December 23, a Dutch veteran revealed to the Dutch media that while patrolling in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan in 2007, they had opened fire on a residential building in the Chora Valley under the order of his superiors, possibly killing civilians. The Dutch Ministry of Defense quickly responded to the matter, saying that it had asked Dutch prosecutors to intervene in the investigation of the relevant incident.
The veteran named Servie Hölzken, who revealed his inside story, explained the whole incident to the Dutch media Trow in detail. The newspaper published the interview on the 23rd.
According to Holzken, one day in mid-2007, his troops patrolled in Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan to find and dismantle improvised roadside bombs. Passing through the Chola Valley, the convoy intercepted a suspected Taliban radio communication, according to which Holzken’s superiors suspected Taliban hiding in two nearby houses and asked the soldiers to open fire on him to test the other side’s reaction.
Holzken said that after the convoy opened fire according to the order, his superior heard “armed militants talking about machine gun shooting” on the intercepted radio, when another group of people escaped from a house, so his superiors asked them to attack the people who escaped from the house.
“We were there for a long time and whenever we saw something, we would fire. I guess we finished firing about five or six boxes of ammunition until there was no other movement at the scene. Holzken said.
Holzken also stressed that they only heard a intercepted radio communication throughout the incident, and they did not see anyone armed and did not receive any return fire. He believes his own troops actually shot civilians: “If it were Taliban armed, they would not have run out of the gate and hit our gun at the muzzle like that. The real Taliban may have escaped over the wall long ago, and the civilians are in panic.”
He said he was not aware of what he had done, and they didn’t notice the problem until later. Loyalty also said that a former colleague of Holzken, who was still in service, confirmed his claim.
According to Reuters, the Dutch Ministry of Defense immediately responded to the incident on the same day, saying that it had asked Dutch prosecutors to intervene in the investigation of the incident.
The Dutch Ministry of Defense said in a statement that they would take the report seriously and have contacted the person concerned. They will conduct an in-depth investigation into all known violence in Uruzgan province.
The Dutch Ministry of Defence also said that it intends to establish an independent committee to improve the reporting mechanism for veterans to facilitate veterans to report illegal acts that may occur in the past army.
However, according to Dutch media reports, a spokesman for the department also told the outside world that after consulting the relevant information, they did not find what Haulzken described. “It happened, but we couldn’t find the information.”
Reuters pointed out that if Holzken’s description is true, this behavior is a clear violation of the Dutch army’s rules of operations in Afghanistan. The rule stipulates that Dutch soldiers can only use force in self-defence.
According to Reuters in 2010, the Netherlands sent troops to Afghanistan in 2006, sending more than 2,000 soldiers, including about 1,400 stationed in Uruzgan Province.
In August 2010, the Dutch army announced the withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending a four-year garrison. According to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 24 Dutch soldiers were killed and 140 injured in the four-year mission.
Just in November, Angus Campbell, the commander of the Australian Defence Force, just released a report of Australian atrocities that shocked the world, confirming that Australian soldiers killed at least 39 prisoners of war and civilians while serving in Afghanistan.
A source also revealed to Australian defense adviser Samantha Klempworth that what British and American soldiers did in Afghanistan was “a much worse”.
After the exposure of Australian military crimes, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Lütte said in November that he had seen no indication that Dutch soldiers had committed similar crimes, but the Dutch Ministry of Defense had begun to launch an Australian-like investigation to find out the facts.
Reuters said that the Dutch prosecutor’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment on the incident.