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Bloody Sunday was a local event. All of the 28 dead and wounded came from the general Bogside/Creggan quarter of Derry, population around 35,000. There was no one in the area who didn’t know the family of at least one of the victims. The massacre was experienced as a communal wound, the pain of which still throbs and won’t ease until all of the families can feel that truth has been told and justice done.
It is this which, 46 years later, drives the annual commemoration.
Bloody Sunday differs from the other massacres in the North which stand like grave-stones marking the passing of the years of conflict. The killing took place in bright daylight, watched at close quarters by hundreds of local people who had earlier marched for civil rights, stunned by horror, outrage and grief inflicted by men uniformed to represent the British State.
Bloody Sunday cannot be put down to ancient Irish hatreds. It was rooted in imperial history, in the scorn of Empire for the lives of plain people and the ferocious rage of the ruling class at any uprising of the lower orders. Hence the Tory Government’s sigh of relief in 2010 when the Inquiry under Lord Saville pointed the finger of blame at a bunch of squaddies and one undisciplined officer.
Parties jostling for political advantage and wishing the issue over and done with embraced Saville’s conclusions as full and final. Families of victims of State violence around the world will recognise the pattern.
We want the shooters charged and tried – and the politicians and top brass who gave the go-ahead brought to book.
We stand in solidarity with all who face lies and intimidation from the State and its propagandists as they continue the trek towards truth. Ballymurphy, Kingsmills, Loughinisland. Birmingham. Black Lives Matter, Grenfell Tower. Syria, Yemen, Kenya. And, always, Palestine.
We owe it to all who yearn for justice not to weaken now, and we won’t.
One world, one struggle.
One World One Struggle
Bloody Sunday was inflicted on the people of Derry. But it has resonated around the world. It is a local issue relevant to people everywhere.
Over the 45 years since British paratroopers erupted into the working-class Bogside area with rifles spitting death at civil rights marchers, representatives of victims of State violence from both sides of the Atlantic, from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, have travelled to Derry to take part in the annual commemoration and give substance to the idea of 'One World, One Struggle'.
The British Government still sets its face Iike flint against telling the full truth about the Derry massacre. A long Inquiry reported in 2010 that all the dead and wounded had been unlawfully shot. Despite this, the Report stopped well short of proposing prosecution of the killers - and pointed no finger of`blame at the senior military officers who had sent the Paras in, or at the politicians who had connived at the assault and then orchestrated a cover-up.
This is always the way when it comes to the violence of imperialism.
Only the persistence of family members and their supporters forced a police investigation. We await the outcome. One reason the British authorities fear the facts about Bloody Sunday is that this massacre cannot be ascribed to warring Irish factions. This was an authentically British atrocity.
Past commemorations have featured African Americans, Palestinians, former Guantanamo prisoners, victims of police violence in Britain etc., as well as members of other families bereaved by murder here in the North, in many cases murder inflicted by State agents and then systematically lied about to protect the same undercover agents.
Lectures, debates and cultural events are highlighted, economic struggles, women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of the environment, and many other examples of`oppression. We have commemorated, too, the killing of other innocent people by non-State groups - Dublin Monaghan, Birmingham, Shankill, Greysteel, the Ormeau bookies, etc.
We believe that the programme we have produced this year puts Bloody Sunday in its proper context, an extreme example of the fact that, commonly, it’s innocent people who pose no threat to anyone who bear the brunt of conflict.
The trek towards truth and justice has been long and sometimes arduous. But we keep on keeping on because the cause is just and gives good example to the one world in which we all struggle.