Published on Thursday, May 22, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
by Dave Lindorff
...since 1949, under the Geneva Conventions signed and adopted by the US, and incorporated into US law under the Constitution's supremacy clause, children under the age of 15 are classed as "protected persons," and even if captured while fighting against US forces are to be considered victims, not POWs. In 2002, the Bush administration signed an updated version of that treaty, raising the "protected person" age to all those "under 18."
...the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan has been considering any male child in Iraq of age 14 or older to be a potential combatant. They have been treated accordingly — shot by US troops, imprisoned as "enemy combatants," and subjected to torture.
In the 2004 assault by US Marines on the city of Fallujah, things were even worse. Dexter Filkins, a reporter for the New York Times, reported that before that invasion, some 20,000 Marines encircled the doomed city, which the White House had decided to level.... Women and children and old people were allowed to flee the city and pass through the cordon of troops. But Filkins reported that males determined to be "of combat age," which in this case was established as 12 and up, were barred from leaving, and sent back into the city to await their fate. Young boys were ripped from their screaming mothers and sent trudging back to the city to face death.
In the ensuing slaughter, as the US dumped bombs, napalm, phosphorus, anti-personnel fragmentation weapons and an unimaginable quantity of machine gun and small arms fire on the city, it is clear that many of those young boys died.
This was a triple war crime. First of all, it was a case of collective punishment — a practice popular with the Nazis in World War II, and barred by the Geneva Conventions. The international laws of war also guarantees the right of surrender, so those men and boys who tried to leave, even if suspected of being enemy fighters, should have been allowed to surrender and be held as captives until their loyalties could be established. The boys, meanwhile, were "protected persons" who were by law to be treated as victims of war, and protected from harm.
For these crimes, the president should today be impeached by the Congress and then tried as a war criminal.
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