(Image: Jalil Rezauee/EPA)

Crikey subscribers are unequivocal in their support for interpreters who assisted Australian troops in Afghanistan. Today, readers call on the government to recognise its duty.

John Sneddon writes: I am appalled that the issue of help for these people and their families should ever have appeared to be questioned. Whatever the rights or wrongs of Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, we were responsible for encouraging a situation for them which will now almost certainly be disastrous. We must support them and give them sanctuary in Australia. Anything less would be an ultimate betrayal.

Les Shannon writes: Australia owes these people, as employees, proper protection. The Yanks tried and succeeded in getting a lot of Vietnamese out of Saigon … These Afghans deserve a home here.

John Amadio writes: We have an absolute responsibility to help those we engaged to assist us. They have already placed themselves at risk to help us and now, in their hour of need, we abandon them like some kind of leftover piece of garbage. An act of utter, gutless betrayal. We are apparently talking about a thousand people already heavily vetted. Hardly a massive number. It makes me ashamed to be Australian if after having invaded their country, lost and going home with our tail between our cheeks we also abandon those we enlisted to support us while there.

Bob Smith writes: Three words: get them out.

Catherine Russell writes: Of course Australia has a moral obligation to bring to safety all the translators and security guards that helped our soldiers in Afghanistan. The Australian troops would all tell you that they cannot work in a foreign country without local interpreters, security guards and, often, guides. Therefore when the Australian government sends Australian troops on to foreign soil it necessitates the help of local people.

If Australia refuses to help the Afghan interpreters and security guards and their families by bringing them to safety in Australia, Australian troops can expect no future help in foreign lands from local people. How very short-sighted of our government not to consider this and expedite the visas for this cohort as quickly as it seems the UK and the US are managing to do.

Allan Johnson writes: I have emailed the PM to express the shame I now feel as an Australian. The thought that we would leave our mates behind on the battlefield is a new low even for this government. It’s all very nice riding around in a tank when no one is shooting at you. Dishonour is not strong enough, cowardice is a better fit. White feathers for Morrison, Dutton and Payne.

David A Bridges writes: I am deeply concerned about the fate of those Afghans who did the right thing by Australia but are left despairing that we will not do the right thing by them. It smacks of the lack of genuine recognition of so many Australians who have served but have not been properly acknowledged, supported or rewarded, be they Indigenous servicemen and women or others who it appears were left to die out while waiting for their just rewards, from medals to medical or financial support. If three departments and their ministers are dragging this out, I for one am ashamed of my country.

Derek Collins writes: Should they be allowed to come to Australia to live? Absolutely YES! As a veteran of the Vietnam War I am led to believe we repatriated all Vietnamese translators to Australia with their families for safety. This is not a difficult decision to make on their behalf. Bring them here.

Berenice Kavanagh writes: Australia absolutely does have a moral obligation to do so. Australia is just a user, exploiter, tyrant, if it doesn’t.

Sue Richter writes: It is with much sadness and disgust that I read about Australia’s flaccid response to our Afghan friends, who put theirs and their families’ lives at risk to support the ADF’s deployment in Afghanistan. Our Afghan friends actively aided and abetted opposition to the Taliban alongside our ADF, putting themselves literally “on the front line” in the fight and being crucial to the safety of the ADF there. The ADF’s departure along with other international forces has emboldened the Taliban. It was Australia’s decision to participate in a war in Afghanistan. And it was Australia’s decision to depart that war when those they sought to rout are still in a position to cause harm on a grand scale. This is unfinished business. And we owe a debt of gratitude to our Afghan friends for helping prevent the deaths of ADF personnel in Afghanistan. Pay the debt, Australia.

Gail Crawford writes: We met several of the interpreters who were settled in Newcastle, back in 2014. Our interest at that time was in assisting them to navigate bureaucracy — some were treated by authorities in quite racist ways, e.g. person raising their voice ridiculously in the misguided belief that English is better understood if one shouts at the person requiring assistance. Of course, the Afghans had really good English; what they did not have was much experience with Australian bureaucracy. Resettlement services appeared to be nothing much but a cash cow. The men we knew moved their families to Melbourne — a friendlier option. The tardiness of the federal government in effecting a swift uplift for those left behind seems to match the wait-and-see attitude which characterises Morrison’s approach to just about any disaster. I hope Jenny states the bleeding obvious!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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