From Ireland's Bloody Sunday martyrs to those of Palestine
link After 38 years, the martyrs of Bloody Sunday have been vindicated in an investigation that has spanned more than a decade. The Bloody Sunday Inquiry released its ten volume report on 15 June 2010, exonerating the 13 massacred and scores of others injured during a march organized by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in Derry on 30 January 1972. The report laid blame where it rightfully belonged: with those British soldiers who committed the atrocity. When shall the martyrs of Palestine be vindicated and the blame rightly placed on the door of Apartheid Israel?
The final Report released by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry situates the massacre within the historical context in which the dreadful event occurred. Looking at events leading up to Bloody Sunday, as well as Northern Ireland’s struggle with the British government during that time, one will find parallels between its actions and that of Apartheid Israel. Parallels will be found not just between the actions committed against Palestinians, but also by the Apartheid Entity’s treatment of internationals supporting the Palestinian struggle against occupation, suppression, repression and for the right of self-determination.
The British government proclaimed direct rule over Northern Ireland, which was followed by resistance in all its forms to end domination, occupation, subjugation and repression. Similarly, Apartheid Israel proclaimed direct military rule over the occupied Palestinian Territories in 1967 and Palestinian resistance followed in the footsteps of the Northern Irish resistance. The people of Northern Ireland wanted the right to govern themselves, and the Palestinians continue to want a state to call their home.
In 1971, the British government banned nonviolent protests and began a policy of internment without the right to trial. Apartheid Israel has a long standing history of interring Palestinians without trial. One need only look at the various reports issued by human rights groups inside and outside of Palestine, international governmental organizations such as the United Nations, or nongovernmental organizations such as the Carter Foundation for the statistics on the harsh treatment and lack of due process afforded to Palestinian detainees by the Apartheid Entity.
Another policy implemented by the British government in the 1970s was a ban on protests. During times of direct Israeli-Apartheid military occupation, protests were often banned and Palestinians interred. Following an end to direct military rule of the Palestinian territories, protests and marches have occurred where Palestinians and internationals were stopped and incarcerated. People need only look to this year’s Palm Sunday protest in the West Bank for an example and they may recall that not only did the Apartheid Entity detain internationals and Palestinians but a horse and donkey were also held. There have been many other incidents over the span of 62 years where Palestinians have suffered from not only interment, but also expulsion and systematic extermination through small and large scale campaigns of intentional targeting by the Apartheid Entity.
While the United States condemned British action during Bloody Sunday and supported resistance to British colonization of Northern Ireland, it, among some others in the International Community, has supported Apartheid Israel’s occupation of Palestinians, a policy of the internment of Gazans that began following the Apartheid military’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and the systematic killing of Palestinians in the name of so-called security. Should we have really expected a different reaction from the United States and some others in the International Community?
The reaction by some states in the International Community are similar to the reactions during the rule of the South African Apartheid Government, the events following the win of the democratically elected Islamic Salvation Front and those afterward in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Algeria. History, however, demonstrates that a combination of support from at least some states in the International Community and concerned humanitarians worldwide led to the convening of commissions to investigate state actions.
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry was commissioned in 1998 under the Trial of Inquiry Act of 1921. It was established to uncover the truth of the events that occurred leading up to and on the day of the Derry March in 1972; however, it was not the first commission established. The first commission was established on the day following the massacre. Its biased findings were released 11 weeks later, where upon the commission claimed that shots had been fired at British soldiers, who in turn responded killing 13 and injuring scores of others. One later died of the injuries sustained, thereby bringing the total number of martyrs to 14. Following the 1972 commission, the British government regretted the massacre and the report of the first commission justified the actions of the British soldiers, implying they were taken in the name of security.
Apartheid-Israel’s government claimed it regretted the actions taken by its soldiers with the Freedom Flotilla, but claimed there was no choice. Action against the flotilla was taken in the name of security; unarmed men, women and children accompanying humanitarian aid violate the security of the Apartheid Entity. A careful perusal of statements issued by the Apartheid Entity from 1973 to the present, using any newswire database, one will find utterances of regret for having to take actions against the Palestinians. These expressions of regret are given only following international criticism of its actions, while simultaneously placing the blame upon those martyred or injured. Apartheid Israel failed to participate in the Tribunal convened following its massacre of Palestinians during the 2008-2009 Gaza War. It has, however, with pressure from the International Community, including the United States, agreed to convene a commission to investigate the Freedom Flotilla Massacre.
Will the Apartheid's commission end in a manner similar to the first Bloody Sunday Commission? Will the commission be quickly concluded and biased? Will the commission take more than a decade like that of the second Bloody Sunday Inquiry? There is another question that should also be asked: why have states in the International Community pressured the Apartheid Entity to convene and participate in a commission to investigate the events on the Freedom Flotilla, but not for it to participate in an investigation of the massacre of Palestinians during the Gaza War? Are the states that represent us in the International Community declaring that the lives of Palestinians are not equal to that of others? Will concerned humanitarians worldwide continue allowing their governments to assign unequal values to life, liberty and justice?
Maybe the silence concerning the massacre of Palestinians by some states in the International Community is because they have their own bloody history. Regardless of whether that is the case, history demonstrates that when concerned humanitarians join forces against policies of domination, occupation, subjugation and repression, the people are triumphant and governments are forced into action. Like the martyrs of Bloody Sunday, one day the martyrs of Palestine, including those internationals who have given their life or were injured, will be vindicated and commemorated worldwide. They will be forever remembered for their heroic actions because the voice of the voiceless will not relent until injustice is reversed and justice as prevailed, and until the Gaza siege has been completely lifted and a Palestinian state declared. The battle will be long and hard, but one day Palestinians and concerned humanitarians from around the world shall overcome.