Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Geneva Conventions?

Remember the furor over the terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay? Those supposedly poor, allegedly tortured 'civilians'? Well, now that Iran has clearly violated the terms of the Geneva Convention, specifically Convention III, Article 13, where are all the protestors and civil rights lawyers? As a reminder, the article in question states,
Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

The prisoners held by Iran are clearly members of the British military and as such, they qualify as prisoners of war, unlike terrorists (al-Quaeda, etc) who refuse to abide by any rules of war. In fact, the Geneva Conventions as signed and ratified by the United States clearly and specifically spells out who is protected by the Conventions. The relevant text is as follows:
Art. 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

(5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

Clearly, the British Naval prisoners seized by Iran, whether they were or were not in Iranian waters (based on the data I have seen, there seems to be little doubt they were actually in Iraqi waters), are clearly entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. This means that parading them and interrogating them (which probably included worse forms of torture than any supposedly used by the United States) violate those Conventions. However, I have yet to hear a single voice from those who were so diligent in condemning the U.S. for it claimed violations condemn the Iranians for flagrantly violating the same document.

As a side note, based on the text of the conventions, there is little doubt that the terrorists who reside in Guantanamo are NOT entitled to any of the protections or rights enumerated above. They do not fall into any category listed, and the U.S. did not ratify the protocols of the 1970s which weere designed to give terrorists exactly these rights. However, since our Supreme Court apparently either cannot read or cannot resist pressure from ignorant or agenda-driven media personnel, we are forced to give protections and rights that these folks are not entitled to. It is a pity when our so-called elites in the government, courts and media are more willing to invent rights to those who would happily murder them in their beds without warning than they are to stand up for previously granted rights to members of an ally's professional military who are fighting to keep them safe.

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey.

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