Letter sent to all three Irish broadsheets on 24 January
"never in the history of diplomacy has so much hypocrisy been exercised by so many western leaders for a deceased, despotic tyrant. Shame on them all, including our own elected leader who allowed the Irish flag to fly at half mast. Saudi Arabia enslaves women, publicly flogs dissenters and officially beheads people with impunity while the main western powers buy its oil, arm it to the teeth and praise it as a "valued" ally. The Irish Government should dissociate the Irish people from this repressive regime, call for an end to western arms sales, an end to beheadings and for the immediate release of prisoner of conscience and flogging victim Raif Badawi.
Jim Roche, PRO, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 087 647 2737
Website - www.irishantiwar.org
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IRISH ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT LETTER ON THE CHARLIE HEBDO ATROCITY AFTERMATH
SENT TO IRISH TIMES, IRISH EXAMINER AND IRISH INDEPENDENT
21 January 2015
the inclusion of politicians from countries with appalling human rights records, e.g. Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in Paris last Sunday week vividly represents the cynical efforts of many powerful states to make political capital from the Charlie Hebdo atrocity and is insulting to the memory of the murdered journalists and cartoonists. Israel killed 17 journalists alone in its attack on Gaza last summer. The Turkish state regularly harasses and imprisons journalists. Saudi Arabia publicly beheaded a total of 87 people in 2014 and 10 so far this year, (the most recent a Burmese woman who screamed in terror while being dragged down the street before her beheading) and is publicly flogging Raif Badawi for expressing freedom of thought, a mainstay of journalism.
While the media spotlight, belatedly shines on Saudi Arabia’s despicable human rights record, one aspect missing from the analysis is how the major western powers prop up this reactionary regime, particularly through trade in armaments. The US Congressional Research Service reports that Riyadh signed $66 billion worth of arms transfer agreements with the US in 2011 alone. The Campaign Against Arms Trade reports that Britain, under David Cameron’s premiership, has approved export licenses to Saudi Arabia worth £3.8bn, with £1.6bn of those in 2014 alone. In February last year, frequent visitor Prince Charles frolicked with the Saudi Sheiks while British defence firm BAE sold them 72 Typhoon fighter jets worth £4.4 billion.
11 January 2015
The Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) unequivocally condemns the terrorist murders of Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris. As an anti-war movement we are opposed, and have always been opposed to terrorism in all its forms. We strongly insist on the right of journalists to practice their trade and, regardless of the content of what they write or publish, nothing can justify their murder in general or this atrocity in particular. It is shocking, as the Committee to Protect Journalists notes, that since 1992 alone, 1109 journalists have been killed in the course of their work.
The Charlie Hebdo atrocity is not a random act of evil. It has an historical and contemporary context which does not excuse it but which has to be understood. Like other terrorist atrocities such as 9/11 in New York and 7/7 in London or even the Birmingham Pub bombing in 1974 (all of which claimed more lives) it is a bitter fruit of the legacy of western imperial interventions, war and racism. It is completely the wrong reaction to the latter - wrong because it is brutal and reactionary in itself, and wrong because it plays into the hands of reactionaries, warmongers and racists. Nevertheless, it is a reaction to these things.
In particular in France it is a reaction to:
Press Release 090114
From Irish anti-War Movement
LETTER PUBLISHED IN IRISH TIMES TODAY RE CHARLIE HEBDO KILLINGS
the horrific murders in Paris must be roundly condemned. It should be possible to criticise and satirise both public figures and ideology without such actions from young men, alienated and angry as they may be.
It is equally important that the response to the attacks does not lead either to an increase in future terrorist attacks or a rise in attacks on Muslims. Hatred and revenge are not the answer to the grief that the relatives of the victims are experiencing.
The French Government could lead effectively in calming the widespread public anger and grief by reflecting on its own dubious foreign policy, which along with that of other western powers has fostered instability, sectarianism, oppression and hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed and injured, all of which has ultimately led to a rise in terrorism. We should remember that the response of the French Government to the brutal suppression by Tunisian dictator Ben Ali to the calls for democracy by peaceful protesters was to offer to send 300 French paratroopers.
In a statement issued today the IAWM noted its dismay on hearing that the UK is establishing a permanent military base in Mina Salman Port in Bahrain.
It is claimed by the British government that this is to 'reinforce stability' in the region but the IAWM noted that it is likely to have the opposite effect. Imperial adventures by western governments, including the British Government, have long been a major source of instability and conflict in the Middle East and especially in the Gulf. The last thing the region needs is increased military presence from Britain.
Moreover there is a specific reason to oppose military and other collaboration with Bahrain, namely the country's appalling and well documented human rights record. Bahrain was always an undemocratic state dominated by a minority and ruled by an authoritarian royal family. When the people of Bahrain rebelled during the Arab Spring they were met with brutal repression (with the aid of the Saudi Arabian army). Since then there have been innumerable human rights abuses, including the jailing and torture of doctors trained by the Irish College of Surgeons, for the 'crime' of treating injured protestors.
Only last week a woman pro-democracy activist, Zainab al-Kharwaja was sentenced to 3 years in prison for tearing up a picture of King Hamed. She is the third member of her family to be jailed for political opposition.
It is clear from this announcement that western powers are happy to use Bahrain for militaristic purposes while ignoring its appalling human rights record. Neither the UK nor any other country that claims to be a democracy should be associated with this regime.
JOHN MOLYNEUX, SECRETARY, Tel: 085 735 6424