Nine soldiers commit suicide amid stir around ‘Afghan dossier’ in Australia
At least nine military personnel committed suicide in the past three weeks in Australia, where a report on alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan was published, according to the Daily Mail.
Among these nine military personnel, eight men and one woman between the ages of 20 to 50, and there was a the Afghan war veteran, Private Shane Holt, who took his own life on November 16.
Nothing indicates that these people had anything to do with 39 unlawful killings of civilians that, according to the report of the the Australian Defense Force (ADF), would have been committed in Afghanistan by members of a special operations group, but the media upheaval around the investigation and the dossier may have influenced some suicides.
“I think some of the media [reports of alleged war crimes] has been painting everyone with the same brush and people seem to have forgotten about innocence until proven guilty – and that adds additional stress,” Neil ‘Wally’, a former infantryman and mental health adviser, told The Advertiser.
The report of alleged abuses by Australian troops in Afghanistan is based on the examination of more than 20,000 documents and 25,000 images, as well as interviews with 423 witnesses. The document recommends that the Australian Government pay compensation to relatives of the victims, who were not fighters or had ceased to be fighters.
After the report was released, ADF chief Angus Campbell apologized to the people of Afghanistan “for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers.”
During the period from 2005 to 2016, more than 26,000 Australians served in Afghanistan, including some 3,000 special operations troops.