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Letter on the Refugee Crisis by Charlie Bird

Syrian internally displaced people walk in the Atme camp, along the Turkish border in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, on March 19, 2013. The conflict in Syria between rebel forces and pro-government troops has killed at least 70,000 people, and forced more than one million Syrians to seek refuge abroad. (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

I have to bear the guilt and shame of contributing to the present situation in which hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are trying to escape the brutality of war and the cold cruelty of ISIS. As a former diplomat who was seconded to the UK military for the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, I have seen at first hand how successive British Governments have, by their overt and covert involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria helped stoke the conflicts that have resulted in the suffering of our fellow human beings who now look to us for help, compassion and sanctuary.

The reaction of the Government to date has been heartless and disgraceful. It is not sufficient to claim that we are doing more than anyone else to provide humanitarian aid for those in the camps in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere in the region nor to make great play of how we export values of democracy, human rights and concern for the individual wherever we dispense our overseas development budget and then squirm away from offering practical help to those who take our claims at face value. The Prime Minister has said that taking more and more refugees is not the answer but that bringing peace and stability to the region is. Since 1945 and before, diplomats, politicians, soldiers, spies and, of course, Tony Blair, have been trying to do exactly that, succeeding only in making the situation worse. What are those who are suffering right now meant to do while the Prime Minister adds his efforts to those of his predecessor?

We have been put to shame by acts of kindness by Germans, Icelanders and others who have been prepared to open their homes to individuals and families. It is too much to hope that our political leaders could demonstrate similar compassion. I have space in my house and I am sure that there are many others who are willing to dissociate themselves from the present Government’s attempts to live up to the Eton motto “Floreat Etona” (Let Eton Flourish) with the apparent addition of “……. and damn the rest”.

Charles Bird served with the British Army in Iraq, he is a member of Veterans For Peace UK.

  • Fiona Gallagher 06/09/2015, 15:22

    Charlie what a truth you speak. We have been put to shame by the open heartedness of Germany, Iceland et al.. We have to stop seeing these people as a threat. They are living the nightmare not the dream. The American and British governments have so much to answer for by their murderous actions. But as ever they go in, bomb the place to smithereens and pretend there will be no consequences for their actions. And they try to delude the people into believing they’ve blitzed the place for that country’s own good. And sadly there are so many who believe that shit. My door is open, there are no borders only a place in my home for those who may need it.

  • alphonse 06/09/2015, 15:39

    Hello Mr Bird, i’m a ” Soldier” Living in Deutchland. Not all Germans are tolerent towords war torn refugees believe me there are enough of the opposite here. They disguise it better thats all. See Pegida etc.

  • Malcolm Samuel 06/09/2015, 18:39

    I find it quite awful that WE, in this day and age, are aiding this sort of thing by our actions. It just seems incredible that we have become the bad guys when most of us want so much for the US and UK to be looked up to instead of becoming countries of shame. We talk about each of those other countries as being an “axis of evil”, but with all the spin and manipulation being exerted towards making us look like the ‘good guys’ one wonders where it will all stop……. And how many more innocents will die, just to pay for our countries’ thirst for oil?

  • Garry Harriman 06/09/2015, 20:43

    Maybe this abhorrent document, conceived by equally abhorrent human beings who, on the back of a strange `terrorist attack` took the reigns of power in Washington in 2001 where it all began!

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/pdf/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf

    Garry Harriman
    Augusta, Ga
    USA
    RAF, 1987-2006

  • Allen L. Jasson 06/09/2015, 21:11

    Sorry… er “stop seeing these people as a threat”? No, I’ve never seen them as a threat. I knew long before 9/11, indeed, since the early 1970s that the only real ‘threat’ was and is the United States (Britain now being in the back seat as one of the ‘bullies in tow’) and that with psychopath George Bush Jr at the helm that threat was at an all-time high (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6285971.stm). These people are psychopaths – they can inflict pain, suffering, injury even death without empathy, compassion or remorse and they have been doing it for generations. Enter the 21st century and we still have the hierarchy of commitment to the empire founded all the way on the deluded belief of having some personal interest in believing the lies.
    Sick and sad. Paving paradise with slime to put up Capitalism’s parking lot.
    How utterly pathetic!

    But yes, there was a time.
    In 1971, a naiive kid, I believed in ‘the domino theory’ and the threat of ‘the yellow peril’ – that was a lie – a lie as immoral and disgusting as it was profound in the extent of its evil.
    Utterly evil!

  • Gus Hales 07/09/2015, 12:36

    Blair is a war criminal and it’s high time he was put on trial at the Hague, instead of being a so called Peace Envoy, What a joke.

  • Garry Harriman 09/09/2015, 15:18

    I have emigrated to 2 countries since leaving the RAF in 2006, Canada and then the USA. I know how difficult it can be to adjust to a new life, even when the culture is not too much different from the one left behind and, more crucially, you are welcomed and wanted. In times of economic hardships, it is easy for the media, the public, and the government to go after easy targets like benefit cheats and immigrants to divert attention from the real mitigating and converging factors behind such events. Form example, in 2008, we, the public, more so in the USA, were the victims of a financial coupe as we fell victim to the `too big to fail` rhetoric of politicians and tax payers money baled out financial criminals who treat the global economy like a casino table.

    The same is true in reference to this human tragedy of epic proportions with finger pointing and media spin that again shifts the focus on why it is happening, who is responsible and the hidden, abhorrent ulterior motives behind it, in my view, the long planned destabilization and eventual toppling of Assad in order and all related, again ,to oil and gas in that region. Where did `ISIS` come from, how did they flourish….again due to an illegal invasion and occupation of a neighbouring land because a horrible, oppressive leader, one we trained, backed, armed and supported, finally did the unspeakable…threatened US petro dollar recycling and the disruption of oil supply to the energy dependant industrialized world!

  • Garry Harriman 09/09/2015, 17:29

    I have tired, on 4 occasions, to send in my concluding, accompanying comment, but it got bounced out on each occasion:

    I`m apathetic at any real change being enacted in my life time. Oil and gas will run out eventually and it will really rock our world when it does and the Middle East and, indeed, all the major producers of oil and gas will of no consideration to us……life will go on there as they see fit long before colonialist changed boarders, divided tribes and influenced their life.

    We all need to be aware that cheap energy comes at a price and should be receptive to how we get it. We need to be insured by politicians like Jeremy Corbin and be less interested in `celebrity` and material goods and more interested in our common man and how we will all need each other, We need alternative energy and end to the current domination of the big oil and gas consortiums and the power and monopoly they have on global energy.

    I could go on, bur it might get bounded off…..I think we are all waiting fir the world to change as this great song (enclosed in this link) illustrates very well!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAyhnyrbCKw

    Garry H
    Ga, USA
    RAF, 1987-2006

  • kenny williams 10/09/2015, 20:39

    Until you realise that EVERYTHING you are being told and see on the main stream media is ALL manipulated to brain wash you, then your a lost course.
    This has been planned for a long time only they want a tidal wave of migration to get the problem reaction solution effect that they create EVERYTIME. Syria is the stepping stone to iran and has the natural gas they (the EU and US) want.
    Look back at the chemical weapon lie they tried to pull off and blame Assad… proven to be the “rebels” backed by the US and UK no charges brought against ANYONE yet, they almost started yet another bombing campaign.
    Mmm didn`t work, now let`s use our “rebels from Libya and call them ISIS, ramp up the controlled media into a frenzy throw in yet another “False Flag” planned attack to get the masses behind the government and behold… Bombing and killing more KIDS in Syria, Makes me bloody angry

    PEOPLE PLEASE WATCH 7-7 Ripple effect on utube and go and get the book “Where did the Towers Go” by Dr Judy Wood… then perhaps you will travel further down the rabbit hole and see more clearly how the agenda is playing out.
    PAL Kenny Williams Veterans For Peace UK