Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bloody Sunday weekend

This weekend is the 35th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. We went down to the Ancient Order of the Hibernians Hall last night (it's a men's club) to watch a documentary about it produced by CBC. Afterwards, a few representetives from the Bloody Sunday Families answered questions.

It was really quite powerful. I thought I knew about Bloody Sunday already from sitting in on rehearsals for Heroes With Their Hands in the Air, but seeing the actual footage and photographs really drives it home. If you look at the evidence and the footage, and hear the eyewitness accounts... it's horrific. Fourteen men died. Most of them were young. My age. Younger. Seventeen, some of them.

An eighteen-year-old woman was run over by an armored personel carrier. A father was shot trying to help his dying son. A man was shot dead with his hands up in the air-- the bullet passed from one armpit to the other without damaging his arms. A few people were killed crawling for cover. One seventeen year old was bleeding out on the pavement with a severed spinal cord when a paratrooper came up and shot him in the back. He died of a punctured lung.

I know this is treated as a political issue, but I don't see how it can be. It's a human rights issue, plain and simple. Innocent people were killed. It was wrong. Whether it was a result of premedetated malice or not, it was wrong.

In the Q&A, one of the family members said that the reason they're still fighting this battle is because they don't want there to be any more bloody sundays. They mentioned a school in Fellujah where American soldiers opened fire on civilians and children. The soldiers there used the same excuse that the paras responsible for Bloody Sunday used: they conjured up a fantasy gun battle; all evidence of which apparantly vanished shortly after it occurred. No bulletholes anywhere near them.

When soldiers are sent to control civilian populations but not trained in how to do it properly, innocent people die. They died on Bloody Sunday. They died in Fellujah. They've died elsewhere. It's a simple fact. I can't see anything political about saying it's wrong, and that it shouldn't happen again.


Jediowl said...

Pray God we have no more Bloody Sundays. They used to say: Thirteen dead but not forgotten; we got fourteen and Mountbatten. And the trail of blood runs on, and on...

I think if I were a relative, I'd rather believe that it happened because of a spectacular bloody cock-up on the part of the army, than that the first was really fired by Martin McGuinness or whoever.

BTW, I think you mean the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Latinate for Irishmen :)

Annalee said...

Ha, I did mean Hibernians. I'm like that annoying kid from family circle with big words and the mixing up thereof :).

The families say the Saville report won't come out until next year at the earliest, but according to the transcript, even the ministry of defence cedes that the dead and wounded were completely innocent of wrongdoing. That's something, at least.