Part 1 of an interview éirígí's Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney took part in with Fatima Bidar from Mustadafin World Front, a news website working on human rights and anti-imperialist subjects. They have decided to have interviews with activists around the world and publish them in three languages, English, Persian and Arabic and we are privileged to have been asked to participate.
The interview focuses on the struggle in Palestine and the fact many of us in Ireland naturally take to the streets to protest and show solidarity and support to the people of Palestine as we in Ireland are also involved in struggle against occupation and imperialism. Many Irish people have a very real understanding and empathy with the Palestinian struggle simply because Irish people are able to directly relate to the experiences of the Palestinian people. Any population that has the misfortune to find itself under foreign occupation will inevitably stretch out in solidarity and friendship to others in the same situation.
MWFpress: Hello Stephen. Please introduce yourself to us and tell us about your activities.
SM: My name is Stephen Murney, I live in Newry in occupied Ireland. I’m a political activist with the socialist republican political party, éirígí, and I’m also a former republican prisoner. As a member of éirígí, I’m active across a wide range of issues of concern including campaigning for a British withdrawal from Ireland and exposing the unchanged nature of British imperialism in Ireland.
That includes challenging false premise that the various political agreements since 1998 have somehow resolved the main issues which have caused repeated cycles of conflict and oppression in our country over successive generations.
It should be remembered that those agreements were very carefully crafted by Britain and US administration. While they created an illusion of change, the reality is that did not address or resolve the core political, social or economic issues that lay at the heart of conflict in Ireland.
In both partition states in Ireland today, the two administrations are implementing anti-working class austerity measures, both have access to a wide range of repressive legislation. In the North of Ireland in particular, we still have heavily armed police that can call upon the British military for support and assistance, and Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI5, with several hundred personnel in the North, still operates with impunity.
Campaigns that I’m directly involved in include opposing the anti-working class programmes of the Stormont Coalition parties and raising awareness in relation to the conditions Republican prisoners have to endure. Along with other party members, I’m also active on international issues such as the situation in Palestine and party comrades are intensely involved in the mass protests and popular mobilisations opposing the introduction of water-taxes in southern part of Ireland. There the government is attempting to tax people for using water in their own homes.
MWFpress: Why is Palestine important for you as a social activist?
SM: Given our own history in Ireland – the historical and ongoing experience of having been forcibly occupied by Britain as a foreign power, of having gone through the devastating impact which imperialism and colonialism wreaks upon subject nations and people, of experiencing the very political, social and economic injustices that occupation creates – many Irish people have a very real understanding and empathy with the Palestinian struggle simply because Irish people are able to directly relate to the experiences of the Palestinian people.
Any population that has the misfortune to find itself under foreign occupation will inevitably stretch out in solidarity and friendship to others in the same situation.
As a small example, here in Ireland we have a system of detention used by the Northern state which we call “Internment by Remand”. That system ensures many Republicans are held in prison for lengthy periods without ever being found guilty of any offence. I have been a victim of that system.
Palestinians suffer under “Administrative Detention” which ensures they can be held in Israeli prisons for years without trial. I and many other Irish Republicans and our families can relate to that.
MWFpress: Why do we still witness America and England's support for Israel and the UN silence, while everybody is talking about human rights and freedom?
SM: America and Britain see the Israeli state as an outpost, one whose interests they will protect at all costs.
Let’s not forget that both the USA and Britain helped established the modern Israeli state, have armed it, financed it, and have helped Israel develop an offensive nuclear capability.
Israel has often been described as the USA’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the Middle East. That demonstrates the important strategic interests - political, economic and military – which the US in particular attaches to Israel.
MWFpress: Western mainstream media has been hiding the truth about Palestine and hides the murders of Israel in Palestine. Do you think it is possible to confront with the mainstream media? If yes, how?
SM: It's important to remember that the western mainstream media is very much controlled by capitalist forces whose interests are tied directly to the interests of US, British and other western governments. It is therefore not beneficial for them to expose the brutal and unjust nature of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. In that respect, it is extremely difficult to break through the barrier of that media’s self-imposed censorship.
However, through the development and use of social media, it has become possible to widely disseminate the truth of what is happening in Palestine to a far wider audience than would have been the case twenty or thirty years ago.
Indeed, as was seen during the recent armed assault upon Gaza, the use of social media by Palestinian people and by their activists, by the support and solidarity networks which have developed in many countries meant that it was possible to present real time updates of what was happening almost instantly.
- Part 2 of the interview will be published next week