Niaz hits Ottawa radar: top brass support wounded interpreter
The plight of an Afghani interpreter, grievously wounded while helping Canadian soldiers, has reached the desk of Canada's Minister of Defence.
Mohammed Niaz lost both legs when a rocket propelled grenade went through a Canadian G-wagon during a battle in May in Panjwai province in Afghanistan. Five Canadians were slightly wounded.
Niaz was taken to the Coalition hospital at Kandahar airfield. While recuperating there from his injuries, he pleaded with Canada to help him ( http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2006/06/todays-topic-help-me-canada.html ) get the same treatment that wounded Canadians receive in military hospitals in Germany and Canada.
After we reported his story in June, The Black Rod received e-mails from Canadians, and even American soldiers who remembered Niaz, who wanted to help him.
Obviously many of them also wrote to the Minister of National Defence.This week we read that one of them got a response from Gordon O'Connor, Minister of National Defence. (h/t to Small Dead Animals):
Over the weekend, reader "Henry" passed along this update;
Thank you for your e-mail concerning compensation for Mr. Mohammed Niaz.
I am informed that Mr. Niaz's case is being investigated, and it is our intent that neither he nor his family endure any undue hardship. Please be assured that we will take the appropriate action, not only in the case of Mr. Niaz, but also for any local nationals employed by the Canadian Forces.
Mr. Niaz is receiving excellent medical care at the Canadian-led, multinational hospital in Kandahar. He also continues to receive his salary while he is recovering.
The contribution made by local nationals such as Mr. Niaz is greatly appreciated. We would not be able to do our jobs in some of the most dangerous areas of the world without their willingness to support our effort.
I trust this information is of assistance and thank you again for writing.
The Honourable Gordon J. O'Connor, PC, MP
Minister of National Defence
We're buoyed by his reference to taking "the appropriate action". When the country's top man knows your name, you can expect something good will happen.
There's a sad coda to this story, however.
Cpl. Andrew James Eykelenboom, the medic who saved Niaz's life, was himself killed this past Friday, Aug. 11, when a suicide bomber drove a truck into a NATO convoy 100 kilometres south of Kandahar and detonated his explosives. Eykelenboom and Niaz were both only 23 years of age when fate brought them together.
He was believed to be the first Canadian military medic killed in action since the Korean War.