AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull apologised today after an Australian military vehicle was photographed flying a nazi swastika flag in Afghanistan.
The photograph has caused outrage after it was obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) at a sensitive time, with Australia’s role in Afghanistan under intense scrutiny.
Mr Turnbull condemned the incident, which happened during military operations in 2007, as “completely and utterly unacceptable.”
“It was wrong, it was absolutely wrong and the commanders took action at the time," he said.
A defence spokesman confirmed the flag was raised “briefly” above an army vehicle in 2007 before officers intervened and removed it.
"It is totally inappropriate for any ADF [Australian Defence Force] vehicle or company to have a flag of this nature,” a statement said.
The ADF confirmed that education and training was offered “for all personnel who witnessed the flag."
Jewish civil rights campaign group the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) said the image was a “slap in the face” to those who fought and died to defeat Hitler.
ADC chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich said: “At a time of escalating anti-semitism and intolerance, this vile display of bigotry is a reminder of the ever-present need for people of good will to speak out against such abhorrence and that racism is still rampant in parts of our society."
Investigations are under way regarding the alleged killing of unarmed Afghan men by Australian special forces during an operation in the village of Darwan in 2012.
Afghan villagers allege that unarmed men were shot dead by soldiers in what appeared to be in retaliation for the killing of three Australian soldiers a fortnight previously.
Australia has around 300 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.
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