David Wilson co-founded the War Child charity, set up the Pavarotti Music Centre with the late opera star to heal the survivors of the Bosnian conflict with music workshops, then spent many years haranguing Tony Blair as Press Officer of the Stop The War Coalition. The lifelong anti war activist told TLE why he wants Tony Blair put on trial:
When I was Press Officer at the Stop the War Coalition, my job included keeping close watch on everything Tony Blair did and said. Some years later I can’t get out of the habit. After the publication of the Chilcot Report on 6 June, he claimed that by 2010, Iraq was ‘essentially a peaceful country’. Had Blair said Iraq was a peaceful country, he would have been open to scorn, but ‘essentially’ allows for the possibility of Iraq approximating peace, a country about which he then added, ‘I did what I did out of good faith.’
Let us look at how Blair’s ‘good faith’ has brought into being this essentially peaceful country.
In a study reported in Global Health and re-printed in The Lancet, Professors Gilbert Burnham, Rijadh Laft, and others found that, in the 40 months post-invasion period up to July 2006, ‘there have been 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2.5% of the population in the study area. Of post-invasion deaths, 601,027 were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire.’
When we think of gunfire we think of rifles and bullets. Look more closely.
The Guardian reported in 2014 that more than 10,000 rounds of depleted uranium munitions were fired in post-2003 Iraq. DU is a radioactive heavy metal produced by the nuclear power industry as waste: ‘It can contaminate the environment, and has been linked to health problems in civilian populations. Iraqi doctors have reported increases in cancers, and an alleged rise in birth defects.’
This essentially peaceful country has become a graveyard for the dead, the unnecessary dead and a danger to the living.
And what of the treatment of those not yet in their graves, of the plight of detainees under occupation? The Washington Post reported that ‘Of all the bloodshed in Iraq, none may be more disturbing than the campaign of torture and murder being conducted by US-trained government police forces.’
UK forces are implicated. In an article in The Guardian, Haifa Zangana reported that ‘Lawyers acting on behalf of former detainees say that UK detention practices between 2003 and 2008 included unlawful killings, beatings, hooding, sleep deprivation, forced nudity and sexual humiliation, sometimes involving women and children.’ The detainees’ lawyers allege the abuses were endemic, arising from the training of the British military.
And how have women and children benefited in this essentially peaceful country?
In her book, City of Widows, Haifa Zangana records a figure of 300,000 widows in Baghdad alone. UNICEF report that around 800,000 children have lost one, or both, parents since the occupation and 500,000 children are today involved in child labour.
Blair should not be allowed to wiggle away from the truth in press conferences or at well-paid talks. Since the Chilcot Report, he should only be heard from inside a court room.
Stop the War’s poster spelling Blair’s name as ‘Bliar’ was, and is, correct. The Chilcot Report needs to be followed by Blair’s arrest and trial for such barbarism. He is—essentially—a war criminal.
Left Field: The Memoir of a Lifelong Activist by David Wison, is published by Unbound.