Irish Republican News · November 24, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
A Human Rights Windbag

By Danny Morrison

IN the very early days of the Troubles a reporter from British television, freshly arrived from `the mainland', was interviewing a woman on the Falls Road. He was perplexed at the degree of nationalist alienation and he asked the woman what had happened to her and her neighbours' homes. The woman said, ``They came down >from up there with bricks and petrol bombs and burnt us out, one after the other, in the middle of the night.

``But why didn't you phone the police,'' asked the baffled Englishman, which to him would have been the obvious common-or-garden thing to do.

``It's the police I'm talking about,'' answered the woman.

LAST July Tony Blair issued an appeal to Western governments to agree a new world order that would allow Western powers the authority to attack any sovereign state which is judged to be inflicting unnecessary suffering on the people whom it governs.

Any state, that is, bar any satellite, dependency, ally or oil-rich friends of the USA or Britain; or any territory occupied by, or allied to, Russia or China (which just happen to have nuclear missiles, cover a third of the northern hemisphere and have many millions of people).

The Downing Street document in regard to Blair's appeal reads: ``Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.

Saint Gabriel Blair, protector of the poor, defender of the downtrodden -- a human rights' windbag, at his puffiest.

THE most obvious and pressing application of Blair's principle would be in the Middle East. There, the condition of the Palestinian people -- stateless, homeless, starved, robbed, tortured and murdered every day -- is a crime against humanity that cries out for justice and relief from the international community. In the past month alone Israeli forces killed 28 Palestinians, including 2 children, injured 60 others, including 33 children in refugee camps, demolished twenty-four houses and three schools (in collective punishments) and ejected seven Palestinian families from their farms, seizing over 300 acres of their agricultural land.

What do the Palestinians get from Blair and Bush when they appeal to their ``international responsibility to protect? They get fresh demands to compromise or die.

SECURITY Council Resolution 1441 -- inspired by the USA and Britain -- ordered Iraq's government to allow UN inspectors with ``immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access''to all areas, equipment and records and ``immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted, and private access to all officials.

UN weapons inspectors were empowered to arrest and conduct interviews with Iraqis inside or outside of Iraq ``without the presence of observers from the Iraqi government''.

Iraqi scientists with knowledge of their country's weapons of mass destruction who didn't come forward were threatened with imprisonment.

IN 1986 an Israeli scientist with a conscience and knowledge of his country's weapons of mass destruction, did exactly what the USA and Britain demand of Iraqi scientists. Mordechai Vanunu came forward and revealed that his country had, illegally and in breach of non-proliferation treaties, produced and stockpiled up to 200 nuclear warheads. Vanunu was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Rome, drugged and shipped to Israel where in a secret trial he was sentenced to eighteen years imprisonment, eleven of which were spent in isolation. There was no international protection for him and no protest from the USA or Britain at his kidnapping.

BUT what about the principle behind Resolution 1441, about access to records and access to officials in order to find the truth, for which Blair argued so vigorously?

Thirty-three people were killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Dr Jim Donavan, a former Chief State Forensic Scientist, addressing the Oireachtas sub-committee on the Barron Report stated last week that loyalist bombers would have needed ``direction of some sort to direct them how to detonate the bomb[s].'' A retired British explosives expert, Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Wylde, told the committee that the loyalist bombers could not have acted alone. The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said he believed that there was security force' collusion in the bombings -but that he had seen no evidence of Downing Street involvement.

How could he! Blair refused to fully cooperate with this parliamentary review into the biggest mass murder in the history of the Irish state; refused to allow access to the records or access to his government's or former governments' officials, its army or intelligence staff, or the Chief Constables of the RUC and PSNI. Paul Murphy, the secretary of state, and his predecessors, John Reid and Peter Mandelson, were asked to appear before the Oireachtas committee, but they all refused. Murphy, in a letter, said that the British government had ``sought to cooperate fully''(whilst Justice Barron says it did not), but could not release its intelligence material because it could ``compromise intelligence assets or the lives of sources.

What about the compromised lives of Irish babies, children, women and men slaughtered by those car bombs? The planners certainly knew what they were doing when they terrorised and intimidated the people of the South, who were then discouraged by the establishment parties from having anything to do with the North --bar collaborating on security issues. How many years did that discouragement and ostrich-like behaviour allow the British to think they could do as they liked? How many years did that add to the deadlock and the conflict?

Unfortunately, the Irish people are still bereft of a sovereign leader, a Taoiseach with the courage to demand of the British the details of its dealings with the UVF and UFF, in the way, for example, that the British prime minister will be confidently demanding of Colonel Gadaffi the details of his dealings with the IRA.

IN the North the nationalist population suffered `serious harm' and `repression' by state forces, and through state collusion with, and organisation of, loyalist paramilitary groups that assassinated Catholic citizens.

Blair's lofty speech last July was nothing more than hot air because if his `principles' were to be applied here then successive British governments, including his, would be in the dock; the North would be open to international inspection and intervention; and we would have open and accountable inquiries into the state's dirty war.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News