Thursday, 12 December 2013

Release Marine "A" Alexander Blackman

Please sign this petition if you agree that Marine Alexander Blackman should be released from prison.

The prosecution at his court martial said that he had shot a wounded Taliban fighter in Helmand province in Afghanistan in 2011 "in cold blood". What he did was wrong, certainly, and unprofessional, but surely being dismissed from his position as a once proud and successful Royal Marine is a severe enough penalty. 
      This war in Afghanistan has dragged on now for nearly twelve years and countless thousands of people have been killed. It is not surprising that after twelve years there is a feeling of fierce hatred in our troops for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. (Meanwhile all the time Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan). We send our servicemen out there to serve in extreme danger, facing an enemy who uses every form of dirty trick and underhand method. The scandal is that while expecting so much of them, we have been providing many of our troops with inadequate weapons, equipment and even clothing. They go out in flimsy vehicles, not tanks or armoured cars, without the full recommended protective gear, and face ambush, mines, bombs, snipers and various forms of torture if captured. They leave their families behind for months on end. They also risk getting severely maimed: a steady stream of them come back having lost arms or legs and have to face a future with an artificial limb. Others are appallingly burnt in the face so that no plastic surgery can ever restore them to complete normality. A lot of them find that after a spell of duty on active service, in the front line, they get back here and are handed a P45. They are sacked because it is cheaper to employ raw recruits than seasoned soldiers who are on a rising pay-scale with pension rights. It is not uncommon for ex-servicemen to be homeless and jobless. How come we have any servicemen left?
     Every day those on active service experience things that shock, distress and harden them. They get inured to people being killed or injured and they see the mafioso tactics used by the Taliban to compel villagers to support them rather than the government. They see their comrades being blown to bits and often have to carry the bodies back themselves. They are not going to come back the same nice, innocent boys they were when they went out there. Bereavement is only one of the many forms of shock and psychological damage that servicemen are subjected to. Their stress is extreme, it often has long-term ill effects on their psyche and let's face it, battle barbarizes people. It is not a normal environment and what people do in that context cannot be judged like a civilian murder.
You have to hate the enemy in order to go killing them. Indeed, learning to hate the enemy is part of the training of a modern soldier. There is a real problem with mental illness and suicide as a result of battle stress.
     Tony Blair, who sent our troops out there in the first place, has never been in any danger of a prison sentence.
    The defence said that Blackman shot the wounded insurgent near the end of a tough stint in Helmand during which 23 servicemen from three commando brigades were killed by the enemy. Taliban fighters hung the limbs of dead British troops from trees as horrific "trophies" and Blackman and his fellow Royal Marines had to endure such spectacles as part of their duties. Moreover, Sgt Blackman's father Brian had died only a few days before his son was deployed to Afghanistan. 
   Despite that, Alexander Blackman got a life sentence and is expected to serve at least ten years  - unless there is a response to his appeal. By signing and circulating this petition we can all do something to help him to get out. He risked his life and his health to fight in a very dirty war that we should never have got involved with in the first place.

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  1. A good article. Thank you. So frustrating. I am trying along with others to keep this in the public eye, the petition stands at nearly 60,000 but has slowed down. He has so much support and now an appeal.

  2. Do the right thing let the tab defends his country out