Calls grow to probe Australian ‘war crimes’ in Afghanistan

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Australian authorities finally released probe details into at least 39 civilian killings by their special forces

Kabul, Afghanistan: Following a report revealing the killings of at least 39 Afghan civilians by Australian forces, there have been growing calls to probe identical war crimes by other foreign troops stationed in the war-ridden country.

Nezamuddin Katawazi, a leading human rights activist, said the report should set the precedence for all foreign missions to probe their operations.

“While we appreciate the measures taken by Australian defense forces and judicial authorities to try the 19 suspects of war crimes, identified by the military authorities for the accused war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the years between 2003 to 2016 by Australian forces in Afghanistan, we encourage also other foreign forces’ authorities and judiciary to inquire into the alleged abuses of human rights committed by the forces of their countries who were engaged in the International Security Assistance Forces for Afghanistan (ISAF) and in the subsequent Resolute Support Mission for Afghanistan (RSMA) after 2014,” he told Anadolu Agency.

In his views, such measures will contribute to ensuring the rule of law and justice across the war-torn country and may lead to peace and stability in the region and beyond.

Widespread protests are expected in the country in the coming days as details of the report reach the public through the local media.

Australian authorities on Thursday finally released probe details into at least 39 incidents of civilian killings by their special forces in Afghanistan.

Chief of the Australian Defense Forces Gen. Angus Campbell sought an apology from the Afghans as he shared the horrifying details of the probe.

“To the people of Afghanistan, on behalf of the Australian Defence Force, I sincerely and unreservedly apologize for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers. I have spoken directly to my Afghan counterpart, Gen. (Yaseen) Zia, to convey this message,” he said in a televised speech.

Welcoming the public acknowledgment of the crime, commitment for justice and compensation for the victims, the Afghan Foreign Ministry dubbed the killing of the civilians as “unforgivable”.

“As the people and government of Afghanistan remain thankful of the support and cooperation of the government of Australia in the past 19 years, the Afghan government together with the government of Australia condemn and consider these violations as ‘unforgivable’ and consider the announcement of probe and release of the findings as a crucial step towards justice,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.

Afghanistan’s former President Hamid Karzai also welcomed the probe results.

“The reason behind my strong opposition to military operations, airstrikes and night raids has been this; civilians casualties and the violation of human rights of the Afghan people,” he added.

Karzai also went on to say: “In reparation for the losses our people have suffered, I ask the countries involved in the conflict to make ‘effective efforts’ in bringing lasting #peace to Afghanistan.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s promise last week to prosecute soldiers allegedly involved in killings and misconduct encouraged military sociologist Dr. Samantha Crompvoets, who received information from special forces insiders and whistleblowers and is also the author of a secret 2016 report commissioned by a military chief, to finally speak in public about it.

“The most disturbing thing for me was people saying the phrase ‘it happened all the time’,” she said in an interview with The Age, the Herald and 60 Minutes over the weekend.

–AA

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