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Wednesday, 27 March 1985
Page: 1047


Mr HODGMAN(7.42) —Australia must speak out against continuing Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan. The silence of the Hawke socialist Government is an absolute disgrace. Last year I visited Afghanistan refugee camps in Badabhair, Pakistan, where I collated evidence of Soviet war crimes against the people of Afghanistan which I am satisfied are at least the equal of the worst nazi atrocities of World War II. The question has to be asked: When will this Moscow oriented Hawke socialist Government raise its voice in protest against Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan? The Soviet Union is the dirtiest, most cruel and most cowardly fighter in the world today. I saw with my own eyes the results of Soviet atrocities and I was both shocked and sickened. Soviet atrocities against the people of Afghanistan are war crimes-let there be no mistake about that-of immense proportions involving the use of illegal chemical warfare, village massacres of innocent civilians, particularly children, the use of internationally banned dum-dum ammunition and vicious Soviet booby traps being deployed against the Afghan population. In the Afghan refugee camp hospital in Peshawar, I saw a small Afghan boy aged about nine years who had been blown up by a Soviet booby trap in his village. Both his legs had been amputated. I also at that time spoke personally with two doctors who had actually seen and treated within the last week victims of illegal Soviet chemical warfare. The doctors told me that the victims had atrociously blistered, discoloured and ulcerated skin. The doctors had no doubt that these vile and gruesome injuries were the direct result of Soviet chemical warfare.

It is significant that recent reports from Thailand confirm the use of chemical warfare there by Soviet armed Vietnamese troops who have crossed the border into Thailand in recent weeks. Wherever the Soviet Union is engaged in military activity, whether it be in Afghanistan or Indo-China, there are authenticated reports of the use of internationally banned chemical warfare. When will Australia summon up some moral courage and protest against these outrages? Despite the atrocities being perpetrated against them, the mujihadeen are thrashing the Soviet troops on the ground. Soviet soldiers are becoming increasingly demoralised, Soviet commanders are resorting to dirty warfare as they face failure after failure in their attempts to subdue the Afghan freedom fighters and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics soldiers have had their tour of duty cut from one year to 180 days because they cannot cope emotionally with what they are being forced to do.

Mr Speaker, you are a medical man. At the refugee hospital I actually saw X-rays of an Afghan civilian whose body had been riddled with shrapnel from dum-dum bullets used by Soviet troops who had attacked his village. In the most cowardly manner, Soviet troops usually attack Afghan villages when they know that the men-folk will be away. In short, they attack unarmed women, children and grandparents. The procedure of execution is to take the males into the village square, where they are shot, and to herd the females into a building. The Soviet troops do not use bullets on them, they use a hand grenade. I would like to hear a few Australian feminists say something about that.

Another example of Soviet cowardice which I saw with my own eyes is the use of high level bombers against villagers. The Soviet forces first send in reconnaissance planes at low level. They drop a coloured toxic dye on villages to mark them and then the bombers come in at high level, out of range of the poorly equipped freedom fighters. These innocent villagers simply have no means of retaliating against this high level, heavy density saturation bombing. When will Australia utter one word of protest against these atrocities? I am satisfied that the Soviet Union has bitten off more than it can chew in Afghanistan. The Afghan freedom fighters will win. They will drive the Soviet out of their country, no matter how long it takes. Those responsible for Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan must be apprehended and must be tried for their war crimes. The people of Afghanistan will never give up their struggle. They will never forget what the Soviet butchers have done to them and their country. I am proud that Australia has been providing aid to Afghan refugees. There ought to be military aid, and the sooner the better.