14 November 2006
The recent granting of pardons to the more than 300 British and Commonwealth soldiers executed for cowardice in World War I (see the Shot At Dawn website) is a reminder of the often unseen and unacknowledged grief and suffering that can continue to affect individuals and families for generations as a result of the trauma of war.
Gertrude Harris the 93 year old daughter of Private Henry Farr who was executed in 1916, spoke for many when expressing her relief that her father’s good name had finally been restored.
"I am so relieved that this ordeal is now over and I can be content knowing that my father's memory is intact. I have always argued that my father's refusal to rejoin the front line, described in the court martial as resulting from cowardice, was in fact the result of shell shock, and I believe that many other soldiers suffered from this, not just my father" Mrs. Harris said.
As the US and its allies contemplate the results of military intervention in Iraq and struggle to find an acceptable alternative course of action, the Ceasefire Campaign and Get Up offers a means of readers to send an online message to leaders of coalition governments about the need for a change in policy in regard to Iraq.
The granting of the posthumous pardons followed closely upon the announcement of the imposition of the death penalty on Saddam Hussein. Together these events again raise questions about the appropriateness of capital punishment.
Many world leaders and governments including the Vatican have condemned the sentence imposed on Saddam Hussein, but the sentence was endorsed by both President Bush and Australian Prime Minister Howard.
Amnesty International continues to campaign for the total abolition of the death penalty, pointing out that, apart from any other considerations, since 1973 in the USA, 123 prisoners who received the death sentence have been subsequently found to be innocent and released into the community.