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It’s nearly two weeks since Australian defence force chief Angus Campbell released the Brereton report, alleging war crimes perpetrated by Australians in Afghanistan. Two immensely difficult and challenging weeks not just for the ADF but for Afghan-Australians.

The US-led “war on terror” and intervention in Afghanistan has been ongoing for nearly two decades now, and follows the Soviet invasion in 1979. In almost 40 years of conflict, the people who have suffered the most are Afghans.

Beyond any doubt, the Brereton report has added to that suffering. For us Afghans and Afghan-Australians, it has reawakened old traumas, stirred up our grief for the land of our ancestors and, although these atrocities were committed by just a few, it has shaken our faith in Australian values, fairness, honour and truth-telling.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s now official, and much as we have been prepared for it from well-informed media reports, the news is shocking: the report by Justice Paul Brereton reveals that there is credible information to substantiate 23 incidents of alleged unlawful killings of 39 people, perpetrated by 25 Australian special forces soldiers, predominantly from the Special Air Service Regiment.

Those alleged to have been unlawfully killed were all people under control – in lay terms, prisoners, farmers and other civilians.

Importantly, Brereton found that none of the alleged unlawful killings were described as being in the “heat of battle”, none were alleged to have occurred in circumstances in which the intent of the perpetrator was unclear, confused or mistaken, and every person spoken to by the inquiry thoroughly understood the law of armed conflict and the rules of engagement under which they operated.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is it okay to celebrate an act of genocide? Is it reasonable to hold neighborhood parties on the day that genocide began — opening crates of beer, cranking up the barbecue and staging colorful fireworks displays?

That’s the question being asked by Australia’s indigenous people ahead of the country’s national day, which falls on Jan. 26. It’s the day the British sailed into Sydney Cove, claiming the country with the purpose of establishing a penal colony.

That first British settlement was the starting point of what — just maybe — is one of the world’s most inspiring stories. The detritus of Britain were discarded on an island 10,000 miles from home, yet they prospered.…  Seguir leyendo »