Saoradh Beal Feirste explain its opposition to the march of former British soldiers through Belfast city centre on Good Friday.
Momentum is currently gathering behind Saoradh’s campaign to prevent the British Crown Forces from rewriting their terrorist campaign of murder in the Six Counties over this past 40 years.
A similar Crown Forces parade was organised last January. It had intended to march through the very killing fields created by 1st Para on Bloody Sunday 1972 - similar to Ballymurphy - and do so in the name of justice.
Justice to the current British Government is defined as an amnesty for its war crimes in Ireland. In being such a reprehensible proposal, plans for this parade naturally elicited such strong feelings of repulsion throughout the entire community. When Saoradh Doire initiated a campaign to prevent it from occurring, the momentum required to succeed was attained extremely quickly. The people responded with what can only be described as expressions of disgust and absolute pain.
An invitation from Saoradh to all Republican, Republican Socialists and Anti-Imperialists along with a pledge to mobilise thousands of people in opposition to this parade was received warmly by all in Derry City and further afield. By February 9th, 2017 the Crown forces were forced to cancel their intentions and Saoradh rightly claimed victory.
Unfortunately, this was not the end of the matter. The organisers of this vile campaign, who were forced last February into cancelling their parade in Derry, did not reflect upon the pain which their proposal had inflicted upon their victims. Instead, they set about reorganising their campaign of hate and have now utilised the age old British tactic which seeks to employ the sectarian divisions in Belfast’s society in order to achieve their nefarious ends.
This is a parade which intends to both glorify British murder in Ireland while also exonerating those who inflicted it upon us from any wrong doing. It is the sick pageantry equivalent of Lee Clegg being released from prison despite him having murdered two unarmed innocent teenagers in West Belfast.
The campaign group behind the parade announces itself as being in favour of an amnesty, but it is not an amnesty that this campaign seeks to achieve. The campaign seeks to record history in the manner that has been expressed recently by the British Government. It seeks to conceal the role of British state forces in violence here; it seeks to rubbish any suggestion of British involvement in the war; it aims to dismiss collusion as being a Republican conspiracy theory and it hopes to reignite the myth once peddled by the media that Loyalist death squads operated organically and without direction from the British State. It is a campaign aiming to sanitise the most disgraceful human rights abuses perpetrated in any country upon any people by a western superpower in the last fifty years - and it will be challenged.
The British Army veteran organisers do not wish for a real amnesty. What they want is that the uniform worn by the murderer, at the time of the murders, becomes some form of retrospective diplomatic immunity. They do not ask for truth or justice, they ask that while Republican Volunteers be pursued and prosecuted by the remnants of special branch RUC for having served Ireland - British crown force murderers receive a ticket of leave from any such proceedings.
The only deaths that matter to England is British Crown Force casualties. They claim to care about all of the civilian casualties that the war created in Ireland, and yet here is a demand now supported by Teresa May to secure an amnesty on behalf of those responsible for bringing death to the streets of Ireland in the first instance.
To place this campaign in the correct international and contemporary context we must reflect on a recent decision that was made by an English Court in the case of a British Soldier who had been convicted of murdering a member of the Taliban in Afghanistan. In March this year Royal Marine Sgt Alexander Blackman, 42, had his murder conviction reduced to manslaughter and the British establishment cheered.
In 2011 Alexander Blackman witnessed an Apache helicopter attack - seriously injuring a known member of the Taliban whom “he feared”. As the man lay seriously injured, Blackman produced his 9mm pistol, he approached the victim and deliberately executed him by shooting him repeatedly at point-blank range in the chest. The murder was captured on the mounted helmet camera of another British soldier. This obvious and blatant murder was only weeks ago reduced to a manslaughter conviction, and as the people of Belfast learned in the case of Lee Clegg Mr Blackman will now be released and most likely readmitted back into British Crown forces to murder again.
This is the justice that those who seek to tramp through Belfast wish for. This is the sickening reality of what has been proposed.
Among our membership are family members of those who received the same British justice in Belfast as was delivered by Blackman and Co. in Afghanistan, and those who personally endured similar British violence on their doorsteps. Our communities suffered years of aggressive terrorism and the violence that defined it. We call on our communities - especially those victims and their families, to now stand with us and, as we did in Derry, bring to a shuddering halt this disgusting parade of shame.