Mahathir should not himself break the golden rule to be rational and not be guided by sentiments and emotions in responding to the Iraq crisis as to justify, explicit or implicit, war crimes

Media Comment
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday): In his live RTM telecast on the start of the US-led war on Iraq on Thursday, Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called on Malaysians to be rational and not be guided by sentiments and emotions in facing the Iraq crisis.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should not himself break this golden rule, which could reflect adversely on Malaysia and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of which he is the Chair such as to justify whether explicit or implicit, war crimes.

Yesterday, Mahathir said the United States has lost the right to invoke the international law in response to Iraqi television footage showing four bodies of US soldiers and five American POWs. He said that since the United States had shown total disrespect for the United Nations, it had lost the right to bring up issues pertaining to matters of the international body.

Mahathir should be aware that his comment that the United States had lost the right to invoke the Geneva Conventions come across as justifying the commission of war crimes against American soldiers in captivity, which goes against the government's repeated declaration that it does not have enmity for the American people but only opposition to the unjust, illegal and unnecessary war unleashed by US President Bush against Iraq.

Many Malaysians who condemn the US war against Iraq as unjust, illegal and unnecessary must have squirmed at the statement by Mahathir with its implication of defending or advocating inhumane and inhuman treatment of American POWs in Iraq - which would be war crimes against the Geneva Conventions to ensure humane treatment of prisoners of war.

Mahathir and in particular the Malaysian Government should make clear that they do not condone any violation of the Geneva Conventions by any parties in the Iraq War, whether the invaders and aggressors or the defenders.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman