Toronto Star prods military brass on Niaz treatment
Score one for the Blogosphere (we hope.)
It's still too early to say for sure, but we're hoping we can soon report some good news as a result of a story on The Black Rod two weeks ago.
On May 24, five Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade went through their G-wagon during a battle in Panjwai province in Afghanistan.
Canada was relieved to learn the injuries to the Canucks were not severe, and most of the men returned to action the next day. But the interpreter was forgotten by the press.
We went searching for him and eventually we identified him and learned where he was. Muhammed Niaz was his name and he was in the main hospital at the coalition airbase outside Kandahar. He had lost both legs in the RPG attack. And he felt Canada had deserted him.
We told his story. We then sent The Black Rod to Rosie DiManno, of the Toronto Star, and Christie Blatchford, of the Globe and Mail, both of whom had been embedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan and who we thought might have known Niaz.
DiManno remembered him at once. And she leapt into action. She bombarded military officials in Ottawa with one question: what are you doing to help this man? She got no answer, so she took the fight to her own turf, her newspaper column.
Canada owes maimed Afghan
Jun. 12, 2006. 05:38 AM
"He is, for all intents and purposes, one of us - part of our presence there and this country's responsibility.
Canadian and Dutch medical personnel have been treating Mohammed Niaz at KAF, making him as comfortable as possible. But there's been no explanation for why this young man - so hideously wounded in the service of Canadian troops - has not been transferred to the sophisticated military hospital in Germany where coalition casualties are routinely evacuated," she wrote.
And she continued to make calls, until she reached Lt.-Col. Ian Hope, commander of Task Force Orion, the battle group component of Task Force Afghanistan.
"Thank God there are more sensible - and morally upright - can-do Canadian military commanders on the ground, who aren't twisted in a bumbledom pretzel over their obligations toward Afghans.
"We do have a responsibility and we will assist in whatever way we can,'' Lt.-Col. Ian Hope told the Star in an telephone interview from KAF the other night. "It's extremely unfortunate that a non-combatant was injured in such a way. But Niaz remains an employee of the PRT.''
Good work Rosie.
We'll keep tabs on Muhammed Niaz and the DND and we hope we can report some positive development soon.