I've been thinking about POWs and the Geneva Conventions
today, mainly because of the American soliders currently being held in Iraq.
Well, actually I've been thinking more about whether or not broadcasting their pictures on TV was a violation of their rights as POWs.
I'm not really sure, because the signifigant article is apparently:
Art 13. Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.
Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.
Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.
-Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
The question is whether or not showing someone on television is an offense great enough to be protected against, I guess.
Frankly, the US is so heavily mediated, that I would think an American POW might feel slighted if they weren't on television.
Maybe that's mean, I don't know. I think really what makes the U.S. Government so mad about this incident is that it belies how well Hussein understands us, and how to combat us.
The Iraqis can not defeat us militarily without resorting to weapons of mass destruction. However, it has been demonstrated in the past that we can be defeated (or at least worn down to the point where we go away) via guerilla insurgency.
And images. We are a very media oriented society, and images are very powerful to us. Images of our children captured and dying make us upset and make us not want to fight wars anymore...this is why the military has controled media access to wars since Vietnam.
But Iraq has it's own media, that can give us those same images, and the military can't do anything...because once the image is out, there's no stopping it's circulation.
But getting back to the POWS. We're their rights violated by being shown on TV? I don't know. It doesn't matter, because the way the Geneva Convention works is that it's prosecuted by the winner of the conflict, so if the US wins and says Iraq violated the Geneva Conventions, then they did.
But in the end, probably the soliders were no more violated than any other normal prisoner of war... if there is such a thing. After all, they probably didn't see the broadcast in their cells.
Web bonus link!: Iraq: Are The Geneva Conventions Still Relevant Today?Posted by illovich at March 25, 2003 02:36 PM