Since the beginning of the civil war in Bosnia in 1991, there have been news reports of the atrocities committed in that troubled region. There have even been reports that the Bosnian Serbs have executed thousands of Muslims and buried them in mass graves. Many Americans would be astonished that the same atrocities were committed by the U.S. military in Panama in 1990, according to an award winning documentary on the Panama invasion.
In early July, 1996, the U.N. sent earth-moving equipment to uncover mass graves discovered near Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where thousands of Muslims are believed to be buried. The U.N. is attempting to build a case against Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic,in order to charge them with war crimes.
This type of mass burial during war is not unique to the Balkans, according to documentary film produced by THE EMPOWERMENT PROJECT.
The ninety minute film entitled THE PANAMA DECEPTION builds a substantial case against the U.S. military for the same types of war crimes. A portion of the film shows the exhuming of a large mass grave containing the bodies of both men and women, young and old. Almost all were civilians that were killed during the U.S. invasion. Some of the victims had been shot in the back of the head, execution style. It is asserted during the documentary that there are many mass graves within Panama but are located within the U.S. military controlled zone and are not accessible.
U.S. Army General Maxwell Thurman admitted during an interview shown in the film that there was a grave containing "some number" of bodies. He did not elaborate. A Pentagon spokesman said calling it a mass grave would be "imprecise".
The official U.S. toll of Panamanian deaths is approximately 256 and admits that 75 percent of those were civilians. Four different human rights groups put the death toll at 2,500 to 4,000 civilians.
THE PANAMA DECEPTION shows a "scorched earth" aftermath in the neighborhoods of Colon, San Miguelito and El Chorillo. Twenty thousand civilians lost their homes during the American bombardment and subsequent fire, and many lost their lives as well.
Former U.S. Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, has condemned the invasion as illegal. He also said that is was characterized by a "shear, overwhelming use of raw firepower."
A spokesman for the Organization of American States (OAS) said in an interview included in the documentary that the U.S. invasion was a violation of the OAS charter (of which the U.S. is a signator), the U.N. charter and the the Geneva Convention. The Geneva Convention clearly prohibits attacks against civilian targets.
The U.S. military barred reporters from taking pictures during the invasion. Panamanian reporters who approached the neighborhood of El Chorillo (where the Panamanian armed forces were headquartered) were arrested and had their film confiscated. There is very little film footage of the actual invasion. The American military was careful to conceal its actions, similar to the Bosnian Serbs and the Stalinist Soviet Regime.
During the invasion the American press parroted the official story about "freeing Panama from narco-dictator Noriega" (like the Soviets freed Hungary in the late 50's). Even though there was no legal justification for the invasion, there was not a word of protest from the mainstream American media.
On June 16, 1996, the PANAMA DECEPTION was broadcast by the Southern Educational Communications Association via satellite to all of the public television stations in the United States. Even though the film won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 1993, PBS refused to show it on the national network.
Like many crimes, the U.S. invasion of Panama was carried out at midnight. When the day arrives for the complete uncovering of the deeds of all men, Americans will stand aghast at the crimes committed by their own country under the cover of darkness.
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