China has aggressively weighed into the debate over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan in a shocking social media post depicting an Australian soldier clutching a bloody knife and slaughtering a lamb.The horrific doctored image was posted on Monday on the official Twitter account of China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao.
“Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers,’’ he said.
“We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.”
The remarks are a reference to the release of a damning defence report that found “credible evidence” of the alleged unlawful killing of 39 people by 25 special forces troops.
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The row comes as debate rages in Australia over the Defence Force chief’s plan to revoke military honours for 3000 special forces troops.
General Campbell had argued there is “a collective responsibility” for the alleged crimes.
“I have accepted the Inspector-General’s recommendation and will write to the Governor-General requesting he revoke the Meritorious Unit Citation for Special Operations Task Groups who served in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013,” the General said.
“While necessary, I appreciate that these latter decisions will be a bitter blow for many.”
However, a public backlash is growing with a petition from a leading veteran’s support group, opposing the revoking of citations, now gathering over 50,000 signatures.
The Prime Minister signalled on Friday it may not be a done deal, suggesting the final decision had not been made.
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Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has also issued a blunt warning to the Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell to get his “head out of his arse” over his call to strip 3,000 soldiers who served in Afghanistan
“If General Campbell has not felt the bitch-slap from all those millions of Australians out there, he needs to pull his head out of his arse,’’ she said.
Senator Lambie was one of the first MPs to question the decision to strip the meritorious citation from all soldiers when the Brereton report was released on November 19.
“It’s heartbreaking stuff. But one recommendation I can’t support is stripping the whole of Special Operations Task Group 66 of the Meritorious Unit Citation,’’ she said.
“One of the things that makes these allegations so disturbing is that we hold ourselves in Australia to a higher standard. We’re proud that we play by the rules — even when we’re fighting those that refuse to do the same.
“Sticking up for the rule of law, even when it’s inconvenient, is what makes us different. And stripping these blokes of an award for their good deeds, over an allegation that some of them have done the wrong thing, is a total breach of that standard.
“You’re innocent until proven guilty. Everybody is entitled to that right. And I can’t get behind a recommendation that says these guys aren’t entitled to it any more than I am, or you are.”