US Forces Burned Taliban Corpses: Aussie TV
SYDNEY, October 20, 2005 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – US forces in Afghanistan have burned corpses of two suspected Taliban members and used the incident to terrorize locals, revealed an Australian television report.
The SBS television network broadcast a video footage Wednesday, October 19, that showed US soldiers burning two Taliban fighters in the hills above the village of Gondaz north of Kandahar, Agence France Presse (AFP) said.
The burning of the corpses, a practice offensive to Muslims who bury their dead within 24 hours, was later used by a US military unit to threaten locals to cooperate with US forces, the report added.
The footage, which was taken by a freelance journalist Stephen DuPont who was embedded with a US unit, later showed two US soldiers reading threat messages to Afghan villagers in the area, according to Reuters.
"Attention Taliban you are cowardly dogs," read a US soldier, identified as psyops (psychology operations) specialist Sgt. Jim Baker.
"You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be."
Another unidentified soldier read a second message, part of which said: "You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Talibs but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."
US forces in Afghanistan, on their part, claimed that the burning of the two corpses was for hygiene reasons after the bodies had been left out in the open for more than 24 hours, according to the report.
The Taliban deaths occurred during an ambush of a US patrol, in which one American and one Afghan army soldier were killed. The clash took place before Afghanistan's parliamentary elections last month.
Reacting to the burning, which contravenes with Geneva Convention, the US embassy in Canberra said the army had launched an investigation into the alleged misconduct described by the program.
It added that Washington had contacted the Afghan government over the issue.
"These are very serious allegations and, if true, they are very troubling," the embassy said.
"They will be investigated fully and those responsible will be held accountable."
The Pentagon also expressed concern over the issue.
"These are very serious allegations and, if true, very troublesome," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters.
"It is the policy of the United States, as well as the Defense Department, to treat all remains consistent with the Geneva Convention and with the utmost respect. These allegations will be aggressively investigated and, if proven to be true, the individuals will be held appropriately accountable," Whitman said.
The Geneva Convention requires soldiers to dispose of war dead in an honorable fashion and "if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged".
The reported abuse of dead bodies brings to mind the scandal of prisoner abuse by US soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq and the notorious US-run detention camp of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled “The Road To Abu Ghraib” linking the abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo to the policies adopted by US President George W. Bush in his so-called war on terror.