Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What we're fighting for in Afghanistan

New Zealand currently has around a hundred troops in Afghanistan - 38 with the SAS in Kabul, and the rest as a Provincial Reconstruction team in Bamiyan. So far the deployment has cost us three lives: Lieutenant Timothy O'Donnell, Corporal Doug Grant, Lance Corporal Leon Smith. So, what have they been dying for?


Prisoners have been systematically tortured while in the custody of Afghan security officials, according to a UN report which described abuse including ripping detainees' toenails out and twisting their genitals.

Nearly half of prisoners interviewed by Afghanistan's intelligence agency said they had been tortured while a third of those arrested by Afghan police reported abuse.

The report, based on interviews with 379 randomly selected prisoners including teenage boys, says torture was systematic at five locations around the country and was designed to obtain confessions, which are often the only form of evidence against a suspect.

Abuse had occurred in 47 facilities across 24 of the country's 34 provinces, although it was not "institutional or government policy", the 74-page report says.

SO, our soldiers are propping up a government which permits this. Worse, when they take prisoners - and the SAS takes prisoners, laundered under their own version of Australia's "Afghan model" - they are turned over to organisations who torture and sent to these facilities. Given the widespread nature of this torture, it is highly likely that prisoners taken by kiwi soldiers have been mistreated in this way. Doesn't that make you proud to be a kiwi? To know that our soldiers are over there, capturing people and turning them over so they can be electrocuted, threatened with rape, have their toenails ripped out with pliers?

The Greens are right: we need a full review of what the SAS has been doing in Afghanistan, including tracing the fate of every prisoner they have captured. But more importantly, we need to bring them home. Our government should not be propping up torturers, let alone supplying them with victims. The longer we stay there, the more complicit we become.