US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and
taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply
offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.
An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired
tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.
It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit
broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village
believed to be harbouring Taliban.
According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the
local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar
of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid
down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their
bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed
you to be," the message reportedly said.
"You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Taliban
but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame
upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly
dogs you are."
The burning of a body is a deep insult to Muslims. Islam
requires burial within 24 hours.
Under the Geneva conventions the burial of war dead "should be
honourable, and, if possible, according to the rites of the
religion to which the deceased belonged".
US soldiers said they burnt the bodies for hygiene reasons but
two reporters, Stephen Dupont and John Martinkus, said the
explanation was unbelievable, given they were in an isolated
SBS said Australian special forces in Afghanistan were operating
from the same base as the US soldiers involved in the incident,
although no Australians took part in the action.
The incident is reminiscent of the psychological techniques used
in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
Copyright © 2005. The Sydney Morning Herald.