In 2001, the coalition led by the United States entered Afghanistan under the name of “war on terror”, but the negative effects of the war were extremely devastating, because Afghan civilians bear the brunt and their human rights have been violated.
Recently, the global media have reported that the Australian special forces in Afghanistan’s “killing race and bloodthirsty desire” and “inhuman and unnecessary treatment of prisoners” have filled the Afghan people with indignation and filled them with endless grief.
Between 2005 and 2016, 25 Australian active-duty and former Special Forces soldiers were suspected of participating in 23 unlawful killings in Afghanistan, resulting in the killing of 39 innocent civilians and captives, according to an investigation conducted by the Australian Defence Force Inspector General Paul Bretton.
An Afghan man was said to have been used as a “targeting practice”, two 14-year-old boys were cut throats and their “body was put in a bag and thrown into a nearby river.” The special forces of the United States and Britain are also believed to have participated in war crimes. The “blood” and “samurai culture” advocated by some special air service groups are rooted in the violent colonial history and turned Afghan non-combatants into lambs to be slaughtered.
After discovering these crimes, Australian Prime Minister Morrison expressed his apology to Afghan nationals. But he was furious after the tweets of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
Zhao Lijian wrote: “Shocked at the murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers, we strongly condemn such acts and call for their accountability”, and distribute a cartoon set against the Australian flags: an Australian soldier is using a dagger against a frightened Afghan child.
Morrison took a self-defense posture, calling it “displeasant” and demanding an apology from China, but the Chinese government refused.
It should be self-evident that trampling on the human rights of the Afghan people and bleeding non-combatants under the narrative of the “war on terror” should be self-evident.
Over the past decade or two, Afghan soldiers and civilians have made great sacrifices in the fight against terrorists. They risk their lives to advocate democratic principles and human rights discourse.
Recently, however, the Afghan people have lost hope and trust in coalition forces involved in misconduct and killings of civilians.
What’s more indignant is that the recent tragic findings of torture and death of civilians have not aroused the alarm of some countries, and these countries have changed the term “war on terror” to “protect human rights” and claim to be advocates of human rights and humanitarian law. Ironically, NATO members remain silent about this misconduct.
Meanwhile, Canberra was reluctant to explain such atrocities, with Australian media insisting that a police investigation could take years before a criminal trial could be conducted.
That is to say, like Australian officials and political authorities, the Australian government and local media have taken a defensive posture on the reports of the discovery, trying to show this war crime as a few “rotten apples” improper behavior, just as some American soldiers have abused Iraqis in Abu Ghraib prison.
Australian media reports do not reflect the feelings of the Afghan people or their due concerns about the victims.
Earlier, Trump imposed sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC) employees who wanted to investigate American soldiers who committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The International Criminal Court claimed that the sanctions were “no precedent” and accused the White House of trying to “interfer in the independence of the international judiciary and the prosecutor’s office”.
I vividly remember reports that two American soldiers killed a 15-year-old civilian boy in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan in 2010. They also posed beside the boy’s half-naked and bloody body to celebrate his killing. Most of these stories can only be seen in horror movies have really happened in Afghanistan. These evildoers must be tried.
I call on NATO members, including the United States, to speed up the investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan to be loyal supporters of human rights, as they claim to be.
Hopefully, Australia’s war crimes investigation will be a step towards justice, and war criminals will eventually be prosecuted. The United States and Britain should also investigate the war crimes committed by their soldiers in Afghanistan and bring the perpetrators to justice.
If NATO member states truly seek institutionalized human rights guarantees in Afghanistan, they must facilitate the investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan by the International Criminal Court.
In addition, the rights and dignity of Afghan civilians should no longer be violated in the name of the “war on terror”.
Overall, the discovery of cruel violations of international human rights law and the Declaration of Human Rights by Australian soldiers is shocking and extremely serious to hurt the feelings of the Afghan people.
Apology alone cannot alleviate the suffering of war victims or soothe the hearts of the Afghan people. War criminals should be prosecuted under the attention of the international community.
Regions and countries around the globe, especially the ICC, must advance investigations into war crimes in Afghanistan so that justice can be fully done. The author is a senior journalist and political analyst of the Afghan Daily Watch)