Friday, September 03, 2010



Hundreds of Peace Activists and members of solidarity organisations will protest in Dublin’s main street today and tomorrow against the presence of former British Prime Minister,Tony Blair in the Irish Capital. Mr Blair is launching his newly published book of memoirs in the main bookstore in O’Connell Street. The Irish Police have mounted a high level security cordon around the store and caused much resentment among neighbouring shops and street stallholders by demanding that they close their businesses while Mr Blair gets on with his business of trying to sell his book. This over- reaction by the police has been challenged as an illegal demand and stallholders have declared that they will not move voluntarily from their traditional stands. Protest organisers have vowed to support the local business people in their opposition to this outrageous demand.

Popular reaction to the Blair visit has been mostly hostile although Mr Blair has been invited to appear on Irish National Television (RTÉ) tonight. Since leaving office Mr Blair has gone on to make his fortune and is now reputed to be worth £60 million. Meanwhile, the country he invaded along with US President George Bush in 2003, has become a devastation zone.

There is no elected government because the British and the American overlords deliberately stoked up sectarian division to help consolidate their rule.

Sources like the British Medical Journal “The Lancet” have estimated that up to 1 million Iraqis have been killed. Based on studies undertaken by local NGOs, at least 15,000 Iraqis disappeared during the first four years of US occupation.. An estimated 30,000 untried detainees are currently being held by the Iraqi authorities. Most are housed in overcrowded and unsanitary facilities controlled by the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Defence.

In February 2010, US forces turned over thousands of their prisoners to Iraqi authorities – they were still holding 5,800 people. Despite claiming to withdraw from the country, 50,000 US troops will remain in Iraq.

The Iraqi people have not obtained the “democracy” promised by Bush and Blair; just last month the Electricity ministry issued an order banning "all trade union activities at the Ministry and its departments and sites". The police were instructed "to close all trade union offices and bases and to take control of the union's assets, properties and documents, furniture and computers". For good measure, the government is to take legal action against trade union officials under the Terrorism Act. Banning trade unionism hasn't helped with electricity supply either. In Baghdad's poorer districts power is only available for one or two hours a day. And the government recently doubled electricity charges to around 100 dollars per month.

Iraq’s infrastructure and health services, once the best in the Middle East, have been destroyed. More than eighty per cent of Iraq's water remains untreated, according to the United Nations. More than half of Iraqi children do not complete primary school, and youth unemployment runs at thirty per cent. And UNHCR has reports a big rise in the sex trafficking of Iraqi women across the region, among the millions of Iraqis internally or externally displaced from their homes.

Iraq's child mortality rate has increased by a staggering 150% since 1990, when draconian UN sanctions were first imposed. During the embargo, which lasted until May 2003 and prevented the rebuilding of water and sanitation infrastructure by banning chlorine and spare parts, the leading cause of death for children under five was waterborne illness. An estimated 500,000 children died in the first 5 years of the embargo.

In 2008, only 50% of primary school-age children were attending class, down from 80% in 2005. Approximately 1,500 children were known to be held in detention facilities. In 2007 there were 5 million Iraqi orphans, according to official Government statistics. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19% before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28% in 2007.5

Vast numbers of Iraqis have been displaced due to the deliberately provoked sectarian conflict and the effects of the military occupation. Almost 4 million refugees have been displaced to neighbouring Syria and Jordan. All of this resulted from a policy of invading Iraq to safeguard oil supplies to the US. It was part of a deliberate strategy to use the oil of the Middle East as a lever to pressurise other countries to conform to the demands of the US.

This is the shocking and inhuman legacy of Tony Blair who is now trying to make money for himself on the results of his crimes in Iraq. Even in his home country of Britain, this despicable man is regarded as a war criminal who should be placed on trial in the International Court at the Hague. The fact that he is loathed by the British public is one reason why he has chosen Dublin to officially launch his book in Europe. He will find out today he is just as much despised in Ireland as everywhere else.


Áth Cliath/Dublin

Meán Fomhair/September 03 2010.

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