Christian peacekeepers in Iraq are distributing the following leaflet to Coalition soldiers. They are also encouraging those who live in communities near military bases to distribute copies to soldiers who are being sent to Iraq. Coalition Forces and the Human Rights of Iraqi Citizens Like all human beings, Iraqis have a right to just treatment and respect. Yet many Iraqi families have shared with us their stories of US troops violating their human rights and dignity. As a result, support is growing among Iraqis for violent resistance. If any Coalition soldier mistreats an Iraqi citizen, it endangers all Coalition soldiers. For your own safety and for the well-being of Iraqi citizens, we invite you to abide by these principles taken from the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and related humanitarian and human rights law: - Soldiers have a duty to protect civilians. Care must be taken not to harm those who are unarmed, or women, children, and the elderly or sick. Force should be used only when absolutely necessary and in proportion to the level of force threatened. - Coalition Forces, as the Occupying Power in Iraq, are ultimately responsible for ensuring that family members of detainees are notified as to where they will be detained. - It is against international law to punish a group of people collectively, (such as reprisal assaults on a family, neighbourhood, or town) because individuals within that area have attacked Coalition Forces. Only those who have are guilty of wrongdoing should be punished. - Soldiers shall respect the property of civilians. If property is confiscated, a receipt must be issued with explicit instructions for how it may be retrieved. Iraqis detained by Coalition Forces have been held for months without charges, without legal counsel, and without contact with their families. The loss of husbands and fathers and the income and security they provide creates terrible hardship for families. Often men are detained on the basis of false information and malicious rumours. Please remember that suspicion is not proof and that the men detained may be innocent of all wrongdoing. Coalition Forces are obliged to respect the provisions of international human rights treaties to which their home countries and/or Iraq have signed. The 'Rules of Engagement' are not the only rules which apply. You can be held liable for your actions in Iraq, even if you are obeying orders from your commanding officer. ------ When you return home, will you be able to tell your families that you acted with honour and compassion? Christian Peacemaker Teams is a program of Christian churches, congregations, and individuals who believe in nonviolent means of conflict resolution and violence reduction. CPT members engage in mediation and conflict transformation, nonviolent action, and observation and reporting of human rights abuses.
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