Afghans embrace China’s humanitarian cartoon, demand Aussie justice

By Mansoor Faizy Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/2 20:36:32

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China and Australia are now in a brawl after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had posted on Twitter a satirical cartoon, writing: "Shocked by the murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, and call for holding them accountable." This has incurred harsh criticism, in which the Australian officials verbally attacked China, demanding that the post be removed. A storm of outrage escalated after Chinese officials refused to remove the post, rather than ask Australian officials to apologize to the Afghan people for the unlawful killing of innocent Afghans with inhuman war crimes.

Other factors have too caused sore relations between the two countries. China recently imposed new tariffs, while Australia threatened legal action. China and Australia may not be best friends anytime soon, but it's better to soon reach a conclusion. Nevertheless, the core reason behind escalating political tensions between Beijing and Canberra is due to a satirical cartoon by a well-known Chinese cartoonist. The artist has it depict an Afghan innocent child, holding a lamb, while being threatened by Australian forces inside Afghanistan. The image portrays an Australian soldier with a bloody knife to the throat of an Afghan child. This is a reference to previously reported cases that elite Australian soldiers used knives to murder two 14-year-old Afghan boys. An independent investigation into allegations of war crimes by Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan found 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians were killed. Australia has officially said that 19 soldiers will be referred for potential criminal prosecution.

These facts can't be changed by shouting any louder. Australian forces committed merciless acts, no doubt about it. Prosecution of the murders must be publicly acknowledged. The Afghan government called the murders unforgivable, but welcomed the report as a step toward justice.

The main question now is: Why has Australia's Prime Minister asked China to remove the post and apologize to Australia? This is public now. It's the Australian soldiers who diminished their country's image by killing helpless Afghan innocents. Asking China to remove the post, or being ashamed of this post, does no good to Australia. The best thing Canberra can do is to investigate the war crimes in the most transparent way.

The Guardian also published another shameful act of Australian troops on Tuesday, with senior special forces soldiers drinking beer out of the prosthetic leg of a dead Taliban soldier at an unauthorized bar in Afghanistan. This was the first time a photograph of the act was revealed by The Guardian. A number of photographs obtained by the Guardian also show one senior soldier - who is still serving - sculling from the leg in an unofficial bar, which was set up inside Australia's Special Forces base in Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan province, in 2009. Another appears to show two soldiers performing a dance with the leg, according to the report.

Who is to blame now? Will Australia once again blame China for this news? No one can hide this fact. The war crimes are not misconduct per se but rather straight up cold-blooded murders. Think of it: drunken soldiers killing innocent children. 

The report is heartbreaking to the victims' families inside Afghanistan with expectations that the Afghan government should take a bold and principled stance.

The international community must also demand swift justice.

Hameed Ullah, who is from Kotwal village of Tarin Kowt, the capital of Uruzgan province, recalled those bad days in a video clip shared by Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary.

"Eight years ago, Australian troops raided our house at midnight and killed my father, Khalil Ullah, shooting him in the head."

"My father's dead body was lying on the floor till morning, and the troops were there having their fun with laughter. The troops had pointed guns at us and were not letting us move. My father was a businessman, owning a car showroom on the main highway near the police battalion," he noted.

He further said, "They also took away my uncle and jailed him at the airport, who was later released on the provincial governor's intervention. We ask the government to provide us justice in punishing the culprits who were involved in this incident."

The victim families want the trial of these soldiers to take place inside Afghanistan where the crime happened. We are condemning this brutal act of Australian soldiers. We welcome anyone in support for justice, including China, our neighboring country. China's strong reaction for the sake of justice is a sign of brotherhood toward Afghanistan - with a great feeling that Afghan bloods are no more worthless.

The writer is Editor-in-Chief of Afghanistan Times Daily, and could be reached via:


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