“Who has ever raised a voice to the voice who condemns and who has condemned yet never been condemned?”
The interrogation policy – details of which are believed to be too sensitive to be publicly released at the government inquiry into the UK’s role in torture and rendition – instructed senior intelligence officers to weigh the importance of the information being sought against the amount of pain they expected a prisoner to suffer. It was operated by the British government for almost a decade.
A copy of the secret policy showed senior intelligence officers and ministers feared the British public could be at greater risk of a terrorist attack if Islamists became aware of its existence.
In the north of Ireland between 1970 and 2000 British military personnel were responsible for killing over 400(1) men, women and children. All of the victims were unarmed, and none posed a threat to the life of the British soldier who carried out the shooting. Among the victims are Catholic priests, elderly women, children, and even teenage girls such as Annette McGavigan age 14, who was shot in the back of the head at close range by a member of the British Army.
The Baha Mousa(5) and Bloody Sunday(6) Inquiries for all of their bias and shortcomings, have certainly underlined the fact that the British Army has for decades operated, and continues to operate with complete contempt for the UN charter of Human Rights(7), and appears to be totally incapable of ensuring that British troops adhere to national and international law. It is this very refusal on the part of the British Army to recognise that it has any legal and moral responsibilities to the civilian population that is at the very core of the problem.
To date, some of the crimes against civilians carried out by members of the British Army include:-
• The planning, collusion, and participation in the murder of Irish, UK, and Iraqi citizens(13)
• The murder / illegal killing of unarmed men women and children (14)
• The assault, torture, and murder of civilian prisoners (15)
• The torture, mutilation and murder of captured “insurgents” (16)
• The supply of weapons, explosives, and intelligence to paramilitary “death squads” (17)
• Perjury, and the destruction / fabrication of evidence in order to protect the guilty (18).
The above crimes did not happen, and continue to happen, simply because of the actions of a few rouge elements in the lower ranks of the British Army (though the handful of actual criminal convictions that have been secured are, of course, limited to corporals and those in the lower ranks) – they happen because within the British Army and MoD there exists a deep rooted culture that refuses to recognise that the British Army should at all times operate within the confines of national and international law.
Under UK law, the British Army has a legal duty to investigate all such crimes, yet out of the hundreds of reported killings there have only been a handful of cases that have led to criminal charges being brought against any British Army personnel.
Despite the findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, and an admission from the British Government of the British Army’s illegal killing of 14* innocent civilians who took part in a civil rights protest in Derry, the British Army still refuses to admit any liability for the Springhill or Ballymurphy massacres (20), preferring as it does to continue to explain away the shooting of unarmed men, women, children – and even a Catholic priest who was waving a white handkerchief as he sought to come to the aid of the dying – as nothing more than innocent mistakes. This is despite the fact that British Army snipers devoted two days to shooting anybody unfortunate enough to come within range. The fact is, as with Bloody Sunday, these killings of unarmed civilians were anything but mistakes – they were cold blooded murder. The survivors of Springhill and Ballymurphy know it, and so does the British Army.
For all of the flag waving jingoistic nonsense in the British media, the act of serving in the British Army – or the Armed forces of any nation – does not in itself make military personnel “heroes”. Heroism is based on individual conduct of a higher or noble purpose – sadly, when it comes to the killing of unarmed civilians there are far too many in the British Army who lack even the moral courage to speak out against these injustices, such as Father Peter Madden (21), the padre for the Queens Lancashire Regiment, who witnessed the shocking torture and abuse to Iraqi prisoners and did not have the courage to try to stop it.
The Nuremberg Defence – I was only obeying orders.
I would argue that the very act of enlisting in the British Army (in the full knowledge that a subsequent posting to Iraq or Afghanistan would be almost inevitable) does not exempt the British Army volunteer from the accusation that their very presence as part of an occupying military force is not only immoral, but under international law it is illegal. The US and UK certainly did not obtain UN approval for the 2003 invasion, and in 2004 the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan made the position quite clear when he said “From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, the war and invasion of Iraq was illegal.” (23)
A Whitewash Too Far
As an example of the typical British Army whitewash when it comes to investigating these crimes, the report by Brigadier Robert Aitken into the torture and death of civilian Iraqi prisoners, after two years of “investigations” produced a 38 page report that concluded that the MoD and the British Army were certainly blameless, and that the injuries and deaths of the Iraqi prisoners were attributed to nobody in particular (25).A “rotten barrel with a few good apples”
Those that claimed that the Aitken report was a typical British Army whitewash were later proved right when the same British Army investigators later admitted in court that they had colluded and coaxed witnesses, fabricated statements, and that one investigator (Captain James Rands, 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment) had destroyed incriminating photographic evidence by dumping it in the English Channel. As one member of the British Military police was to say about the British Army’s investigative system – “it is not a case of a few rotten apples – it is a case of a rotten barrel with a few good apples”. (26)
In only a handful of cases where the strategy of denial and cover-up has failed has it resulted in the accused facing prosecution in the British Courts – and even if the accused is found guilty the British Army refuses to regard a British Soldier who is convicted of murder or manslaughter as sufficient grounds for dismissal from the British Army. (28) The spectacle of British Army servicemen convicted of murder or manslaughter (such as Guardsman James Fisher, and Ian Wright when General Sir Roger Wheeler, who sat on the original Army Board decided to allow the two guardsmen to remain soldiers despite the murder conviction) continuing to receive their full British Army pay, and being reinstated by their regiment after serving on average just over two years imprisonment not only makes a complete mockery of justice, but simply confirms the mind-set of the British Army when it comes the value it places on the illegal killing of civilians.
This pattern of superficial investigations followed by denial of liability has been the standard British Army response to every atrocity they have been accused of committing – from the mass shooting of civilians at Amritsar in 1919, and the atrocities of the “Black and Tans” (29) in 1920-22, through to the Ballymurphy massacre and Bloody Sunday, to the hundreds of innocent men, women, and children, who were illegally killed by the British Army in the north of Ireland since 1970, and it continues today with the superficial investigations into the killing of hundreds of Iraqi civilians, some of whom were hooded and manacled prisoners who died as a result of torture and beatings while in British Army “custody”.
Had the British Army not been such a recidivist and psychopathic organisation, it would have responded positively to the Bloody Sunday findings by taking the initiative to support an impartial and transparent investigation into such killings. It does not do so because there is a deep rooted culture within the British Army that refuses to acknowledge that it has any legal or moral duty towards civilians – if civilians are shot, tortured to death, or abused it is simply an inevitable consequence of war, regrettable but inevitable. Such an attitude may have been the norm when the British Army was founded but in an age when our society expects, at the very minimum, that the British Army adheres to national and international law – not least the European Convention on Human Rights – the British Army’s attitude is not only socially unacceptable, but it undermines the very values that it claims to uphold, and as with similar behaviour of the psychopathic the British Army seems to not only lack the capacity for regret or remorse, but it appears to also lack the ability to learn from past mistakes.
1. Deaths in the north of Ireland
2. Iraq and Afghan Civilian deaths
3. UK legal claims by victims of British Army
4. Deaths in British Army custody
5. Baha Mousa Inquiry
6. Bloody Sunday Inquiry
7. UN Charter of Human Rights
8. Corporals convicted of murder and re-instated
9. FRU involvement in murder of Patrick Finucane
10. British Army torture of prisoners
11. Shoot to Kill sanctioned by Margaret Thatcher
12. Actions of the FRU
13. The planning, collusion, and participation in the murder of Irish, UK, and Iraqi citizens
14. The murder / illegal killing of unarmed men women and children
15. The assault, torture, and murder of civilian prisoners
16. The torture, mutilation and murder of captured “insurgents”
17. The supply of weapons, explosives, and intelligence to paramilitary “death squads”
18. Perjury, and the destruction / fabrication of evidence in order to protect the guilty
19. Superficial manner of investigating British Army killings
20. Sprinhill and Ballymurphy massacres
21. Father Peter Madden
22. The fabrication of evidence
23. Kofi Annan on legality of Iraq War
24. Purposes of the United Nations
25. The Aitken Report
26. A few good apples
27. Col Dudley Giles retains his job
28. Convicted British Army servicemen re-instated
29. The Black and Tans atrocities in Ireland
In 2005 George Monbiot wrote:
“Three recent books – Britain’s Gulag by Caroline Elkins, Histories of the Hanged by David Anderson and Web of Deceit by Mark Curtis – show how white settlers and British troops suppressed the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya in the 1950s. Thrown off their best land and deprived of political rights, the Kikuyu started to organise – some of them violently – against colonial rule. The British responded by driving up to 320,000 of them into concentration camps.Most of the remainder – over a million – were held in “enclosed villages”. Prisoners were questioned with the help of “slicing off ears, boring holes in eardrums, flogging until death, pouring paraffin over suspects who were then set alight, and burning eardrums with lit cigarettes.”
The soldiers were told they could shoot anyone they liked “provided they were black”. Elkins’s evidence suggests that over 100,000 Kikuyu were either killed by the British or died of disease and starvation in the camps. David Anderson documents the hanging of 1090 suspected rebels: far more than the French executed in Algeria. Thousands more were summarily executed by soldiers, who claimed they had “failed to halt” when challenged.
How many times does a practice have to be publicly outlawed before people stop pretending they didn’t know it was wrong? Suppose someone in a position of authority was being tried for murder. Would any court accept the excuse that he didn’t know it was illegal to kill someone? Yet this is precisely what has happened in the case of the British armed forces using illegal interrogation techniques.The techniques (hooding, stress positions, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation and food and drink deprivation) were banned under the Geneva conventions; by the UK parliament in 1972; again by the UK signing the Convention Against Torture (1987), and yet again when the Human Rights Act became part of UK domestic law (1998). Evidence at the Baha Mousa Inquiry showed the techniques were still being taught to troops in the 1980s and in 2002. Attempts to stop the practice of hooding were countermanded by directives from ‘higher up the chain of command’. In April 2003 hooding and other practices were banned by Lt General Brims, seen to be still in use in July 2003, clearly in use in September 2003 when Baha Mousa died, banned again by Lt Gen Sir John Reith in October 2003, and in May 2004 the order banning hooding was extended to other theatres in which UK forces were operating.
Winston Churchill, speech to the House of Commons in 1935: “In the standard of life they have nothing to spare. The slightest fall from the present standard of life in India means slow starvation, and the actual squeezing out of life, not only of millions but of scores of millions of people, who have come into the world at your invitation and under the shield and protection of British power.”Winston Churchill to Leo Amery, Secretary of State for India (1942): “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
“No great portion of the world population was so effectively protected from the horrors and perils of the World War as were the peoples of Hindustan. They were carried through the struggle on the shoulders of our small Island.”
1. 1769-1770 Bengal Famine (10 million dead).2. Other pre-20th Century famines in British India, in particular those in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa (1769-1770), Rajasthan, Oudh and elsewhere in northern India (1782-84), Rajasthan, Bombay, Gujarat and north-western provinces (1812-1815), north-western provinces, Punjab and Rajasthan (1837-1838), Madras, Deccan, Bihar, Bengal and particularly Orissa (1866; 3 million dead), Rajasthan and northern India (1868-1870), and throughout much of India from Hyderabad to Rajasthan and the Punjab (1899-1900; millions dying).3. 25 million Indian cholera deaths in 19 th century India due to British transmission of the disease from Bengal by rail and sea (and by sea around the world).4. 1.5 billion Indian excess deaths in the period 1757-1947 (1.8 billion excess deaths in the British-dominated Native States are included).5. 17 million Indians died in the Spanish influenza pandemic (1918-1923) out of a world total of about 50 million, this
being exacerbated by the return of hundreds of thousands Indian soldiers from WW1 and British Empire commerce.
Following a peaceful march on 6 August 2011 in relation to the police response to the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by Metropolitan Police Service firearms officers on 4 August 2011, a riot began in Tottenham, North London.
In the following days, rioting spread to several London boroughs and districts and eventually to some other areas of England, with the most severe disturbances outside London occurring in Bristol and cities in the Midlands and North West of England. Related localised outbreaks also occurred in many smaller towns and cities in England.
The riots were characterised by rampant looting and arson attacks of unprecedented levels. As a result, British Prime Minister David Cameron returned early from his holiday in Italy and other government and opposition leaders also ended their holidays to attend to the matter. All police leave was cancelled and Parliament was recalled on 11 August to debate the situation.
As of 15 August, about 3,100 people had been arrested, of whom more than 1,000 had been charged. Arrests, charges and court proceedings continue, with courts working extended hours. There were a total 3,443 crimes across London linked to the disorder.
Five people died and at least 16 others were injured as a direct result of related violent acts. An estimated £200 million worth of property damage was incurred, and local economic activity was significantly compromised.
Police action was blamed for the initial riot, and the subsequent police reaction was criticised as being neither appropriate nor sufficiently effective. The media turned it around in a few days and the rioters were condemned… and yet to date, there is no conclusion….
The big question is, do you hold the whole BRITISH GOVERNMENT AS AN “ACTOR” or the individual as an “actor”? And while spending British Tax payers money discussing the Middle East and the rest of the world, the question raised :
“Is the House of Commons when discussing Bahrain in a better position when handling riots and terror, abuse, torture, a war crime record etc or do they justify the Middle East recent events as “peaceful” when one can say the same of Britain’s past and present when looking on the inside from out?”
- Arab Region: A Major Western Political Engineering Project
- Our Allies
- Highly Critical False Information, Yet to be Retracted
- Human Rights, all Wrong
- WHAT REALLY HAPPENED – IN TUNISIA AND EGYPT
- Before you encourage another NATO strike
- Democracy Sounds Good, Doesn’t It?
- Bahrain, the chosen Emirate
- ARABIA: The Fallen Dream…
- I bubble…
- Psychological, Propaganda and Public Relations
- Mass media cover NATO lies
- End of the Myth of Spontaneous Grassroots
- Lucky You