War crimes committed by the losers are punished and pilloried in news articles, books documentaries, movies while military coverups of atrocities by the victors are standard issue for evading justice.
And cover-ups generally work – Australian war crimes against civilians are rarely exposed unless you happen to stumble across them such as the barely known 101 year old ANZAC massacre of Palestinian male villagers of Sarafand.
The LNP government’s cloddish AFP raid on the ABC to secure and cover-up the Afghan Files on war crimes perpetrated by 25 members of the SAS inadvertently revealed the seriousness of the crimes. Such security raids also reveal the fascism leaking through the veneer of LNP democracy demonstrated by the AFP raiding the home of NSW MP Shaoquett Moselmane virtually to ape the US anti-China position, and the ASIO raid on the office of Bernard Collaery, Witness K’s lawyer in the matter of Australia swindling Timor-Leste.
The Afghan Files whistleblower David McBride’s arrest and faux prosecution as a ‘national security’ threat reveals the LNP government’s undemocratic modus operandi of silencing exposés of official corruption. It has also been wielded against Witness K and Bernard Collaery for exposing the Howard/Downer illegal bugging of the impoverished Timor-Leste government key offices during the Timor Sea negotiations for oil and Gas resources.
The LNP patron saint of family values, AG Christian Porter has further cauterised democracy’s flow of the rule of law with the secret trials of K and Collaery, à la the fascist Stasi show trials, that alert Australian citizens that the government will strip you of your democratic legal rights should you ever blow the whistle.
Whistleblowers aside for the moment, regarding the Afghan war crimes, Justice Brereton’ report lays the “significant responsibility on,
“Some domestic commanders … bear significant responsibility for contributing to the environment in which war crimes were committed, most notably those who embraced or fostered the ‘warrior culture’ and empowered, or did not restrain, the clique of non-commissioned officers who propagated it.”
Blaming a so-called ‘warrior culture’ is a simplistic deflection away from where the real responsibility lies for the atrocities: the roots of racism and the impunity for cruelty and corruption that underpin Australian culture.
Denial of and the refusal to address and uproot this national shame that ensures its perpetuity comes from the top down, from bullies- the men and women who govern without conscience or compassion. The colonial white-anglo-supremacism and racism in the bloody foundations of Australian settlement informed the White Australia Policy which has never died. It’s there in the ongoing abuse and exploitation of our First Nations people, you can see it in Howard’s cruel immigration legacy against bona fide brown asylum seekers mainly from nations decimated by his willing support of illegal US wars.
So it’s no surprise that soldiers inculcated with racism, hypocrisy and the sport of bullying, blithely and without fear of punishment, allegedly extrajudicially execute innocent brown people in Afghanistan, Iraq, (lest we forget Vietnam, Korea, PNG, Palestine),
- exPM Howard still hasn’t faced a war crimes tribunal,
- ditto the military architect of Fallujah’s homicide, ecocide, and sociocide is now a sitting senator in the Australian parliament,
- a suspect in the Afghani killings was awarded the VC, Australia’s highest honour,
- Australian governments send Australian soldiers to serve and die for the interests of the British and the US Empires,
- the Australian government tortures Afghani asylum seekers in detention or deports them back to inevitable danger and death,
- the government covers up and gets away with rorts and blatant lies,
- the government enjoys impunity for over 1000 Robodebt suicides,
- and impunity for the deaths of our elderly relatives in underfunded grotty nursing homes,
- the National War Memorial is a place of political propaganda and not a place of truth in its refusal to commemorate the First Nations’ Fallen in the Frontier Wars,
- etc etc ad nauseum………….
The 25 (to date) SAS war criminals did not embrace a ‘warrior culture’ but the aforesaid ‘thug culture’.
You’d assume that Justice Brereton, a former military reservist, would know better than to demean the warrior ideal that instills a code of conduct encapsulating duty, honour, loyalty and bravery. If the military command had not lost its warrior ethos, then on the reporting of the first summary execution, it’s likely the subsequent 38 innocent Afghani victims would be alive.
When I hear ‘warrior’ I think of the brave Indigenous warriors who fought to protect their land against the brutal British invasion, I think of the Samurai ethos of Bushido that is composed of eight virtues: Justice, Courage, Mercy and Compassion, Respect, Honesty, Honour, Personal Dignity.
Whistleblowers are true warriors who exemplify the Australian spirit of fairness and talking truth to power. The 10 year illicit flaying of Julian Assange’s rights and repute to deter whistleblowers and freedom of speech in the media hasn’t worked given the stepping forward of moral truth-tellers… proving time and time again that integrity and courage are stronger than cover-ups and corrupt intimidation.
Assange, McBride, Witness K, Collaery are warriors whose freedom is our responsibility.
Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She is the author of East Timor: Reveille for Courage, editor of a volume of Palestinian poetry, I remember my name and writes political commentary for a number of independent online magazines. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.