“We can only hope that the cover-up ends and the current inquiry faces up to the brutality of the occupation.”

Britain must come clean about the war crimes of British soldiers in Afghanistan, anti-war campaigners said today as a public inquiry opened into accusations of summary executions by troops.

The inquiry was told that units of the SAS may have executed as many as 80 Afghans in the course of the disastrous 20-year war of occupation.

Chris Nineham of the Stop the War Coalition said: “Stop the War argued from the beginning that the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan would lead to terrible suffering being unleashed on the Afghan people, we can only hope that the cover-up ends and the current inquiry faces up to the brutality of the occupation.”

Director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation Mohammed Asif said he expects little from the inquiry.

“There will be no punishment, no resignations, because these were Afghan lives and they are not valued,” he said.

“Innocent and defenceless Afghans were killed in a failed war. It is heartbreaking hearing their stories.”

It was also revealed today that then-veterans minister Johnny Mercer had opposed the government’s decision to shut down an earlier Royal Military Police (RMP) probe into the alleged atrocities.

He warned in 2019 that the government would suffer more reputational damage by covering up the crimes than it would by investigating and prosecuting them, according to the BBC.

The RMP probe was however shut down despite the weight of available evidence, to the concern of MPs and civil servants who feared a cover-up. Mr Mercer did, however, publicly defend the decision at the time.

Mansour Aziz, whose brother and sister-in-law were killed sleeping in their beds by British forces in 2012 said today he hoped for justice on behalf of the couple’s two children, who were also injured in the raid.

There was a policy of executing men of “fighting age” when they posed no threat and that Afghan army units refused to work alongside the SAS because of its conduct, the inquiry was told.

The allegations include that SAS soldiers may have shot dead unarmed men in night raids and planted weapons by their corpses to justify the murders, having first isolated their victims from any witnesses.

The inquiry is expected to run for several months, but it will not visit Afghanistan itself, which Iain Overton of Action on Armed Violence described as “like a homicide unit not visiting the murder scene.”

Source: Morning Star

09 Oct 2023 by Andrew Murray

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