The David McBride Case: Dutch veterans tell a similar story about their experiences in Afghanistan

New developments in David McBride Case. Whistleblowers from the Dutch military speak up: Dutch soldiers may have killed civilians while firing on two houses in the Afghan province of Uruzgan in 2007, former soldier Servie Holzken told the Dutch newspaper Trouw. The Ministry of Defense called his story “very serious”.

According to Holzken, he and his colleagues went on patrols in the Chora Valley in mid-2007 to track down improvised roadside bombs. One night, his unit was driving past inhabited areas when his commander intercepted walkie-talkie traffic believed to be from the Taliban. The unit was ordered to shoot at two houses with heavy machine guns to see if there was a reaction, Holzken said. The commander then heard the alleged Taliban fighters talking about the machine gun fire through walkie talkies and people came running from the second house. Holzken was ordered to shoot them, he said.

“I am convinced that we shot and killed civilians,” Holzken said to the newspaper.
There was no gunfire from the other side and he saw no weapons. “I think we went through five or six boxes of ammunition,” he said. “We fired until we saw no more movement.”

He called the shooting “unjustifiable”, according to Trouw. “We only had walkie-talkie traffic.”
One of Holzken’s comrades confirmed a large part of this account to Trouw, but asked not to be mentioned by name.
This would be in violation of the Dutch army’s rules of engagement in Afghanistan, under which force can be used only in self-defence.

The investigation follows a report published in Australia which found Australian special forces allegedly killed 39 unarmed prisoners and civilians in Afghanistan, with senior commandos forcing junior soldiers to kill defenceless captives.

That case got started when whistleblower David McBride, a former Australian army lawyer who served two periods in Afghanistan, began leaking confidential documents to the media in 2014.
At the same time, military sociologist Samantha Crompvoets, who was researching cultural problems within the SAS, also came across disturbing stories. After she had signaled the army top, the Inspector General was called in for an investigation.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague are now also conducting a broader investigation into possible war crimes committed by the Taliban, government forces and American soldiers and intelligence people in Afghanistan.

According to a 2016 report by the prosecutors, there are good grounds to believe that people have been tortured in secret CIA detention centers.

Background of David McBride:

Between 2014 and 2016, former Australian Defence Force lawyer, David McBride leaked material alleging war crimes by members of the Australia’s Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan to two journalists at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Dan Oakes and Sam Clark. McBride’s lawyer maintains he did this after reporting his concerns through the chain of command. In 2017, Oakes and Clark reported in the Afghan Files multiple incidents of special forces troops killing unarmed civilians including children and raised wider concerns around the “warrior culture” of Australia’s special forces.

David McBride was charged with multiple counts of unlawfully communicating military information contrary to s73A(1) of the Defence Act 1903, theft of Commonwealth property and unlawfully disclosing a Commonwealth document contrary to s70(1) of the Crimes Act 1914.

  • In May 2019, McBride pleaded not guilty to each charge on the grounds that his disclosures were in the public interest.
  • In November 2020, the Australian Chief of Defence Force released the findings of the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report by Major General Paul Brereton, a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales (the Brereton Report).
  • The Brereton Report found evidence for 23 incidents committed by 19 individuals resulting in the deaths of 39 civilians and the cruel treatment of 2 others.

The Australian Government has since established a new Office of the Special Investigator to investigate criminal charges arising from the Brereton Report and an Oversight Panel to investigate broader cultural and organisational issues.

With Anonymous Bites Back we conducted several interviews with David McBride about this subject. Below you will find the first interview with an introduction:

Sources:

Nederlandse soldaten doodden mogelijk burgers in Uruzgan. Defensie wil onderzoek (Dutch)
Hoe gevechten in Uruzgan uitdraaien op een rechtszaak in Nederland (Dutch)
Veteraan: ‘Nederlandse militairen in Uruzgan hebben mogelijk burgers doodgeschoten’ (Dutch)
Dutch soldiers killed civilians in Afghanistan, veteran says (English)
Dutch prosecutors asked to check whether Dutch soldiers killed Afghan civilians (English)

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