A three-year public inquiry into the death of an innocent Iraqi civilian in 2003, who was detained by British troops in Iraq, concluded yesterday (8th September 2011) that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was culpable of corporate and systematic failings and that “serious and gratuitous violence” had been used by soldiers in their treatment of innocent people.
The findings of the inquiry seemed to come as a shock to the head of the army, General Sir Peter Wall, who said that the killing of Iraqi civilian Baha Mousa, “cast a dark shadow” over the reputation of the army. It seems that General Sir Peter Wall knows nothing of the atrocities that have been inflicted by British troops on countless innocent civilians in many parts of the world, including in the north of Ireland, as the families and friends of the victims of those people murdered by the British army could (and have) testify to.
One journalist, Robert Fisk, writing in the London based Independent newspaper today said that when he was reporting from the north of Ireland, he witnessed the “arrogant, vicious, indifferent reaction” of the MoD to the “Army’s brutality”. Frisk writes in his analysis of yesterday’s publication of the inquiry that the soldiers held responsible for Mr Mousa’s death will be shown up as `bad apples’, but according to Frisk “it’s all rotten to the core”:
“Hundreds of thousands of fine British soldiers behaving with exemplary courage and courtesy, in danger of their lives 24 hours a day – you will read this stuff in the usual newspapers today. They were the real victims of these “bad apples” – the actual victims, the 14 Catholic dead on Bloody Sunday in Derry, Baha Mousa in Basra, were the sub-victims who had somehow got in the way. They could be lied about.
“Where did all these “bad apples” come from, I used to ask, along with their complacent, complicit officers? I recall the day the Gloucestershire Regiment ran amok in Belfast, smashing all the downstairs windows of a Catholic street just before they returned to Britain. Untrue, of course. Terrorist propaganda. Then a “few bad apples”. Was I on the side of the IRA? And so it went on. And on.
“It wasn’t the brutality that was “systematic”. It was the lying that was systematic. In Northern Ireland, among the Americans after Abu Ghraib and Bagram and the black prisons and the renditions. Baha Mousa received 93 wounds. There was an inquiry, I was imperiously told. It was all sub judice.”
Mr Frisk continues:
“Even the moment of Baha Mousa’s arrest has never been truly investigated. Colonel Daoud Mousa – for Baha’s father was a senior police officer, permitted by the British to carry a pistol and wear his blue uniform, hardly the father of a terrorist – actually saw his boy after his arrest, lying under orders on the floor of the hotel in which he worked.
“The soldiers had found some weapons – perfectly normal in Basra where almost every household contained guns – but what the British didn’t want to talk about just then was that Baha had told his father that several British troops had opened the hotel safe and stuffed currency into their pockets.
“That, Colonel Mousa believed, was the real reason he was killed. Baha had been a snitch. He was a witness to theft. The British officer in the hotel had told the colonel that his son would be returned to him safe and sound. Bullshit, of course. The 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment saw to that.
“When I went to see one of Baha’s friends – newly released by his British killers – he appeared to have lost a kidney to the treatment he had received. He wept. His face was blue with bruises. Yes, this was my country which had done this. No comment. Call the Ministry of Defence.
“Baha Mousa’s nose was broken. There was blood above the corpse’s mouth. The skin had been ripped off his wrists. According to his friend, Baha had been crying and pleading for his life from beneath his hood. “They gave us the names of footballers and cursed us with them as they attacked us,” he said.
“The Brits did the same in Northern Ireland, I remember. Catholics would often tell me they were given the names of footballers before the beatings began.
“A bit systematic, perhaps? “They were kick-boxing us in the chest and between the legs and in the back…” Baha’s friend said. “He kept asking them to take the bag off and said he was suffocating. But they laughed at him and kicked him more.”
“And always there were screwball parallels from officers. We treat the Catholics a lot better than the French Paras treated the Algerians, an officer told me once near Divis Flats. We’re not as bad as Saddam. Nor Hitler, I’m glad to say.”
Mr Mousa is survived by his three young children, who lost their mother to cancer shortly before their father’s own brutal murder. A total of 19 soldiers are named as responsible for assaults and other violence against nine other Iraqi civilians, who were lucky enough to have escaped with their lives.
It should now be up to the UK government to broaden the inquiry further into other allegations of torture and abuse by British troops in Iraq. Whether this is undertaken or not is a another matter – after all there are still many families still waiting – even after 40 years – for their own justice from the MoD in Ireland.
For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary, Celtic League:
Tel: 0044 (0)1209 319912
M: 0044 (0)7787318666
The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.