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27 August 2009 Edition

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British government hypocrisy on torture and terror

This week An Phoblacht features a number of stories highlighting the past and present role of the British government in gross abuses of human rights in Ireland and across the globe.
The week has also seen confirmation in Washington of the role of the CIA in torturing prisoners. In their wars in Iraq and Afhganistan the British and US administrations used torture extensively, including the kidnapping of prisoners through so-called ‘extraordinary rendition’. They were facilitated in this by a spineless Irish government which allowed US military aircraft to use Shannon Airport as a staging post, refusing all calls for such flights to be inspected in case they were carrying prisoners for torture.
Ireland in the early 1970s was used as a torture testing ground by the British government. As Laura Friel’s article points out, this is the background to the current denials by British ministers that their forces were involved in torture during the ‘War on Terror’, even though their own parliamentary committee has stated that they cannot back such an assertion given the refusal of the British government to provide information.
Abuses by British forces in Ireland continued long after the ‘70s and, as we reveal this week, possibly hundreds of people terrorised in interrogation centres in the Six Counties when they were under 18, may now be able to successfully challenge their detention and treatment.
And what could be more hypocritical than the British government claim to be ‘fighting terrorism’ when they have supplied arms to the government of Sri Lanka which has killed more than 30,000 Tamils between January and May of this year and which holds 285,000 Tamil civilians in appalling conditions in concentration camps.
These are facts which must be continuously highlighted in the struggle for human rights in Ireland and worldwide.

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