Gareth Porter / TruthOut & Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington / This Can’t Be Happening – 2010-09-30 22:41:56
UN Fact-Finding Mission Says
Israelis “Executed” US Citizen Furkan Dogan
(September 28, 2010) — The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.
The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.
The report says Dogan had apparently been “lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time” before being shot in his face.
The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is “tattooing around the wound in his face,” indicating that the shot was “delivered at point blank range.” The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that “the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back.”
Based on both “forensic and firearm evidence,” the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 “can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.” (See Report, Page 38, Section 170)
The report confirmed what the Obama administration already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the administration has remained silent about the killing of Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political problem for the administration in its relations with Israel.
The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to the Department of Justice, according to a US government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the administration’s policy of silence on the matter. The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was to determine whether an investigation of the killing by the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.
Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney refused to comment.
The administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do so by any news organization. In response to a query from Truthout, a State Department official, who could not speak on the record, read a statement that did not explicitly acknowledge the report’s conclusion about the Israeli executions.
The statement said the fact-finding mission’s report’s “tone and conclusions are unbalanced.” It went on to state, “We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional strong relationship.”
Although the report’s revelations and conclusions about the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a single story on the report has appeared in US news media.
The administration has made it clear through its inaction and its explicit public posture that it has no intention of pressing the issue of the murder of a US citizen in cold blood by Israeli commandos.
On June 13, two weeks after the Mavi Marmara attack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying that Israel “should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security” and that Israel’s military justice system “meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation.”
Another passenger whom forensic evidence shows was killed execution-style, according to the OHCHR report, is Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen. Bilgen is believed by forensics experts to have been shot initially from the helicopter above the Mavi Marmara and then shot in the side of the head while lying seriously wounded.
The fact-finding mission was given forensic evidence that, after the initial shot in chest from above, Bilgen was shot in the head with a “soft baton round at such close proximity that an entire bean bag and its wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the chest from above,” the mission concluded.
“Soft baton rounds” are supposed to be fired for nonlethal purposes at a distance and aimed only at the stomach, but are lethal when fired at the head, especially from close range.
The forensic evidence cited by the fact-finding mission on the killing of Dogan and five other passengers came from both the autopsy reports and pathology reports done by forensic personnel in Turkey and from interviews with those who wrote the reports. Experts in forensic pathology and firearms assisted the mission in interpreting that forensic evidence.
The account, provided by the OHCHR of the events on board the Mavi Marmara on its way to help break the economic siege of Gaza May 31 of this year, refutes the version of events aggressively pushed by the Israeli military and supports the testimony of passengers on board.
The report suggests that, from the beginning, Israeli policy viewed the Gaza flotilla as an opportunity to use lethal force against pro-Hamas activists. It quotes testimony by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak before the Israeli government’s Turkel Committee that specific orders were given by the Israeli government “to continue intelligence tracking of the flotilla organizers with an emphasis on the possibility that amongst the passengers in the flotilla there were terror elements who would attempt to harm Israeli forces.”
The idea that the passenger list would be seeded with terrorists determined to attack Israeli defense forces appears to have been a ploy to justify treating the operation as likely to require the use of military force against the passengers.
When details of the Israeli plan to forcibly take over the ships in the flotilla were published in the Israeli press on May 30, the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara realized that the Israelis might use deadly force against them. Some leaders of the IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid), which had purchased the ships for the mission, were advocating defending the boat against the Israeli boarding attempt, whereas other passengers advocated nonviolence only.
That led to efforts to create improvised weapons from railings and other equipment on the Mavi Marmara. However, the commission concluded that there was no evidence of any firearms having being taken aboard the ship, as charged by Israel.
The report notes that the Israeli military never communicated a request by radio to inspect the cargo on board any of the ships, apparently contradicting the official justification given by the Israeli government for the military attack on the Mavi Marmara and other ships of preventing any military contraband from reaching Gaza.
According to the OHCHR report, Israeli Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified to the Turkel Committee August 11 that the initial rules of engagement for the operation prohibited live fire except in life-threatening situations, but that that they were later modified to target protesters “deemed to be violent” in response to the resistance by passengers.
That decision apparently followed the passengers’ successful repulsion of an Israeli effort to board the ship from Zodiac boats.
The report confirms that, from the beginning of the operation, passengers were fired on by helicopters flying above the Mavi Marmara to drop commandos on the deck.
Contrary to Israeli claims that one or more Israeli troops were wounded by firearms, the report says no medical evidence of a gunshot wound to an Israeli soldier was found.
The OHCHR report confirms accounts from passengers on the Mavi Marmara that defenders subdued roughly ten Israeli commandos, took their weapons from them and threw them in the sea, except for one weapon hidden as evidence. The Israeli soldiers were briefly sequestered below and some were treated for wounds before being released by the defenders.
The OHCHR fact-finding mission will certainly be the most objective, thorough and in-depth inquiry into the events on board the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the flotilla of the four that have been announced.
The fact-finding mission was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
The mission interviewed 112 eyewitnesses to the Israeli attack in London, Geneva, Istanbul and Amman, Jordan. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making personnel involved in both planning and carrying out the attack available to be interviewed.
The Turkish governments announced its own investigation of the Israeli attack on August 10. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a “Panel of Inquiry” on August 2, but its mandate was much more narrowly defined. It was given the mission to “receive and review the reports of the national investigations with the view to recommending ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Sitting on the Evidence:
Obama Administration Silent on
IDF Murder of 19-Year-Old American
Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington / This Can’t Be Happening & Information Clearing House
(September 28, 2010) — Murder is murder, and terror is terror, you might think. But when terror is committed against an American citizen by the state of Israel the response from the US government is not protest, and it is surely not to demand justice, much less seek vengeance. It is silence.
In 1985, when terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front, in an act of piracy on the high seas in the Mediterranean, took control of the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, and executed the Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer, shooting him in the forehead and then pushing the wheelchair-bound 69-year-old overboard, the US responded with dramatic action.
To rescue the passengers, Italian negotiators had worked out a deal granting safe passage to Tunisia to the pirates, in return for the freeing of the ship and its other passengers.
But President Ronald Reagan dispatched a US fighter plane to intercept the plane carrying the PLF pirates to safety, and forced it to land at a US airbase in Italy, where they were turned over to Italian authorities for prosecution.
Compare this to another more recent act of piracy, the violent assault and high-seas boarding of the Turkish cruise ship Mavi Marmara and a flotilla of smaller ships bound from Turkey to Gaza by troops from the Israeli Defense Force, who commandeered the vessels, killing eight Turkish and one young Turkish-American passenger. The US failed to condemn this latter act of piracy, and as for the American who was slain, 19-year old Furkan Dogan, there was not a word of protest.
Worse yet, we now learn only now that in July, two months after the May 31 IDF attack, the Turkish government supplied the Obama Administration with the result of the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine’s autopsy of young Dogan, which showed clearly that he had been murdered by two shots to the face fired by Israeli commandos at point blank range while he lay, gravely injured, on the deck of the ship.
Dogan’s other wounds, according to the autopsy, included a shot to the back, leg and foot. He was said to have been writhing in a conscious or semi-consciousness state on the deck “for some time” when he was executed.
Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, says it sent the autopsy report to the US via the US Embassy in Turkey, as soon as it was completed, assuming the US would want to prosecute Israel for his death. Instead, the Obama administration and the US Justice Department sat on the information, saying nothing. A request for information from the Justice Department about the autopsy elicited only a brief “We have no comment for you,” from DOJ spokesman Dean Boyd.
Meanwhile, while Israel has been claiming that its boarding party on the Mavi Marmara only used their guns and killed people after they were attacked by passengers and crew on the ship, the truth appears to be that they came aboard guns blazing, and intent on causing harm. A fact-finding mission of the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it has concluded that Dogan, for example, was not resisting the boarding, but rather, was filming it, using a small hand-held video camera from his position on the boat’s top deck.
He would not be the only videographer or photographer shot. IDF troops made a concerted effort to stop all photographers and videographers from recording their actions, not only shooting at those who were filming them, but also confiscating or destroying hundreds of cameras, memory cards and other recording equipment.
Turkish medical examiners concluded that five others of the nine killed, in addition to Dogan, were slain execution-style by IDF troops in the assault on the Mavi Marmara.
Although the conclusions of the Human Rights Commissioner’s report and of the Turkish medical examiners has been big news in Turkey for the past week, the US media has maintained a news blackout, even though one of the murdered victims was an American. It’s a sad commentary on the extent to which the US corporate media have become propagandists for the US and Israeli governments.
The UN fact-finding mission, which interviewed 112 witnesses to the attack, was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago. Other members included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.