10 things you can do to resist hard Brexit

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0 things you can do to resist hard Brexit

Adam Ramsay 28 March 2017

As Article 50 is triggered, here’s what you can do to stop Britain’s slide to the hard right. Add your own suggestions in the comments.

Whichever way you voted in the referendum, hard Brexit is not about fulfilling a democratic mandate to leave the European Union. It’s about Theresa May’s government using the process of leaving the EU to force through its hard-right Daily Mail agenda – at a high cost to the majority of people living in the United(ish) Kingdom. Here are ten ways you can resist, and we’d love to hear more from you in in the comments below.

1)    Join a migrant solidarity group

Jimmy Mubenga, Wikimedia

What Brexit will mean for those who moved to the UK from other European countries is still up in the air. But let’s remember that there are already huge numbers on the rough end of Britain’s increasingly brutal anti-migrant rhetoric. And as Brexit fails to transform Britain into the Land of Hope and Glory that Boris Johnson and UKIP’s Nigel Farage promised, we can be pretty sure about who will get the brunt of the blame from the prime minister who, as Home Secretary, brought us the infamous racist van.

Long before Brexit, there was the tale of Jimmy Mubenga, a 46 year old father of five, who was suffocated to death by the G4S security guards on his deportation flight. Right now, there’s people like Manchester’s Abbey Kyuyene, who faces being deported to Uganda, where he can expect to be imprisoned for the rest of his life because he’s gay. There’s the child locked up for five months alongside a convicted child abuser simply because he came here from somewhere else. And there’s the hundreds of people we imprison indefinitely just because they want to live here.

There are the families Britain breaks apart because Theresa May believes they aren’t rich enough for love. There’s the horrific conditions we expect many of those seeking asylum in the UK to live in and there’s the people freezing in refugee camps just across the Channel. There are the workers who suffer exploitation rather than risk their paperless status being exposed and there are the families still dying in the Mediterranean as they attempt to make it to European soils.

All of these situations were bad before Brexit. All of them risk becoming worse as the government and its cheerleaders in the press cast around for someone to blame for the fact that Brexit will fail to give people any more sense of control over their lives.

All across the country, there are migrant solidarity groups organising to stop their neighbours being deported, demanding the closure of detention centres and providing a range of kinds of practical solidarity. As hard-right Brexit accelerates, they will need more people, more help and more support. Powerful people like to scapegoat migrants because they believe they can be divided from their communities most easily. Organising those communities to fight back is the best way to scare them off.

There’s Glasgow’s Unity Centre, Liverpool and Manchester migrant solidarity, No Borders, Calais Migrant Solidarity, the campaign to close Yarls’ Wood, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Stop Funding Hate, Student Action for Refugees, the People & Planet Undoing Borders campaign… and many, many more people organising to support migrants here in the UK. Work out what’s going on near you, ask how you can help, and get involved – whether you speak another language, have research or legal skills, or can phone an airline to help stop a deportation, there are lots of thing we could all be doing to help our neighbours.

2)    Stop the trade deal shock doctrine

Protests against the EU/US trade deal, “TTIP”. Image: stop-ttip.org

One of the most terrifying potential ramifications of Brexit is a Trump-May UK/US Trade deal. And a UK/China trade deal… and… I could go on. While the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy has vast problems, American agribusiness will be very keen to ensure that what replaces it is nothing like the careful environmental protections that eco-Brexiters like Paul Kingsnorth will have been hoping for. With vast corporations desperate to prise open British markets after decades of EU subsidy and protection, one of the most predictable consequences of Brexit is Britain’s countryside becoming the latest item shed in Westminster’s accelerating asset striptease.

One of the most predictable consequences of Brexit is Britain’s countryside becoming the latest item shed in Westminster’s accelerating asset striptease.

And the fire-sale of the English countryside will only be one item in such a negotiation. Expect US health insurance companies, with their famous lobbying heft, to try desperately to bury both mandibles into what’s left of the NHS. Expect all of the worst bits of the EU/US Trade Deal to be regurgitated back onto the table. Expect the return of some version of the ‘Investor State Dispute Mechanism’ corporate courts, which have been used to ban regulations designed to protect us from cancer or workplace accidents because they damage company profits.

And expect people to organise against them. Global Justice Now and War on Want have so far led the fight in the UK, working with partners across the world and winning astounding victories along the way. Of them, the former is probably easier to get involved with, as it has groups across the country. You can join here.

3) Stand with Scotland

Forth Bridge, George Gastin, Wikimedia Commons.

The Conservative party made very clear before the referendum that they expected to keep the UK as a whole in the single market. As such, May doesn’t really have any mandate for her hard Brexit. But the situation north of the Tweed is worse: Scotland voted by 62% to remain in the EU, and yet people here face being dragged out against their will. May hasn’t even been willing to consider any of the potential ‘special deal’ options proposed by the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems in recent months, along lines I once called a ‘Reverse Greenland’. The only democratic way to resolve the constitutional conflict between the result of the 2014 independence vote, the 2016 result, and the situation Theresa May insists on dragging Scotland into is another independence referendum.

Last night, a majority of members of the Scottish parliament voted to hold such a referendum. For Westminster to block it would be a democratic outrage. And yet that is what Theresa May seems to be proposing to do. Pressure from outside Scotland will be key if Scots are to be allowed to vote on their constitutional future once more.

Write to your MP and demand that they allow they people of Scotland to vote on their constitutional future. (But make sure you read the next point first.)

4) …and with Northern Ireland

The Peace Bridge, Derry, Northern Ireland. Discovernorthernireland.com

If Scotland faces a democratic deficit, the North of Ireland faces disaster. Like Scotland, people in Northern Ireland voted to Remain in the EU. Unlike Scotland, there are significant reasons why Brexit will be a particular problem for people there. The imposition of passport and customs controls along the border between the North and the Republic will cause real economic harm. It will provide another opportunity to return to the old days of sectarian discrimination. The chances that border posts will become a target for violence, which could then escalate, are not trivial.

The chances that border posts will become a target for violence, which could then escalate, are not trivial.

And it’s not just the border. The EU and its human rights laws provide the framework for the Good Friday Agreement which has brought two decades of relative peace, and gave a constitutional framework in which people could be either Irish or British in both identity and citizenship, and live side by side without violence.

So far, the British establishment has got away with treating Northern Ireland with disdainful disinterest. In the run up to the European referendum, their unique case was largely ignored by politicians and the media. In the run up to their recent election, no one paid any attention. It’s only with the death of Martin McGuinness and the collapse of negotiations this week that the media has started to take note.

What should happen in Northern Ireland? It’s too easy for those not from there to propose simple solutions: a united Ireland is certainly tempting, and may be the solution, but that’s as contentious a question as ever. Certainly, we need to make sure that the British government realises that there are people outside of Ireland who care about it. And so, again, a simple place to start may be writing to your MP and demanding at the very least that they do all they can to prevent a hard border. You might even want to include points about both Scotland and Northern Ireland together.

5) Take part in a Reclaim the Power action

Leaving the EU means leaving behind inter-state collaboration on one of the defining issues of our time: climate change. And that means grassroots action will be more important than ever. Fortunately, the good folks at Reclaim the Power (whose name long predates the similar sounding Brexit slogan ‘take back control’) are organising a wave of direct action against the fossil fuel industry, and offer you the chance to get your hands dirty in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. They tell you how to get involved here.

6) Confront racism where you see it

Image: http://blacklivesmatteruk.org/

For people of colour, racism is a lived experience and, well, you don’t need some white guy telling you what to do about that. But for those of us who aren’t from racialised groups, we’re going to have to up our game. There has already been a surge in reports of hate speech and worse since Brexit, and we all need to play our part in stopping it. Check out groups like Black Lives Matter UK and see what you can do to help, and stand up to the racism which surrounds us all, whether that’s a quiet conversation with an uncle or confronting fascists in the street.

7) Read up on what the British empire was really like

Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes,Punch Magazine, public domain.

It often feels like a lot of this couldn’t have happened if Britain had ever come to terms with its colonial history. British imperialists really weren’t the cheerful engineers, kindly building railways for people in far off lands that our culture keeps trying to tell us about. It was all a lot more blood and torture-filled than that. And there is a whole lot more that most of us could be doing to learn about what really went on, and how it is Britain really got rich in the first place.

Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, find a few books or articles about what the British empire was really about – ideally written by people from the places we colonised – and begin to sample a flavour of the carnage and plunder that the UK unleashed on the world for centuries. One thing you might want to do is start with one war from the list below, find a book or article on it by someone from the colonised group, and take it from there:

The Opium wars; The Carnatic wars; The Anglo-Cherokee war; Pontiac’s rebellion; The Anglo Mysore wars; The Anglo Maratha wars; The American Revolutionary war; The Irish Rebellion; The Kandyan wars; The Anglo-Turkish war; The Xhosa wars; The Ga-Fante war; The war of 1812; The Anglo-Ashanti wars; The Anglo-Burmese wars; Canada’s Rebellions of 1837; The first, second and third Afghan wars; The Anglo Sikh wars; The Flagstaff war in New Zealand – and in fact the New Zealand wars in general; The Anglo-Persian war; The Black war; The Indian Rebellion; The First Taranaki war; The invasion of Waikato; The Bhutan war; The Klang war; Titokowaru’s War; The 1868 ‘Expedition’ to Abyssinia; The Red River Rebellion; The Anglo-Zulu War; The Sikkim Expedition; The Anglo-Zanzibar War; The Boer Wars; The Anglo-Aro War; The British expedition to Tibet; The Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War; the Irish War of Independence; The 1920 conflict between British forces and the Dervish State; the Great Arab Revolt in Palestine; The British–Zionist conflict; the Korean War; the Mau Mau Uprising; the Cyprus emergency; the Suez Crisis; the Border Campaign against the IRA; the Falklands War. (Just a few, then.)

8) Join a trade union

 

photo: Timm Sonnenschein, TUC.

Brexit is also likely to mean a significant attack on rights at work. But, while the EU certainly helped drag Britain forward, it’s not international treaties which created the real pressure for workers’ rights in the first place: it was workers themselves organising for basic safety standards, weekends, paid holidays, sick pay and decent wages. Without the EU, we’re going to have to get good at that. Check out the TUC website and work out which one is for you. If, like millions of people, you’re already a member but aren’t involved, then get in touch with your union and find out what you could be doing.

9) Start paying for your media

Fewer and fewer people are paying for the news they read, watch and listen to. This means that journalism is more and more dependent on ‘native’ advertising and the patronage of vested interests, blurring the lines between editorial decisions and business or political ones. We can’t fix our politics without mending our media. And that means paying for it. You can set up a regular subscription to openDemocracy here – but whatever media you read and value, support it.

10) Come to the Convention on Brexit

openDemocracy is proud to be a media partner for a major national convention on Brexit, where we will have the conversations that have been largely absent from parliament and the media. It’s happening on 12 and 13 May in central London and will be the first large-scale event to offer organisations and individuals the chance to take part in crucial debates about the United Kingdom’s future, the wider changes that are sweeping western democracies and to debate and strategise together about what to do next.

Be there.

 

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UK admits involvement in the genocide of civilians in Mosul, Iraq

Britain Confirms Involvement in West Mosul Bombing of Civilians

Refuses to Provide Details on Where They Were Operating

US-led coalition airstrikes against western Mosul killed a large number of civilians in recent weeks, and there is increasing reason to believe that British warplanes were involved in the operation, with the Royal Air Force (RAF) confirming that their planes were active in Mosul at the time.

The RAF is looking quite evasive on the details of their involvement, however, saying they will support investigations “as required,” but refusing to offer details of what their planes were doing at the time all the civilians were killed, beyond “liberating western Mosul.”

British Tornado aircraft in the area were previously reported to have fired five 500 lb missiles into western Mosul, but since reports of civilian deaths they’ve offered little detail on what they were firing at, beyond “terrorists,” and seem eager to avoid any details on proximity to the civilian poll.

Officials were also quick to insist that the day when all the civilians were killed was “very challenging,” because it was cloudy, and that visibility wasn’t nearly what it should have been. This lack of visibility did not, apparently, have an impact on the decision to bomb densely populated areas.

Erdogan’s War of Words Inciting Terror in Europe

Erdogan’s War of Words Inciting Terror in Europe

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 26.03.2017 | OPINION

Erdogan’s War of Words Inciting Terror in Europe

Only hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a bloodcurdling warning about terror attacks against European citizens, four people lay dead on the streets of London. That death toll may rise further because several of those injured in the attack this week in the British capital are in critical condition, fighting for their lives.

Erdogan was speaking Wednesday in what was yet another diatribe in his ongoing war of words with the European Union. The Turkish leader has been enraged by European governments refusing ministers from Ankara holding political rallies in Germany, Netherlands and Austria among other countries. As a result of the injunctions, he has accused the EU of displaying Islamophobia and hostility towards Turkey.

In his latest barrage earlier this week, Erdogan warned that there would be dire repercussions for EU citizens owing to the perceived stance of their governments.

«If you continue to behave like this, tomorrow in no part of the world, no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully», Erdogan said.

Tragically, within hours of announcing these very words, a British-born man plowed his speeding car into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing several of them and seriously wounding dozens more. The assailant then got out of his crashed vehicle and ran into the grounds of the British parliament where he stabbed a police officer to death, before being fatally shot by another officer.

The attacker was named as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, a British citizen. It is not clear yet what his precise motives were, but the deadly attack was subsequently claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

Turkey’s Erdogan was reportedly one of many world leaders who quickly phoned British premier Theresa May to offer his condolences. Later on Wednesday night, Erdogan released a statement on social media, saying: «We stand in solidarity with the UK, our friend and ally, against terrorism, the greatest threat to global peace and security».

There is a sense here that the Turkish leader was reeling from his own earlier warnings of would-be terror consequences for European citizens, and how his tirades against the EU might be implicated in inciting violence.

Certainly, the EU, in short-order, seemed to find Erdogan’s forecasting of acts of terrorism against European citizens and how «they would not be safe on streets around the world» to be lamentable.

Turkey’s envoy in Brussels was promptly summoned to «explain» the president’s doom-laden words. The day after the London killings, the EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic reportedly said: «We have asked the Turkish permanent delegate to the EU to come… as we would like to receive an explanation with regard to the comments by President Erdogan concerning the safety of Europeans on the streets of the world».

At best, Erdogan’s chilling warnings against European citizens are grossly insensitive. Apart from the carnage in London, on the very day that he issued his grim forecast of violence, the date was also the first anniversary of the terror attacks in Brussels when more than 30 people were killed by suicide bombers in the Belgian capital on March 22 last year.

Over the past year, there have been several other terror attacks on the streets of European cities, including the carnage in Nice when a would-be jihadist drove an articulated lorry into a pedestrians last July, killing over 80.

There was also an horrific attack in Berlin when an assailant drove a lorry into a crowded Christmas market.

In all these incidents, there appears to be an Islamist connection. The perpetrators may be acting in some sort of «lone wolf» capacity, without the organizational support of the al Qaeda terror network. But that’s beside the point. The attacks appear to be motivated by some level of Islamist grievance. Perhaps acts of revenge against European governments and citizens who are perceived as being complicit in illegal wars on, or persecution of, Muslim majority countries in the Middle East.

This is where Turkish President Erdogan bears more responsibility than merely just «bad timing» or being «insensitive» remarks.

In recent weeks, Erdogan and senior government ministers in Ankara have been engaging in a reckless war of words with the EU, which can be viewed as bordering on incitement.

Erdogan has repeatedly accused Germany and The Netherlands of acting like «Nazis and fascists». He has condemned the whole of the EU as being «racist» and «anti-Islam».

Just last week, Erdogan claimed that Dutch UN peacekeeping troops were responsible for the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, when up to 8,000 Muslim men were killed by Serb forces. Erdogan said the Dutch had the blood of Muslims «on their hands».

Ankara’s fit of rage stems from European governments blocking political rallies being held in their cities by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party. Those rallies are aimed at mobilizing Turkish expatriates to vote in Turkey’s referendum next month, which is being held to endorse increasing constitutional powers for Erdogan’s presidency.

Erdogan’s grip on power has already become increasingly autocratic since the attempted coup against his rule failed last July.

In order to push Turkish voters to back his sought-after constitutional changes, Erdogan is evidently whipping up patriotic fervor and in particular Islamist fervor by indulging in a war of words with the EU.

Denouncing European states as «anti-Islamic» and «racist» may gain Erdogan votes. But such incitement has consequences. This war of words is not an abstract phenomenon. It risks inflicting real human casualties, as Europe has all-too often witnessed over the past year.

If EU governments had any spine, they would hold Erdogan legally to account over his potentially seditious behavior.

But the supine EU is too busy trying to keep the Turkish sultan sweet so that he doesn’t open the refugee floodgates from the wars that European governments have been stoking across the Middle East and North Africa.

Saudi Arabia’s Web of Hate Is Spreading One of the Worst Forms of Islam – And This Is Where It Leads

Douglas Murray

Its roots lie in the Middle East and its web of hate spreads across the globe. But it is also here in Britain – and growing.

 

Saudi Arabia's Web of Hate Is Spreading One of the Worst Forms of Islam - And This Is Where It Leads


Since Wednesday’s carnage we have learned that 52-year-old Khalid Masood is believed to have converted to one of the worst forms of ‘Islam.’

Whether during his time in prison, or the years he spent in Saudi Arabia, Masood adopted Wahhabism.

This misinterpretation of Islam grew up in the 18th century. It is a Middle Eastern movement similar to Calvinism.

A return to the strictest version of the religion. A joyless, unforgiving and hate-filled worldview. But in the 20th century this horrible worldview got lucky.

The House of Saud who ruled Saudi Arabia after its creation liked this form of Islam. And the Saudis had something the world increasingly wanted – oil.

And after the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the Saudis increasingly had the West held hostage. We needed Saudi oil, and they were happy to sell. But it was a devil’s bargain.

For the Saudis used their oil money for many things. They enriched themselves, living playboy lifestyles in London and Dubai.

But at the same time these hypocrites spread their harsh version of Islam around the globe. While rich Saudis drank, danced and smoked in Knightsbridge, the ideology they pushed taught another message.

At Wahhabi schools – known as madrasas – in the UK paid for by the Saudis, students are taught to hate the modern liberal West.

They are taught to despise and look down on us and our freedoms. The same message is taught at Wahhabi mosques across the world. The Saudis pay for the buildings and appoint the clerics.

Today across Europe there are thousands of such institutions of education and religion which exist because they are paid for by the Saudis.

In 2007 it was estimated that there were around 70 Wahhabi mosques in Britain. By 2015 the number had risen to 110.

In 2015 the flow of money to UK mosques was reported to have reached a record high. It is the same story almost everywhere in the world you go.

Wahhabism grows fast because it has deep pockets. The Saudis spend billions every year exporting this ideology.

An undercover investigation in 2007 found that Wahhabi mosques in the UK were encouraging the physical abuse of women who refused to cover their hair.

A more recent Channel 4 probe in January revealed mosques in Derby and Birmingham were preaching hardline messages.

Followers of Wahhabism include Lee Rigby murderer Michael Adebolajo, shoe bomber Richard Reid, 7/7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan, and hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

There may be little we can do to stop this poison spreading around the world.
But there is a lot we can do to stop it at home.

We should have stopped the Saudis being allowed to spread their hatred here a long time ago. But a combination of greed for oil and fear of false charges of “Islamophobia” have stopped any British government to date from confronting this.

Last Wednesday we were reminded of where this disgusting ideology can lead. Perhaps now we can finally face it down. For all our sakes.

Source: The Sun, Edited by website team

25-03-2017 | 11:23

From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack with Elements from «ISIS» Playbook

Patrick Cockburn

In the immediate aftermath of what police are describing as a terrorist incident in and around Parliament, at least three facts stand out suggesting that the attacks are similar to those carried out over the last two years by “ISIS” supporters in Paris, Nice, Brussels and Berlin.

UK's Big Ben

The similarities with the events today are in the targets of the attacks which in all cases were ordinary civilians, but the means of trying to cause mass casualties differs. In Nice, Berlin and London no fire arms were used by the attackers, while in Paris and Brussels there was a coordinated assault in which guns and explosives were employed.

In Nice on 14 July 2016 a truck killed 86 people and injured hundreds, driving at speed through crowds watching a firework display on the Promenade des Anglais until the driver was shot dead by police. “ISIS” claimed that he was answering their “calls to target citizens of coalition nations that fight ‘ISIS'”. Britain is a member of the coalition with aircraft and Special Forces troops in action against “ISIS” in Iraq and Syria.

“ISIS” claimed responsibility for a lorry which drove into a Christmas market in 19 December 2016, killing 12 and injuring dozens. As with Nice, this appears to resemble what happened on Westminster Bridge, going by first reports.

The overall location of the attacks today may be significant and would fit in with the way that “ISIS” normally operates when carrying out such atrocities. This is to act in the center of capital cities or in large provincial ones in order to ensure 24/7 publicity and maximize the effectiveness of the incident as a demonstration of “ISIS’s” continuing reach and ability to project fear far from its rapidly shrinking core areas in Syria and Iraq.

“ISIS” is sophisticated enough to know that such attacks carried out in news hubs like London or Paris will serve their purposes best. In cases of attack with a knife or a vehicle then “ISIS” would not need to provide more than motivation, though individuals seldom turn out to have acted alone. It may no longer have cells in Europe capable of obtaining fire arms or making bombs.

It could be that the attacks were carried out by another group, the most obvious candidate being one of the affiliates of al-Qaeda in Yemen. Syria or elsewhere. On 11 March 2017 Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, carried out two bombing attacks in Damascus, killing 59 people, mostly Shia pilgrims from Iraq visiting holy sites. But the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda, while carrying out suicide bombings against targets in Syria, has previously avoided doing so abroad in order to make itself more diplomatically palatable than “ISIS”.

Could the attacks on Westminster Bridge and in Parliament be linked to the siege of Mosul where “ISIS” has lost the east of the city and half the west since an Iraqi army offensive started o n17 October? “ISIS” has traditionally tried to offset defeats on the battlefield, by terrorist attacks aimed civilians that show they are still very much a force to be feared. The same logic led to the ritual decapitation, drowning and burning of foreign journalists and domestic opponents.

The most likely speculation at this early stage is that the attacks in London are inspired or directed by “ISIS”, but there is too little evidence to make the connection with any certainty. “ISIS” often holds off claiming such atrocities for several days to increase speculation and intensify terror.

Source: Independent, Edited by website team

23-03-2017 | 11:22

The UK has made 10 times more in arms sales to Saudi Arabia than it’s given in aid to Yemen

Source

Similarly, the US sold a record amount of arms to Saudi Arabia under Obama’s administration, with sales set to continue under Trump. Earlier this month the State Department approved a resumption in the $300m sale of US-made precision-guided missiles, a deal blocked late in Obama’s administration due to concerns over civilian casualties

yemen-children.jpgUN humanitarian aid chief Stephen O’Brien looks at a child during a visit to the Mother and Child hospital in the Yemeni capital Sanaa Getty

Bustling, buzzing and bartering. That is how I would once have described a typical market (or souk) in Yemen.

Not any longer. These days they’re often barren and lifeless. During my many visits, I’ve seen the devastation of once busy souks destroyed by Saudi coalition airstrikes. Skeletal structures of buildings and stalls lie empty where once vibrant businesses sold coffee, spices, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, clothes and children’s toys.

By contrast, on the other side of the world a lucrative market in high-tech weaponry is positively thriving. Over the past two years, the UK and the US have sold billions of pounds’ worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, arms used to obliterate Yemeni markets and much else.

In Yemen, I’ve met countless victims of airstrikes who’ve lost loved ones or had livelihoods destroyed, leaving them impoverished and destitute. After two years of this, the country is facing a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions, with more than 18 million Yemenis requiring humanitarian assistance.

On the one hand, the UK and US have supported Yemen with around £371.5m in aid during the past two conflict-ridden years. On the other, British and American arms companies, with the authorisation of the UK and US governments, have busily supplied much of the weaponry that Saudi Arabia has used for its devastating attacks in its southern neighbour.

Nearly 2,600 UK ex-soldiers jailed in 1 year for violent crimes as well as sexual offences.

Nearly 2,600 UK ex-soldiers jailed in 1 year

British military forces in Afghanistan (File photo)
British military forces in Afghanistan (File photo)

Nearly 2,600 British war veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during the US-led invasion of the two countries have been imprisoned over the past year over committing violent crimes as well as sexual offences.

The figure represents between four and five percent of Britain’s total prison population, according to UK’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ), prompting concerns about the impact the military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq has had on the mental health of former members of the British armed forces, The Guardian reported Saturday.

The MoJ began identifying the convicted ex-soldiers as they entered the prison system in January 2015 after concerns over the management of British war veterans were raised in a review of the criminal justice system.

Based on the figures, the former members of the armed forces accounted for 721 of the “first receptions” from July to September 2015, the initial period when they were released.

The numbers, the report adds, appear to have dropped since, 545 arrived in the system in the same period a year later. In the year leading up to last September, 2,565 veterans were imprisoned.

The development came after historic murder conviction against British soldier Alexander Blackman, who shot dead a seriously wounded Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan, was overturned earlier in the week and replaced with the lighter charge of manslaughter on the grounds of “diminished responsibility,” according to the report.

Blackman’s lawyers argued that he had adjustment disorder at the time of the killing after “serving for months on the frontline in terrible conditions.”

Read more:

Although the British veterns of the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan represent five percent of UK’s prison population, “but they represent a disproportionate number of serious violent offences and sexual offences, and that raises questions that need answering,” said Fraces Crook, the chief executive of independent charity organization, the Howard League for Penal Reform.

“These are not victimless crimes. They have a terrible effect on the victim,” he added.

Crook further added that several factors contributed to the number, including alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Research by the organization also found that 25 percent of former combat forces were in prison for sexual offences, compared with 11 percent of the civilian prison population.

The report further quoted a Defense Ministry spokesperson as saying, “Most former service personnel return to civilian life without problems and are less likely to commit criminal offences than their civilian counterparts, but we’re determined to help those who fall into difficulty, and last year awarded £4.6m to schemes targeted at tackling this issue.”

“The government has enshrined the Armed Forces Covenant in law to make sure veterans are treated fairly and receive the support they deserve, including with mental health issues, getting on the housing ladder, and applying for civilian jobs,” the official added.

British soldiers represented the second largest contingent of mostly Western military forces that took part in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 under the purported “war on terror” schemes. Nearly 15 years later, both countries are struggling with unrelenting incidents of terrorism amid growing suspicions that they have directly and indirectly aided the establishment of some terrorist elements in both countries.

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