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SAS commitment to US Afghan war will tarnish NZ

1 June 2005

SAS commitment to US Afghan war will tarnish NZ

New Zealand human rights record will be further tarnished by the new SAS commitment to Afghanistan to fight alongside US forces, says Green MP Keith Locke.

Defence Minister Mark Burton has announced that the Americans' C17 Globemasters have already begun airlifting the SAS out of Auckland's Whenuapai airbase.

"It is mind blowing that our Government should choose now, in the midst of the Bagram prisoner abuse scandal and following Afghan President Hamid Karzai's criticism of the US conduct of the war, to send the SAS back to Afghanistan," said Mr Locke, the Greens' Foreign Affairs and Defence Spokesperson.

"Its even more compromising for these troops to be transported by the US Air Force. Presumably the SAS will once again be embedded in a US unit and, as such, be associated with any breaches of the Geneva Convention being committed by US forces.

"The unavoidable question is whether our SAS on 'direct action' missions will hand over Afghan prisoners to the US forces for possible torture and death, as was recently exposed by the New York Times.

"Just last week, the US blatantly rejected the Afghan Government's demand to be consulted before US forces raided homes and villages and that Afghan prisoners in Guantanamo should be returned to Afghanistan.

"By joining the US coalition at this stage, the New Zealanders are helping to kick sand in the Afghan Government's face.

"This deployment should not go ahead. If it does, the very least the Government should do is explain to New Zealanders how it will avoid any prisoners that are handed over being mistreated, " said Mr Locke.

ENDS


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