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TNC-NATO siege of Sirte is a war crime.


By NicolasDavies - Posted on 01 September 2011

NATO and the Transitional National Council in Libya (or Paris or Qatar or wherever it is) have reportedly given the people of Sirte ten days to surrender or face a full military onslaught.  This is not a cease-fire.  While they await their fate, they will still be subject to shelling by artillery and British warships and NATO bombing, and food, water and electricity have already been cut off.

This closely resembles the tactics adopted toward resistance-held towns in Iraq by U.S. occupation forces.  On October 14th 2004, the Washington Post reported that water and electricity supplies to Falluja had been cut off, one day before the start of Ramadan.  Its population was then starved and bombarded for 3 weeks before the final assault by U.S. Marines that killed 4,000 to 6,000 civilians.

But these siege tactics, which have been used against civilian populations since the Middle Ages, have been outlawed by the Geneva Conventions.  In particular, Article 14 of the second Protocol to the Geneva Conventions states, "Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited.  It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless for that purpose objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population such as food-stuffs, agricultural areas for the production of food-stuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations, and supplies and irrigation works."

The 4th Geneva Convention prohibits all forms of attacks on civilians and the collective punishment of civilian populations, so virtually everything that the combined TNC-NATO forces are doing to the people of Sirte is strictly illegal and in fact criminal.  To add insult to injury, this is all being done in the name of a UN Security Council mandate to protect civilians.

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