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Bundeswehr: Desecrators of the Dead
Shocking photos of German soldiers in Afghanistan
Mirja Maletzki (jane0815)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2006-11-02 08:27 (KST)   
Last week, the widely read German tabloid Bild published photos of German soldiers posing with human remains in Afghanistan, and even baring their naked genitalia in obvious poses with skulls.

Later photos showed soldiers staging a mock execution of a skeleton and arranging bones to spell their team names.

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The impact of the photos has been huge, forcing German embassies all over the world to tighten security and igniting a new discussion in Germany about the role of the military.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted by German newspapers as calling the photos repugnant and not tolerable.

On Friday, German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung suspended the first two soldiers identified in the photos.

"It is clear and unmistakable that this kind of behavior from German soldiers cannot be tolerated. This behavior is diametrically opposed to the values and behavior we teach and train our soldiers in. The pictures provoke disgust and absolute incomprehension," Jung said.

According to Reuters, four more soldiers were suspended today and the number of suspects under investigation has risen to 23.

The remains originate from a burial site close to Kabul. Mass graves are commonly placed in the open in Afghanistan and it is very unlikely that the soldiers dug them out.

Reporters who have traveled the country write about how the remains of Taliban war prisoners are disposed of in the desert. Very little sand is thrown over them. A few hundred corpses, a little time in the elements, and soon enough bones are lying all over the place. This might have led German soldiers to treat the peace of the dead as lightly as they did.

These photos not only represent yet another scandal in line with that of the Dutch caricatures, the pope's speech and the Berlin opera debate, but also question the role of the German military. Since World War II, the German military has been depicted as more of a humanitarian aid group than an army.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Mirja Maletzki

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