INDEPENDENT NEWS

Need to reassess SAS commitment to Afghanistan

Published: Mon 31 Oct 2005 09:17 AM
Need to reassess SAS commitment to Afghanistan
Green Party MP Keith Locke has expressed his sadness at the injury of a New Zealand SAS soldier in Afghanistan, and asked for a reassessment of the SAS role there.
"The Green Party is saddened to hear of the injury to one of our soldiers," Mr Locke, the party's defence spokesperson, said.
"Hopefully, it prompts the new Defence Minister, Phil Goff, to have another look at what the SAS is doing in Afghanistan.
"Our special forces are participating in a US-led operation much criticised for its insensitive and trigger-happy conduct.
"Just this month American forces upset Afghans by burning the bodies of two people killed in the war.
"American search and destroy missions have often been culturally offensive, enraging locals and prolonging the conflict in the south and east of the country.
"Captured Afghans are still being mistreated in American detention centres, most notably at Guantanamo Bay.
"There is no way New Zealand can guarantee that Afghans captured by our SAS troops will have their human rights protected when they are handed over to the Americans.
"New Zealand could better preserve its reputation by focusing its Afghan commitment entirely on peacekeeping and reconstruction work - and withdraw the SAS. The Greens recognise the peacekeeping contribution of Kiwis assisting the International Security Assistance Force in and around Kabul, and acknowledge that most of the work done by the Kiwi Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamian has been welcomed by the locals," Mr Locke said.

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