Current Events

The Western Press Corp deploys a firing squad to shoot the messenger

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STORY SPONSORED BY MÍCHEÁL WALSH: Per Wästberg, co-founder of the Swedish office of Amnesty International, resigned his post after the organization published a report by human rights activists on the war crimes committed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. ‘After 30 plus years I am ending my long and fruitful cooperation with this organization.’

According to Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Wästberg cited his disagreement with the report. According to him, initially Amnesty International dealt with the release of prisoners, but then ‘expanded its mandate.’

The report of the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) stated that Ukrainian troops violated international legal norms and military law. Beleaguered President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized the human rights organization which, he said, ‘amnestied’ Russia.

Compiler of the exposure, American Vietnam veteran Ajamu Baraka said that Zelensky responded negatively because he revealed facts about the Ukrainian army that were not being reported by Western media.

Posting on Twitter he remarked, ‘Zelensky now implies that Amnesty International has now fallen under the spell of Kremlin propaganda for pointing out the obvious that Western press would not report and that is Ukrainian forces have been using civilians as shields.’

Meantime, Amnesty International stands by its report asserting that Ukrainian forces operate near civilians and civilian infrastructure in violation of international laws of war despite the criticism of western elitists.

In the incendiary report, which was published in July, Amnesty found that many Russian strikes were provoked by Ukrainian units firing from civilian areas. Investigators claim that they were using hospitals, schools, and populated residential buildings to house soldiers and military equipment and hide military vehicles.

Western media fell into the party line with a trident response: 1) Denial 2) Story suppression 3) Laundering the image of a president dubbed ‘the last dictator of Europe.’

Meanwhile, CBS News pulled a documentary and amended a story featuring claims that 70% of foreign weapons never make it to the front lines in Ukraine in response to an outcry from the Ukrainian government and its supporters.

Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, in the original report said it has ‘documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas’ She added ‘Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.’

US President Harry Truman once remarked, ‘if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.’

It appears that Amnesty International couldn’t stand the heat. Shortly after issuing its report AI issued an supplement: ‘Amnesty International deeply regrets the distress and anger that our press release on the Ukrainian military’s fighting tactics has caused.’

The apology went on to point out: ‘Amnesty International’s priority in this and in any conflict is ensuring that civilians are protected. This was our sole objective when releasing this latest piece of research. While we fully stand by our findings, we regret the pain caused and wish to clarify a few crucial points. 

‘In our press release, we documented how in all 19 of the towns and villages we visited, we found instances where Ukrainian forces had located themselves next to where civilians were living.’ This would put civilians at risk by provoking Russian retaliation.

‘We made this assessment based on the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL), which require all parties to a conflict to avoid locating, to the maximum extent feasible, military objectives within or near densely populated areas. The laws of war exist in part to protect civilians, and it is for this reason that Amnesty International urges governments to comply with them.’

AI wrote to the Ukrainian government detailing our findings on 29 July. In our letter, we included GPS coordinates and other sensitive information about the locations, including schools and hospitals, where we had documented Ukrainian forces basing themselves among civilians. Amnesty International’s priority will always be ensuring that civilians’ lives and human rights are protected during conflict.

CBS News meantime pulled a documentary and amended a story featuring claims that 70% of foreign weapons never make it to the front lines in Ukraine after an outcry from the Ukrainian government and its supporters.

Paul Taylor writes about this in an article for Politico. ‘A mature response to such criticism would be to take the findings seriously and work to improve army practices and protect civilians rather than shoot the messenger. President Volodymyr Zelensky would do better if he acknowledged that even his heroic defenders are capable of making mistakes.’

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