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Oh, Those Kinky Marines


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Afghan prisoner abuse allegations

 

August 9, 2004

Sydney Morning Herald

 

 

United States Marines sexually humiliated and physically abused Afghani captives in central Afghanistan, a Melbourne filmmaker will allege in a television report this week.

 

The allegations will be aired on an SBS Dateline report by Carmela Baranowska, who was feared kidnapped by the Taliban in late June during her trip to the conflict-torn country.

 

In the report, former prisoners allege US Marines used the tactic of sexual humiliation which Ms Baranowska described as similar to that reported at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

 

Ms Baranowska told AAP she was initially embedded with US forces before travelling independently through Oruzgan province in remote central Afghanistan.

 

At one village she investigated the cases of 35 men who had been detained for up to five days by US Marines on suspicion of being involved with the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

 

In the television report, 27-year-old Afghani villager Wali Mohammad describes in graphic detail his alleged abuse by a group of 20 Americans soldiers.

 

"They fingered us, beat us and humiliated us," he says in the report.

"There were youngsters as well. They took off my clothes ... fingering the anus is against Islam.

 

"They were all laughing and mocking.

 

"When they took me a second time they stripped me again. Yes, they took our picture."

 

Ms Baranowska said many villagers had fled their homes to Pakistan because they felt ashamed.

 

"They just feel so dishonoured as Muslim men."

 

Ms Baranowska said she became distrustful of military censorship and returned by her own means to Afghani villages.

 

US marines were working in cooperation with local governor Jan Mohammad, whose militia controlled an area where much of the heroin that went to Europe originated, she said.

 

Last week a convoy of Afghan and United Nations election workers was attacked as they travelled through the area, killing two workers.

 

Fears were held for Ms Baranowska after she lost contact with SBS for several days in late June.

 

Rumours she had been kidnapped swirled around Afghanistan then Australia after a purported Taliban spokesman claimed the group was holding a foreign woman hostage.

 

Ms Baranowska said she hoped the Australian government would raise the allegations with the US after they were aired this week.

 

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the federal government had not been made aware of the allegations.

 

"SBS have not sought any information from the Australian government nor provided any information to the Australian government," the spokesman said.

 

"We have no knowledge of their claims."

 

+++++++++++

 

US authorities to probe allegations

 

August 11, 2004 - 10:25PM

The Age (Australia)

 

American authorities have reportedly launched an inquiry into allegations of sexual and physical abuse by US Marines against 35 villagers in central Afghanistan.

 

The allegations were aired on Wednesday night in an SBS Dateline report by Australian journalist Carmela Baranowska, who was feared kidnapped by the Taliban in late June during her trip to the conflict-torn country.

 

In the report, former prisoners alleged US Marines used the tactic of sexual humiliation which Ms Baranowska described as similar to that which occurred at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

 

Ms Baranowska said she was initially embedded with US forces before travelling independently through Oruzgan province in remote central Afghanistan.

 

At one village she investigated the cases of 35 men who had been detained for up to five days by US Marines on suspicion of being involved with the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

 

At the conclusion of the report it was announced that all the allegations had been put to US authorities and on Wednesday night they had confirmed that 35 villagers were detained on June 23.

 

Dateline reported that the authorities said they did not have any records of abuse but in light of the program they had announced an inquiry into the matter.

 

In the television report, 27-year-old Afghani villager Wali Mohammad described in graphic detail his alleged abuse by a group of 20 Americans soldiers.

 

"They fingered us, beat us and humiliated us," he said.

 

"There were youngsters as well. They took off my clothes ... fingering the anus is against Islam.

 

"They were all laughing and mocking."

 

Fears were held for Ms Baranowska after she lost contact with SBS for several days in late June.

 

Rumours she had been kidnapped swirled around Afghanistan then Australia after a purported Taliban spokesman claimed the group was holding a foreign woman hostage.

 

On Monday, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the federal government had not been made aware of the allegations.

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