"The news that nine Australian special forces soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan — the largest number of casualties since the Vietnam War — reminds us that, as in any occupation, there will be resistance", Alex Bainbridge, a spokesperson for Sydney Stop the War Coalition (STWC), told Green Left Weekly on September 4.
"Already, six Australian troops have died in this war. Defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon is praising the 'bravery' of Australia's special forces troops, but clearly the best thing for both the soldiers and the people of Afghanistan would be to pull the troops out now."
"Australians were disgusted by the United States military's cruelty at Abu Graib in Iraq. Australian soldiers imprisoning Afghan prisoners in dog pens is an offensive insult to the Afghan people", Shannon Price, another STWC spokesperson said (see full article on page 18). "Muslims regard dogs as unclean, as the military is aware. This act of cruelty must be condemned", she said.
A United Nations report in May noted the sharp rise in Afghan civilian casualties this year, and UN spokesperson on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, has criticised NATO for refusing to provide information about civilian casualties.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said on September 2 that civilians were killed in most US forces' operations in Afghanistan, and 98% of civilian casualties caused by the coalition forces were intentional. It described the occupying forces as "war criminals".
STWC is organising a protest in Sydney on October 7, the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. It is also organising a public meeting on October 20, featuring Carmela Baranowska, whose film Taliban Country sheds light on the role of occupation forces in Afghanistan, and Martin Reusch, who spent 2004-05 in Afghanistan working with the International Red Cross and Caritas Germany (see page 23 for details).
For more information, phone Alex on 0413 976 639 or Shannon on 0422 802 984.