Our sons died in vain, say grieving families

Demonstrators wearing masks depicting former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (left) and former US President George W. Bush protest in London on July 6.
Demonstrators wearing masks depicting former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (left) and former US President George W. Bush protest in London on July 6.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • As protesters outside bayed for Mr Tony Blair's prosecution, inside the building where Sir John Chilcot delivered his damning Iraq War Inquiry report, the father of a dead serviceman delivered his own verdict: "My son died in vain."

Having waited seven years for the former civil servant to deliver his verdict on Britain's role in the 2003 conflict, bereaved families and anti-war protesters were united in an outpouring of anger.

"There is one terrorist in this world that the world needs to be aware of, and his name is Tony Blair, the world's worst terrorist," Ms Sarah O'Connor, whose brother Bob was killed in Iraq in 2005, told a press conference.

Given the chance, Ms Rose Gentle said, she would ask Mr Blair: "Why did you kill my son?"

Outside the Queen Elizabeth II centre in London - where Sir Chilcot delivered a summary of his report - more than 100 protesters shouted: "Blair lied, thousands died!"

Although more restrained, the families were equally determined to see Mr Blair and other government officials face further action.

"If state officials are determined to have acted unlawfully or in excess of their powers, then the families will decide on whether to take any necessary and appropriate action," said Mr Matthew Jury, who is representing some of the relatives.

Legal action could "motivate government into making sure that they change the way they do business", said Mr Richard Bacon, whose 34-year-old son Matthew was killed in 2005.

He added that "never again must so many mistakes be allowed to sacrifice British lives".

With Iraq still consumed by violence, families doubted that the sacrifices had been worthwhile.

"I look at Iraq and on my TV screens today, with 200-plus deaths that took place the other day. I can only conclude... my son died in vain," said Mr Reg Keys, whose son Thomas died when a mob attacked a police station in 2003.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'Our sons died in vain, say grieving families'. Print Edition | Subscribe