‘This video short looks at opium abuse among women and children in north eastern Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the world’s leading producer of illicit opium‘.
From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:
Nearly 200 soldiers kept home from Afghanistan over drug use: report
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | 1:18 AM ET
Nearly 200 Canadian soldiers slated for deployment to Afghanistan have been kept home because they tested positive for drug use, documents show. …
The documents also show dozens of soldiers provided diluted urine samples, something the military views as an attempt to cheat the system.
As for soldiers who are not on drugs: in George W. Bush’s ‘new’ Afghanistan, the top opium producer of the world, they may yet get on drugs. Many soldiers start taking drugs as a reaction to the stress of war.
Maybe the Canadian soldiers, rejected for the Afghan war for being on drugs, may yet go to the war in the United States armed forces, where being on drugs, being a criminal, being a nazi, etc. are no obstacles for enlisting.
Afghans block highway shouting ‘Death to Canada‘. Protest follows killing of two clerics: here.
MISSION IN KANDAHAR: KILLING WAS THE SECOND IN TWO WEEKS
Afghans’ anger muted in fatal shooting by troops
Canadian military orders independent probe after convoy’s ‘accidental discharge’ kills a teenager and injures his 12-year-old brother
Globe and Mail, October 3, 2007
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — The road where a Canadians soldier accidentally shot two Afghans yesterday morning had returned to normal by afternoon, as Kandahar avoided the kind of angry demonstrations that followed another killing last week.
Amid the jostle and clamour of ordinary traffic on the west side of Kandahar city, people at the scene of the shooting voiced a grim acceptance of the deadly mishaps that happen when heavily armed convoys make daily forays into Afghanistan’s second-largest city.
“Please tell the Canadians to be careful on the road, because you make people very afraid,” said Mohammed Kabir, 59, a money changer.
The voices were more emotional at the funeral for Esmatullah Zia, the teenager who died of gunshots to the head. In the village of Karam Kalacha, a northern suburb of the city, throngs of relatives and tribesmen gathered to bury the 18- or 19-year-old garage employee. They declared the Canadians “enemies of Islam, and our enemies.”
But the reaction was far less raucous than the street protests that followed the shooting of two religious teachers in a village west of Kandahar last week. In that case, the mullahs had been shot dead in their bedrooms during an apparent raid by U.S. forces, and the villagers received no apology, no compensation and no statement from anybody taking responsibility for the killing.
The Canadian military and NATO made a greater effort at damage control in the aftermath of the latest incident. Press statements from both organizations quickly acknowledged an “accidental discharge” of a weapon had occurred at 6:45 a.m. Soldiers at the scene gave first aid to the teenager and his younger brother Ahmad Zia, 12, who had been struck by the Canadians’ gunfire during their morning drive to work.
The shooting will be examined by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, and the military released few details of the circumstances because of the probe.
“Unfortunately, a motorcycle came near the convoy and a shot was fired, and the driver of the motorcycle died and a passenger was injured,” said Captain Josée Bilodeau, a military spokeswoman. “For sure it didn’t result from enemy activity. It was an accident.”
Afghan police initially took the injured boy to Mirwais hospital for treatment, but with a bullet wound in his head, the chances of his survival in the poorly funded local facility were not good. The boy’s family pleaded for help from the Canadians, who responded within hours. An ambulance took him to Kandahar Air Field, where he was allowed into the sophisticated military hospital. His head swaddled in bandages, he appeared to be conscious.
“This afternoon he was in surgery, so I don’t know whether he’s doing well, but for sure we are doing our best to provide him the best treatment we can,” Capt. Bilodeau said.
Military officials from the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar city are also expected to negotiate a payment to help the family in the coming days.
“We have to stop this cruelty,” Ghusudin, the boys’ uncle, told a CTV News cameraman at the hospital. “The head of the [provincial] council and other elders have to take serious action; otherwise, we will hold another demonstration.”
Several locals in Kandahar complained that they have never seen a foreign soldier punished for any action that harmed a civilian. “The Canadians are just saying ‘sorry,’ and they’ve killed so many people like this,” said Akbar, 49, a businessman. “They say ‘We will discipline our soldier,’ but always we see zero results.”
But the launch of a CFNIS probe of the events does indicate that consequences are possible. An independent body, the CFNIS reports to the military’s top police officer, the Provost Marshal, outside the operational chain of command.
“Our National Investigative Service is taking this very seriously,” Capt. Bilodeau said. “There is an investigation ongoing, and we will know what happened.”
Last updated at 6:23 AM on 10/10/07
Dutch courts charge Canadian soldiers
Servicemen involved in ‘gay-bashing,’ media reports
CanWest News Service
Two Canadian soldiers charged in what Dutch media are describing as a “gay-bashing” incident are expected to be sentenced in the next several weeks.
The two soldiers, on leave from the mission in Afghanistan, were arrested on May 26 by Dutch police after an altercation in Amsterdam, a Canadian Defence department official confirmed.
The men were originally charged with attempted manslaughter, attempted criminal negligence causing bodily harm and public violence but there have been ongoing discussions to reduce those charges. The charges are under the Dutch criminal code and do not have an equivalent under the Canadian legal system, military officials said.
The Dutch news media reported that the two men were involved in beating up a gay man and prosecutors are asking for an eight-month sentence for one of the soldiers, who is 22-years-old.
A second soldier, also 22, should be sentenced to six weeks in jail, according to prosecutors.
The men were given bail in July but are required to stay in the Netherlands, said Canadian Defence department official Jillian Van Acker.
The men spent at least 60 days in a Dutch jail.
Van Acker said the two soldiers have been assigned to a Canadian Forces installation in the Netherlands until their legal situation has been resolved.
Military officials are not releasing the names of the men, citing Canadian privacy regulations.
Van Acker said that at this point the two are paying their own legal expenses.
“They were provided with Dutch lawyers and have been receiving assistance from Dutch and Canadian authorities,” she added.
Canadian soldier threatened with execution
The Canadian Press
October 10, 2007 at 5:41 PM EDT
Ottawa — A Canadian soldier was threatened with summary execution by enraged Afghan National Army troops last winter after being involved in a friendly-fire shooting, military police records show.
The sun had just peeked above an unusually hazy horizon the morning of Feb. 12, 2007, when the gunner on an RG-31 Nyala truck mistakenly opened fire on an Afghan Army pickup truck on a desert road east of Kandahar.
An Afghan platoon commander, 23-year-old Lt. Abdul Hadi, the driver of the vehicle, was badly wounded in the arm and hand. He had missed repeated warning signs that he stop as his truck came on a broken down Canadian logistics convoy.
Within minutes of the shooting a tense standoff developed, as the Afghans demanded the hapless gunner be handed over to them.
From his seat in the heavily armoured truck the soldier who had pulled the trigger “observed one ANA soldier slide his finger across his throat, insinuating he was going to kill him,” says a summary report prepared by the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service.
The report was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
After their light truck had been sprayed with 7.62-millimetre machine-gun fire — hitting the truck at least 21 times — Afghan troops “immediately exited their vehicle, took up firing positions.”
Within minutes they were reinforced by a second group of soldiers who aimed their weapons directly at Canadian troops.
“ANA soldiers were very mad and threatened to kill them all if they didn’t hand over the gunner who had fired on them,” said a witness statement taken by police in the days after the incident.
“The interpreter translated that the shooting was a mistake to the ANA soldiers. The ANA replied that if Canadians didn’t recognize the ANA, then the ANA wouldn’t recognize the Canadians.”
One of the Canadians who was part of the security cordon around the convoy’s broken truck initially tried to calm the Afghans.
“One ANA soldier pointed an AK-47 directly in his face and was told by the interpreter that the ANA was going to kill him.”
Another Canadian soldier walked back to the open rear hatch of the Nyala and informed those inside that “the ANA wanted the gunner dead.”
The Afghans had the Canadians encircled and promised to let the rest of the convoy go as long as the shooter was handed over.
One of the Canadians standing toe-to-toe with the Afghans told military police it felt like the standoff “went on forever.”
Nerves were rattled further when the assault rifle belonging to an Afghan soldier, who jumped out of a truck, accidentally discharged, almost blowing off the foot of another soldier.
The Canadians were convinced the Afghans were “about to engage them” and saw the arrival of second group of soldiers as preparation to repel an anticipated Canadian “counterattack,” one witness statement said.
“The ANA continually threatened to kill them and kept requesting the gunner and the gunner’s name.”
The convoy’s second-in-command refused the repeated demands the while gunner, who was on second mission outside the wire, sat quietly in his seat.
The standoff lasted for almost an hour, police records show, and was resolved when one of the Canadians persuaded the angry Afghans that the matter should be handled by superior officers.
The wounded officer was evacuated to a nearby Afghan army camp, then a civilian hospital and finally to the coalition medical facility at Kandahar Airfield. He made a full recovery.
In an interview with The Canadian Press days after the incident, a senior Afghan Army commander in Kandahar demanded that the gunner face some form of military justice. Lt.-Gen. Rahmatullah Raoufi said he understood the mistakes that led up to the incident, but said the soldier must be held accountable.
“The incident was a mistake,” Mr. Raoufi, the commander of all Afghan forces in the south, said through a translator.
“[But] the Canadian who shot our man must be punished according to Canadian army law.”
Captain Cindy Tessier, a military spokeswoman, said investigators have decided not to charge the unidentified soldier.
The decision was made even though the soldier conceded in his interview with investigators that he acted on his own.
“He stated he was never ordered by anyone to engage the vehicle and took it upon himself to escalate” the rules of engagement,” says a Feb. 26, 2007, summary of the investigation.
In talking to investigators, one of the soldier’s buddies stuck up for him, saying the Afghan truck came up too fast and there was no time to inform anyone. The fact the sun was just cresting over the hill behind the pickup truck was another factor, according to witness statements.
There have been a number of accidental shootings involving Canadian troops that have resulted in at least seven fatalities.
Six days after the February standoff with the Afghan Army, Canadian troops who had just exited an ambush mistakenly shot and killed an Afghan National Police officer guarding the governor’s palace as well as a homeless man.
The incidents, including a recent one on Oct. 2 that saw one man killed and a child injured, have become a growing source of anger for the Afghans.
Last month residents in the Zhari district, outside of Kandahar, held demonstration against international troops, including Canada.
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