By David Halpin FRCS
Six Londonderry men and seven teenagers were shot dead by soldiers of the British Parachute Regiment on Sunday 30 January 1972. Five of the wounded were shot in the back. The Widgery Tribunal was convened rapidly. The dead and wounded had been in a march with over 7000 people protesting against internment without trial. The Widgery Tribunal was appointed under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921.
Lord Chief Justice Widgery held a preliminary hearing two weeks after the murders and reported in April. He said that if the march, which had been banned by the British authorities along with all public demonstrations, had not taken place there would not have been any deaths. By the same token, if British army rifles had not been fired there would have been no casualties. Furthermore, he stated ‘There is no reason to suppose that the soldiers would have opened fire if they had not been fired upon first," he said. This lie did not run but it limped.
SDLP MP John Hume said his conclusions were a "whitewash" and called for his resignation. The results of the inquiry were rejected by Republican people who began a long campaign for a fresh investigation. In August 1973 an inquest jury returned an open verdict on the 14 people who had died. The coroner, Major Hubert O’Neill, accused the British army of "sheer unadulterated murder".
Brave humans tower above the Lilliputian in man’s descent. The Saville Inquiry started in 1998 and its very long report is published this week.
Widgery proved a safe pair of hands for the Heath government. The leading counsel for the Ministry of Defence in that tribunal was James Hutton, later Lord Hutton. The same sureness at the wicket found him appointed by Lord Falconer to an ad hoc inquiry into ‘the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly’ on 18 July 2003. That appointment was made within twenty-four hours of the death. When he reported in January 2004 his efforts were derided as a whitewash with few dissenting voices.
Bloody Monday was on 31 May in the year of our Lord 2010 in the eastern Mediterranean sea and about ninety miles off the Holy Land. In spite of sabotage, six ships with over seven hundred people on board were steaming towards the polluted sea off Gaza and its rough and ready fishing port. An inner cabinet of seven under Netanyahu had been planning how to deal with this attempt to help the Palestinian breathe. The draconian siege was to be maintained at any cost so that a broken, hungry people would break Hamas. But it is not Hamas per se but Islam on the rack of the Judaeo-Christian inquisition.
The mounting of the subsequent massive naval and commando operation was outside all law and humanity. Its execution was barbaric but the hasbara outfits lead by Regev did their worst with lies and doctored videos. The men on the stern decks of the Mavi Mamara were attacked with stun and tear gas grenades, and guns before these commandos came down the ropes from the Sikorsky helicopters hovering above this cruise ship. Nineteen years old Furkan Durgan was shot four times in the head and once in his chest. This young man was studying medicine. He was Turkish by birth like the other eight who were killed, but he was an American citizen. The nine bodies yielded up 30 bullets, the Turkish pathologists noting three were shot in the back. So much for Regev’s lie that the commandos were simply defending themselves.
Every act from the planning to the eventual ‘deportation’ of the abducted humans from Tel Aviv to Turkey was criminal. Many reported being handcuffed tightly and being kept in the sun with little drink and no toilet visits. Many were beaten, some savagely like Paul Larudee. All belongings, passports, credit cards, cell ‘phones, cameras etc were taken from them. Rumour has it that they have been sent en masse to Turkey but at least one voyager, Kathy Sheetz, reports her credit card has been used in Tel Aviv. Given the recent cloning of passports to do with the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, it is obvious that the entity has no regard for its international reputation or for the law.
The scenes of commandos slipping down ropes, of point blank shooting and of reports that one deck was awash with blood bring fears of escalating chaos and never ending suffering. Is our humanity drowning in the bloodied deep? The Turkish doctor, Hasan Huseyin Uysal, treated three of the injured commandos. ”I am a doctor, and the Israeli soldiers were brought to me to check their medical situation and treat them properly. I had our dead bodies and injured people lying in front of me and I was treating the soldiers that actually killed and wounded them. None of our friends in the centre approached to harm or hurt them. Our injured people were lying on the ground, but I rested the soldiers on our chairs.” The wife of the chief engineer on the Marmara had their eighteen month old infant with her. She said if the peace convoy had not been stopped ‘they would be playing with the children in Gaza’. Like the Republicans in the island of Ireland they were protesting in part against internment, albeit massive in scale.
All were good Samaritans on those vessels. It is apposite to recall the parable just under two thousand years from its telling.
Crime requires investigation, indictment and trial. The Turkish government have jurisdiction in this massacre. But Israel demands that the inquiry is kept in its safe hands. Now, we hear of the appointment of an independent public commission, headed by former Supreme Court Justice, Jacob Turkel, to examine the maritime incident of 31 May 2010. The summary of the document shows Messrs Turkel, Rosen and Horev will not be taking evidence from Israeli forces personnel. The inquiry is hedged round with caveats about national security and some findings might not be published.
There are to be two observers. The paramount war criminal and Quartet envoy Blair has been conferring with Netanyahu. It is likely he nominated Lord Trimble, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
The Jerusalem Post reported May 31 that Aznar and Trimble were to launch a new pro-Israel Project ‘Friends of Israel Initiative’ at a meeting in Paris which was to be addressed by Dore Gold. This movement responds to increasing ‘delegitimation’ (sic) of Israel. Its statement concludes ‘just as the sponsors of this initiative believe, there is no west without Israel." The other observer is Ken Watkin, a retired Canadian military prosecutor and judge-advocate general.
The foreign minister of Turkey has said "We have no trust at all that Israel, a country that has carried out such an attack on a civilian convoy in international waters, will conduct an impartial investigation."
So, the decorators are ready, brushes and whitewash to hand. Aiding them is the BBC, the propaganda machine which seeks to dilute innocent blood. Its report of today – ‘Last month’s clashes came after six ships carrying campaigners and 10,000 tonnes of aid sailed from Cyprus in an attempt to break Israel’s three-year blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.’ ‘Clashes’ is the carefully chosen word of the BBC linguists. The massive black propaganda war waged by Regev and the western media, led by the BBC, was two days ahead of the humble responses from the people on the convoy and their supporters. Their silencing was part of the most evil of plans. However, the truth will out, and Gaza will be free.
– David Halpin FRCS is a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon. He founded the Dove and the Dolphin charity, one of whose aims is to promote the health and welfare of Palestinian children. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.