Emergency, Afghanistan, terrorism and the official version by the military

This is the text I am circulating through the mailing lists of colleagues science/health journalists from all over the world in the hope that the official lies about the involvement of Italian doctors in a terrorist plot in Afghanistan will be scrutinized by as many people as possible.

Hi all,

I just wanted to let you know that something worth in-depth investigation is going on in the Hellmand province in Afghanistan, where nine people – including doctors – working in the hospital run in Lashkar-gah by the Italian ngo Emergency have been arrested under unclear charges by the Afghan secret services, together with NATO troops.

Apparently they are being accused of conspiracy to kill the local governor, which is outrageously ridiculous.

The moderator of this list asked me to clarify my first post to this list, and my relationship with the ngo, sending me the link to the Reuters coverage: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/04/10/world/international-uk-afghanistan-italy-plot.html?_r=1

As Reuters reports, NATO-ISAF forces officially denied a direct involvement, but footage from the AP proves they were there together with Afghani segret services and went directly in the room where several weapons have been immediately “discovered”.

You should be able to see the APcom video from the website of the Italian daily Corriere della sera, with commentary in Italian: http://video.corriere.it/?vxSiteId=404a0ad6-6216-4e10-abfe-f4f6959487fd&vxChannel=Dal%20Mondo&vxClipId=2524_7b94b4f2-453b-11df-93de-00144f02aabe&vxBitrate=300

I personally know this ngo very well since its birth in 1994 (I support them but have no other links than deep respect for their work and ideals: I wrote about them several times for the BMJ http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/326/7383/244 and more recently http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/336/7654/1152-b about the hospital in Sudan), and I know they are pacifists and devoted to providing free health care all over the world to the civilian victims of war. They have been doing a great job for decades all over the world, so I know the idea of participating to a conspiracy to kill the local governor during a visit in the hospital is really ridiculous.

On the other hand, in recent weeks Emergency witnessed that almost 40% of the civilians wounded in the local clashes were kids, 6-7 year-old, and that in several cases the military had prevented wounded civilians from reaching the hospital.

«We are witnesses and they don’t want us there» said Gino Strada, alleging the Afghan authorities of “kidnapping” those doctors with the complicity of NATO forces.

I think and hope that at least some of you might be willing to know more, beyond the official versions that are literally unbelievable. This piece from the Times is particularly unbalanced: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/afghanistan/article7094630.ece (the ngo has a reputation for treating all in need of medical care, not “for treating Talibans” as they write, just to say one).

This is the website with their summary of events in English (http://www.emergency.it/). I’ll be glad to help you get in touch with their press office in case you need help from Italy. (BTW, since I was asked to clarify: I’ll probably pitch the story to the BMJ, even though it is possible that the daily press in the UK will have it in detail).

The latest development: not only the afghans pretend that the nine arrested have confessed a plot to kill the governor, but they are accusing the three Italians of killing, years ago, the driver of an Italian journalist who had been kidnapped, Daniele Mastrogiacomo.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/04/11/afghanistan.assassination.plot/index.html?hpt=T2

QUOTE from the CNN report:

“In 2007, a hospital staffer mediated between the Afghan government and the Taliban to secure the release of kidnapped Italian journalist Danielle Mastrogiacomo.

Mastrogiacomo was freed but an Afghan translator, Ajmal Naqshbandi, was killed by militants.

Afghan authorities now say the three arrested Italians killed Naqshbandi.”
(The Italian Government had officially asked Emergency to intervene.)

I was told by Emergency’s press officer a couple of hours ago that no one of the three Italians arrested was in Afghanistan at the time. One didn’t even work for Emergency yet.

Gino Strada, who heads the charity, said that he thinks they are being thrown out of the Hellmand province because of an imminent strike that will cause even more civilian casualties.

Fabio Turone, Milan

2 Risposte

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