Nineteen current and former SAS soldiers are facing war crimes trials, after Scott Morrison agreed to appoint a special investigator to pursue prosecutions over the Afghanistan war. Those facing charges include Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith, according to Nine Media.
The release of the report from a four and a half year inquiry by Inspector General Paul Brereton has confirmed evidence of the “murder” of at least 39 Afghans that constitute war crimes. These are incidents where there is “credible information of a war crime” and “where it was, or should have been, plain that the person killed was a non-combatant”, it said.
Reports of these atrocities have been circulating for years. In March the ABC broadcast video of one particularly disturbing incident, the cold blooded murder of Dad Mohammad, an unarmed father, as he crouched in a field.
The Inspector General’s report confirms that patrol commanders developed a routine where junior soldiers were pressured to execute prisoners, a war crime, in order to get their “first kill”. Soldiers also carried “throw downs”, weapons that could be left at the scene to cover up executions and claim a civilian had been armed. This was all known about and covered up for years by higher ranking officers.
These outrages were all part of a larger war crime—the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 2001. The war has made life for ordinary Afghans a misery. After almost 20 years of war the killing continues. A UN report recorded 3458 civilian casualties in the first half of this year alone, the majority of them caused by coalition troops.
The war was never about the interests of the Afghan people. Popular support for the Taliban has grown due to the brutality of occupation troops and the US now wants a peace deal to bring them back into the government. Australia still has troops in Afghanistan. They should all get out now.