AS THE lies told to justify the war on Iraq unravelled in a courtroom in London, the reality of the occupation of Iraq by US and British troops was shown on our TV screens. For months we have been told that British troops, with their ‘softly, softly’ approach to dealing with civilian populations, had won the trust of the Iraqi people.
But anger against the British occupation of the city of Basra in the south of Iraq exploded last weekend. Basra was hit by fuel and power shortages which left people without air conditioning or fridges in one of the hottest places on earth.
British soldiers fired rubber bullets and attacked the growing crowd with baton rounds, injuring children. A restaurant owner, Sabri Zugheyer, said, ‘The British promised to make everything better, but now it’s worse. Even in the old days, it was never as bad as this. Their promises are worth nothing.’
Sharuf Latif, a nurse at the local hospital, said, ‘The Americans in Baghdad say it’s because they’re getting attacked that improvements are slow. The British aren’t getting attacked here, so why can’t it be faster?’ Opposition to the occupation is spreading across Iraq. It is no surprise. US troops in Baghdad kill an Iraqi almost every day. Last week US soldiers shot up the abd al-Kerim family’s car at a checkpoint.
The father and three children, one as young as eight, were killed. US soldiers would not allow anyone near the family, so they bled to death by the side of the road.
US soldiers killed two other Iraqi men in a similar incident in the same area. Top US officers announced the ‘end’ of their ‘iron-fisted’ policies in Iraq last week. Hours later US forces opened fire on a street market, killing two men, injuring two others and sending women screaming in all directions. The US claimed the men were selling guns. US troops admitted they gave them no chance to surrender.
The brutality of the occupation and the revelations of the Hutton inquiry prove right the two million people who marched in London on 15 February against the war. Tony Blair and his followers will try to reduce the impact of the inquiry. The media and the establishment will try to keep it to a row within the ruling circle.
There are two events in the next six weeks that can bring a mass, democratic voice to the debate and pile the pressure on Tony Blair. The People’s Assembly in central London will give ordinary people the opportunity to indict New Labour for lies. It will bring together activists from across Britain to discuss how to continue to build the movement that has rocked Blair’s government.
The national demonstration against the occupation of Iraq on 27 September can draw in the hundreds of thousands of people who are sickened by New Labour’s lies.
Socialist Worker urges all its readers to throw themselves into making these two events Blair’s trial by the people.