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LETTERS to the Editor: Operation Burnham – New Zealand Government Must Initiate Independent Inquiry
In July It was revealed Australia Special Forces may have been responsible for the deaths of children in Afghanistan.
In response the Australia Defence Force is conducting an inquiry into the allegations-a step the New Zealand Government has been avoiding since March for our own Defence Force.
When you read the book ”Hit and Run” as I have three times now you feel uneasy & disappointed. We assume our military would do their utmost to avoid civilian deaths and to treat prisoners with dignity.
Isn’t it the ”Kiwi” thing to do and the way we carry ourselves around the world?. We need to put things right if we did something wrong in Afghanistan.
The allegations against SAS reflect poorly on New Zealand and the people=us. We know we’re better than this. If New Zealanders killed and hurt innocent civilians we need to stand-up and hold ourselves to account.
Shame that the Defence Force and Government were able to smoke screen the allegations of Operation Burnham in the book ”Hit and Run” by suggesting they had the town wrong (Baghlan) on 22 August, 2010 which then led them to drawing a long bow and saying “well if  they got the town wrong then of course they must have got other stuff wrong as well” – but really that was just obfuscation and distraction aimed at moving things away from an inquiry.
Under UN Human Rights Articles 12 and 13, convention Member states are asked to ensure competent authorities ( like the government in this case ) conduct prompt and impartial investigations where there are any allegations of torture.
In the book the claim is made six civilians were killed and 15 injured in the raid by NZ SAS .
Now the UN is calling on the New Zealand government to show how those allegations are being thoroughly addressed.
Truth may well be an elusive concept these days, especially where there is conflict, but that is no reason why we should cease to pursue the truth.
If mistakes were made (and obviously there were) an inquiry will help us understand why and how so they’re not repeated in the future.
It’s clearly the right thing to do for the families of the Afghan victims and indeed the public of New Zealand.
It would seem New Zealand could well be headed to the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
The government faces High Court proceedings over the alleged deaths of civilians in Afghanistan.
Just recently on the eve of being the anniversary of seven years 22/8/2010 the Prime Minister calls it political pressure.
Paul Mulvaney.