers. Their job, apparently, was to torture detainees in order to extract information and present it to the US authorities.

All these US acts were in violation of international law, international relations norms and the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners. They were also gross violations of human rights and human dignity, and a naked assault on international human rights conventions.

Worse, the Abu Ghraib prison is not the only one where the US troops unleashed their inner monsters on fellow human beings. There were many other secret prisons that specialized in torture, and were rightly called the "black sites" because the US administrations used them to inflict the worst forms of torture on prisoners. The victims of torture at Abu Ghraib and other prisons are still waiting for justice.

But despite the worldwide uproar, the Pentagon refuses to publish all the pictures of the heinous crimes committed by the US troops in Iraq, as it wants to hide the reality of US brutality from the world.

Fallujah testing site for US chemical weapons

The US used the Iraqi city of Fallujah as a testing ground for its deadly chemical and biological weapons in 2004. As a result, women are either giving birth to deformed children or suffering miscarriage because of the toxic fumes from the chemical weapon tests they might have inhaled. Fallujah has turned into a city smaller in population than Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Some studies say the genetic damage the city's residents have suffered could be intergenerational.

According to a report in the London-based The Guardian, Fallujah has witnessed a large increase in the incidence of cancers and chronic diseases of the neural tube, as well as other defects in the heart and skeleton of newborns.

Researchers said the rate of malformations among newborns in the city was 11 times higher than the global rate, with the percentage rising sharply in the first half of 2010. The results of the study were issued before another long-awaited study conducted by the World Health Organization on the genetic health of Fallujah residents. And it follows two similar, alarming studies, one of which found an imbalance in the ratio of male and female births since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003-male births decreased by 15 percent.

Researchers speculate that these distortions are caused by depleted uranium with ionizing radiation, which was widely used in two battles the US military waged in April and November 2004. The study also shows that in May, 15 percent of the 547 newborns had serious birth defects and 11 percent of the women gave birth after 30 weeks of gestation, instead of the usual 40 weeks, and 14 percent of the fetuses had to be aborted.

The Guardian also reported that Iraqi families claimed to have submitted complaints in this regard, but did not receive any response from the US. It is noteworthy that no other city in Iraq is exposed to congenital malformations of newborns like Fallujah.

Bombing of Sudan's pharmaceutical firm

The heinous crimes committed by the US include the bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in 1998, which judging by any convention or law is a crime. The US fired missiles from warships anchored in the Red Sea targeting al-Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, capital of Sudan, on the pretext that the owners of the company were helping al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and manufacturing chemical weapons for him.

Later, US officials admitted that "the evidence that prompted President Bill Clinton to order the bombing of the Al-Shifa factory was not credible, and there is no evidence that the factory manufactured or stored nerve gas, nor was it proven that it was related to Osama bin Laden, who lived in Khartoum in the 1990s".

Washington destroyed the pharmaceutical factory, the biggest source of medicines in Sudan, which led to tens of thousands of deaths, according to Werner Dumm, Germany's ambassador to Sudan from 1996 to 2000.

Even after committing these heinous crimes, the country still has the gall to claim it is spreading democracy and protecting human rights across the world. Shame on the US!

The author is a chairman of the Middle East Studies and Development Center, an independent think tank in Lebanon. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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