– by Shenali Waduge –
We certainly agree that everybody have to be accountable for their actions. But, we chose to pass on following Britain’s example of “accountability” when its own investigation into a massacre that took place in 1972 underwent 2 British inquiries and lasted 38 years for families of the slain to finally be told that it was the British troops that fired upon the unarmed civilian protestors 7 of whom were teenagers in Londonderry on January 30th 1972 and not the other way round as the first inquiry report by Lord Widgery revealed though there were an estimated 50,000 people attending the march to end anti-Catholic discrimination. We will kindly pass on following British example of carrying out, not carrying out, delaying or hiding evidence. In Sri Lanka’s case Sri Lanka concluded its investigation within 3 years of its appointment and all that needs to be said is enough of allegations – bring forward the evidence if people think otherwise.
Nevertheless, what is noteworthy and alarming is that Britain of all countries, the land formerly known as the British Raj that controlled virtually 90% of the world’s nations at its height would take 38 years and flawed inquiries to declare that the 14th victims (7 were teenagers) who died did not shoot and that it was the British troops who shot first.
This is certainly alarming in the backdrop of a wave of new slogans that chirp from West to East on “accountability”, “transparency”, “democracy”, “freedom”.
Here’s why we are baffled that Britain of all countries would take 38 years to reveal its findings and finally apologize.
We shall compare the findings of the 2 reports. It must be noted that the Blood Sunday massacre overshadowed peace talks with Sinn Fein to secure the Good Friday agreement that it was this reason for Tony Blair to appoint a fresh inquiry in 1998 and nothing to do with justice for the victims.
|Lord Widgery Report findings 1972||Lord Saville Inquiry appointed in 1998|
|The Report released 11 weeks upon its appointment in April 1972||Took 12 years to publish its findings on 15 Jun 2010. report cost nearly £200 million|
|· The British Government accepted the Widgery report||· Nationalists condemned it|
|· Exonerated British soldiers – said soldiers had fired in self-defense and had been fired upon first||· Condemned the British soldiers claiming they lied about their actions and falsely claimed they had been attacked first.|
|· The dead were declared guilty||· Exonerated the dead victims|
|· The dead said to possess firearms||· Dead victims not possessing firearms and posed no threat|
|· Claimed forensic evidence available to prove the dead held firearms||· John Martin the forensic scientist who carried out the original tests now says he was wrong and the lead deposits found on the victims could have come from emissions from car exhaust and not guns.|
|· Lord Widgery ignored eyewitness accounts – Over 500 witness statements were recorded by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and the National Council for Civil Liberties shortly after Bloody Sunday and presented to the Widgery Tribunal in March 1972.||· Investigations took 2 years. 2500 statements were taken. 922 people were called to give direct evidence. 160 volumes of evidence, 121 audio tapes and 110 video tapes.|
|· “To those who seek to apportion responsibility for the events of 30 January the question ‘Who fired first?’ is vital. I am entirely satisfied that the first firing in the [Rossville Flats] courtyard was directed at the soldiers.”||· “Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday.”|
|· “Those accustomed to listening to witnesses could not fail to be impressed by the demeanour of the soldiers of 1 Para. They gave their evidence with confidence and without hesitation or prevarication and withstood a rigorous cross-examination without contradicting themselves or each other. With one or two exceptions I accept that they were telling the truth as they remembered it.”||· “In the course of the report we have considered in detail the accounts of the soldiers whose firing caused the casualties, in the light of much other evidence. We have concluded, for the reasons we give, that apart from Private T many of these soldiers have knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing.”|
|· “In the events which took place on 30 January the soldiers were entitled to regard themselves as acting individually and thus entitled to fire under the terms of Rule 13 without waiting for orders … the soldiers’ training certainly required them to act individually in such circumstances and no breach of discipline was thereby involved.”||· “In this belief soldiers reacted by losing their self-control and firing themselves, forgetting or ignoring their instructions and training and failing to satisfy themselves that they had identified targets posing a threat of causing death or serious injury … our overall conclusion is that there was a serious and widespread loss of fire discipline among the soldiers of Support Company.”|
|·· “It is understandable that these circumstances have given rise to suspicion that the CO 1 Para [Colonel Wilford] exceeded his orders, but I do not accept this conclusion in the face of the sworn evidence of the three officers concerned.”||·· “Colonel Wilford either deliberately disobeyed Brigadier MacLellan’s order or failed for no good reason to appreciate the clear limits on what he had been authorised to do. He was disturbed by the delay in responding to his request to mount an arrest operation and had concluded that, by reason of the delay, the only way to effect a significant number of arrests was to deploy Support Company in vehicles into the Bogside.”|
|· This is the best conclusion “no deaths would have occurred if there had not been an illegal march”||· DEMOCRACY – British style!|
What the British Government and its Army hid
· Major General Robert Ford, then Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland referred to the “Derry Young Hooligans” who continued to destroy the city expressed that the army was “virtually incapable” of dealing with them and concluded that to deal with them was after clear warnings to “shoot selected ringleaders” (Saville Report)
· The Tory Government had a “shoot to kill policy” in Northern Ireland at the time
· In 1999, the High Court rejected an appeal that the identities of 17 paratroopers who fired should be revealed and hundreds more were granted the same anonymity. Most of the documents made available to the inquiry were also subject to immunity.
· In 2000 the British Defense Ministry admitted it had destroyed 2 of the 5 remaining rifles used by the British Army on Bloody Sunday. Of the 29 rifles used 14 were destroyed by the Defense and 10 were sold.
· A confidential memorandum from Gen. Sir Robert Ford, commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, to his superior, Gen. Sir Harry Tuzo, expressed concern at the number of no-go areas that the army was prevented from entering by pro-Republican youth, the Derry Young Hooligans (DYH). He wrote, “I am coming to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to achieve a restoration of law and order is to shoot selected ringleaders amongst the DYH, after clear warnings have been issued”.
· The Saville Report cost 200 million because of the insistence of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on obstructing Saville at every turn to try and block the emergence of the truth. All the British army photographs from the day are missing – there were at least ten army photographers taking photographs of the march, which had been declared illegal. Most of the remaining rifles used on the day were destroyed by the MoD after the inquiry asked to have access to them.
About the victims:
· Bernard McGuigan (41). Shot in the back of the head when he went to help Patrick Doherty. He had been waving a white handkerchief at the soldiers to indicate his peaceful intentions.
· James Joseph Wray (22). Wounded then shot again at close range (1metre distance – which equates to deliberate murder) while lying on the ground. Witnesses who were not called to the Widgery Tribunal stated that Wray was calling out that he could not move his legs before he was shot the second time. (Can Channel 4 British forensic expert who appeared on the Callum Macrae fictional documentaries against Sri Lanka be shown these pictures to determine authenticity)
· Barney McGuigan, 41 and father of 6 was shot in the head with an illegal “dumdum” bullet.
· Michael Gerald Kelly (17). Shot in the stomach while standing near the rubble barricade in front of Rossville Flats. Widgery accepted that Kelly was unarmed.
· John (Jackie) Duddy (17). Shot in the chest in the car park of Rossville flats. Four witnesses stated Duddy was unarmed and running away from the paratroopers when he was killed. Three of them saw a soldier take deliberate aim at the youth as he ran
Incidentally, Lord Widgery failed to take evidence from those wounded or even bother to read the eyewitness accounts available – this echoes a similar inquiry into the death of UN Chief Dag Hammerskjold in 1961.
Lord Widgery lost his credibility and historian Max Hastings described the report as “a shameless cover-up” – a good lesson to all those in the legal fraternity all round the world.
The British are now asking the same questions Sri Lankans have been asking for donkeys years – “why are the Bloody Sunday soldiers being pursued when paramilitaries have an effective amnesty?”. Sri Lankans would ask “why are Sri Lankan soldiers who saved 294,000 civilians at the cost of 6000 military lives, rehabilitate and reintegrated 11,000 former LTTE combatants being hounded with unverifiable accusations when LTTE terrorists are treated as VIPs and LTTE foreign representatives still run their show from London happily moving with UK Parliamentarians?”
Upon the release of the 2nd inquiry findings, as a true Brit, Premier David Cameron apologized on behalf of Britain. But, what about the unarmed civilians killed before and even after the Bloody Sunday murder?
The year before Bloody Sunday, in August 1971, British paratroopers shot dead 11 unarmed civilians in the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast. Among the dead was a 50-year-old woman, Joan Connolly, who had been standing peacefully on the street. Another victim was a priest, Fr. Hugh Mullan, who was shot dead while trying to assist a man wounded on the ground.
On 9 July 1972 – six months after Bloody Sunday – British troops again shot dead five unarmed Nationalist civilians in another area of West Belfast, Springhill. Three of the victims were children, including 13-year-old Margaret Gargan, who was shot in the head by a British sniper as she was walking to her home. The two adults who died that day, Patrick Butler and Fr. Noel Fitzpatrick, were killed with the same bullet, it ripping through one man’s head into the other.
The massacre in Derry, Ireland took place in 1972. Why did it take till 1998 for Tony Blair to commission an inquiry 26years after the killings took place?
Thereafter, from 1998 the inquiry took a further 12 years to complete their findings – this is not how British accountability takes place or is it?
We are talking about the country that held 90% of the world that ran administrative systems in all these colonies, taught and continues to teach nations what is human rights, what is accountability and what countries should do and not do, taking such a long time to complete an investigation on the deaths of 13 people some succumbed to their injuries making the total 16?
All throughout the colonies have been taught to follow their masters – the British, in literally everything they do – does this mean that Britain wouldn’t mind former colonies also taking donkeys years like their one time masters to complete investigations?
Well, some Sri Lankans may like to follow their British masters still but then again we believe in true accountability and the Sri Lankan military has concluded its investigations in less than 3 years and all that’s simply left to say is – provide the evidence and the Sri Lankan army would certainly conduct the investigation, if they held an inquiry no sooner the war was over and completed it without dragging its feet for decades, that pretty much speaks volumes of accountability and sincerity!
Incidentally every day is a Bloody Sunday in all the nations that US, UK and NATO now forcefully occupy.
Well it was Sunday bloody Sunday
When they shot the people there
The cries of thirteen martyrs
Filled the Free Derry air
Is there any one amongst you
Dare to blame it on the kids?
Not a soldier boy was bleeding
When they nailed the coffin lids!
—John Lennon and Yoko Ono “Sunday Bloody Sunday“