Anti-war group: Australia’s troops must leave Afghanistan now

The Stop the War Coalition Sydney released the statement below on September 5.

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The West’s “war on terror” has delivered a war of terror on the Afghan people said Christine Keavney, a spokesperson for Sydney Stop the War Coalition today.

“The deaths of five Australian soldiers on August 30 and the aftermath has prompted more discussion of the war in Afghanistan and Australia’s role in it than has been heard for years”, said Keavney.

“Liberal MP Mal Washer’s statement that ‘politicians have blood on their hands for allowing Australian troops to remain in Afghanistan’ should prompt the major parties to reverse their war policy and bring the troops home.

“While Stop the War Coalition is dismayed by the news of the deaths of more Australian soldiers, we are also very concerned by the Australian forces' raid — ostensibly to find the alleged Afghan killer — which resulted in the deaths of a 70-year old Iman and his son.

“The public disagreement between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Defence Minister Stephen Smith about who authorised this raid highlights the power imbalance in this imperial occupation.

“The Australian troops are participants in an unwelcome occupation of Afghanistan”, said Keavney. "The rising number of deaths of NATO and Australian troops at the hands of Afghan soldiers and police is testimony to just how much the occupiers are resented.”

This was also the assessment of US Col. Daniel Davis when he was interviewed on Radio National on September 2 about the situation in Oruzgan province where most Australian soldiers are based.

Davis pointed out the much promised benefits of NATO’s occupation have not materialised. He also said the influence of reactionary forces, such as the Taliban, is growing as Afghans become increasingly angry at the NATO-US led night raids, the killings and the cultural disrespect.

Australia will have been at war in Afghanistan for 11 years this October. A majority now believes that the troops should leave.

Keavney said: “Some 66% oppose the war, but the Gillard government says Australia must ‘stay the course’ and ‘complete the mission’ — even though the mission changes. Once, it was to improve the lives of the Afghan people. Now it is to train the Afghan army to take on the Taliban — the same people the US believes should be brought into some kind of governing coalition.

“We need to demand some answers. What will be the legacy of the Australian involvement? Will it be the physical devastation and ethnic tensions which characterise Iraq today? The treatment of the Hazara minority suggests this is already happening.

“The Australian troops should leave now. There is no military solution. The occupation is undermining all the efforts by democratic Afghans to find political solutions.

“The Gillard government must respect the majority opinion and tell the Obama administration that Australians reject being part of a criminal occupation.”

[Well-known peace activist and former "human shield" Donna Mulhearn will give an eyewitness report on the legacy of the war on Iraq today. The Unseen Victims of War forum will be held on Monday, September 17 at 6.30 pm at the University of Technology Sydney.]