The Bloody Sunday March for Justice will take place today, Sunday, in Derry.
It marks the 42nd anniversary of the murder of 14 protesters by British troops.
The march is part of a series of events that includes the publication of a new pamphlet by Eamonn McCann ‘Go on the paras...!’ Bloody Sunday and the continuing search for justice. Below is a brief extract.
When the extensively refurbished Guildhall reopened in May, it featured an alcove dedicated to remembrance of Bloody Sunday and the Inquiry, most of which had taken place in the main hall across the corridor. The report was described throughout as The Saville Report: its name was the Bloody Sunday Report. The shift in focus was, at the least, interesting. It was anticipated that the thousands of tourists who visit the building each year could use the alcove to learn about and reflect on Bloody Sunday.
Again it was claimed, this time by council officials, that the narrative conveyed in a video installation in the alcove had been “agreed” - although, once more, it was far from clear who had agreed or what mandate they had to make an agreement.
The narrative included a clip from an interview with myself in which I was heard to say that many of the families were not pressing for the shooters to be prosecuted. What I’d said before and after publication of the Report was that many of the families - and I agreed with them - were more intent on seeing the senior military and political individuals behind Bloody Sunday in the dock rather than the rank-and-file paras who had pulled the triggers.
The distortion would have angered anyone misrepresented to such a degree. Worse and much more objectionable was the inclusion of a clip in which Michael Jackson was shown regretting Bloody Sunday and effectively denying that any soldiers other than the shooters had anything to feel guilty about.
The fact that the main conspirator to cover up the murders was being presented in Derry Guildhall in a way which operated to endorse him as a trustworthy commentator acceptable to the city where the slaughter had taken place may be unprecedented in its disregard for truth and decency.
The video was removed by the council after some family members had left officials in no doubt that it would be removed anyway. To date, no-one has admitted being party to the alleged agreement that it should be installed.
Many members of the Bloody Sunday families are intent on pursuing prosecution of the soldiers whose bullets killed their loved ones or who were wounded in the fusillade. The decision is theirs to make and they are entitled to support in their efforts.
Other family members are not intent on prosecution of the soldiers, commonly because they reasonably feel that they have fulfilled their duty to their relatives. They have families to rear and their own lives to lead.
Political elements in Ireland pressing for Bloody Sunday to be consigned to the past are, whether deliberately or not, denying the links with events elsewhere in the world mentioned in the statement outside the Guildhall - as on the platform of every previous annual commemoration. The suffering and oppression of the people of Grozny, Tiananmen Square, Dafur, Fallujah, and arguably still of Sharpville too, cannot be put in the past.
Neither, especially, can the murder and torture visited day in and day out on the people of Gaza by Israeli forces armed and financed by the United States and supported by other Western powers, including Britain, be put in the past, or the torture and murder of Iraqi civilians. Cameron stands over all this and more. On that ground alone, Cameron’s Commons speech in response to the Report can be accounted hypocrisy.
The resonance of Bloody Sunday with events in the wider world today echoes the association of Free Derry with campaigns and uprisings of the oppressed a generation ago. To break that link, to proclaim that the Bogside has gotten most of what it wanted and there’s no need for marching any more, is to deny the appeals to internationalism which regularly rang from Bloody Sunday platforms over the long years when it was assumed that the chances of the campaign gaining anything at all were remote.
It is to belittle the magnitude of the atrocity, to diminish the grandeur of the struggle for justice, to deny the class nature of the killing, to load guilt on to the lower orders while allowing the upper echelons to shrug off all responsibility, to narrow the relevance of the issues arising and, most and worst of all, to shut our eyes to what we share with people who have a longer way to travel towards truth than is left to us.
The fundamental reason to continue to demand the full truth is that when the State kills its citizens it must be held fully to account.
For more information and copies of the pamphlet go to bloodysundaymarch.org