Australia has once again been targeted in an brutal article published by China’s most notoriously scathing publication.
The state-owned Global Times, widely considered to be the mouthpiece of Beijing, made its unfavourable stance towards Australian defence force troops clear in a graphic published in a new article.
In reference to allegations featured in the November Brereton Report – published following a four-year inquiry into the Australian forces in Afghanistan – a graphic accused troops of a variety of war crimes.
The publication accused Australians of “sanctioned massacres”, “clearance operations” and “cover ups” among other serious offences including manipulating photos of “killed enemies”.
The graphic also featured an allegation that people killed by troops were later added to a list of “validated targets”, and junior soldiers were ordered to “shoot a prisoner in order to achieve their first kill”.
“Special forces would block off villages and torture the civilians inside, who would be found dead after the soldiers had left,” part of the poster read.
Australia ‘rejects inflammatory coverage by Global Times’
A DFAT spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia in December that “Australia rejects the inaccurate and inflammatory coverage of Australia by the Global Times”.
The Brereton inquiry found evidence of war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan, including that up to 25 soldiers were involved in the alleged murders of at least 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners.
The report recommended charges be pursued against 19 of the accused troops, and that the meritorious unit citations of Special Operations Task Force 66 be cancelled.
Chief of Defence Angus Campbell moved to strip special forces troops of their citations late last year, but Peter Dutton blocked that decision last month, allowing 3000 soldiers to keep their awards.
“We shouldn’t be punishing the 99 per cent for the sins of one per cent,” the defence minister told 2GB radio at the time.
A Defence spokesperson confirmed members of Task Force 66 could continue to wear the citations unless convicted in a court of law or identified by the department as undeserving of the honour.
The decision follows confirmation the last Australian troops will leave Afghanistan by September in line with a timetable set by the United States, bringing the 20-year war to an end.
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