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Veterans are burning their service medals in protest against Australia’s treatment of Afghan interpreters

Several Australian veterans across the country have burned their service medals in protest against the government’s treatment of Afghans who served with Australians during the war in Afghanistan.

Retired army major Stuart McCarthy led the campaign on Monday, burning his Afghanistan campaign medal before delivering it to the office of his local MP Julian Simmonds.

Mr. McCarthy has called for Australia’s Afghan interpreters and other staff to evacuate the military. The United States planned a move for its former team in the next fortnight.

He fears the deteriorating security situation and the resurgence of the Taliban, which considers those who worked with foreign forces traitors, will put Australia’s former staff in danger.


“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 … now renders this medal a badge of shame,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Australia stands alone as the one country which has left our mates behind to die.

Several others joined Mr. McCarthy across the country, including former intelligence officer David McBride and another veteran who served in Timor Leste.

I have friends who are alive today because of these courageous Afghans,” the unnamed veteran said.

“The least I can do as a Timor Leste campaign veteran and a veteran of the ADF for 14 years is to support the campaign to bring these men and their families to Australia.”

South Australian John Simmons, a veterans advocate, said he was aware of half a dozen serving members of the Australian Defence Force. They burned their service shirts with medals in protest.

He said many are “disgusted” at how Afghan allies are treated.

“Their opinion is we took dogs over to the war, and we repatriated them by bringing them home, and ultimately, the Afghan nationals who helped us with some of the worst tasks are left behind to face bloodshed and torture,” Mr. Simmons said. The Department of Home Affairs says it is processing nearly 100 applications for those who’ve applied for the visa reserved for former Afghan staff, called the Afghan Locally Engaged Employee (LEE) visa.

The department said processing the LEE visa remains a high-priority statement.

“Each Afghan LEE and their family travel to Australia as soon as they are granted a visa and a travel path is secured,” a spokesperson said. Defence Minister Peter Dutton also said the government was taking a “rigorous approach” to grant protection visas earlier this month.

“If we’ve got the wrong person here, somebody who had played both sides, somebody who had worked for us in 2016, 2013, 2010, but had now affiliated with the Taliban … I suspect people that are making the calls for that individual to be here would be not seen and not heard of,” he told Sky News.

Dozens of LEE visa holders have been resettled in Australia in recent weeks.

But many interpreters and other staff in Afghanistan say they have not heard from the department since lodging their applications months ago.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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