Letter to Ministers on behalf of Afghanistan villagers

Published: Tue 28 Mar 2017 03:09 PM
Letter sent to the relevant Ministers and media today on behalf of the villagers of Khak Khuday Dad and Naik in Baghlan Province, Afghanistan.
Full letter: LTR_PM__AG_280317.pdf
Re: Allegations of breaches of domestic and international law in Afghanistan by New Zealand Defence Forces – “Operation Burnham”
Dear Sirs,
1. We refer to our correspondence of 24 March 2017. As you are now aware, we have been instructed to act for the families of the deceased and other individuals of the villages of Khak Khuday Dad and Naik in Baghlan Province, Afghanistan. Our clients are the innocent victims of military operations conducted against their villages by international forces, including the New Zealand Defence Force (“NZDF”), during the early hours of 22 August 2010, and also during a subsequent raid carried out on Naik village some weeks later (“the military operations”).
10. The inevitable conclusion is that the NZDF has now confirmed in three media releases (20 April 2011, 21 March 2017 and 26 March 2017) and a media conference that it was involved in a military operation on 22 August 2010 in Baghlan province; that there were fatalities (allegedly nine “insurgents”), and that there were associated allegations of civilian casualties (which the NZDF denied). Furthermore, taking into account the ISAF media release and the NZDF media releases, it has also effectively been confirmed by NZDF that property damage occurred during a military operation in which it was involved, namely damage to two village buildings.
11. Our clients have been made aware of the latest NZDF media release and its contents and allegations, as well as prior NZDF media releases and ISAF media releases. Contrary to the latest NZDF media release, our emphatic instructions from our clients are that there was no other military operation in the area of Tirgiran on or about 22 August 2010, and that the only military operation or raid that occurred on this date took place in the villages of Naik and Khak Khuday Dad. Furthermore, to be clear, the only villages to suffer deaths, injuries and/or destruction of property on the night of 22 August 2010 in the Tirgiran area were Naik and Khak Khuday Dad. Our clients reject outright the latest claims by the NZDF that there was a separate military operation (resulting in deaths and destruction of buildings) on the same night, occurring some kilometres south of Khak Khuday Dad village.
Need for an inquiry
12. In our view, the recent NZDF media release both reinforces and increases the need for an independent inquiry into Operation Burnham. There is now considerable public confusion and concern in relation to the events and outcome of Operation Burnham.
13. In requesting an independent inquiry, we rely on both our instructions from our clients as to what occurred and the content of the Hit & Run publication, which you no doubt have available to you. We further note there are other statements in the public record to support the claim being advanced that there was only one military operation involving civilian deaths in Tigiran on 22 August 2010...

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