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Sweden Abandoning Afghans to Dreadful Fate

The true colours of their government are showing.


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Aftonbladet columnist Jan Guillou is fuming. Sweden got involved in the US war in Afghanistan in 2002, long before the parliament got any say in the matter, this to improve the country's chances to be welcomed into the fold of NATO, but also breaking a stellar and very proud tradition of avoiding all forms of warfare for almost two hundred years.

Sweden picked up 24 interpreters when they arrived, and now when they're getting ready to withdraw, they're abandoning their interpreters to a rather certain fate.

Briefly:

  1. Sweden got in their first war in 200 years but never told the citizenry about it.
  2. They're now withdrawing from this war in Afghanistan.
  3. They're abandoning their 24 interpreters who will be hunted down and killed.
  4. All 24 interpreters therefore applied in the Swedish embassy in Kabul for asylum.
  5. They were driven from the premises and told they had to apply for asylum in Sweden.
  6. They then applied for visas to Sweden.
  7. Their applications for visas were turned down.

But rightly or wrongly, there's still a way to treat those who've taken risks for the countries involved in the conflict. The other countries fly out their interpreters. But not Sweden. The Swedes entangle the poor sods in deliberately impossible red tape and then leave them to a dreadful fate.

There are no two ways about this. It's cowardly. And it's despicable.

The 'Quislings'

When Norway was freed of the German occupation in 1945, writes Guillou, the showdown with the Nazi collaborators was swift and unavoidable. And hard. Vidkun Quisling, who'd been the puppet of the Germans, was executed together with a handful of his closest associates. 80,000 Norwegians across the country were convicted of treason.

But if the US and Canada can apply special rules for their 'Quislings', so can Sweden, reasons Guillou. And now that the US and allies are on the brink of total collapse in Afghanistan and finally pulling their troops back, the question remains how to protect those who've helped them.

Denmark flew 80 collaborators out of Iraq in 2007. Great Britain rescued 364. And the US and Canada have special visa regulations for their interpreters. To protect them.

Sweden's 'reward' to their interpreters is shocking.

Twenty four Afghani interpreters visited the Swedish embassy in Kabul recently. They submitted a collective application for asylum. They were swiftly turned away. They were told they had to actually be in Sweden to apply for asylum. (Compare with current situation at 3 Hans Crescent - the Ecuadorians continually cite human rights. Not so much Sweden.)

A Rigged Catch-22

The Afghanis then applied for visas to Sweden so they could apply for asylum once they'd arrived. They were turned down. A rigged Catch-22. Swedish minister for 'migration' Tobias Billström declared that he could not make an exception to ordinary visa regulations for the twenty four interpreters. They're stuck in Afghanistan. And everybody knows - including Tobias Billström and his boss Fredrik Reinfeldt and Sweden's minister for foreign affairs Carl Bildt - what will happen to them.

The same thing that happened to Vidkun Quisling and 80,000 Norwegians.

'Good luck with Taliban justice once we're gone!' Tobias Billström didn't say that outright to the twenty four Afghanis, writes Guillou. But he might as well have, for that's what he meant.

There's no reason to suspect the Afghanis will be treated better than the Norwegians. And if puppet Karzai, who's Afghanistan's Quisling, doesn't get out quick enough to safety in Europe where his fortune's already been smuggled, the Taliban will grab him and execute him. As well as his closest associates.

The national hypocrisy and cowardice of Sweden shines through. The country that turned away boat loads of Jewish refugees in World War Two, sent them back to Germany, to thereafter be shipped off to concentration camps. Sweden truly at her finest.

The Afghanis who directly collaborated with the occupation forces - including the interpreters hired by the Swedish 'peaceful' military - have little chance of surviving the showdown once those occupation forces are gone. And the Swedes are evidently not going to lift a finger to help them. They'll just be abandoned. For helping them is impossible. That's what Tobias Billström said.

Germany couldn't help their collaborators in 1945. The US and Canada have been able to today. Sweden most definitely can.

This isn't about right or wrong in engaging in a war of invasion in Afghanistan, Guillou points out. A war that in addition was bound to fail. This is about how Swedes will help the people who they've been able to convince or coax into helping their military. Those people have every reason today to regret ever being sold on the idea. But they weren't told they could be abandoned when they were recruited. No Swede ever dared mention such a possibility. On the contrary.

Promises Promises

The US may seem to be on higher moral ground, but there can be a practical reason for this: they like to invade countries, will surely be invading another one soon, and they can't sully their own reputation if they want collaborators on the next battlefield. But that type of reasoning doesn't apply to Sweden, says Guillou. Because if it had, then Tobias Billström would have fixed those Afghani visas in 15 minutes.

So what we're left with, concludes Guillou, is the big question of 'morality' and the question whether Swedes have any. Sweden somehow got 24 naïve Afghanis to risk their lives for a project that ultimately failed. Of course Sweden must remove the people to safety. Sweden never asked them to sacrifice their lives for the Swedish project in their country. There's never been anything about that in their contracts.

But evasions to this reasoning won't dally, says Guillou. The first thing that will be heard is that Sweden can't be compared to Nazi Germany. But take a deep breath and think, admonishes Guillou. For it's a fact that the Nazi occupation of Norway wasn't at all as harsh as the occupation of Afghanistan. And it didn't last even half as long. And ten times as many Afghanis as Norwegians perished in that 'war of liberation'.

Of course it's also obvious that Swedes are a 'relatively' good people, just as the Nazis were surely an evil people, concedes Guillou for the sake of the coming argument. But how does that help the Afghanis?

So if Norway had the right to convict their Quislings, asks Guillou, then don't the Afghanis have the right to convict theirs? But the Swedes have no right to abandon their Afghani interpreters to the executioners.

No matter what Tobias Billström may have to say about 'visa regulations'.

See Also
Learning Curve: Assange Case: Sweden's Secret War in Afghanistan
Aftonbladet: Tolkarna lämnas i sticket när Sverige lämnar Afghanistan

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