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Western Sydneys Afghan community not surprised by allegations of war crimes by Australias elite soldiers

Members of Sydney’s Afghan community say they are not surprised by allegations Australia’s most elite soldiers murdered civilians and prisoners.

The long-running Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) Inquiry found “credible information” that 39 Afghans were unlawfully killed in incidents involving special forces soldiers, and that there had been cruel treatment of two others.

Western Sydney community worker Faiza Shakori said she was not shocked by the report of alleged war crimes.

“I wasn’t surprised, in a way it’s more like closure that actually it’s finally been acknowledged and investigated, particularly for those families,” Ms Shakori, who is an Afghan refugee, said.

“Our community have heard for so long of these incidents by various soldiers against innocent people, both Australian and American.

“It’s not surprising for us. It is still devastating for us as proud Australians that our own committed crimes against humanity.”

Ms Shakori has worked with the Afghan community in Sydney for 10 years and said the week’s revelations brought back the traumatic memories of the war for many.

But she said her community remained steadfast in their belief that justice would be served to those who committed wrongdoing.

“I hope this is a small group of people doing the wrong thing and I hope justice is achieved,” she said.

A special investigator will be appointed to prosecute allegations of Australian war crimes in Afghanistan detailed in the reports and refer briefs to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

Major General Paul Brereton’s investigation recommended 19 soldiers be investigated over the deaths of 39 prisoners and civilians — casting a shadow on Australian military legacy in Afghanistan.

‘No place in Islam or humanity’

A man poses for a photo outside a mosqueA man poses for a photo outside a mosque
Wishal Mohammadi says the revelations are not consistent with his view of Australians.(ABC News: Mridula Amin)

Wishal Mohammadi, an Afghani who has lived in Australia for over 15 years said it was “particularly difficult to swallow that it was our country’s military that carried out the acts”.

“To be very frank with you it doesn’t matter if it’s Afghan or any other nationality, it’s very sad to hear innocent people have been killed,” he told the ABC following prayers at Blacktown Mosque.

“Killing a person for no reason in Islam has no space, it has no space in humanity.”

Mr Mohammadi said the revelations were not consistent with his view of Australians or of the Australian military as a whole.

“For a country where we always fight for what’s right, to find out our soldiers are doing that is disappointing,” he said.

“I haven’t lost all trust because there’s good and bad military personnel and I hope the people who did do these things are held accountable.”

ADF Chief Angus Campbell apologised during a press conference in Canberra on Thursday as he presented the report.

“To the people of Afghanistan, on behalf of the Australian Defence Force, I sincerely and unreservedly apologise for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers,” he said.

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