Prisoners of War

Powerful Essays
Throughout history, prisoners of war have been mistreated. In the early history of warfare, there was recognition of a prisoner of war status. The defeated enemy was either killed or enslaved by the victor (Encyclopedia Britannica). During the time of the Aztecs, a prisoner’s negotiation option was to have their heart cut out (Smallwood). Until 1929, no one cared about the treatment of Prisoners of war because there was no greater power to stop the captors from mistreating them. But when the Geneva Conventions were signed, there was something to stop the detaining power from inhumane treatment. Still, countries mistreated their prisoners of war. In WWII, Japanese POW camps tortured, performed Unit 731 experiments, and executed their prisoners (, Listverse). In the Vietnam War, prisoners were kept in tiger cages, beaten with clubs, and sometimes even hung on metal hooks (Pribbinow, Smallwood). Even though the third and fourth Conventions protect POWs, militias, and citizens, the countries who signed them don’t always obey them. So, where is the line drawn? What are the rights and responsibilities of POWs and the detaining power?
You may have heard of the Geneva Convention in movies or television programs. Usually, the character is referring to the fourth Geneva Convention, written in 1949(Schading, Schading, Slayton 206-14), which is relative to the protection of citizens during a time of conflict. The Geneva Conventions are a series of documents generated by the world’s leading nations that set rules that apply to all conflicts, rules that apply to certain conflicts, and rules that are based on other international treaties (Schading, et.all. 206-14). The third Geneva Convention, which is relative to the treatme...

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Pribbinow, Merle. "Treatment of American POWs in North Vietnam | Wilson Center." Treatment of American POWs in North Vietnam | Wilson Center. Wilson Center, n.d. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.

Schading, Barbara, PH.D, Richard Schading, U.S.M.C., and Virginia R. Slayton, U.S. Army, RET. "Chapter 10: The Geneva Convnetion." A Civilian's Guide to the U.S. Military: A Comprehensive Reference to the Customs, Language & Structure of the Armed Forces. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest, 2007. 206-14. Print.

Smallwood, Karl. "10 Terrible Things Done To POWs." Listverse. N.p., 23 Feb. 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.

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"World War Two - Japanese Prisoner of War Camps." World War Two. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
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