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US general apologises for blaming Dutch soldiers

Wed 31 Mar 2010 In: International News View at NDHA

A retired US Army general has now apologised to a Dutch general for attributing to him a claim that having gays serving in its peacekeeping forces led to the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslin men and boys. US Gen. John Sheehan (Retd.) Retired Gen. John J. Sheehan, a noted opponent of homosexuals in the military, claimed to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that Dutch general Henk van den Breemen had told him that openly gay service in the Dutch military played a role in the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica. Within hours of Sheehan's testimony the Dutch ambassador to the U.S. flatly rejected the claim. ''The military mission of Dutch UN soldiers at Srebrenica has been exhaustively studied and evaluated, nationally and internationally,'' he said. ''There is nothing in these reports that suggests any relationship between gays serving in the military and the mass murder of Bosnian Muslims.'' The Dutch Defense Minister called the remarks 'outrageous and unworthy of a soldier.' Sheehan has now written to van den Breemen, saying ''I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military.''Despite the apology Sheehan has not yet corrected his testimony to the committee. Meanwhile, the US  Joint Chiefs of Staff says the head of the Army forces for U.S. Pacific Command was wrong to call on troops and their families to fight a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Mullen said if uniformed officers disagree with President Barack Obama's call for a repeal, the answer for them is "to vote with your feet." And the Pentagon has just issued new rules to make it harder for the US military to discharge openly gay personnel. The New Zealand armed forces have embraced openly gay and lesbian services staff since the passing of the Human Rights Amendment Act 1994 which they did not oppose.    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 31st March 2010 - 7:58pm

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