“A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” – Epitaph on Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant’s gravestone (Matthew 10 : 36)
“It is utterly outrageous and cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever, the Chinese Government should be totally ashamed of this post.” – Scott Morrison, 1 Dec 2020, on Chinese social media (“We Chat”).
“hypocrisy/hɪˈpɒkrɪsi/ noun: hypocrisy; plural noun: hypocrisies
the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case.” [Oxford]
Ever since the Boer war Australian troops abroad have been committing war crimes. During the Boer war Harry “Breaker” Morant, a drover and a bushman from Western NSW killed unarmed prisioners in South Africa “under rule ‘303’” (words of Harry Morant during his court martial) . Some Australian nationalists claim that it was the Boer war which was the basis for Australia becoming a federation in 1901 (rather than just a collection of colonies). For whatever reason Morant signed up to fight, he was in the Transvaal in Southern Africa fighting for empire (his own words).
On Feb 13, 2018, Scott Buchholz (NP, Qld) asked the Australian parliament to excuse Harry Morant, G Witton and Handcock for their crimes on the basis that they were unfairly tried and that the men should be given the benefit of the Nuremburg defence (i.e. that they were merely following orders).
During the “famous” Battle of Beersheba (charge of the light brigade) ANZACs massacred up to 100 local Palestinian tribesmen. This was ostensibly a revenge attack for the killing of a New Zealand Trooper. However there was no evidence linking the village of Surafend massacre (Arabic: مجزرة صرفند) with the death of the trooper. So concerned was one of the senior officers, General Allenby, called the men who carried out the massacre “cowards and murderers“. None of this story is recounted in the numerous commemorations of the Battle of Beersheba by Australian war historians or by people who visit the site of the “famous” ‘battle of the light brigade’.
It should not come as a surprise that Australian SAS have done likewise in Afghanistan. Prior to the Brereton report there was an inquiry into these war crimes. Brereton outlined the following report from Dr Crompvoets:
“… an incident where members from the ‘SASR’ were driving along a road and saw two 14-year-old boys whom they decided might be Taliban sympathisers. They stopped, searched the boys and slit their throats.” – Mr Justice Brereton[Page 120 of Brereton’s report. See also Crompvoets, S.Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) Culture and Interactions: Perceptions, Reputation and risk of Feb 16. (partly redacted) 4 Crompvoets, Jan 16 report, p3
It is therefore hypocritical that Prime Minister Morrison, opposition leader Albanese and Penny Wong (Labor leader in the Senate) should claim that this tweet is “a falsified image” of SAS involvement in Afghanistan.
The image may have been concocted but what if the image had shown what they really did?!
The rest of the Troop then had to ‘clean up the mess’, which involved bagging the bodies and throwing them into a nearby river. Dr Crompvoets says she was told this was not an isolated incident. In this context, Dr Crompvoets says she was told that Special Forces soldiers were committing unsanctioned killing in order to ‘get a name for themselves’ and to join the ‘in’ group3 Reference 2 – Crompvoets,S.Special Operations Command (SOCOMD) Culture and Interactions: Perceptions, Reputation and riskof Feb 16. 4Crompvoets, Jan 16 report, p3.OFFICIAL (redacted for security, privacy and legal reasons) 120OFFICIAL (redacted for security, privacy and legal reasons)
It is “a repugnant post”, but not for the reasons our Morrison, Albanese and Penny Wong claim. The Australian government sent troops to Afghanistan, it is they who should be apologising to the Afghan people.
Morrison words are particularly galling when you consider that his government has locked up refugees from this war and others indefinitely. The shame is ours. That we did not stop their predecessors Howard, Gillard, Abbott, Rudd and Turnbull.
We marched, a million marched, but that was not enough. We need a long march through our institutions and we could well begin that march in the Australian parliament. As one of the million people who marched against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the appeal for justice from this democratic institution fell on deaf ears. Given the outcomes in both theatres of war, it would take a lot to restore my faith in such an institution.
Worse still who are these people running our government? Do they speak mandarin or cantonese, do they understand how China governs? No. They do not even seem to grasp what is being done in our name, how deeply offensive it is to be linked to murderous war crimes when none of the people I know, not one, signed up for it.
On 26 October 2010, while voicing her concerns about the war in Afghanistan, Senator Claire Moore said:
They need to know that, no matter how people feel about decisions about war, once a decision is made that Australian troops will be serving they have the absolute support of the people in this place-and there is no doubt that they do. … I say that there must be engagement with the community in Australia, and one of the core aspects-and something that I will continue to talk about in this place-is to ensure absolutely that the women of Afghanistan will be involved in the future of Afghanistan and the horrors that we have heard about will no longer be the daily expectation of women and girls in that country.https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansards%2F2010-10-26%2F0010%22
With respect, what do Australian parliamentarians know about the plight of women and girls in a country where they could not begin to understand the languages, the cultures, the economic plight of women thrust into endless wars. There is no justification for the massacres by Australian troops in Afghanistan, just as there was none for the massacres near Beersheba in 1918 or on the Velt during the Boer war.
For Australian governments to claim the high ground under the pretext of protecting the human rights for women and girls, while our troops are slitting the throats of children, is the very worst kind of hypocrisy. All who participated, soldiers, politicians, NGOs etc need to be brought to account.
It is pretty hard to have any faith in such institutions so riddled with lies and hypocrisy.
2 Dec 2020
Postscript: In 2013 when some of the worst war crimes were committed by SAS in Afghanistan, Scott Morrison was appointed Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in the Abbott Government. In that capacity he was responsible for implementing Operation Sovereign Borders. Morrison’s job was, in part, to stop refugees from the war in Afghanistan from coming to Australia. Morrison should be held accountable for his failure to recognise the human rights of people fleeing wars. Especially when it was Australian troops who were committing the war crimes.