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Hospital beds lay in the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, about six months after an American airstrike killed dozens of patients, some of whom burned to death in their beds. (Photo: Reuters)

'Unacceptable': Kunduz Survivors Lambaste Pentagon Claim of No War Crime

'They should be treated as murders'

Andrea Germanos

"Unacceptable."

That's the reaction from 27-year old Hamdullah to the Pentagon's announcement Friday that the U.S. military's deadly airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan did not amount to a war crime.

His uncle was among the 42 people killed in the October 3, 2015 strike.

"This was a deliberate bombardment by the American forces, and we are not satisfied that they have said this was not a war crime," Hamdullah told Agence France-Presse. Those responsible, he said, "should be publicly put on trial."

Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym, MSF, along with other human rights groups criticized the U.S. military's assessment of the strike, and the fact that 16 individuals involved face no criminal charges for their roles in the attack.

"The threshold that must be crossed for this deadly incident to amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law is not whether it was intentional or not," said Meinie Nicolai, MSF President, in reference to CENTCOM head General Joseph Votel's statement that it was not a war crime because it was not intentional. Donna McKay, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, said that the mere administrative punishments represent "an affront to the families of the more than 40 men, women, and children who died that night, punished merely for being in a hospital, a supposed safe haven in a time of war."

Abdul Samad,who lost his nephew in the bombardment, told Stars and Stripes, "Right now, they are 100 percent murders and they should be treated as murders in their own country ... and we want the United States to implement the law over them as murders."

Twenty-four year old Zahidullah, whose cousin was killed in the strike, told AFP the military's assessment that it wasn't a war crime was "a joke" and "unacceptable."

A press statement from MSF Friday referred to the punishment of the personnel—which included "suspension and removal from command, letters of reprimand, formal counseling and extensive retraining"—as "out of proportion to the destruction of a protected medical facility, the deaths of 42 people, the wounding of dozens of others, and the total loss of vital medical services to hundreds of thousands of people."

MSF continues to call for an independent and impartial investigation into the Kunduz strike.

Ahead of a UN Security Council vote May 3, 2016 on a resolution meant to prevent future strikes on hospitals, healthcare workers, and patients, the medical humanitarian organization is hoping to strengthen the message, and is encouraging people to convey support on Facebook and Twitter with hashtag #NotATarget, and to share the video below:


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