18 May 2008

News Conference Opening Statement

Brigadier General Carlos Branco, ISAF spokesperson

An asymmetric confrontation in the field of values and ethics.

On 15 May, a suicide bomber wearing a burqa blew himself up at a crowded bazaar, in Delaram District, killing 10 civilians and wounding 15 others. The attack was allegedly intended against an ANP patrol, but claimed the lives of innocent civilians instead.

This example, being one of many, clearly shows that the insurgents have no respect for the people of Afghanistan, or its police force that is ensuring the safety and rights of each citizen. It further shows that the insurgents are only out for their own interests.

Whereas the insurgents claim that these are attacks against the “occupying forces”, in reality they are attacks against the people of Afghanistan and hamper the Govern of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in its constant efforts to bring rule of law and development to its people. These attacks solely offer a path to destruction and suffering but no future for the people of Afghanistan.

Some down play the seriousness of these acts wrongly calling them asymmetric tactics. These are not asymmetric tactics, this is direct and deliberate targeting of the civilian population. The confrontation with the insurgents is indeed asymmetric in several domains, especially in the field of values and ethics.

The unethical behaviour of the insurgents can be seen in the way they conduct their attacks. Hiding behind civilians and intentionally putting them in harms way shows their intent to blur the lines between the innocent Afghan and the insurgent fighter.

It becomes clear that whereas the ANSF and ISAF respect the Law of Armed conflict; the insurgents don’t ever acknowledge it; whereas ANSF and ISAF respect of human values; insurgents don’t; and whereas ANSF and ISAF use appropriate force and avoid civilian casualties; the insurgents don’t. No ethic code sanctions these behaviours.