The spread of British hypocrisy, from Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland to Syria

If arresting Adams just before the European elections was not political, then surely the British refusal to inquire into the slaughter in Ballymurphy was.

 

Share

The law is the law is the law. So I was taught as a child. But it’s all baloney. Take the case of Gerry Adams, “arrested” and then released after chatting to the Northern Ireland police – I notice the cops did not use the old cliché about “helping the police with their inquiries” – about the torture and murder and “disappearance” of Jean McConville. It is, to quote Fintan O’Toole, that wise old bird of Irish philosophy, “an atrocity that cries out for accountability” – in which Adams has consistently denied any involvement. Sinn Fein announced that Adams’s “arrest” was political, a remark that got the usual tsk-tsk from Unionists and British alike.

But alas, Theresa Villiers, the latest in the hordes of Northern Ireland secretaries to be visited upon Belfast, also announced, a wee bit before Adams’s “arrest”, that there would be no independent inquiry into the killing of 11 unarmed civilians in Ballymurphy in August 1971 by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment, the most undisciplined British military unit to be sent to the province, which later killed another 14 civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday. In the Ballymurphy shooting, the Brits managed to kill a Catholic priest carrying an improvised white flag and a mother of eight children who went to help a wounded boy. The deaths of Father Hugh Mullan and Mrs Joan Connolly were also deaths that “cry out for accountability”. But of course, there will be none. Ms Villiers has seen to that.

She also ensured that there would be no inquiry into the fire-bombing of the La Mon hotel in 1978, when the IRA burned 12 people to death. Families of the dead have their suspicions that transcripts of police interviews with IRA suspects to this crime were removed from the archives to protect important people involved in the “peace process” in Northern Ireland. No complaints about that, needless to say, from the IRA. But you can see the problem: if arresting Adams just before the European elections was not political, then surely the British refusal to inquire into the slaughter in Ballymurphy – assuming the soldiers involved have not died of old age – was political. After all, the Brits know who these soldiers were, their names, their ages and ranks. They have much more than the statements of two dead IRA supporters – the “evidence” against Adams – to go on.

Now you may argue that the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday cost far too many millions of pounds to warrant another investigation into the Ballymurphy deaths. But then you may also ask why the soldiers who gave evidence to the original inquiry were given the cover of anonymity. This was something Gerry Adams was not offered – nor, given the favourable political fallout, was he likely to have asked for it. But then it would also be pleasant if the Brits who know something about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings during the worst days of the Irish war could pop over to Dublin and give a little evidence about this particular atrocity. No chance of that, of course.

And you don’t have to stick in Ireland for further proof of legal hypocrisy. Take our beloved Home Secretary’s decision to deprive British immigrants of their British passports if they go to fight Assad’s regime in Syria. Quite apart from the fact that William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, and his friends originally supported the armed Syrian opposition, there are problems with the passport story. Many British supporters of Israel, for example, have fought on Israel’s behalf in Israeli uniform in that country’s wars. But what if they served in Israeli units known to have committed war crimes in Lebanon or Gaza? Or in the Israeli air force, which promiscuously kills civilians in war. Are they, too, to be deprived of their passports if they were not born in the UK? Of course not. One law for Muslims, another for non-Muslims – not unlike Spain’s offer of passports to the descendants of those driven from their homes in the 15th century, a generous act somewhat damaged by the fact that only Jews (not Muslims) may take advantage of it.

We will not dwell upon all the other hypocrisies of the Middle East – the outrage at any Iranian interest in acquiring nuclear weapons, for example, when another country in the region has an awful lot of nuclear weapons; or US fury at Russian annexation of Crimea but no anger at all about the annexation of Golan or the theft of Arab land in the West Bank, which are equally illegal under international law. Upon such foundations is aggression built: the illegal invasion of Iraq, for instance.

I contemplate all this because of a little research I’m undertaking about a Moroccan air force colonel who, in 1972, tried to stage a coup against the brutal King Hassan who was also, by the way, quite an expert on “disappearances”. Mohamed Amekrane flew to Gibraltar and threw himself upon the dodgy mercy of Her Majesty. He pleaded for asylum (after all, the coup had failed) but we packed him off back to Morocco because, while the European Convention on Human Rights gives anyone the right to leave his or her own country, no international treaty obliges a country to give that person asylum. So back Amekrane went – and was, of course, put to death. His widow eventually got £37,500 from the British government – ex gratia, needless to say, out of goodwill not guilt, you understand – and Colonel Amekrane was then erased from history. Interesting to see what happens to the ex-Brits who lose their passports for going to Syria – and have to go back to the country of their birth. They might be better off – and live longer lives – if they to go off to fight in another jihad.

The Great War’s forgotten victims in the Levant

Horrors of the Great War you will not read about this year: among the casualties were another million dead, the men, women and children of the Ottoman Levant – for which read modern-day Lebanon and Syria – who died of famine, victims of both the Allied blockade of the east Mediterranean coastline (which is why we ignore these particular souls) and of the Turkish army’s seizure of all food and farm animals from the civilian population; all this in addition to the million and a half slaughtered Armenians of 1915. Many Lebanese remember parents who ate nettles to stay alive, just as the Irish did in the famine. I have a book by Father Antoine Yammine, published in Cairo in 1922, illustrated with photos of stick-like children and of a priest in his habit lying dead on a Beirut street, another of a baby suckling at his dead mother’s breast outside their front door. “And some there be which have no memorial; who are perished as though they had never been…”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Finance Systems Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a PE...

Credit Controller - Enfield

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Credit Controller - Enfield (North London / Hertfor...

year 5 teacher

£21000 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Supply Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Assistant Editor: Domestic violence is no petty matter

Siobhan Norton
 

There’s nothing wrong with GM

Steve Connor
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried