We are the good ones in Afghanistan

What was known for a long time has recently been finally confirmed by the official side. Australian elite soldiers (SAS) have committed war crimes in Afghanistan and murdered at least 39 Afghan civilians between 2005 and 2016. The hunting and killing of the Afghans was considered by the soldiers as a kind of Sport, as well as a ritual for newcomers. The perverse procedure was referred to as “bleeding”. The Associated report can be read in many places like a record of terror. In many places it makes clear that Afghan lives are worth practically nothing in the eyes of the Western soldiers. “It happened all the time,” said many soldiers who were interviewed for the report. The investigation was commissioned by the Australian military in 2016. In total, more than 400 witnesses were interrogated and at least 55 investigations started.

The crimes were exposed by ABC investigative journalists, who became targets of Australian authorities because of their research. Read correctly. The focus was not on murdering soldiers, but on those journalists who brought the crimes to light. The journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, who uncovered war crimes that allegedly took place between 2009 and 2013, came under particular pressure. The Australian Federal Police searched offices and confiscated data carriers, among other things. Clark and Oakes traveled to Afghanistan for their research, where they worked with the well-known local journalist Bilal Sarwary and found victims of the Australian soldiers.

The research team travelled here to the southern Afghan village Darwan in Uruzgan province, which was raided by SAS units and members of the Afghan army in September 2012. In total, three men were killed in this attack on civilians. As usual, it was said that they were hunting terrorists and looking for members of the Taliban. After the three men were killed in the most brutal manner, the soldiers abducted other people. In the following days, they were interrogated and tortured in a NATO military base in the provincial capital of Tarinkot. An Isolated Case? Certainly not.

After an extensive investigation, the Australian military was forced to admit to the world in front of ongoing cameras last November that crimes had been committed. This is indeed a milestone. To this day, no Western military that has participated in the Afghanistan war has shown such self-criticism and insight. When, for example, the FAZ writes of a “day of shame for Australia”, one wonders where such headlines were when it came to German war crimes in the Hindu Kush. As a reminder: these existed, and they have not been processed to this day. Otherwise, Colonel Georg Klein, who had more than 150 civilians bombed to death in Kunduz in 2009, would not have been promoted to General in 2012. Otherwise, both the federal government and the Bundeswehr would have spoken very clearly of a war crime, made the victims visible, apologized to them and compensated them appropriately, instead of ignoring them and silencing them.

However, for many observers, journalists and other experts on the Afghanistan war, the latest revelations were by no means surprising. In many Afghan villages, the stories of murdering and torturing NATO soldiers continue to circulate today. However, those affected are hardly heard. In fact, The Voice of such Afghans is only worth something after their statements have been confirmed by a Western actor. Otherwise, they are considered “not credible” or “excessive”. War veterans also regularly draw attention to such war crimes. “These Australian elite units are just a small piece of the puzzle of the overall picture, and this one looks grim. We regularly shot people whose identity was unclear. The Afghans, who in my opinion fought us rightly, were completely dehumanized by US,” says ex-soldier and author Erik Edstrom. In the summer Edstrom’s book “Un-American: a Soldier’s Reckoning of our Longest War” was published, in which he is extremely critical of his own Afghanistan mission as well as the “War on Terror” In general. Edstrom not only focuses on the mass killing of civilians, but also tries to understand the radicalization of the Afghan population. “We started the war. We have attacked and occupied your country. Who knows how I would react? Perhaps I would also resort to weapons,” says Edstrom. Like many others, he believes that it will take years for all Western war crimes in Afghanistan to be exposed.