Amnesty International Satellite Images Reveal Damage to South Ossetian Villages After...
* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.
Amnesty International Satellite Images Reveal Damage to South Ossetian Villages After Major Fighting Ended WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released today a damage assessment of 24 villages around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali. It reveals that 424 structures -- including homes and offices -- sustained additional damage after the end of large-scale hostilities in South Ossetia on August 10, 2008. AIUSA and AAAS obtained the images from August 10 and August 19 through commercially available satellite imaging. The assessment is based on a comparative analysis of the two images. "These images do not lie: the additional destruction shown from August 10 to August 19 must be used to establish who had responsibility for protecting civilians from attacks by militia," said Ariela Blatter, Amnesty International USA's director for the Satellites for Human Rights Project. "The destruction of civilian infrastructure highlights the need for the international community to undertake an independent investigation of abuses during the conflict, with the complete support of all parties involved." The satellite images show that the majority of the damage in Tskhinvali was sustained on or before August 10 -- likely during the intense fighting between the Georgian and Russian militaries around August 8. The images also support Amnesty International assessments on the ground that more than 100 civilian houses in Tskhinvali were hit by shelling during the initial Georgian bombardment. However, a number of villages near Tskhinvali (to the east and south) show additional damage on August 19, after the majority of the hostilities ended. The village of Tamarsheni, for example, which was mostly inhabited by ethnic Georgians before the conflict, shows no damage at all on August 10. Nine days later, the analysis identified 152 damaged structures, a large proportion of the total number of structures in the village. These two images also reveal signs of significant military activity including tracks from presumed movement of military vehicles and 455 crater images from shelling, all between August 10 and 19. The satellite image from August 19 shows fire damage that supports eyewitness accounts -- documented by Amnesty International -- of arson attacks by South Ossetian forces, paramilitary groups and privately armed individuals on property owned by ethnic Georgians. During these attacks, several residents were threatened; some were killed. Amnesty International is concerned that Russian forces failed to take effective measures to protect civilians and their property from such abuses in areas under their control. The satellite image analysis also indicates the level of reconstruction necessary before tens of thousands of people displaced by the August conflict can return to South Ossetia. It is estimated that there are 22,000 individuals displaced from South Ossetia, whose voluntary return requires, among other things, the restoration of security and the reconstruction of destroyed property. "The U.S. government must uphold its commitment and continue funding pressing humanitarian needs in the next administration," said Daphne Jayasinghe, Amnesty International USA's acting Europe and Central Asia advocacy director. "It must ensure that the majority of this funding supports the protection of human rights of those displaced by the August conflict." The images from South Ossetia are part of a joint human rights monitoring effort between Amnesty International and AAAS, which is funded by a grant from the Oak Foundation. Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal Science (www.sciencemag.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals. For more information about human rights concerns in Georgia, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org/georgia. SOURCE Amnesty International Sharon Singh of Amnesty International USA, +1-202-544-0200x289, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Ginger Pinholster of American Association for the Advancement of Science, +1-202-326-6421, email@example.com
- Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen': Pentagon
- Oklahoma City policeman arrested for raping women while on patrol
- U.S. says Russia must pull convoy from Ukraine or face more sanctions |
- Exclusive: Apple iPhone 6 screen snag leaves supply chain scrambling |
- Gaza gunmen execute 'collaborators'; mortar kills Israeli boy |