Ewa Jasiewicz | 23.10.2004 14:40
Dear British service person in Iraq.
I met some of you in Basra this year, guarding the Republican
Palace/Occupation HQ. You were told not to speak to me but you did so
anyway. You were open and frank about your conditions, how you felt
local people were interacting with you; you felt frustrated by the
hostility some were feeling towards you. But you also felt pride about
having helped remove a dictator from power.
I spent almost nine months living in Iraq, working with and supporting
workers, trade unionists, womens groups, Palestinian refugees, human
rights organisations and familie, and from my experience, albeit
limited, I want you to know that that dictatorship is creeping back. The
Iraqi Prime Minister our government and that of the US has imposed is a
former Baathist who used to be in charge of the youth wing of the Baath
party intelligence apparatus. He was responsible for the torture of
students and young people struggling for freedom and direct democracy.
In July, the Sydney Morning Herald reported
that he had killed up to six suspects in a Baghdad police station at
close-range with his own gun, just weeks into his term. The Minister of
Defence, Security Minister and Interior Minister, are all former
Baathists. The dreaded secret police are back on the payroll with
thousands of former torturers being given back their old jobs. History
is repeating itself.
Bosses, the same bosses who would write reports on any workers
organising for their rights, and get them tortured or killed, are still
in power and still intimidating workers. Our government, along with the
US has decided to keep Saddam Hussein's old anti-union laws on the
statute books. Life for ordinary working class people in Iraq, ordinary
working class people like you, with families and girlfriends, who want a
vocation, education, acheivement, security and decent living standards,
is rapidly deteriorating.
Millions are still living in poverty, fear and a re-cycled oppression.
The kind of people who terrorised and abused ordinary people in Iraq,
are doing it again. With the help of our government and with the help of
your presence in Iraq. I know this because I lived with and worked with
ordinary working people in Iraq, who now cannot even barely speak to me
over the phone, without having to lie, to twist their talk, grown men
afraid of their own voices, because they know they are being listened
to, they know the old psychosis they had to live through, is seeping
back into their lives, poisoning their families.
The only reconstruction of any impact on Iraqi peoples
lives right now is that of the old regime, which you thought you'd
dismantled, revived with bigger guns, more soldiers, and old corruption
oiled with new bloodshed.
There are plans to have you replace US troops in Iskanderia, Mahmoudia,
and Latifiya. Resistance flashpoints. I lost a close friend who I
thought was invincible, on the road through Iskanderia. He was shot in
the chest three times and once in the head and left face-down in on
Burning August asphalt for over a day. You may also be asked to serve in
Sadr City - a sprawling ghetto and not a 'suburb' as the media
frequently reports it - where you will encounter Shia and
Northern Kurdish communities evicted by the Baath from their land during
the Iran war. People there have lived and died in suffering. You will be
facing an 'enemy' the current government and last government considered
You are adding your courage, your conscience and your blood, to
replacing the same oppression you fought to remove. Working class
people, trying to taste the freedom they had scorched out of their lives
through massacre and home-demolition, land razing and murder will be
your designated 'enemy'. Ask yourself, who made you their enemy?
Atrocities will be perpetrated in Fallujah, at the hands of and against
US troops. People all over Iraq and all over the world will know that
what is happening to people in Fallujah has been made directly possible
by your filling in for US troops. You will be complicit. You will be
accessories to crimes against humanity; a carnage which will have a
boomerang affect on the centres of the planning and funding of those
crime, both in Britain and the US.
You will kill people who for years planned, dreamed, and tried to take
control of their own lives and communities, finally, out of the hands of
tyrants and murderers only to be faced with more of the same.
The war was illegal. The occupation is illegal. And you will be asked to
commit illegal acts, which in the future you could be tried for.
According to the Manual of Law of Armed Conflict for the British
Military, 'Orders to commit crimes against humanity are considered to be
manifestly unalwful, orders from a superior ,in this context include
orders from a government or superior military or civilian law or
national regulation. The serviceman is under duty to Not obey a
manifestly unalwful order'.
You are within your rights to refuse orders which are in breach of
international humanitarian law.
Our own tidal wave of refusal here, to the war and occupation, is
massive. Refuse your orders, the whole world is watching. Refuse your
orders. I will, along many others here in the UK, support you. Refuse
your orders, in the name of humanity, your own and that of those you
have been hired to deny. You will be supported. Refuse.