Monday, September 21, 2009

part 3 from David Pugliese~soldier who witnessed abuse of Afghan boys: “It’s disgusting, we let this happen?”

Posted by Christian  |  at  21.9.09

Hats off to David Pugliese for staying on an important story! A story the harper government and military brass undoubtedly want buried.

In today's report, David speaks with now former corporal, Travis Schouten,26, who witnessed two Afghani men, one with a knife in hand, sodomizing a young boy. Travis reported what he saw to his superiors. Travis played a big role in getting an investigation started. Although the Canadian Forces National Investigation Services concluded allegations were unfounded, it is clear they botched their examination and, frankly, have no credibility in this case.

Pugliese allows Schouten the opportunity to tell his side of the story and clear up some misconceptions surrounding his experience.
“It’s disgusting,” said Schouten, now retired after eight years in the military. “We’re telling people that we’re trying to build a nation there and we let this happen?”

“We allow rampant abuse of young boys at the hands of what is supposed to be their finest police officers and army officers, then what does that say?”
A Toronto paper reported that Travis walked in only to witness the aftermath of the attack. Travis addresses that report and why he just walked away.
“I walked in and they were raping a kid,” he recalls. “The kid was bleeding. They guy with the camo fatigues had a knife in his hand.”

“I wasn’t going to start doing something at the scene,” he recalled. “I’m in the middle of the ANP (Afghan National Police) headquarters. What do I do; start shooting Afghan police? I’d get myself shot.”
Travis takes on the military's cop-out, dismissing the abuse as a "cultural" issue.
Schouten, however, questions whether a five or six-year old child, or even an 11-year-old, can consent. “The Canadian Forces wants people to think it’s a cultural thing, that everyone is doing it, because it takes the onus of responsibility off them to stop it,” he said.
It has been a devastating episode in this former soldier's life. After the incident, he turned to alcohol. Shortly after arriving back home, he was involved in a car accident where a passenger in his car was hurt. After missing an appointment with a psychiatrist, the army tried to have him dishonourably discharged. Schouten fought back and was given an honourable discharge on medical grounds. Travis has little confidence this whole matter will be dealt with in any meaningful way.
Although soldiers know Afghan security forces are having sex with kids, the issue is too explosive to deal with, he adds.
Schouten said the rape and its aftermath shook his faith in the military. “In my mind, when I signed up, it was a brotherhood to me,” he explained. “I thought I was there for an established set of values and I loved that. I was wrong.”

Schouten is now rebuilding his life and is going to university. “I’m putting myself back together,” he said. “But at the same time I do feel people should be held accountable and people should know this is what is going on over there.”


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