Mr Blair, you sent my son to die in a war based on lies
Occupation has achieved nothing positive. It is time to bring our
troops home and let the Iraqi people decide their own future
Dear Prime Minister,
Ref: Sgt Christian Ian Hickey of the 1st Battalion Coldstream
Guards, who became 97th fatality of the Iraq conflict
As a parent yourself, you will be aware that the most precious thing
we have in our lives is our children. Until four months ago, I had
been blessed with two grown-up sons. I still cannot get used to
speaking about one of my sons in the past tense. My youngest son
Christian, 30, was a member of the armed forces; he was an
exceptional character, full of fun, with great sense of humour and
was a generous, caring person who brought the best in people. He was
an excellent soldier, who had progressed rapidly through the ranks,
and became full sergeant at the age of 29. I enclose summary from
the Coldstreams' website (Shinycapstar.com) to show I am not biased
as his mother.
Since the death of my son on October 2005, three days before his
tour was to end, I have started to question why the invasion of Iraq
occurred. My son's remit in Iraq was as a "peacekeeper", helping
with the rebuilding of schools and the infrastructure, and training
the Iraqi police to enable them to maintain stability in the future.
At the time of his death, Chris was the platoon commander and was
responsible for clearing a safe route for a large convoy.
The Iraqi police have been implicated in the death of my son, from a
roadside bomb. There will be no further investigation as they were
spoken to, photographed and searched, then allowed to go as an Iraqi
police service lieutenant colonel arrived and confirmed their
identities. It makes nonsense of our involvement with them, as their
own chief of police says that he can only trust 25% of his own men.
This suggests that the remainder is made up of insurgents who would
think nothing of killing coalition troops.
My son was on foot patrol when the bomb exploded. This was to
minimise casualties should they come in contact with an improvised
explosive device. The only vehicles available to them were
fibreglass Jeeps; there were no armoured Land Rovers. The British
government had sent a consignment of armoured Land Rovers for the
Iraqi police prior to my son's death. His commanding officer spoke
out about this following my son's death, as he had requested the
essential Land Rovers but was turned down on the basis that they
were not suitable for the roads. Would the Iraqi police not have
been using the same roads as the troops? I understand that your
wife, Cherie Blair, has a government bulletproof vehicle. I would
question who is at most risk: British troops in a war zone or your
wife driving around London?
Does the British government not have a duty of care to the troops in
Iraq? My son had to purchase his own boots before going out to Iraq
as the standard army-issued boots were unsuitable and melted in the
intense heat. The British troops were known to the American troops
as "the borrowers" due to their lack of equipment and short
supplies. When the death of the 100th soldier was announced on
television, I was appalled to hear that instruction had come from
you not to hype up the significance of the number. If this is
correct, you have little humanity and do not deserve an army who are
not able to question the politics and decisions made, but have to go
where they are told. I was interested to hear about Maya Anne Evans,
who was arrested for peacefully reading out the names of the dead
soldiers, including my son, at the Cenotaph. She was arrested by 14
police officers, received a criminal record, and was fined £100.
A Ministry of Defence poll found that up to 65% of Iraqi citizens
supported attacks on British troops, less than 1% thought allied
military involvement was helping their situation, and 82% were
strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops in their
country. For nearly two years, the British public has been inundated
with US and British "exit strategies". You should not need such a
strategy when the above statistics speak for themselves, and the
Iraqi people want us out.
It is time to bring the troops home and let the people of Iraq
decide their own future. The west cannot enforce a democratic
government upon them. The occupation of Iraq has not achieved
anything positive; the people are in a worse situation now than
under Saddam Hussein. We have lost 103 dedicated soldiers. They died
in a war based on lies, for nothing, and it has robbed them of a
Going to war is one of the most important decisions this country
could have taken. It has resulted in many deaths, and has
far-reaching implications for the country's future in the
international community. From the information I have collated, the
legality of the invasion is questionable - and questions must be
asked and answers given. I feel it is important that, as the prime
minister and the person who made the ultimate decision to invade
Iraq, sending some of our troops to their death, you should have a
moral duty to answer the soldiers' families' questions.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet you for such discussion. I
personally find all forms of violence and aggression abhorrent.
Conflict is rarely resolved though wars of aggression - negotiation
is a much better tool to try to resolve issues. I am employed as a
child protection social worker, and would be held accountable if a
child was injured or died because I failed do my job adequately.
There would be an inquiry. I accept this as part of my employment.
However, if what I am reading about your involvement and the
accusations in Philippe Sands' book are correct - and I note you are
not in the process suing him - surely you too should be accountable
for your actions, and there should be redress in the form of an
inquiry at the very least.
As far as I am aware, neither you nor any government representative
has attended any of the soldiers' funerals or visited the many
injured. (This was recently reported as 230, while in January 2005
the figure stood at 790. I am sure who does the figures, but perhaps
they should be redeployed.) The true cost of this war in terms of
wasted lives of both Iraqis and of coalition troops, and the true,
undisclosed financial cost, far outweigh any gains. We cannot police
the whole world because they do not agree with us or will not
cooperate with us. I await your response with interest.
· This is an edited version of a letter delivered by Pauline Hickey
to 10 Downing Street yesterday
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006
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