It’s hard to believe that we are a week into a new year, and therefore it is timely to reflect and look back and also to consider what’s ahead of us.
For many of you, our steps in 2020 will be little different from those we took in 2019: the issues that confront us are a little different; the challenges, many; the anguish experienced by our innocent victims of terrorism remains the same and our determination to do all we can for them is undiminished.
Ulster Human Rights Watch is about working to extract facts for people still searching for details and information about the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attacks that consigned them to a lifetime of pain. In the absence of hard factual information, closure remains elusive.
Survivors still want to obtain answers to the most basic of questions. They want to know who planned and executed the terrorist attacks. They ask why their brother, sister, son, daughter, father or mother was singled out for murder. They know there is little or no chance of securing answers from terrorist organisations. These self-styled ‘armies’ kept none or few records even though they professed some legitimacy in their rank structures. In the attacks – we do not like the word ‘incidents’ – that were investigated by the authorities on either side of the Border, relatives ask why certain avenues of inquiry or leads weren’t pursued and, in the worst cases, why the files and paperwork are almost non-existent, destroyed or excessively difficult to obtain.
In 2020, we will make every effort to get to the truth in every case we undertake – that includes travelling to Dublin, when necessary, in search of answers and we will pressurise the Republic of Ireland Government to give us access to documentation that could help the relatives of those kidnapped, interrogated and murdered across the border.
In Northern Ireland, part of our workload will continue to be dominated by legacy and unacceptable proposals included in draft legislation for dealing with the past. These issues cannot be one-sided and any attempts to demonise those who served ‘in uniform’ to frustrate and thwart terrorism can never be equated with the perpetrators who caused such misery and heartache.
We know that there is a silent community of thousands in Northern Ireland who grieve in the privacy of their own homes for those lost to them a generation ago. We also know many of these innocent victims don’t know where to turn to for help and advice. We want them to understand that Ulster Human Rights Watch is there for them. Our Advocacy Service can take up their cases, do the investigative spadework and deliver more information about what happened to their loved ones. Often knowing even a little more can help in the healing process.
Setting out what happened to their relatives can also assist. Telling their own stories and having them lodged for posterity to remind future generations of the horrors they endured will also feature high on our Agenda.
It is vitally important that the stories of victims and survivors are a counterweight to the misinformation peddled by terrorists who are determined to secure some legitimacy for their murderous actions and equate what they did with the legitimate forces of law and order.
If you want us to take up your case, or can assist with our efforts to inject objectivity into the story of the ‘Troubles’, then please contact us, without delay on 028 3834 4500 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org