IoS letters, emails & online postings (8 September 2013)

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All modern wars take a terrible toll on civilians who are no part of the war. ("The finger on the trigger pauses", 1 September). The war in Syria is, however, a civil war, fought by Syrians, and some mercenary helpers, against an apparently tyrannical regime.

Nobody else, Britain, the USA the EU, or any other nation has any part in it, so none should be taking action against Assad and his minions, even if or when it is proved he has used chemical weapons against his opponents.

However, if it is proven he has used chemical weapons he should be charged by the UN with committing a war crime against humanity, and if and when the opportunity arises he and his cronies should be tried in an international court.

Adam Abbott

Swindon, Wiltshire

Just as I was thinking of supporting Labour again after their splendid vote on Syria, I learn that some of their Blairites want another vote. Will the New Labour warmongers never learn? They want to trample on parliamentary democracy in order to drag Britain into yet another war. If Labour votes for war, it can kiss my vote goodbye.

Barry Tighe

Woodford Green, Greater London

Jane Merrick quotes David Cameron's words in the visitors' book at the Kigali Memorial Centre that commemorates the Rwandan genocide (1 September). But there remains a deep stain on my government's record regarding genocide recognition: Labour's Geoff Hoon, in April 2007, admitted that "over a million ethnic Armenian citizens in the Ottoman Empire were killed – many massacred, some victims of civil strife, starvation and disease…". As the centenary of the start of the Ottoman destruction of Armenians approaches, it is time that the UK and Turkish governments apologised for what Geoffrey Robertson QC summed up as genocide. It is time for truth to trump political expediency.

James Derounian

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

I write as an ex-chair of an Independent Monitoring Board at an immigration removal centre about your article "Britain still detaining hundreds of refugee children" (1 September). It is likely that a number of these children were travelling as part of a family group of asylum seekers who had been refused entry or the right to remain.

Bad as detention might be, it is preferable that these children were not parted from their parents and sent to children's homes. Other youngsters would have been without valid documentation. They may never have had a birth certificate, making it impossible to verify their age.

My members would agree that detention can "seriously harm" the mental and physical health of children, but in a climate where asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are dealt with together, and public opinion is, at best, ambivalent, it is hard to find alternatives.

Margaret Johnson MBE

Woking, Surrey

James Paton should visit more state comprehensive secondary schools before he condemns a "one-size-fits-all" approach (Letters, 1 September). Jobs for which many pupils used to apply at the age of 15 to 18 now demand a degree, and we develop universal general and social education for much longer than the primary-school years. What possible harm is there in comprehensives where diverse pupils come together for general and social studies, lunch, games, computers, films, discussion, drama, private study, flirting and hobbies before going their separate ways, in the same building, for other activities, just as they will in the real world? The shame and loss of the UK is that we have an educational system based upon antiquated, damaging ideas of social apartheid.

Alison Sutherland


Janet Street-Porter is right that most men dress like overgrown babies in leisurewear, (Editor at Large, 1 September). At 55, I am frankly appalled at some of the sights in our local high street and supermarkets, and in restaurants and theatres. Living close to Twickenham rugby ground, I always know when France or Italy are playing. Their fans dress well for not only leisure, but also for sport. The average Englishman is sartorially immature.

Neil Pearce

Twickenham, Surrey

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