Afghanistan war no just cause, say anti-war activists

October 26, 2007

Anti-war activists have again called for the Australian troops to get out of Afghanistan as a second Australian soldier this month was killed there.

On October 25, SAS soldier Matthew Locke was killed by a bomb in the southern province of Oruzgan.

"Stop the War Coalition is demanding PM John Howard accept responsibility for these Australian casualties and withdraw all troops immediately", said Alex Bainbridge, a Stop the War Coalition spokesperson.

"Howard has repeated his claim that the war in Afghanistan is a 'just cause'. So why is resistance to the occupation growing? And why is it gaining support? The fact is the occupation has not improved life for ordinary people in Afghanistan", Bainbridge said.

"As in Iraq, there is no reconstruction. Basic services are nonexistent. Up to 80% of families in the southern areas where Australian troops are operating worry about feeding their families and there is no electricity for most people."

"Fighting in Afghanistan is intensifying. This has been the bloodiest year of the war. Associated Press report that at least 3800 Afghanis have been killed by international forces since January, reflecting a 55% increase in violence compared with last year. Casualties for international forces have doubled over the same period."

"Howard has Australian soldiers helping to defend a corrupt government which is composed of brutal warlords and is deeply unpopular. A recent Canadian government report documents widespread extra judicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial under the Karzai regime", added Paddy Gibson from the coalition.

"Resistance to the occupation has widespread support in Afghanistan, and looks set to intensify as the US and NATO pile in more troops. Having doubled Australian troops earlier this year, both Howard and Labor leader Kevin Rudd are talking about sending more. This will only escalate the killing. If Howard does not withdraw troops more Afghan and Australian lives will be lost and the blood will be on his hands."

Sydney Stop the War Coalition is also calling on the Labor Party to commit to ending Australia's military involvement in Afghanistan. "The unfortunate death of this second SAS officer should serve as a reminder that this occupation is not liberating Afghanistan", concluded Gibson.

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