January 30, 2010
By Ken Krayeske • 12:45 PM EST
A young boy totes a toy gun in front of one of the Bogside Murals in Derry, Northern Ireland, which commemorate the Bogside Massacre, better known as Bloody Sunday. On January 30, 1972 14 unarmed civilians marching for civil rights were massacred by British Paratroopers. U2 immortalized this event in the song "Sunday Bloody Sunday." The video has footage from the actual march. In July 2007, I took a trip to Derry, Northern Ireland to make a pilgrimage to the Bogside, where I snapped this photo, the image of a boy carrying a play weapon where real ones once might have been used on him.
Allawi was a nine year old boy who was one of 17 people murdered in the massacre at Nisour Square in Iraq on September 16, 2007. Blackwater guards opened fire on innocent civilians.
Allawi's father Mohammed Kinani on Democracy Now! gave an eyewitness account of the massacre yesterday. Kinani's lawsuit against Blackwater is the only one left standing, after a federal court in Washington, D.C. threw out all the charges against the murderers.
Internationally, it is an embarassment for the United States. The Times of India of was one of many globally to condemn not just the massacre, but the lack of liability for it in American courts.
I'm wishing the best to Allawi's family, and I hope they get justice. But I am not confident in the federal court system. I should be, though, because we set a trial date of September 20, 2010 for my civil rights lawsuit for false arrest yesterday.
Today, of course, is the 38th anniversary of the Bogside Massacre, better known as Bloody Sunday. On Sunday, January 30, 1972, about a month before I was born, British Paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights march.
Derry sits on the border between partitioned Northern Ireland and Ireland, and because of the Catholic minority gerrymandered into powerlessness in Derry, it was a hotspot during the Troubles.
I imagine that my mother read the newspaper on Monday morning and sighed with resignation, like we all do when we hears the news of the latest atrocity. What kind of world was she bringing another child into, I am sure she wondered. Did that any effect on me? Who knows?
Growing up, I had some cool older sisters. One of them, Kathy brought home "War," by U2, when I was eleven years old. The album cover portrait of the boy with a bruised lip, rendered in 12 inches because it was vinyl, affected me, but not as much as the music.
"This song is not a rebel song, this song is 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'," Bono said on the introduction to "Under a Blood Red Sky," U2's seminal live album from 1983. Larry Mullen, Jr.'s militaristic drum beat kicks in, and the Edge repeats three haunting notes.
"I can't believe the news today/ I can't close my eyes and make it go away/How long? How long must we sing this song?" Long before Bono was a tax-dodging millionaire, his plea for peace resonated with me.
I felt lucky to be growing up at a time when war did not immediately affect my family or my environs. Just as when I saw the boy in front of the Bogside Mural, toting a play gun, that he had no idea what had happened on that very spot almost four decades earlier. Will we ever learn?
I didn't learn about the Bogside Massacre at school, but the music captured me. So much that on my first trip to Ireland in June and July of 2007, I made it a point to go to Derry to visit the sacred site where blood of innocents was spilled.
Until I stood in the area once proclaimed as "Free Derry,", I never realized that not a single one of the British paratroopers who opened fire on the crowd of marchers that day ever stood trial. Sometime in March 2010, the Saville Inquiry in England is supposed to issue a new report about what happened that day.
I doubt anyone serious Irishman is holding their breath that this latest inquiry will bring answers about how those responsible for the deaths of 14 people in the Bogside escaped responsibility.
This is Empire. The Nisour Square Massacre presents a similar situation, although what happened in Nisour Square is likely worse. First, there was no press, the way that cameras abounded in Derry on Bloody Sunday. And in Nisour Square, mercenaries, not actual American soldiers, opened fire, whereas in Derry, British troops did the killing.
But cold blooded murder is cold blooded murder. Mohammed Kinani described seeing his son's brains fall onto the pavement when he opened the car door. Kinani described going back to Nisour Square in Baghdad to pick up pick up pieces of the boy's skull after he had been uselessly delivered to a hospital.
At the Bogside Massacre, seven of the 14 who were killed were teenagers. Five were shot in the back. Several others shot in the head. One man, Bernard McGuigan, 41, was waving a white flag when he was assassinated. This is no different than the testimony of Kinani, who saw a man shot as he tried to run away from the Blackwater Guards.
The most haunting part of Kinani's narrative is that when the U.S. government gave him a $10,000 sympathy payment for the death of his son, Kinani gave $5,000 of it back, and requested that it go to the family of a slain American soldier in Iraq.
As Iraq struggles with the colonial rape of its resources by American interests, "Free Derry" remains deeply impoverished, despite all the world attention it received from the U2 song and the massacre itself.
Thirty-five years from now, I hope that the American Congress is not dawdling over a report that still attempts to cover up the atrocities committed in our quest for global domination.
At some point, we should hope to be as kind, considerate and Christian as we say we are. At some point, we should have Truth and Reconciliation Commission to come to terms with the horrible history we have engendered.
Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. said a few short years before the Bogside Massacre, (and indeed the Irish were inspired by the Civil Rights marchers in the American south), "My government is the largest purveyor of violence on the planet." The U.S. government continues to be so. And hopefully, it will stop.