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Truth & History Repeating Itself

 

Mick Hall • 29 June 2007

Some may prefer not to see to the link between the vital need for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the north of Ireland, and Mr Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti, a senior military commander and one time Defense Minister in Saddam Hussein brutal Ba'ath Party dictatorship. But if one probes a little deeper, the link becomes clear and we ignore it at our peril.

Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti became infamous in the 1980s-90s due to the leading role he played in the Iraqi government's program of mass deportations and killings of its Kurdish and Shiite population.

He was captured by the US Army shortly after their invasion of Iraq in 2003, and like his master before him, he was sentenced to hang after what amounted to a less than perfect trial for his role in the regime's al-Anfal campaign of the 1980s. He was dubbed "Chemical Ali" by the Western media after he authorized and over-saw the use of chemical weapons to attack the Iraqi Kurds, which culminated in the notorious attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in which over 5,000 people were gassed to death.

However, Saddam and his instrument al-Majid al-Tikriti were not the first to use poison gas against the Iraqi Kurds, for Winston Churchill can claim this dubious honor. As Minister of War and Air (1919-20) and Colonial Secretary (1921-22) Churchill was partially responsible for the British Mandate of Mesopotamia [Iraq]. When faced with an insurrection which started in the Kurdish north and threatened to ignite the whole country, Chruchill decided to crush the Rising and cower the population by using the British Royal Air Force, after taking advice from his military advisors such as Wing Commander J.A. Chamier, who suggested that the best way to demoralize local people was to concentrate bombing on the

"most inaccessible village of the most prominent tribe which it is desired to punish. All available aircraft must be collected, the attack with bombs and machine guns must be relentless and unremitting and carried on continuously by day and night, on houses, inhabitants, crops and cattle."

The officer in charge of putting this cruel strategy into practice, Squadron Leader [bomber] Harris reported after several such raids, "The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means, within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out, and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured, by four or five machines which offer them no real target, no opportunity for glory as warriors, no effective means of escape."

Whilst Chamier and his political boss Churchill never said so publicly at the time, it soon leaked out that the armaments that were used to crush the uprising, included special ammunition, i.e. chemical weapons. Although at the time there was a minor public outcry within the UK and the west over the use of these chemical weapons in Mesopotamia [Iraq], it failed to gain momentum and there was never any proper enquiry into what amounted to a fragrant violation of international law.

However, within Iraq, where the effects had been dire, knowledge of this crime was passed down through generations and the likes of Saddam and al-Majid al-Tikriti must have reflected on the western attitudes to the use of chemical weapons in 1920s Iraq. The latter was heard to say in a tape played at his trial, "I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything."

Thus he was clear in his mind that he, like the British military and political leaders before him, would never be brought to book for his genocidal gas attack on the Kurdish people. He was partially correct in this as he was never tried for the attack on Halabja, and as he walks to the gallows perhaps he will reflect on the injustice that sends him to his doom and leaves Churchill and Harris as heroes in their own land.

And there's the link between the wretched Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti and the demand for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for if those who inflicted painful deaths on Iraqi Kurd by gassing them with chemical weapons in 1920's Mesopotamia had been brought before a court of law, or at the very least driven from Public Office, the likes of Saddam's henchman may well have thought of the consequences before they did their master's bidding. What actually occurred was that this example of the UK government's collusion in criminality was quickly and decisively swept under the governmental carpet to be buried deep in the faults of the UK Secret State — until, that is, some future satrap dusted it down and repeated the obscene outrage.

Who's to say that at this very time, members of the British Army's Intelligence Regiment, or the Security Services are not colluding with Iraqi criminal elements to murder the UK State's enemies in Iraq, real or imagined? Much as they did in the Six Counties during the 'long war'?

All of us who shudder at the thought of history repeating itself must support the call for a six counties/NI Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

 

 

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Index: Current Articles


8 July 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Jobs for the Boys
John Kennedy

Truth & History Repeating Itself
Mick Hall

The Workers Centre
Patricia Campbell

Invasion of the Stadium Snatchers
Brian Mór

Hats Off
Dr John Coulter

Launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Press Release

New Police Ombudsman
John Kennedy

Oration at the Graveside of Theobald Wolfe Tone
Francis Mackey

Bodenstown Address
Republicans Network for Unity

Ex-POWs' Name Change
Danny McBrearty

Some Recent Sinn Fein Positions
Brian Mór

Gusty Calls It A Day?
Anthony McIntyre


18 June 2007

Belly Up
Anthony McIntyre

Reality Hits Home
John Kennedy

It's Luta Continua for Sinn Fein in the South of Ireland
Mick Hall

The Scream
Brian Mór

Government Woes
Mick Hall

And Now a Word From Our Minister, Martin
Brian Mór

Ruled By Zealots
Michael Gillespie

Introducing, Big Ian & the Gerryaires
Brian Mór

Another Gigantic Step
Anthony McIntyre

A New Dawn
John Kennedy

The Colonisation of Sinn Fein/IRA
Paddy Hackett

Address to éirígí’s James Connolly Commemoration
Daithí Mac An Mhaistír

Preparing an Irish Democracy
32 County Sovereignty Movement

The Irish Left
Mick Hall

Nightsticks
Fred A. Wilcox

Crocodile Tears
John Kennedy

Tensions Haven't Gone Away
Dan Collins

2025: Dawn of the New Troubles?
Dr John Coulter

Do Unionists Really Accept Nationalists as Equals
Michéal MháDúnnaín

Somethings Never Change
John Kennedy

Dawson's Legacy
Dr John Coulter

Don't Take Me Now, Lord
Brian Mór

40 Years of Occupation and 60 Years of Wars: Enough
Mazin Qumsiyeh

Basque Americans for a Special Envoy
Mark J. Guerry

Religion Has Everything to do With Terrorism
Maryam Namazie

 

 

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