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NZDF! If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear

NZDF! If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear

On Sept 11, 2001, 2,996 civilians died in the US. We alongside the US troops and other allies declared a revenge war on Afghanistan far away from us and already devastated by long years of Soviet occupation and wars to gain its independence. We were constantly told Al Qaida and Bin Laden were behind the Sept 11th attack which was conducted by mostly Saudi Arabian hijackers.

When the SAS arrived in Afghanistan, Bin Laden had already fled to Pakistan (as documented in the book: Other People’s Wars by Nicky Hager). The enemy soon became the Taliban, random tribal chiefs and everyone else who matched the US definition of a terrorist.

According to the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, as of August 2016, more than 31,000 civilians are estimated to have died violent deaths as a result of the war. Many Afghans dealing with ill health and war wounds find it difficult to get to hospitals and clinics because violence makes roads unsafe. This is all due to an act of taking revenge by the US and its Allies (including NZ) rather than going through the usual diplomatic channels to find out why such an act had happened. Nobody, in the position of power, seemed to ask who the enemy reallywas and whether taking revenge and killing thousands of people in retaliation, mostly civilians, really will result in a more peaceful world for us all. Or was there a completely different reason to attack Afghanistan? Was this yet another imperialist war to grab resources from a country that sits on a huge wealth of minerals?

What were NZ motives to take part in the Afghanistan war 17 years ago? Did we act emotionally because people looking just like us had been killed on Sept 11th and we thought standing in solidarity with them meant blindly following them into a destructive war which should have been the very last resort not the first choice? Did NZ participate in this war to show commitment to the 5 Eyes agreement and to cozy up with the super powers? No one with real power to change the course of what happened next seemed to question the real motives behind rushing into the Afghanistan war.

Has anything changed today? Has anyone in power questioned the motives behind why we went to war? It is becoming very clear now that the longest war in our history was yet another mistake. It has created more hostility, insecurity and destruction in the Middle East and in fact in the world than ever before. It was also the most secretive and unknown war in our history. NZ public was heavily kept in the dark about NZDF operations in Afghanistan. We now know that we were not there on the fed narrative of peacekeeping and reconstruction but in fact our troops were involved in raids alongside the US troops allegedly killing civilians.

On 22 Aug 2010, NZSAS conducted a revenge raid called Operation Burnham on two villages in Baghlan province in Afghanistan. NZDF has now accepted such a raid occurred at that night and in exact same location identified in the book Hit & Run. NZDF refuses to tell the NZ public who were killed in this raid or prove without doubt that they were our enemies. A small 3-year-old girl, who cannot be our enemy, was allegedly killed on that night alongside 5 other civilians and 15 people were injured. The UN Committee for Torture has asked the NZ government to conduct an inquiry.

Only a full, independent (of NZDF) and timely public inquiry is going to shed some light on what happened that night in Afghanistan. The civil servants in charge of NZDF have repeatedly failed to be transparent about the Afghanistan war therefore cannot be trusted to investigate what happened during Operation Burnham. We can’t ask the alleged perpetrators to investigate their own actions.

As a nation, we also need to have a good look at ourselves and question why, throughout our history, we have continued participating in unjust wars causing destruction and grief. No reasons given to us by our civil servants who we appoint to Parliament, should ever persuade us to cause death and misery in this world. Those who ask us to go to wars in the name of revenge or trade or whatever other names, are not our friends. They are war profiteers who put their own interests before everyone else’s including ours. Time to stand on the right side of history and say ‘not in our names’.

In solidarity with those who have lost loved ones in wars of aggression,
Aida Tavassoli

The above are my personal opinions; however I am an active member of the Hit & Run Inquiry Campaign which organised a petition delivery and a briefing to David Parker on 13th of March

Background info
Hit & Run Inquiry Campaign is a nationwide group of concerned people who came together via an invitation by ActionStation in April 2017. We are a people’s campaign for an inquiry into allegations of the NZSAS killings of civilians in Afghanistan. This story was blown wide open by the release of the investigative journalist Nicky Hager and war correspondent Jon Stephenson's book Hit & Run, which investigated the raid - Operation Burnham.

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