“This is not who I am, John.”
Private Kyle Brown, Canadian Army, 1993
In 1993 Canadian soldier John Dowe deployed to Somalia with the Canadian Airborne Regiment. During this deployment the soldiers were used as subjects in an unethical mefloquine drug trial. Many of them commonly experienced psychiatric side effects, some of them quite severe. Two local Somali civilians were killed by members of the unit, one of whom was shot and the other one was captured and then beaten to death, during episodes consistent with mefloquine intoxication. The controversy became known as the Somalia Affair.
When photos were released, a public inquiry and criminal investigation were launched, resulting in one soldier trying to commit suicide, one being sentenced to five years in jail, and several others disciplined. The head of the military was forced to resign due to the scandal, and his successor. The Minister of Defence also resigned. Most significantly of all the entire Canadian Airborne Regiment was disbanded.
Like many others, John Dowe has noticed severe personality changes after taking mefloquine. He believes that this, along with other factors, allowed this scandal to occur. In fact, when he walked into the bunker where the Somali was being beaten to death, one of the soldiers doing the beating came up to him and said that “This is not who I am, John.” Listen to his recent interview below.