Thursday, May 20, 2004

Geneva and other conventions

Listening to: O Mio Babbino Caro - Renée Fleming - Voices
The first of the accuseds in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was sentenced at a special court martial to 1 year's imprisonment, reduction in rank, and discharge. I won't say how ridiculously light the sentence is, regardless of whether the bastard has agreed to 'co-operate with investigators', except to say, 365 days in a military detention barracks is pretty tame compared with 365 days' tour of duty in Iraq, what with the long-running Iraqi Festival of the Roadside Bomb and fringe ambushes. According to the report, the accused knew what had happened at Abu Ghraib contravened the articles of the Geneva Convention, which made him even more culpable under the rules of the courts martial, I'd assume. Here in Singapore, in the Singapore Armed Forces, we were recently educated during in-camp training, in between combat training revisions, on the articles of the laws of war in a series of long, sleep-inducing lectures, which were livened up by the screening of British made military education videos which resembled Monty Python more than anything. It was funny how the 'enemy combatants' in the videos were dressed like WW2 German soldiers. I don't remember much else about the lectures, except for giggling at the lecturer, a young lieutenant, who read from the lecture notes verbatim, mangling words as 'subterfuge' into 'subtle-fudge', and perfidy into 'pufeedee'. Point is, you don't need to pass a test based on the lectures given to know that what the buggers did at Abu Ghraib was absolutely wrong. It is no excuse whether the soldier involved was from a reserve unit, or whether he had been taught the rules of engagement and of dealing with civilians in the theatre. Alright, I can't resist putting the sentence into perspective: A reservist from my unit was sentenced to 10 days detention barracks because he went for a canteen break during a turn-out. They rejected his mitigation that the canteen auntie took too long to make his coffee.


Blogger Little Miss Drinkalot said...

As soldiers it is their duty to know the GC. I can't believe this has even been brought up as a point of discussion/mitigation. This court martial is a joke to begin with. Colin Powell's concern was that this incident would project the wrong image of America to the rest of the world. Image?!?!?!!? Did he really say that or maybe I wasn't listening properly. But... image?!?!?!?!

5/20/2004 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Miyagi said...

The SAF used to teach us the GC only as far as it related to us being POWs: you are to reveal only your rank, name and number; you are not obliged to reveal anything else.It was only last year that they taught us how to treat POWs. Probably appropriate too, seeing as in any possible combat theatre, we'd be likely to capture people rather than the other way around - 700 to 4 ratio in the last real-life scenario.

5/20/2004 05:52:00 PM  

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