"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Targeting Civilians

"At least 20 people, including children, have been killed and as many wounded after US air strikes on the Iraqi city of Falluja, local police and medical sources say." - Al Jazeera, September 1, 2004

"This principle has an immensely important consequence: an offense against human rights is an offense against the conscience of humanity as such, an offence against humanity itself. The duty of protecting these rights therefore extends beyond the geographical and political borders within which they are violated. Crimes against humanity cannot be considered an internal affair of a nation...In no kind of conflict is it permissible to ignore the right of civilians to safety." - Message of His Holiness John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2000

According to news reports, "Two houses were destroyed late on Wednesday when a US fighter jet fired two missiles at the town's residential district of Jabal, some 65km west of Baghdad...'Most casualties were old men and women and children', al-Dulaimi said.
Saif al-Din Taha of the Falluja general hospital told Aljazeera that all the overnight wounded were ordinary civilian families. Confirming that children are amongst the dead, he said it was difficult to identify the corpses as 'the bodies are torn to pieces'." Air strikes on houses in densely populated neighborhoods cannot avoid killing innocent civilians. According to the Protocol Additions to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, "In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects. " Protocol I, art. 57(1) In addition, "Those who plan or decide upon an attack shall... Take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects;" Protocol I, art. 57(2)

The good of the human person must take precedence over every other consideration. Both those who use civilians as human shields and those who recklessly disregard the potential loss of human life are to blame. Let us pray for both, but most of all for those women, children, and old people who are paying with their lives and limbs.

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