Michael Pascoe writes:

Someone has to say it. Two young
Australians depart our shores to join other countries’ armies, apparently for
religious reasons.

One is killed while part of an invasion
force – a force that was provoked, but a force inflicting many more casualties
than it receives, with some of those casualties perhaps classifiable as war
crimes. Australia’s
Foreign Minister expresses sadness about this soldier’s death. The Opposition Leader observes that he
was obviously fighting for something he believed in.

The other Australian is captured by a local
militia and handed over to an invading army which denies him the basic rights
of either a prisoner of war or a criminal. He is transported to a dubious
limbo, a place decried by most of the “civilised” world as a disgrace, where he
is jailed indefinitely – four-and-a-half years and counting. The Australian
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister speak of him with disgust, accuse him of
being guilty of crimes that do not exist and wash their hands of him,
effectively telling his captors to do with him whatever they wish.

Both Australians were soldiers for
governments that have been accused of acts of terrorism and repression. Agents
of both governments have committed atrocities. Neither Australian deserved his
fate. Do their differing professed religions have anything to do with their
different treatment by the Australian government?

Peter Fray

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