Imagine that you witnessed child sexual abuse while on the job, but your boss told you not to do anything to stop it. Now imagine that your boss was the United States government.
That’s exactly what happened to Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr.
In his last phone call, he told his father about what had been happening in Southern Afghanistan. He said he could hear Afghan police officers raping and sexually abusing boys brought to the base.
“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., said his son told him before being shot and killed a the base.
“My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture,” he continued.
His son told him, before his death in 2012, that the police called their abuse “bacha bazi” which literally means “boy play.”
U.S. soldiers and Marines have been directly instructed by their commanding officers, and ultimately the U.S. government, not to intervene.
“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain said.
Quinn actually physically beat up an American-backed militia commander after he found out he was keeping a boy chained to his bed, using him as a sex slave.
“But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”
The New York Times reports, that “the policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.”
The U.S. Army actually fired Captain Quinn for saving the child. He was relieved of his command and sent home from Afghanistan, basically forced to leave the military on his own once stateside.
Now, four years later, the Times reports that the military is also trying to forcibly retire Sgt. First Class Charles Martland. Martland is a Special Forces member who helped Captain Quinn free the child and beat up the commander.
“The Army contends that Martland and others should have looked the other way (a contention that I believe is nonsense),” Representative Duncan Hunter, a California Republican wrote to the Pentagon’s inspector general last week.
For their part, the U.S. Army says it cannot comment because of the Privacy Act.
The Times asked about the American military policy, to the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus.
Tribus wrote back in an email: “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.”
But what about when the Afghan police are the ones doing the abuse?
He continued, saying that that “there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.”
“The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban,” one anonymous former Marine lance corporal said to the Times. “It wasn’t to stop molestation.”
By the summer of 2011, Captain Quinn and Sergeant Martland, both Green Berets on their second tour in northern Kunduz Province, began to receive dire complaints about the Afghan Local Police units they were training and supporting.
First, they were told, one of the militia commanders raped a 14- or 15-year-old girl whom he had spotted working in the fields. Captain Quinn informed the provincial police chief, who soon levied punishment. “He got one day in jail, and then she was forced to marry him,” Mr. Quinn said.
When he asked a superior officer what more he could do, he was told that he had done well to bring it up with local officials but that there was nothing else to be done. “We’re being praised for doing the right thing, and a guy just got away with raping a 14-year-old girl,” Mr. Quinn said.
Over time, village elders began to grow increasingly angry at the abusive behavior of the U.S.-backed Afghan police.
In September 2011, an Afghan woman, visibly bruised, showed up at an American base with her son, who was limping. One of the Afghan police commanders in the area, Abdul Rahman, had abducted the boy and forced him to become a sex slave, chained to his bed, the woman explained. When she sought her son’s return, she herself was beaten. Her son had eventually been released, but she was afraid it would happen again, she told the Americans on the base.
She explained that because “her son was such a good-looking kid, he was a status symbol” coveted by local commanders, recalled Mr. Quinn, who did not speak to the woman directly but was told about her visit when he returned to the base from a mission later that day.
That’s when Captain Quinn called Abdul Rahman to confront him about the rape. The police commander admitted everything but said it was not a big deal.
Quinn said, “you are held to a higher standard if you are working with U.S. forces, and people expect more of you,” but the police commander just laughed.
“I picked him up and threw him onto the ground,” Quinn recalled. That’s when Sergeant Martland joined. “I did this to make sure the message was understood that if he went back to the boy, that it was not going to be tolerated.”
Sergeant Martland wrote in a letter that he and Mr. Quinn “felt that morally we could no longer stand by and allow [the U.S.-backed, Afghan police] to commit atrocities.”
Now, the father of Lance Corporal Buckley is filing a lawsuit because he believes the policy of looking away from sexual abuse actually was a factor in his son’s being killed. He is suing for the release of information regarding the circumstances of his son’s killing.
Watch the video below…
Help break the silence and spread the word about these abusive practices by U.S.-backed police.
(Article by M. David and M.A. Hussein)