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Veterans Are Burning Their Medals To Protest Australia’s Failure To Protect Interpreters

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Veterans Are Burning Their Medals To Protest Australia’s Failure To Protect Interpreters

Australian veterans are burning their war medals in a symbolic move to protest against the government's decision in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced earlier this year that Australia would finally pull out of the country.

While the move was celebrated for bringing an end to the longest war Australia has been engaged in, many asked what the repercussions will be once troops and advisors are out.

This was particularly important for the interpreters who massively assisted in the language barrier during the war. There are fears the Taliban will punish them for helping Western forces once we leave.

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Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class John Collins
Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class John Collins

Veterans have called on the government to ensure these interpreters are protected.

In an attempt to make politicians aware of the the plight, a small group of veterans have banded together to start 'Australia's Badge of Shame in Flames'.

The campaign is being led by retired Australian Army officer Stuart McCarthy, who is a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict.

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He uploaded a video yesterday (July 19) of him burning his many war medals.

Mr McCarthy said he was planning to present 'the remains to my Federal Member of Parliament (Julian Simmonds)'.

"The Morrison government's conscious decision to leave hundreds of our former Afghan civilian interpreters, other loyal allies and their family members behind to be slaughtered by the Taliban - the same terrorist organisation we were sent to fight for two decades - now renders this medal a badge of shame," he said.

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Defence Minister Peter Dutton has sought to quell this uprising and revealed on the weekend that protection visas have already been granted to 1,500 Afghans over the last eight years.

He added that 'Australians should be proud' of the protections they've put in place for these interpreters and they're continuing to help more.

"If we need to airlift people, we will do that," he said.

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"We've already looked at those contingencies...if people can come commercially and that's available well that might be the option for them."

"Already I think Australia has moved ahead of most partners to get those that have helped us into our country".

Mr McCarthy's campaign has been joined even by veterans who served outside of Afghanistan.

East Timor veteran Peter told the ABC: "The lives of those that saved Australian lives in Afghanistan is more important than a hunk of metal or a bit of cloth," says Peter, a veteran of East Timor who spent 14 years in the Army."

Featured Image Credit: Stuart McCarthy/Twitter

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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