Over 223,000 people had signed an online petition calling for the U.S. government to consent to an international investigation into the bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan as of Monday.
Doctors Without Borders, known by its French abbreviation MSF, launched the petition Sunday, arguing the bombing of their hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, by U.S. forces earlier this month could be a “grave violation of International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions.”
“Investigations have been launched by the U.S., NATO, and the Afghan government, but it is impossible to expect the parties involved in the conflict to carry out independent and impartial investigations of acts in which they themselves are implicated,” MSF stated.
The medical charity continued, “It was for that reason, and in the name of our killed and wounded colleagues and patients – and for all of our staff and patients worldwide – that MSF called for an independent international investigation into the events of October 3 by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), the only permanent body set up specifically to investigate violations of international humanitarian law.”
The IHFFC has already taken preliminary steps toward opening an investigation, but the U.S. government hasn't announced whether it will cooperate.
At the time of writing, the MSF petition was less than 7,000 signatures away from its most recent goal of 250,000.
The hospital bombing left 22 patients and staff dead, and sparked outrage from human rights groups. MSF initially expressed confusion at how the incident could have occurred, arguing both U.S. and Afghan authorities were aware of the hospital's position in Kunduz.
However, earlier Monday MSF general director Christopher Stokes said the “extensive, quite precise destruction” of the hospital cast doubt over U.S. claims the incident was a mistake.
“The hospital was repeatedly hit both at the front and the rear and extensively destroyed and damaged, even though we have provided all the coordinates and all the right information to all the parties in the conflict,” Stokes told the Associated Press.
“All indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime,” he said.