Did the NZ Defence Force commit war crimes in Afghanistan?
There is now considerable evidence that in 2010 in Afghanistan several New Zealand Defence Force actions, including the treatment of prisoners and an SAS raid in Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, broke international law.
These allegations have been detailed in the book Hit and Run, published in March 2017. The government and the NZ Defence Force have tried to avoid the issues with obfuscation and distraction.
We call for an independent inquiry into the civilian deaths, destruction of property and treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Bill English has refused to hold an independent inquiry. We reject his reasons on the grounds that:
- The government should take every step to establish the truth
- The Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Tim Keating is not independent from the NZ Defence Force
- The NZDF have a history of covering up allegations of wrongdoing
- The previous inquiry by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was not independent as it was conducted by a party also heavily involved
- ‘Security’ is no excuse for the military and government to evade responsibility
To hold the armed forces accountable we need a full and independent inquiry into civilian deaths, lack of assistance to the wounded, destruction of property and transfer of prisoners to prisons where torture was known to be used. All of this happened in our name, in an operation led by New Zealanders, by people whose salaries are paid for by the New Zealand public.
New Zealanders were told that their military was in Afghanistan to bring peace and reconstruction and that they treated the locals with empathy and respect. The current evidence brings their role and actions there into question.
Even in war there are rules – New Zealand has signed and is committed to international agreements including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture. The SAS have a duty to follow these rules and if not, we should hold them accountable. Hit and Run whistleblowers include Minister of Defence at the time, Wayne Mapp and SAS members who have spoken out against their own conduct in Afghanistan.
We have the right to know whether innocent people in Afghanistan were killed and injured by NZDF soldiers or those under their command. If we know what has happened, then we can put things right.
Actions you can take
- Pressure the government to hold an independent inquiry eg. Write to your local MP
- Talk, shout and scream about it – the government want people to forget or get tired of hearing about this
- Street art – make some paste-ups or a stencil
- Read Hit and Run
- Take action – start or join a protest, a rally or a direct action – demand justice
- Use the #HitandRunNZ hashtag on social media
- Sign the petition tinyurl.com/hitandrunnz
We want justice for the people of Afghanistan who have been killed, injured or affected by actions taken in our name.
We will not stand by as the government refuses to take responsibility.