Wednesday, August 03, 2011

NZ SAS troops are US Mercenaries

New Zealand’s Special Air Service (SAS) handed prisoners over to US and Afghan forces who tortured them. Metro magazine published evidence that the SAS is fully involved in war crimes – breaching the Geneva convention by handing prisoners over to other forces who were known to use torture; and killing civilians (Metro magazine article “Eyes Wide Shut” -not online). The US and Afghan state’s human rights abuses are known, with successive New Zealand governments covering up the real role of the SAS.
Journalist exposes SAS

Journalist Jon Stephenson, uncovered details of three incidents—one in 2002 and two in 2010—when the SAS handed prisoners over - against the imperialists’ rules. In May 2002, an SAS mission resulted in at least 3 deaths and the capture of 55 others. The detainees were transferred to US custody, to be mistreated and tortured. One of the prisoners, Abdul Wahid, told “they beat us very badly”, “they cut off our hair...our beards and moustaches.” Others said they were bound and hooded, threatened with dogs and paraded naked in front of Americans. They were later released without charge.

Last year a prisoner handed over to the Afghan National Army, was tied behind a vehicle to be dragged down a metal road. The SAS stopped this and instead handed the prisoner to the Afghan Crisis Response Unit (CRU), who then passed him to the Afghan secret police, the National Directorate of Security (NDS). The SAS raided the equipment supply company Tiger International and killed two security guards - claimed to be in self-defense. Several Tiger employees were taken prisoner and handed over to the NDS.

The UN Convention bans torture and inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners. The military should not transfer prisoners unless they are satisfied they will be treated properly. The US has said they refuse to treat Al Queda as warriors and so refuse to honour the Geneva Convention. A British court has banned British forces from giving prisoners to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) following evidence that hundreds of detainees transferred to its custody were tortured. Allegations included the amputation of limbs, electric shocks, deprivation of sleep, water and food, beatings by rod and cable, scorching and killings.

The SAS knew what would happen when prisoners were handed to Afghan or US forces. They had personally witnessed head-shaven prisoners in jumpsuits in US custody. One soldier reported, “It looked like Guantanamo Bay”.

They denied, they lied.

A Defence Force spokesman claimed the incidents described in the article were either inaccurate or did not happen. Prime Minister John Key attacked the messenger, “not credible”. Key claimed last August that the SAS made sure their prisoners would not be tortured. Among the other deniers is NZ’s next Governor-General, formerly Chief of Defence Force (NZDF) Jerry Mateparae. He has defended the SAS and blocked Metro’s Official Information Act requests for further details of SAS activity and defense force’s investigations. Stephenson replied to Mateparae refuting the NZ Govt’s official line.

The former Labour Government’s Defence Minister was Phil Goff also justified NZ military involvement in Afghanistan. He supported the SAS in Afghanistan and personally lost a nephew killed in action.  Now as leader of the Labour opposition he says it’s time to withdraw the SAS because it’s no longer a fight against Al-Qaida but a civil war over control of opium production.

Following the controversy over Stephenson’s revelations Defence Minister Wayne Mapp was forced to back down on one of the official lies (that SAS don’t take prisoners) – admitting that the SAS took a Taliban prisoner who was transferred to the US “Bagram Theater Internment facility”. This is the same place where US soldiers had murdered two prisoners (Mullah Habibullah, an Islamic Clergyman, and Dilawar of Yakubi a 22 year old Pashtun taxi driver) in 2002. The US were forced to admit they held 645 prisoners in January 2010, none of whom are given “prisoner of war” status by the US. By May 2011 it is claimed the US held over 1700 prisoners there.  Mapp has also admitted “there was mistreatment in 2002”, and shifts the blame onto former Phil Goff former Minister of Defense and the US for the mistreatment.

The “Reconstruction team” in Bamyan is also a lie. Every time they make the news it is about an incident while on Patrol. Reconstruction was always just a pretence – an excuse for their invading presence, when the reality is military patrols. Defence Minister Wayne Mapp admitted that the SAS were involved in a revenge attack killing 12 people they believed were responsible for the death of a NZ Lieutenant O’Donnell in August 2010 while on “reconstruction” patrol. But he denied the killing of civilians. While the locals claimed six civilians were killed; and an ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) report said a “gunsight malfunction” occurred when the wrong building was attacked.

SAS to be redeployed as US hired killers

The latest move in the ongoing controversy over deploying the SAS is Prime Minister Key’s statement that he will take into account the views of the troops on deployment! That means that Afghans continue to be arrested and killed by the NZ SAS “in support” of the Afghan forces. NZ troops are just propping up the US-backed puppet regime in Afghanistan. The invading army in Afghanistan serves the interests of US imperialism and its EU partners, to compete with Russia and China for the scarce resources in the Central Asian region. The SAS are predators – trained killers – assassins. We should expect nothing less than murder and involvement in torture from them.

As the situation deteriorates in Afghanistan and the US is on a planned withdrawal handing over to Afghan forces, NZ’s role is exposed as a blatant ‘guns for butter’ trade-off just as the TPPA negotiations come to a head. While the US is talking to the Taliban to construct a puppet government that includes them, NZSAS is being deployed in killing Taliban insurgents in Kabul. This makes the NZ military no more than subcontracted killers to the US military – a role played historically by colonial troops. To rub in NZ’s neo-colonial subservience, Prime Minister Key’s on his recent visit to the US, arranged for future visits of US Marines and Coastguard to NZ to celebrate the 70-year anniversary of US troops ‘occupation’ of NZ during World War 2! The symbolism is striking. The role of the Marines is to invade and occupy foreign territories; that of the Coastguard is to guard US territories!

To unionise, or abolish, the army

To cover the mercenary role of the NZ military the Government tries to turn soldiers into ‘ordinary blokes’. The outpouring of sentiment when NZ soldiers are killed tries to ‘humanise’ those who are no more than hired killers. Inviting soldiers to express an opinion on their deployment has a similar effect treating them as ordinary citizens. This ‘humanising’ of soldiers also infects some Labour lefts on The Standard who talk about unionising the army as if professional soldiers are workers in uniform.

No, the professional army is not some branch of the public service that should be defended in any sense. It’s not a branch of the state that acts to reproduce or protect the vulnerable from war. The army serves to defend the state which acts to defend private property, mainly from the foreign enemy, but increasingly from the so-called enemy within. In the last analysis the army functions to suppress revolution against an exploitative and oppressive ruling class. This is clearly seen in the Middle East and North Africa today where Gaddafi, Assad and the Saudi princes use obsolescent tanks to shell innocent civilians on the streets and their dwellings. It is in this role that the NZ army is today for hire as UN or NATO mercenaries to police borders (Sinai) UN protectorates (Timor Este) or fight insurgents in countries oppressed by imperialism, as in Afghanistan.

So how the army allocates its resources internally is the bosses’ business. Workers don’t have a say in who is on the Business Roundtable. And it’s certainly not the business of those who claim to be on the ‘left’ unless they too plan to use it to stop revolutionaries rallying the masses and taking up arms against social democracy in power as we see happening in Greece today. In Aotearoa, the army was used to defeat Maori resistance in the land wars, and to strike break and suppress militant unions during general strikes or imperialist wars. To unionise the hired thugs of the state is to turn unions craven organs of the bosses state and to disarm the working class in the war with the ruling class.

Socialists should be for the abolition of the standing army and for a popular militia. How you go about abolishing the army is the point. Not by unionising it, or seeing it as an equal-opportunity employer, but by conducting campaigns to stop conscription or recruitment as a vocation, such as the military visiting schools to recruit the young, especially Maori; by campaigns that expose the real role of the military; and in the event of wars calling on the ranks to mutiny (e.g. Vietnam, Iraq) cutting off funding; calling on the ranks to support popular movements rather than obey orders to suppress them (Egypt, Libya, Syria etc).

All Imperialist Troops out Now!

NZ out of all imperialist alliances!

No to UN ‘peacekeeping’ or ‘reconstruction’!

Bring the SAS murderers back home: arrest the generals and politicians!

Abolish the military!


For a Workers’ Government and People’s Militia
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