Letter: Why I salute the oppressed

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The Independent Online
YOUR profile of me by Cal McCrystal ('Nobody's hero but his own', 23 January) contained several errors. A person variously identified as 'an acquaintance' and 'a former friend' says that my parents were comfortably off - they were not; that I worked for Michelin Tyres for only seven weeks during my summer holidays - I did not; that my friend Yasser Arafat, who took me in his presidential party to Dublin, avoids my company - he does not.

More seriously, this 'friend' invents a story of such malignancy that only weariness prevents me from reaching for m'learned friends. According to Mr McCrystal, I pulled a fully clad and kindly schoolteacher into the school swimming pool while I pretended to be drowning. This fiction marked the bottom of the press coverage that I have endured over the past week.

It is true that I described America's stance towards the people of Cuba as 'baleful' (in an interview with Fidel Castro published, as it happens, in your own newspaper). Baleful is the least that could be said for imperialism throughout the Third World. That's why I stood with the Palestinians long before they became Sunday supplement features. It's why I stand with Cuba, and why I salute the people of Iraq, who, having endured 800,000 tonnes of 'Allied' ordnance, now starve and waste away under a 'UN' embargo.

George Galloway MP

House of Commons

London SW1