Assignment 10

Lucy Hao

2261628-3x2-940x627Bullet holes in the car of the Armenian women, who were shot and killed by URG

Unity Resources Group is a private military firm established in 2000 that supplies mercenaries for all over the world, including Australasia and the Middle East. URG has played a major part for Australia in the war in Iraq, especially when other sovereign armies withdrew. Specifically, URG’s soldiers guard and protect the Australian embassy in Baghdad. As part of its $9 million contract, its Chilean soldiers man the gates and protect important individuals and indirectly the surrounding communities. Despite this, however, URG has been involved in conflicts that have provoked and threatened the Iraqi people.

Increasingly, private military contractors are not held accountable for their actions because it is difficult to determine who is at fault and whether they should be prosecuted through their company or by the country. This is exactly the situation for URG. In 2006, URG was involved in the shooting and killing of a 72 year old Australian, Professor Juma. Juma had been living in Baghdad for 25 years and was killed while driving. URG claimed that he sped up his car as he approached its soldiers at a checkpoint. This situation caused URG came under scrutiny, especially as Juma was an Australian citizen. However, the mercenaries involved were cleared of any wrongdoing by the company. In 2007, Unity Resource Group fired at and killed two Armenian women when their car came too close to a convoy that URG was protecting. Its soldiers fired over nineteen rounds of ammunition before speeding away from the scene. Currently, court proceedings have begun against URG by the family of one of the women.

These two incidents caused a lot of backlash from the Iraqi people against URG. The killing of the two Armenian women especially provoked the community, as it occurred closely following the Blackwater scandal. More importantly, these two incidents demonstrate how these mercenaries could commit acts of violence against civilians and not be punished.

For the Australian people and government, the soldiers under URG fulfill an important role of safeguarding the embassy and protecting Australian people. But, for the Iraqi people, the URG soldiers are seen as a foreign threat, equipped with heavy machinery and capable of harming civilians without any repercussions. These two conflicting social roles demonstrate modern-day issues with mercenaries in the battlefield, as they are often allowed to act unregulated. Thus, it is a gamble whether they will fulfill their role in the battlefield or abuse their power and cause unnecessary damage. In the instances that Unity Resources Group was involved in, its soldiers stepped out of the boundary of what was needed and acceptable, establishing themselves as a threat to the Iraqi people.