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French-language Montreal newspaper La Presse reported on June 22 that Canadian military forces in Afghanistan are ransacking villages, knocking down doors, and interrogating civilians in their search for Taliban militants. It is, wrote reporter Hugo de Grandpré, the end of innocence for Canadian troops.
The report was based on new, "unedited" footage broadcast by the television station France 2 on June 21.
According to La Presse, the footage shows both "tough" and "soft" versions of Canada's warning to civilians who they fear could become Taliban militants. Footage of the "tough" version shows a Canadian soldier telling an audience of a few "silent men" that "my soldiers are very well trained. They are excellent shots, and you will die."
In the soft version, according to La Presse, soldiers are shown brandishing wads of money, asking men where Taliban operatives are hiding. The response, however, is cold: "That's nice of you, but we don't want your money. This is our country. And with all of our strength, we will protect it."
In another sequence of footage, La Presse reports that Canadian soldiers are shown knocking down doors with their feet. "Women and an old man leave. The man, who has a long white beard, is insulted."
The soldier says to him, "too bad for you if you don't want to tell us where the Taliban are."
The La Presse report comes on the heels of criticism leveled against Canada by Afghani President and former UNOCAL advisor Hamid Karzai. According to a Canadian Press report, Karzai "called on the coalition to rethink its strategy of fighting terrorism, saying the killing of hundreds of Afghans [is] not acceptable."
"Even if they are Taliban," Karzai was quoted as saying, "they are sons of this land."
According to the report, Major Nancy Hansen, a Canadian Task Force spokesperson, said that "Karzai's remarks do not change the coalition's long-term approach toward helping rebuild Afghan society."
» La Presse: Les soldats canadiens en Afghanistan pour tuer
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.