As mainstream media and politicians move on from the damning report detailing Australian war crimes in Afghanistan, we owe it to ourselves to never forget this shameful stain in Australian history.
Or as they say, lest we forget.
Lest we forget the two 14-year-old Afghan boys, who had their throats slit and bodies dumped into a river. Lest we forget Haji Sardar, an Afghan farmer who was stomped to death outside his family home. Lest we forget Ali Jan, another Afghan farmer, who was shot and allegedly kicked off a cliff by Australia’s most celebrated soldier. And may we never forget every one of the thirty-nine defenceless lives taken unjustly, and the many more that will never have their stories come to the surface.
And while these details may come as a shock to many, in all honesty, these allegations are not surprising.
Behind the glamorised imagery of Australian soldiers as moral heroes, nothing can hide the underlying culture of thuggery, racism and abuse of power present amidst their ranks. And despite the insistent and unreserved defence of Australian troops by political leaders and personalities, a quick google search is enough to reveal a history of scandals, sexual abuse and unjust violence.
Members of the so-called “elite” Australian special force have even been caught running social media pages inciting violence towards Muslims, and ridiculing war crimes. While Muslim troops themselves have also revealed the extensive racism, they experience in the Australian army.
The soldiers involved in these war crimes saw Muslims as no more than fair game, and killing them, in a process otherwise known as “blooding”, was considered a sport. They did not view their victims as human and were unphased by their sickening acts of terrorism.
These depraved acts were committed during a time of rampant Islamophobia, and we can only wonder how heavily this climate of hate influenced their actions. A hatred fueled by reckless media, politicians and also within entertainment, films and video games. A movement that essentially promotes the dehumanisation of Muslims, and as shown in its most extreme form, deprives them of their right to existence.
Yet despite all the coverage and reporting on these war crimes, it seems that this analysis is absent. The entire report highlighting the soldiers’ acts of terror fails even to mention the words: Islam, Muslim, racism or Islamophobia.
Instead, the entire focus is shifted onto “a few bad men”, and a “small number” of soldiers and we are constantly reminded not to lose faith in the Army. And while this may have elements of truth, it does nothing to account for the threat these soldiers pose nor does it halter the spread of their violent ideology. It fails to address the problem of anti-Muslim extremism and provides us with no reassurance that the Australian army is doing anything to rid itself of this culture growing in their midst.
This response is in complete contrast to what we often witness in response to acts of terror committed by individual Muslims. Whereby, we watch the theatrics of a governmental crackdown on the entire Muslim population, along with the swift introduction of unprecedented laws and sweeping powers for authorities. The Muslim community as a whole is demonised and made to feel responsible, while Muslim leaders are pressured to implement deradicalisation programs and continuously issue public condemnations.
Yet when it comes to acts of terror committed by the Australian army, things are much different. The double standards are striking and yet an unfortunate reality of the country we live in.
And as much as we can campaign to reinstate justice for the victims of these horrendous acts, nothing will be enough to heal their wounds. Such proceedings can take years on end, and the names and crimes of the terrorists involved will soon be forgotten.
Our prayers and thoughts are with the people of Afghanistan who have witnessed the most horrific of years. The unjust war they were forced to live through was enough of a catastrophe, and these recent revelations only further add to their ongoing pain. Our reliance is with Allah SWT alone, and we wait for the day true justice is served. A day where all secrets are revealed and all truths will finally be told.
May Allah SWT grant peace and justice to the people of Afghanistan and all those affected.
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