Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Parents of the fallen want accountability

Parents of soldiers who died in Iraq have accused Tony Blair of lying to Britain over the decision to invade in 2003 and one said she wanted him indicted as a "war criminal", in an emotional first day of the Iraq Inquiry.

The above is from Stephen Adams' "Tony Blair 'misled' country over Iraq war, parents of dead soldiers tell inquiry" (Telegraph of London). Adams quotes Lt Col Colin Mildinhall stating, "I believe this country has been badly let down and been lied to. I would like to see some accountability." His son, A Squadron Troop Leader Lieutenant Tom Mildinhall was killed in Iraq May 28, 2006 along with Lance Corporal Paul Farrelly:

Lieutenant Tom Mildinhall was born on 9 July 1979. His father is a retired Army officer and the family home is in Battersea, south London. His younger brother John is currently studying a PhD at Bristol University. Lieutenant Mildinhall was educated at Monkton Combe school in Bath where he excelled at rowing.
After studying Artificial Intelligence & Computer Sciences at Durham University and completing his officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in April 2004, Tom was commissioned into the QDG, a reconnaissance regiment that recruits mostly from Wales and is known as ‘The Welsh Cavalry’. The Regiment is based in Osnabrück, Germany and forms part of 20 Armoured Brigade.
In November 2004 he deployed with the Regiment to Iraq where he assisted in training the fledgling Iraqi Border Police. A difficult task, but one he undertook with considerable enthusiasm and diligence and in which he quickly made a considerable impact. On his return from Iraq he completed a series of demanding training exercises and reinforced his reputation for leading by selfless example. His second Iraq deployment to southern Iraq began one month ago.
His first love was skiing and he was planning an adventurous ski expedition at the end of his tour of duty in Iraq. He was a keen downhill ski instructor and a popular member of the Regimental Ski Team.
He will be missed by those who served along side him for his extremely dry sense of humour and razor sharp wit that often left everyone in stitches. He was a close friend to many in the Officers’ Mess but was also very close to his soldiers.
His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Pittman, said:
"Lieutenant Mildinhall was a thoroughly capable officer. He was intelligent, determined and utterly loyal to both his own command and his superiors. He led by example and his soldiers responded positively, safe in the knowledge he had their best interests at heart. It was typical of his command style to insist he physically led the more dangerous patrols, as he was doing last night when his Troop came under attack and he suffered a fatal injury. He was calm under pressure and I could rely upon him to deliver results in the complex operational environment of Iraq.
"He was a true enthusiast and it was uplifting to be in his company. Regardless of circumstance he always viewed the glass as half full. His love of life, sharp wit and ability to laugh at himself coupled with his enduring commitment to the team were qualities that endeared him to us all.
"He loved his time in the Army and was happiest when serving with his Regiment and we all benefited from his presence. With his passing, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards has lost a truly promising officer. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends.”
Tom's parents - his father, Lt Col (Retd) Colin Mildinhall formerly of the Royal Engineers and his mother, Susan, a speech and language therapist - have released the following statement:
"This is an ordeal we would not wish any mother and father to endure. For those parents who have lost sons and daughters in this way, we are now with them. For those who will have to go through this in the future; we are here. We share the pain of the soldiers and the families of the others injured and killed in this incident.
"We have lost a beautiful, talented and loving son for ever. Our world is in pieces and our country has again lost one of its best. Our hope is that in time our family may reassemble those pieces into some form of normality.
"Tom achieved an immense amount in his life. He rowed at school and at Durham University and skied with us from an early age. He talked proudly of his Regiment and enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow soldiers.
"We are very grateful for the support of our friends, Tom’s friends and colleagues from school and university and also for the outstanding help we are receiving from the Army."

Stephen Adams reports:

Deirdre Gover, 63, whose son, Flight Lieutenant Kristian Gover, 30, was killed in a helicopter accident in Basra, went further.
Speaking outside the hearing, she described the war as "totally unjustified and wrong, and I think that's what the inquiry will prove."
She said of Mr Blair: "I would like him indicted as a war criminal in the international court."

This is the Ministry of Defence's announcement of her son's death:

It is with very deep regret that the Ministry of Defence has to confirm that Flight Lieutenant Kristian Michel Alexander Gover was killed in a helicopter accident at Basrah International Airport on the morning of 19 July 2004.
MOD Announcement
Aged 30 and unmarried, he was a Puma helicopter pilot serving with 33 Squadron, based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.
Group Captain Nigel Wharmby, the RAF Commander at Basrah Airport, said:
"This is a tragic accident in which a very professional and well respected pilot has lost his life. All the servicemen and women in Iraq operate with the very highest level of professionalism, none less so than our helicopter crews who perform magnificently in arduous circumstances. Kris' death has hit everyone at Basrah very hard, even those who only knew him briefly. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to his family and friends at this extremely difficult time."
The media are strongly asked to respect his family's privacy.

Caroline Davies (Guardian) adds that "it became clear that most, if not all, fingers were pointing to one man -- the former prime minister Tony Blair. And the clapping erupted. They had found a common voice -- and it was demanding 'accountability'."

Other efforts are ongoing for accountability. The Brussels Tribunal released the following:

For immediate release
Spanish] - [Arabic]
Date: 7 October 2009

MADRID: Today the Spanish Senate, acting to confirm a decision already taken under pressure from powerful governments accused of grave crimes, will limit Spain’s laws of universal jurisdiction. Yesterday, ahead of the change of law, a legal case was filed at the Audiencia Nacional against four United States presidents and four United Kingdom prime ministers for commissioning, condoning and/or perpetuating multiple war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Iraq.

This case, naming George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack H Obama, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown, is brought by Iraqis and others who stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in defence of their rights and international law.

Iraq: 19 years of intended destruction

The intended destruction — or genocide — of Iraq as a state and nation has been ongoing for 19 years, combining the imposition of the most draconian sanctions regime ever designed and that led to 1.5 million Iraqi deaths, including 500,000 children, with a war of aggression that led to the violent deaths of over one million more.

Destroying Iraq included the purposeful targeting of its water and sanitation system, attacking the health of the civilian population. Since 1990, thousands of tons of depleted uranium have been dropped on Iraq, leading in some places to a 600 per cent rise in cancer and leukaemia cases, especially among children. In both the first Gulf War and “Shock and Awe” in 2003, an air campaign that openly threatened “total destruction”, waves of disproportionate bombing made no distinction between military and civilian targets, with schools, hospitals, mosques, churches, shelters, residential areas, and historical sites all destroyed.

Destroying Iraq included promoting, funding and organizing sectarian and ethnic groups bent on dividing Iraq into three or more sectarian or ethnic entities, backed by armed militias that would terrorize the Iraqi people. Since 2003, some 4.7 million Iraqis — one fifth of the population — have been forcibly displaced. Under occupation, kidnappings, killings, extortion and mutilation became endemic, targeting men, women and even children and the elderly.

Destroying Iraq included purposefully dismantling the state by refusing to stop or stem or by instigating mass looting, and by engaging in ideological persecution, entailing “manhunting”, extrajudicial assassinations, mass imprisonment and torture, of Baathists, the entire educated class of the state apparatus, religious and linguistic minorities and Arab Sunnis, resulting in the total collapse of all public services and other economic functions and promoting civil strife and systematic corruption.

In parallel, Iraq’s rich heritage and unique cultural and archaeological patrimony has been wantonly destroyed.

In order to render Iraq dependent on US and UK strategic designs, successive US and UK governments have attempted to partition Iraq and to establish by military force a pro-occupation Iraqi government and political system. They have promoted and engaged in the massive plunder of Iraqi natural resources, attempting to privatize this property and wealth of the Iraqi nation.

Humanity at stake

This is but the barest summary of the horrors Iraq has endured, based on lies that nobody but cowed governments and complicit media believed. In 2003, millions worldwide were mobilized in opposition to US/UK plans. In going ahead, the US and UK launched an illegal war of aggression. Accountability has not been established.

The persons named in this case have each played a key role in Iraq’s intended destruction. They instigated, supported, condoned, rationalized, executed and/or perpetuated or excused this destruction based on lies and narrow strategic and economic interests, and against the will of their own people. Allowing those responsible to escape accountability means such actions could be repeated elsewhere.

It is imperative now to establish accountability for US and UK war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Iraq because:

Every Iraqi victim deserves justice.

Everyone responsible should be accountable.

We are before immoral and unlawful acts, contrary to the basis on which the international order of state sovereignty and peace and security rests. Whereas the official international justice system is closed before the suffering of those that imperialism makes a target, through this case we try to open a channel whereby the conscience of humanity can express its solidarity with justice for victims of imperial crimes.

Ad Hoc Committee For Justice For Iraq

Press contacts:

Hana Al Bayaty, Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal
+34 657 52 70 77 or +20 10 027 7964 (English and French)

Dr Ian Douglas, Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal, coordinator, International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq
+20 12 167 1660 (English)

Amanda Nuredin, +34 657 52 70 77 (Spanish)

Abdul Ilah Albayaty, Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal
+33 471 461 197 (Arabic)


In the US, Madeleine Baran (Minnesota Public radio) reports that 48-year-old Maj Tad Hervas, who died in Iraq October 6th, died from "a gunshot wound to the head". Peter Bodley (Coon Rapids Herald Newspaper) explains that a criminal investigation is underway, that his funeral will be held Saturday, ten in the morning, Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka and reports:

Hervas had just returned to Iraq Oct. 1 after two weeks of leave at home, which involved visits with family members, a fly fishing trip with older brother Kurt, who is 11 months older that Hervas, and doing work around the house, according to his father.
"Tad was so happy and pleased that everything was going so well," Ned Hervas said.
Indeed, Hervas was thinking about extending his deployment in Iraq another month beyond his scheduled return home, which was in February 2010, he said.
Word of their son's death came to the Hervas family Oct. 6 when two members of the military came to the door.
"When two soldiers knock on the door, you know right away what it means, but you still don't expect it," Ned Hervas said.
In civilian life, Hervas worked for a gas furnace installation company and between the time he left the USAF and joined the National Guard after 9/11, he was employed by Minnegasco selling furnaces in Anoka County.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends