Bloody Sunday prosecution: no justice, no peace

The decision to prosecute only one of the soldiers who carried out the 1972 massacre is testament to the British state’s continuing commitment to murderous imperialism

Bloody Sunday cover-up
A mural in Derry depicting the events of the massacre Photo: Flickr / Nina Stössinger

It has been announced that one soldier will be charged with murder and attempted murder in relation to the Bloody Sunday massacre of 30 January 1972, in which British paratroopers killed 14 unarmed civilians and wounded another 14 at a peaceful civil rights march in Derry in the North of Ireland. The announcement follows, and is a result of, decades of heroic and determined campaigning by survivors and the friends and families of those killed.

Though British media coverage is currently presenting this decision as proof of the military’s accountability, today’s announcement means that the vast majority of the soldiers who committed the massacre still face no consequences for their actions. It is doubtful whether the one soldier charged will be prosecuted promptly and effectively, and right-wing media campaigns are already underway to undermine the prosecution.

The British government continues, overall, to eulogise the murderous record of its armed forces in Ireland. Just a week ago, Karen Bradley, the government’s Northern Ireland Secretary, asserted that murders by police and military members during the Troubles were ‘not crimes’, and said that soldiers and police officers who killed civilians were merely ‘fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way.’ Bradley also indicated recently that, even if any soldiers were to be convicted over the massacre, the law would be changed to ensure that they were released early.

Moreover, one soldier who has so far escaped any hint of reprimand has been General Sir Mike Jackson, a Captain on the ground at the time of the massacre and assistant commander of the unit that carried out the killing. Not only was Jackson directly involved in the massacre’s execution – he subsequently lied to the media (falsely claiming that troops had been fired on by IRA militants), and compiled a fraudulent dossier mischaracterising the events of the day. Jackson is one of numerous senior soldiers who have clearly perjured themselves on various occasions since the massacre. Not only was he never punished for his actions – he was repeatedly promoted, eventually becoming Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces (a post he held for the first three years of the Iraq War).

True justice necessarily requires the jailing of Mike Jackson, who was substantially responsible for the massacre, lied systematically to cover it up, and has since been responsible for numerous other British military atrocities around the world.

A full statement from the families of the victims of the massacre can be read here.

Eamonn McCann, a key organiser in the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, has released a short statement from Derry Guildhall:

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