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US Has No Excuse for Detaining Diplomats

The United States has been making a strong impression upon others that it can do anything it likes without considering obligations to universally recognized international law and norms.


Its condemnation-provoking actions in Iraq range from its unpopular war without any convincing excuse and without United Nations authorization to the shocking abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison.


Under the banner of anti-terrorism, Washington has given its army and its Middle East ally Israel free rein to arrest or imprison any suspected Palestinian terrorist or Palestinians suspected of having connections to terrorists.


Even some Palestinian diplomatic personnel could not escape the indiscriminate detention.


On Sunday, two Palestinian diplomats were released by the US military from Abu Ghraib prison after one year in custody. This is the same prison where the US "liberators" showed the world how they "respect" the rights of their captives.


Najah Abdel Rahman, the then Palestinian charge d'affaires, and Mounir Soubhi, then commercial attaché, were detained by US troops one year ago and then held in Abu Ghraib prison on suspicion of carrying illegal weapons in Baghdad and having links with terrorists.


The two Palestinian diplomats said they were not carrying any weapons and the arrest was only targeted at their embassy.


They were reportedly handcuffed and surrounded by barbed wire outside the embassy building and received various other mistreatments before being moved to Abu Ghraib.


To shirk international condemnations for arresting diplomats, who are protected by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Washington said all diplomats lost immunity after the collapse of Iraq's Saddam Hussein regime. The Americans went further by declaring they do not recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of a sovereign nation.


The US act showed serious disrespect for the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and other international laws. The convention regulates that diplomatic personnel enjoy diplomatic privilege and immunity, and their personal rights are inviolable.


Despite the lack of statehood so far for Palestinians, for which the United States has held an unshirkable responsibility, the PLO has in fact become a de facto national authority representing all Palestinians. It has also earned diplomatic recognition from the international community.


The two Palestinian diplomats, now free, are reportedly in poor condition. The physical and psychological trauma they suffered is irremediable -- as is US credibility in the international community.


(China Daily June 1, 2004)


The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
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