On 16 September, 2007, four guards from the private US military firm Blackwater fired at unarmed civilians in Baghdad, killing 14 civilians and sparking anger over the use of so-called "private security" in war zones. The four guards indiscriminately launched an attack using machine guns, grenade launchers and a sniper on civilians in Nisour Square in the Iraqi capital.
Amongst the victims was nine-year-old Ali Kinani who was brutally shot in the head by one of the guards. His father Mohammed Kinani was driving with his sister and children at the time. He witnessed the harrowing scenes of the Blackwater men firing bullets and screamed for his children in the back seat to stay low. It was a miracle that he, his sister and one child survived. When Mohammed went to see what happened to his son, he saw that Ali had been fatally shot through the head. I cannot even imagine what Mohammed must have felt witnessing such a traumatic and horrific ordeal. Yet, heartbreakingly, there has been no justice nor accountability for these heinous crimes – and this is entirely unacceptable.
Ali was a nine-year-old-boy who should still be alive today, but his life was ripped away by these perpetrators. The Kinani family and all the victims of this massacre have the right to justice and the right to call for the prosecution of those who carried out this evil massacre. The very least that Trump could have done was to bring justice and accountability to his surviving family members, but even that right has been taken away from them. Following the news of the shameful pardoning, Mohammed said that Trump "broke my life again."
It angers me that following the news that one of the guards had been pardoned, their lawyer Brian Heberlig referred to it as "fantastic news". It's a sickening statement to make, although unsurprising, given the fact that the only reason that Trump has decided to pardon these men is because it suits his agenda.
Sadly, in choosing to pardon the unprovoked attack, the Trump administration has shown that it would not think twice about killing innocent civilians under the guise of "security", even if it means killing children. Trump has demonstrated that he acts with no regard to the law or human rights, by holding no one accountable for their crimes, and not giving justice to those who have lost their loved ones. Interestingly, Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince, whose sister Betsy DeVos was appointed Trump's education secretary, and has links with Trump himself.
Trump is evidently misusing his power to pardon these perpetrators, when they should have been charged with murder and manslaughter for their wrongdoings. The act of pardoning by Trump indicates a threat to national security, morality and the valuing of justice and accountability. Iraqis have now expressed their anger and dismay at the decision, and rightly so. It is hoped that when President-elect Joe Biden takes office, he could reverse the decision and finally achieve the justice that the families deserve. More importantly, he will hopefully re-instate a moral compass that has been lacking throughout Trump's time in office. My thoughts and prayers will always be with those Iraqi civilians who have lost their loved ones. I hope that next year will be a turning point in them seeing some form of reversal of this terrible decision that does not adhere to the tenets and ethos for which the US constitutional rights stand.
By Tasnim Nazeer
Source: The Middle East Monitor