Dead Men Left

Thursday, January 13, 2005


This one could run and run. A shower of pro-war apologists are currently attempting to hide their support for 100,000 deaths behind the murder of an Iraqi trade unionist. With the invasion and occupation of Iraq more unpopular than ever, a fairly concerted effort is being mounted to smear the leading anti-war organisation in the UK, the Stop the War Coalition.

Following the murder of Hadi Salih, international officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), Nick Cohen and Johann Hari (aided and abetted by their blogging sidekicks) penned disgraceful attacks on the Coalition for the national press. Both were based on the lie - the absolute, flat-out lie - that the Coalition supports civilian deaths and urges the resistance on by "any means necessary". I dealt with the slander here; Lenin adds more to the story here and here.

Hari has now attempted a response to some of his critics. Credit to him for trying. It's worth noting for his back-handed repetition of the lie that the SWP disrupted a meeting at the ESF at which Sabhi Mashadani, IFTU's London representative, was attempting to speak.

Rubbish, Johann, plain and simple.

I've posted my account of the meeting here; but more importantly, SWP member and Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German stood in front of a crowd of some 2,000, berating the (tiny) disruptive element and insisting that Mashadani be allowed to speak. The most elementary investigation would have uncovered this. Hari admits that "he does not know" what Lindsey German did during the meeting, though quite why in this context he felt her actions to merit so little attention, I cannot say.

"Labour Friends of Iraq" continue their own disinformation campaign, claiming that Andrew Murray's unambiguous condemnation of Salih's death on behalf of the Coalition is

the only comment from StWC leaders on the murders - one line, in one post, on one blog, while writing about another topic - ‘We condemn this killing and its perpetrators, whoever they are.'

The "topic" being discussed was that of Hari's initial op-ed piece: Salih's murder. Exactly the same "topic", then. The Independent, for its own reasons, chose not to print Murray's letter; it has, however, been available on the Stop the War Coalition website since at least Tuesday evening - Tuesday, 11 January. It is highlighted on the website's front page. "Labour Friends of Iraq" posted their lurid claims about the Stop the War Coalition on Tuesday, 11 January.

An apology is unlikely, but they might have the political decency to fully acknowledge the Coalition's statement.