We shouldn’t just oppose war crimes, though; we should reject the militarism and the nationalism that encourages them. World over, we see the horrifying human cost when unfettered militarism and nationalism fuel and permit state violence. In Palestine, the occupying forces have committed untold human rights abuses with impunity and the support of those who deny Palestinian people self-determination and the right of return.
Senator FARUQI (New South Wales) (18:11): I rise to speak to this matter of urgency. What happened in Afghanistan was the murder and torture of innocent people, even children, which left families torn apart and communities in ruin. These heinous war crimes committed by Australia are another shameful chapter in our history. We demand justice for the victims.
Government senators interjecting—
Senator FARUQI: This government should be ashamed, standing there, shouting back at us and saying that these crimes didn’t happen. The perpetrators of these crimes and their superiors must be held to account and must face the full force of the law. Justice must be served here. All investigations must be independent, and the findings have to be made public. There must be fair compensation and reparations for the families and to the communities targeted by these disgusting crimes. The government must apologise to those families. Australian soldiers must be brought home. In stories like that of Australian soldiers drinking beer out of a dead Taliban fighter’s prosthetic leg we see the culture that allowed this brutality to go on.
We shouldn’t just oppose war crimes, though; we should reject the militarism and the nationalism that encourages them. World over, we see the horrifying human cost when unfettered militarism and nationalism fuel and permit state violence. In Palestine, the occupying forces have committed untold human rights abuses with impunity and the support of those who deny Palestinian people self-determination and the right of return. In Kashmir, the military continues to enforce a cruel lockdown, denies Kashmiris access to internet and other essentials and is responsible for arbitrary detentions. In Xinjiang, a vast military apparatus sustains the oppression and cultural genocide of Uighurs, separating families, detaining hundreds of thousands, and subjecting many to cruelties like forced sterilisation.
Just as all violence and war must be condemned and avoided, the politicians who take us to wars must be condemned and held to account. The post-9/11 wars on terror have raged for 20 years now. These wars have killed half a million civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Women have been the often unseen victims of this war, their rights violated while they face gender based violence. Afghans have been forced to flee their own country. They are now one of the largest refugee populations in the world.
We must admit that deploying armed forces, guns and bombs in the name of quashing terrorism will not protect anyone. It has the exact opposite effect. We must stop warmongering and blindly following the US. Where war is concerned, history has sadly repeated itself time and again. The incessant self-interested attempts of the West to control and extinguish complex Middle Eastern conflicts must end. We must not forget that the root cause of these conflicts stems from similar Western interventions in the first place. We need to clearly imagine what we want for the world. That means changing the conversation from going to war to bringing peace and justice. If that is what we aim for then our success will rest on reparations for past injustices; fair economic, environmental and social development; and respect for human rights—not on military capabilities.
I do want to acknowledge the courage of whistleblowers like David McBride and journalists here and in Afghanistan who put their necks and, indeed, their lives on the line to get the truth out in the open. They must be protected. Australians have been shocked by the inhumanity of the heinous war crimes exposed by the Brereton report. Now is the time to bring people together and send a strong message to our government: war criminals must be charged, soldiers must be brought home, reparations must be given and war is never the answer.