CPGB-ML » Posts for tag 'Britain'

The Saville report is a victory for the Irish people, and one more small step on the road to a united Ireland

Issued by: CPGB-ML
Issued on: 18 June 2010

With the release, on 15 June 2010, of the report by the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry on 30 January 1972, the British state has finally been forced to admit what the Irish people, and people throughout the world, have known for the last 38 years, namely that all the dead and injured were completely innocent and that the killings by the British Army’s parachute regiment that day were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.

Speaking in Derry as the report was released, Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams MP, said:

“Today is a day for the families of those killed and those injured on Bloody Sunday.

“They have campaigned for 38 years for the truth and for justice. They have campaigned for the British government to end their policy of cover-up and concealment.

“The facts of what happened on Bloody Sunday are clear – the British Paras came to Derry and murdered 14 civil-rights marchers and injured 13 others. They were unarmed, they posed no threat and they were completely innocent.

“Today, Saville has put the lies of Widgery [a whitewash enquiry into the events ordered by the British government in their immediate aftermath] into the dustbin of history, and with it the cover-up which was authorised at the highest levels within the British establishment and lasted for almost four decades.”

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), which upholds the right of the Irish people to self-determination and stands for an end to partition and the unification of Ireland, joins with the families who lost their loved ones on that fateful day, with the working-class people of Derry, and with their republican leadership, in celebrating the momentous victory they have scored.

It is unprecedented for a British prime minister to have to stand up in the House of Commons and engage in a humiliating act of contrition for the bloody crimes of imperialism’s armed forces. We do not doubt that the words stuck in Cameron’s throat, but they brought joy to our hearts and to those of class-conscious British workers.

Writing in the Guardian, Comrade Gerry Adams poignantly described the atmosphere as the report was released:

Representatives of all the families spoke. One by one they declared their relative, their brother, their father, their uncle, ‘innocent!’

Their remarks were interrupted by loud applause. People cried and cheered. Clenched fists stabbed the air. Not the clenched fists of young radicals. These were elderly Derry grannies and granddads. Elderly widows. Middle-aged siblings.” (’Bloody Sunday is the defining story of the British army in Ireland’, 16 June 2010)

The above title of Adams’ article was a direct response to Prime Minister Cameron’s feeble attempt at face-saving, claiming that: “Bloody Sunday is not the defining story of the service the British Army gave in northern Ireland.”

All this is part of an attempt by the British state to cut its losses. Forced to admit blame, at the same time, it would have us believe that this was but one unfortunate incident, the responsibility of one regiment and of one conveniently dead commanding officer. In other words, the British state is continuing to lie through its teeth.

As Tony Doherty, whose father was one of those murdered on Bloody Sunday, told the 15 June crowd in Derry: “The Parachute Regiment are the frontline assassins for Britain’s political and military elite.” (Quoted in Adams, op cit)

Serving to underline the point, relatives of the Ballymurphy 11 joined the Bloody Sunday relatives at the head of the march. The Ballymurphy 11, ten men, including a local priest, and a mother of eight children, were murdered in that area of West Belfast by the same parachute regiment, in the 36 hours after the British state introduced internment without trial in August 1971, six months before Bloody Sunday. Their struggle for justice continues and we pledge it our full support.

Likewise, Sinn Fein Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, speaking in the Dáil (the Irish parliament), called on the Irish government to “press the British government to comply with the unanimous all-party motion adopted by the Dáil nearly two years ago, which called on the British government to release to an international investigation all facts it possesses on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 17 May 1974″.

Thirty-three people were killed and nearly 300 wounded in these car bombs, which were much later conveniently claimed by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) loyalist terror gang, but which are widely believed to have occurred with at least the connivance of British intelligence.

Comrade Ó Caoláin went on to rightly state: “The final act of justice will be when every remaining soldier of the British Army is at last withdrawn from the six counties.”

Far from being the exception that Cameron implied, Bloody Sunday is not merely the defining story of the British army in Ireland, but also its defining story throughout the world, be it of the Amritsar Massacre in 1919 (for which Shaheed Udham Singh finally took vengeance in 1940), or in countless places in the post-World War II period alone, from Korea, Cyprus, Malaya (where British soldiers posed grinning for photos holding the severed heads of captured suspected guerrillas), Kenya (where the British army retains a reputation for mass, systemic rape to this day) and Aden (where British soldiers awarded themselves ‘golliwog’ labels for killing innocent civilians), through the Malvinas and the Balkans, to the contemporary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We should entertain no illusions that the Saville Report somehow represents the British state turning over a new leaf. Just this month, former Labour defence minister Adam Ingram was forced to admit that he misled parliament (generally considered a far more heinous offence than butchering oppressed people!) over the hooding and ‘inhumane treatment’ of Iraqi detainees.

This emerged from the inquiry into the death of Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, tortured and beaten to death by the British army in Basra in September 2003. Documents disclosed by the inquiry set up into his death show that Ingram was copied on a memo revealing that Baha Mousa was hooded for a total of nearly 24 hours during 36 hours in British military custody before he died. Nine months later, Ingram claimed that hooding was only used while detainees were being transported for security reasons.

A report in the Morning Star noted:

The former minister also told the inquiry that he was not aware of three-decade-old prohibitions on the hooding of prisoners until 2004.

The ban on hooding, the use of stress positions and other degrading treatment was issued in 1972 by then prime minister Edward Heath after abuses of detainees in Northern Ireland.

But all these measures were routinely used by British forces in Basra and elsewhere in Iraq, even after specific instructions not to do so.

“Mr Ingram, a former Northern Ireland security minister, said that he was not aware of the ‘Heath ruling’ until it was referred to in a May 2004 document.” (’Ex-minister Ingram misled us on Iraq abuse’, 2 June 2010)

How correct Karl Marx was when he observed that, “English reaction has its roots in Ireland“.

Our party proudly calls for victory to the Iraqi and Afghan resistance, precisely so that the countless Baha Mousas do not, like the brave people of Derry, have to wait 38 years for justice and vindication.

What the British state has reluctantly conceded after nearly four decades was always as clear as daylight. As the Communist Party of China wrote at the time:
Why don’t you show any respect … for the just wishes of the Northern Irish people to have their democratic rights, since you always talk about respecting ‘the wishes of the people’? You have made a hullabaloo about a ‘civilised solution’, but why have you acted so barbarously in slaughtering the Northern Irish demonstrators and why are you continually sending troops and police to carry out armed suppression on a larger scale? … The bloody suppression of the Northern Irish people by the British government once again reveals its so-called ‘civilisation’.” (’Firmly support the Northern Irish people’s just struggle’, People’s Daily, 8 February 1972)

British imperialism’s belated acknowledgement of the dreadful crime it committed in Derry on 30 January 1972 may be attributed to two factors above all:
• To the courage, dignity, strength and resilience of the bereaved families; and
• To the tenacious struggle waged by the republican movement and the nationalist community, principally the armed struggle waged by the IRA, that finally opened the door to a political process that is slowly but surely going in the direction of a united Ireland.

British imperialism, like all reactionary forces, despises the weak and fears the strong. Its preferred modus operandi when oppressed people rise up is to drown them in blood, ride out the ensuing political storm, if there is one, and continue raking in the loot.

The risen Irish people denied them that option. As an ITN journalist observed, the IRA made the British army pay a high price for Bloody Sunday in the ensuing years, with more than 600 dead and many more wounded.

The victory of the Bloody Sunday relatives comes at a difficult time for British imperialism, with, as we have noted above, imperialist wars being fought in Iraq and, especially at the present time, Afghanistan, as well as with the savage economic crisis raising the spectre of possible unrest at home.

With the mawkish ‘welcome’ afforded the steady stream of coffins as they pass through the town of Wootton Bassett, military parades in such working class towns as Barking, and the attempts to criminalise militant protests by sections of the muslim community to such displays, we need to hammer home the point that participation in an imperialist war does not make you a hero. It makes you a criminal.

The real heroes are those like the Bloody Sunday families, the Afghan resistance, Military Families Against the War, and soldiers like Joe Glenton, who would rather serve time than fight in an unjust war.

In saluting and paying tribute to the Bloody Sunday families, the people of Derry, the republican movement, and the risen Irish people on their significant victory, the CPGB-ML commits itself to playing its part in the ongoing struggle to realise a free, sovereign and united Ireland and to see the day when British troops are no longer able to rampage in Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other country.

In the words of Bobby Sands: “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.

Socialist Korea at the World Cup!

During June-July, South Africa will host the World Cup, the greatest event in international football, for the first time on the African continent. This is a reflection of how far the country has come, as a non-racial democracy, respected by the world, since the dark days of apartheid.

But in this World Cup, there will be just one team representing a nation where sport does not serve the interests of big business, but rather those of the working class; one country where football, and all sports, are at the service of people’s enjoyment, education and health; where there is opportunity and access for all; and where sport is used to promote international friendship and peace, rather than jingoism and chauvinism. That country is the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

This is the second time that the DPRK has qualified for the World Cup. In the 1966 World Cup, hosted and won by England, the DPRK shook some of the giants of world football, knocking out Italy and taking on Portugal in the quarterfinals. No other Asian team had ever advanced so far in a World Cup. And, although eventually succumbing 5-3 to Portugal, at one point the DPRK was 3-0 up.

Prior to the 1966 World Cup, Korean leader Comrade Kim Il Sung had told his country’s players: “European and South American nations dominate international football. As representatives of the Asia/Africa region, as coloured people, I urge you to win one or two games.”

Cabinet papers released 30 years later show how, in 1966, the British Labour government tried to prevent the DPRK team from playing in the World Cup, only relenting when it was pointed out that FIFA might take the competition away from them. But they did insist on some petty and vindictive restrictions, such as not allowing the DPRK national anthem to be played before games.

However, the attitude of the British working class towards their brothers from Korea was very different from that of the imperialist Labour Party. The people of Middlesborough, where most of their games were played, took them to their hearts and remember them to this day. As Pak Do Ik, who scored the winning goal against Italy, put it many years later:

“The English people took us to their hearts and vice versa. I learned that football is not about winning. Wherever we go … playing football can improve diplomatic relations and promote peace.”

When the DPRK players travelled to Everton’s Goodison Park ground in Liverpool for their final game, more than 2,000 local people travelled with them from Middlesborough to cheer them on.

This year, the DPRK is drawn in the ‘Group of Death’, against Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast, meaning that the largely unknown DPRK players will find themselves pitted against such contemporary legends as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Didier Drogba. But, as ever, the DPRK has some powerful defensive deterrents, as well as means of attack, like Jong Tae-Se. Known as ‘Asia’s Wayne Rooney’, this third generation Japanese Korean plays for J-League side Kawasaki Frontale.

To celebrate the DPRK’s success in again making it to the World Cup, the CPGB-ML is hosting a showing of The Game of Their Lives.

This inspiring and award-winning 2002 documentary tells the full, extraordinary story of the last time this small but fearless nation took on the giants of world football. There will also be speakers from the CPGB-ML and other friends of Korea, as well as refreshments.

All friends of Korea and anti-imperialist football fans are welcome!

Public meeting on Saturday 12 June, 6.00pm in west London. Full details here.

Six-year-olds fingerprinted by Britain

Via The Guardian

Under the banner of the EU, and without parliament’s consent, the Home Office is taking data from children entering the UK.

Two months ago, the UK Borders Agency began fingerprinting foreign
children over six years old, from outside the European Economic Area and resident in Britain. At the time Jacqui Smith was congratulated for her tough line on issuing identity cards to foreign residents and no one, not even parliament, noticed that the biometric requirements applied to children of six. And parliament didn’t know because it was never asked to approve the policy.

Nowhere in the world are you more powerless than at a border. As a foreigner you also enjoy far fewer rights than locals. Do you think these children or their parents dare to speak up against the bureaucracy of the UK Borders Agency? In fact, no one has called the Borders Agency to account. Home Office officials I have talked to outside the agency were shocked that official government policy is now to fingerprint children.

When asked why (question 226407), the Home Office itself offers a much more solid defence: that the EU requires it. What it does not admit is that the British government is almost alone in pushing the EU to ensure that the age when fingerprinting can start is so low. Home Office officials pushed the EU to establish a standard age of six, despite opposition within other European governments. The next time you hear a government official support the EU, it is not just because it is a vehicle for “peace, prosperity and freedom”, but also because it is a vehicle to push through policies that the UK government would prefer not to pursue through the legislature at home.

The Bush administration rejected the contemplation of fingerprinting children, even within the controversial US-VISIT program that fingerprints visitors to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security is prohibited from fingerprinting children under 14, though it may well consider lowering it.

The Bush administration and the UK government have both pushed bad
policies through international bodies over the last eight years. The UN was compelled by the UK and the US to adopt shared standards to monitor foreigners and travellers around the world. In turn, when the government wanted to justify ID cards, it pointed to the international obligations to adopt biometric passports. When it collects information about British citizens’ travel habits, it will use “international standards” as a justification.

The bitter irony is that when the Bush administration tried to do exactly what these international standards propose – through collecting all travel information and other data about individuals to develop a risk score that they cannot correct – there was international condemnation. When the UK government wants to push exactly the same measures, and in fact collect even more data than the US, there is absolute silence because everyone in Britain thinks the UK government is just following international obligations.

Even if the Obama administration reverses course on treating entire populations as suspected criminals, the UK government will continue to hawk bad surveillance policy. Yet some of its most invasive practices and plans will never be reviewed by parliament. Just as Britons are powerless at the border of another country, they are also powerless within their own country.

Paradoxically, the European parliament pushed back against the European governments’ attempts to lower the fingerprinting age of citizens for their passports to six years old. Instead, the European parliament gained a “victory” recently by getting the standard raised to 12. So now the EU is requiring that teenagers across the EU be fingerprinted for their passports. Indeed, the UK government will now probably argue that it has to follow suit. The government has promised, however, that ID cards (which are based on passports, which are in turn based on EU “obligations”) would only be issued to people aged 16 or over. Will that pledge hold? Or will the fact that foreign residents in Britain have been forced to accept it and international standards, of course, be used as an excuse to issue children with compulsory ID?