Socialist Worker

Iraq abuse video: ‘This is never about rotten apples’

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 1988

illustration by Leon Kuhn

illustration by Leon Kuhn


The scenes of troops brutally assaulting people in the streets of southern Iraq show the reality of occupation by British troops.

The mainstream media likes to talk of how British soldiers have had experience in Northern Ireland that equips them for their duties Iraq.

They have a point. In the New Lodge area of Belfast in 1992, 19 year old Peter McBride was shot in the back by two Scots Guards, Mark Wright and James Fisher, seconds after they had stopped and searched him.

After perjuring themselves, a Belfast court found the two guilty of murder.

Peter’s sister Kelly McBride spoke to Socialist Worker about the parallels between the occupations of Iraq and Northern Ireland.

“Our family has watched events unfold over the past months in Iraq,” she said. “The humiliation and abuse of civilians there brings sadness but no surprise.

“People talk about these soldiers ‘disgracing’ the army. But the soldiers who murdered my brother have been allowed to remain in the British army.

“Peter was not suspended from the prongs of a forklift truck, nor was he forced to simulate sexual acts or beaten in the streets.

“Instead he was shot in the back in broad daylight in a Belfast street – and then finished off as he tried to pull himself up.

Guilty

“Wright and Fisher were found guilty of murdering my brother by a court of law. They knew that Peter was unarmed and was no threat to them.

“But despite their convictions the Ministry of Defence has allowed both convicted murderers to stay on in the army. General Mike Jackson sat on the army board that made this decision.

“They gave us assurances that these two would never be put in a situation where they could kill again. Then they handed them their guns and sent them off to Iraq.

“Wright and Fisher were stationed in Basra later. This is never about rotten apples. Tony Blair tolerates the murder of those who are not British citizens.

“Should we be surprised that British soldiers in Basra believe that they can literally get away with murder when they are serving alongside two convicted murderers?

“My heart goes out to the Iraqis who have to put up with the reality of British soldiers winning ‘hearts and minds’.”

In 1990 at a roadblock in Belfast soldiers fired 36 shots at a Vauxhall Astra car.

Martin Peake was shot in the head and died instantly. Karen Reilly was shot three times in the back and died later. Lee Clegg, a parachute regiment soldier was convicted of murdering them in 1993.

The paras celebrated the deaths by erecting in their barracks a ten foot mock-up of an Astra car with a papier mache head stuck in the drivers window. Red paint marked the fatal head wound and bullet holes riddled the model car’s body.

Pinned up besides the car was a poster which read, “Vauxhall Astra – built by robots, driven by joyriders, stopped by A Company.”

Lee Clegg, now a sergeant, is currently serving with the parachute regiment in Iraq.

British troops are beating, torturing and murdering Iraqis. They will be doing so until the occupation ends.


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News
Sat 18 Feb 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1988
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