If you are surprised by hearing or reading about Australia committing War crimes in Afghanistan, you need to do another reality check of Australia’s national and international record. Australia has been committing not just War crimes but also Crimes against humanity from day one when they invaded and occupied the lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and more recently, committed decades of atrocities against refugees coming by boats where they have been indefinitely locked up in the government’s torture camps.

Australia is a human rights criminal lab and it proudly involves giving military aid and sending their troops in the name of protecting “human rights violations”. Let’s be clear that when the military set foot in a country, they are not going to just sit down and play chess or video games. Of course, they will be threatening the lives of human beings at the very least and committing war crimes, so don’t act surprised when hearing about Australia committing war crimes in Afghanistan or any other country, including Iraq. 

The military occupation will not just result in deaths and injuries of civilians or war crimes – it also forcibly displaces and uproots entire communities from their homelands and has a long-lasting impact that is likely to carry over to any descendents who survive such human-made catastrophes. Saying sorry and building houses and toilets or writing off a cheque is not good enough to resolve the trauma that people experience due to the war. eX-detainees who have faced extreme danger and sought protection in Australia clearly know what war does to people and are not surprised by Australia’s war crimes in Afghanistan. In the first place, many of us detention survivors are here in Australia because of Australia’s military aid to countries in the Asia-pacific, including invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clearly, Australia’s horrific indefinite refugee detention and refugee boat turnback policy is systematically linked to these war crimes. The military-industrial complex is a war crime virus that kills hundreds and thousands of people around the world and forces them to run. Upon arrival to seek protection from wars, Australia has slapped us with mandatory indefinite detention which cannot be challenged in a court of law or has pushed refugee boats back into the sea, into the arms of the oppressor. 

Australia’s Defence chief Angus Campbell, the very same person who is saying “sorry” for the recently exposed ADF (Australian Defence force) atrocities against Afghan people, is the very same poster boy for the Australian government’s military exercise against Refugees called “Operation Sovereign borders” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/11/angus-campbell-stars-in-videos-warning-asylum-seekers-not-to-travel-by-boat). “Operation Sovereign borders” was headed by Angus Campbell and used by then Immigration minister and now Prime Minister Scott Morrison to cruelly threaten, intimidate and abuse those of us who attempted to come by boat to seek asylum in Australia. We eX-detainees question why Scott Morrison and Angus Campbell are cherry-picking which atrocity they wish to apologise for?

Finally, to add insult to injury, Kevin Rudd who froze refugee Visas for Afghan asylum seekers for six months in 2010 and signed off a deal with Papua New Guinea to permanently exile Refugees coming to Australia in offshore torture camps, is calling for ADF soldiers responsible for war crimes in Australia to be ‘brought to justice’. We eX-detainees also ask Kevin Rudd, when are you going to be brought to justice for your own crimes against humanity? Why haven’t you been held accountable yet?

Refugee detainees in Australia are among the most persecuted and oppressed people in the world. We endured abuse in our own countries, and upon seeking protection, are disenfranchised and suffer institutional abuse within and outside Australia’s detention systems. Australian war crimes and its human rights abuse outside the country shine a small light on this racist colonial backyard. 

For over 30 years, Australia has been progressively implementing punitive and cruel policies against people seeking asylum by boat. These policies have been maintained by successive Australian governments resulting in systemic torture and abuse of refugee/asylum seeker adults and children, and deaths in custody.

Australia must be sanctioned from all international human rights treaties and kicked out from any human rights discussion. The #SanctionAustralia campaign is distinguished by its unique leadership, in that it is initiated, controlled and directed by eX-detainees from RISE. Our primary aim is to sanction Australia from participating in international refugee humanitarian decision making and human rights forums until The End of Mandatory Detention, The End of Refoulement and The End of Refugee Boat Turn back policies. https://www.riserefugee.org/topic/sanction-australia/

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