Irish Government Should Act Now to Save Lives in Afghanistan

John Landon - www.shannonwatch.org

The killing of at least 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, by a 38 year old US army Staff Sergeant near Kandahar in Afghanistan was an appalling act of brutality and will have inevitable repercussions. US military spokespersons described the perpetrator as deranged, but sadly his actions follow a pattern of murder and human rights abuse by US and NATO personnel and the people they train. In 2011 a group of American soldiers were found to have been part of a "kill team" that deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport. In January of this year a video surfaced showing US marines urinating on the corpses of three insurgents. And earlier this month the UN reported that NATO and Afghan security forces were between them responsible for 410 civilian deaths in 2011. This was about 14% of the total number of civilians killed in the country.

Not only was the killing of 16 innocent people on Sunday deranged, the entire war waged by the US and NATO against Afghanistan could also be described as deranged and inappropriate from the beginning.

“Violent conflicts such as this do have the effect of destroying the lives of the victims but also of deranging the minds of the soldiers taking part” said Edward Horgan of Shannonwatch. “The Mai Lai Massacre in Vietnam, the wanton destruction and killings in Fallujah and the prisoner abuses in Abu Graib, Guantanamo and Baghram are just some examples.  There are always more appropriate ways of creating international peace than by inflicting wars on so many innocent peoples.”

“As a result of this and other atrocities committed by NATO Forces in Afghanistan, nowhere is safe there now for US and other foreign troops and aid workers.”

There are up to 8 Irish soldiers serving with the NATO force in Afghanistan and they are now particularly vulnerable as a result of this latest incident. “Since Ireland is not a member of NATO they should not have been there in the first place” said the Shannonwatch spokesperson. “But given the dangers they now face, and the damage that NATO is inflicting on Afghan society, the Irish Government should immediately withdraw all Irish army personnel from the country”.

Given that the soldiers who are murdering innocent Afghan civilians are likely to be passing through Shannon Airport, Shannonwatch also calls on the Irish government to end this complicity in the killing of innocent civilians.