Canada, Afghanistan both guilty of ignoring child-sex scandal: former ambassador

A young Afghan "dancing boy"  performs in a small city in northern Afghanistan. After five years, Canada is still investigating claims that its officers told subordinates in Afghanistan to ignore cases of child abuse. Canadian soldiers said they saw Afghan officers bringing boys in robes and makeup back to their bases.The Star -by Rick Westhead

As Canada’s military continues its five-year investigation into charges that its officers told subordinates in Afghanistan to ignore cases of child abuse, Afghanistan’s former ambassador to Canada says both countries are guilty of ignoring the scandal.

Omar Samad, ambassador from 2004 to 2009, said he advised the Afghan foreign ministry in 2008 about media reports that some Canadian soldiers said they had been told not to get involved in cases of child sexual abuse involving Afghan soldiers, police and interpreters.  

Samad said he never received a reply to his messages.

“All sides are to blame, both the Afghan government and the western occupying forces,” Samad said in a phone interview from Washington. “Every effort has to be made to fight this problem through education, public awareness and through programs that can protect children, and enforcement, and the Afghan government has not done enough.”

Samad’s comments come five years after The Star revealed the sex-abuse allegations, charges made by three soldiers during interviews, and supported by three Canadian military chaplains and a senior officer who counselled Canadian and British soldiers.

The soldiers also said that some Afghan police and military officers brought young boys to bases shared by Canadian and Afghan troops. The Canadians said they were wracked with guilt because they did not intercede and that the incidents contributed to their post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Canadian military conducted a preliminary investigation that concluded in 2010. A similar probe by the National Investigative Service, an arm’s-length military investigatory body, did not “find anything substantive,” the army’s commander at the time, retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie, said in a 2008 email to a defence department official.

Since 2010, the case has been under review by the office of the Canadian army’s deputy commander, Maj. Gen. P.F. Wynnyk. Two board of inquiry investigators, as well as board president Brig.-Gen. Glenn Nordick, have interviewed 87 witnesses and collected more than 30,000 pages of documents. Nordick has been assisted by a group of advisers including legal and medical experts, a social worker and a chaplain.

Tyrel Braaten, one of the soldiers who spoke to the Star in 2008, has not been questioned by the NIS or the board of inquiry, his mother, Donna, said last week. Braaten did not respond to an email message. His mother said he doesn’t want to discuss Afghanistan.

Jessie Chauhan, a DND spokeswoman, said in an email that the deputy commander’s office is ensuring that the report “clearly and completely addresses all of the findings required by the convening order.”

Once the report is finally approved, Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson could decide to keep some or all of it secret, Chauhan said.

Samad said that neither the Afghan foreign ministry nor its interior ministry properly investigated the child-sex allegations. He suggests several reasons for that.

“For starters, the government in Kabul has had so many other issues on its plate, and it doesn’t know how to deal with this because it’s so complex,” he said. “Another factor is that there were so many reports about Afghan officials, who were in a position of authority and who were also abusive themselves, that it was hard for us to make a case about others being abused.”

Samad said men having sexual relations with boys is not new to Afghanistan.

“It’s not considered homosexuality,” he said. “It’s known as bacha bazi (boy play). It’s about having power and conquest, as unsavory as that is. It’s about using power and status and money to abuse children and young men. It’s about manhood.

“It’s not something anyone likes to talk about.”

In 2010, then-Afghan interior minister Hanif Atmar asked the U.S. embassy in Kabul to help “quash” news reports of a party hosted by a U.S. foreign contractor for Afghan police officers, according to a U.S. embassy cable released by WikiLeaks and reported by the Guardian newspaper. The party’s main attractions were young “dancing boys,” hired to entertain law enforcement officials.

AnnaMaria Cardinalli spent a nearly a year in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. military’s “human terrain team.”

“For soldiers who were outside the line and engaging with local communities, it was almost impossible not to come across this,” she said in an interview.

In 2009, Cardinalli was commissioned by the U.S. army to investigate sexuality in southern Afghanistan and concluded that the issue of bacha bazi remains widespread.

“It’s absolutely tragic, and I don’t see it only as a human rights issue,” she said. “It’s also a security issue. These boys who are abused are the very boys who wind up being recruited by extremist groups. They are angry and hurt and are easily groomed into becoming bullet fodder.”

Former U.S. Green Beret Paul Avallone, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and returned in 2008 as a civilian photojournalist, said he routinely witnessed Afghan soldiers with young boys in makeup.

“You never saw them in the act of sex,” Avallone said from his home in Kentucky. “The men would be with the boys, and in close physical contact, and then they’d disappear into a tent.

“To suggest that we (western forces) could have stopped this is ridiculous,” he said. “It’s their country. It’s not for us to change. And it’s a place we still don’t understand after 10 years.

“But I do blame the command for ignoring this and not discussing the issue when it came up,” Avallone said. “To ignore this when soldiers brought it up, and try to instead shift the conversation for the public at home to how we were helping build ditches and schools, was just wrong.”

2 thoughts on “Canada, Afghanistan both guilty of ignoring child-sex scandal: former ambassador

  1. “It’s not considered homosexuality,” he said. “It’s known as bacha bazi (boy play). It’s about having power and conquest, as unsavory as that is. It’s about using power and status and money to abuse children and young men. It’s about manhood.”

    It’s about Faggotry. America has been ordered to embrace faggotry by the same enemy alien 5th columnists who have taken over America by force and stealth and wholly pledge allegiance to israel. 🙁

  2. To be honest, I don’t give a damn what they do in Afghanistan.
    If their people want a change let them do so.

    I’m concerned about what the ‘owner/infiltrators’ are doing to America.


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