This is shameful and shocking, and reflects badly on the New Labour government of Tony Blair.
This Writer could not justify criticism of the current government’s diabolical human rights abuses without also condemning abuses exposed about a previous government.
The fact that I am no fan of Tony Blair’s foreign policy makes it easier, too.
But I will ask this: Would Theresa May have been so keen to admit government wrongdoing if it had been her own government, and not one run by a rival party?
I would suggest not. And I notice that the UK taxpayer is picking up the bill once again.
Still – she has apologised, and has accepted that it was wrong that the UK Government contributed to the detention, rendition and suffering of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Bouchard; shared information about them with its international partners; and missed opportunities to relieve their plight.
The actions of her own government may be judged by the same standard.
The British Government has accepted it played a role in the rendition and torture of a Libyan man who was kidnapped and held by Colonal Gadaffi’s forces.
Abdel Hakim Belhaj, 52, and his wife Fatima Bouchard claimed they were returned to the brutal regime in 2004 through a joint M16-CIA operation following Tony Blair’s infamous “deal in the desert” with the Libyan dictator.
“I was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital on the 9th April 2018. I was treated there with obvious clinical expertise and with such kindness, that I have found I missed the staff immediately.
“I have left my father in their care, and he is still seriously ill. I too am still suffering with the effects of the nerve agent used against us.
“I find myself in a totally different life than the ordinary one I left just over a month ago, and I am seeking to come to terms with my prospects, whilst also recovering from this attack on me.
“I have specially trained officers available to me, who are helping to take care of me and to explain the investigative processes that are being undertaken. I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can. At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them.
“Most importantly, I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do. Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves. I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father’s.
“For the moment I do not wish to speak to the press or the media, and ask for their understanding and patience whilst I try to come to terms with my current situation.”
It was immediately criticised by former ambassador to Uzbekistan (now an influential blogger) Craig Murray. On Twitter, he wrote:
Yulia Skripal "issues a statement" that was very clearly written by a native English speaker with a very high level and particularly formal, official English. https://t.co/JoFZrMwC7O
Yes- and you would not translate that back into English in the peculiar language of the statement. I would just translate the last phrase as "I do not want to use their services". Try it on google translate.
“There is also the very serious question of the language it is written in. Yulia Skripal lived part of her childhood in the UK and speaks good English. But the above statement is in a particular type of formal, official English of a high level which only comes from a certain kind of native speaker.
“’At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services’ – wrote no native Russian speaker, ever.
“Nor are the rhythms or idioms such as would in any way indicate a translation from Russian. Take “I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father’s.” Not only is this incredibly cold given her first impulse was to phone her cousin, the language is just wrong. It is not the English Yulia would write and it is awkward to translate into Russian, thus not a natural translation from it.
“To put it plainly, as someone who has much experience of it, the English of the statement is precisely the English of an official in the UK security services and precisely not the English of somebody like Yulia Skripal or of a natural translation from Russian.”
Many others have picked up on the strange use of language.
As a writer, I avail myself of such words quite often. But then, I am a writer and I like to exercise my command of my own language. I don’t hear other people using that expression unless I am in rarified company, so I think these critics are right.
And then there’s the discrepancy between the phone call, in which Ms Skripal described her father’s health as “fine”, and the statement, in which she said he was “seriously ill”. Has he had a relapse?
We can only conclude that Ms Skripal’s words are not her own and that she is not free to go about her own business.
In effect, the UK government has kidnapped this poor woman, is attributing words to her that are not her own, and is most likely trying to indoctrinate her into believing its unlikely claims about what happened to her, while depriving her of access to alternative viewpoints.
It seems clear, then, that the government are the bad guys in this situation. But so, it seems, is the Russian government.
Are there any good guys?
Of course, the best indication of what happened to the Skripals would be offered by the record of their medical treatment.
It is significant that no information about that has been released to the public and no staff at Salisbury District Hospital have been at liberty to discuss the matter since one doctor wrote to the papers, informing them that nobody had been exposed to any kind of nerve agent at all.
The hospital is on lockdown, under the orders of the UK government, it seems.
But this is a matter of public interest and we have a right to know – especially as this case is being used to create hostility between our country and Russia.
It affects us all.
We demand the facts.
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It seems Conservative Party representatives have lowered themselves as far as kidnapping the bewildered in order to get votes.
The following was passed on to Vox Political by a person who wishes to remain anonymous, apparently after seeing it in a Daily Mirror comment column. I’ve edited it a bit for grammar and spelling:
“Just want all the people of Newark to know exactly what they voted for regarding the Conservative win recently.
“My 89-year-old nan, who suffers from dementia, who requires three visits from carers per day as she can’t remember how to cook, wash clothes or take her own medication (lacking in basic life skills), last Thursday evening was approached by a Conservative associate who knocked on her door.
“If you had a five-minute conversation with this lady it would not take much intelligence to work out the fact that she’s not only vulnerable but her mind is elsewhere! The man who knocked on her door was caught by her carers escorting her to his own vehicle with the intention of escorting her to vote.
“Fortunately her carer arrived at exactly the same time, who informed said man that not only should my nan not be getting into a stranger’s vehicle, but that she also suffers with dementia.
“So worried was her carer that she even attempted to block the car he had smuggled the lady into – she positioned her own car so this male was most definitely blocked in.
“However this man then reversed, to exit the street with the old lady inside – kidnapped.
“The carer subsequently rang family members and the police who are at present doing their investigations. The most worrying thing is, due to the lady’s mental health, this man could have been anyone.
“But for goodness’ sake, how low will Conservatives stoop to get one extra vote? The mind boggles.”
If this is true, what does it say about the despicable attitude of the Conservative Party – and right-wing politicians generally – to the elderly, sick and disabled?
They try to put these people into early graves – and have the arrogance to demand that their victims vote for them.
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