'Use Libyan assets for IRA victim families' Canary Wharf bomb survivors urge MPs at Westminster
PUBLISHED: 13:54 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:20 09 May 2018
Campaigners fighting for compensation for victims of the IRA's 1996 Canary Wharf bombing have sent an open letter to MPs at Westminster urging support in Thursday's Commons debate on Libyan-sponsored terrorism.
Victims over the past 22 years have felt “abandoned” by the government, some having taken their own lives in frustration, according to the Docklands Victims’ Association.
They have met a brick wall in their fight “for equality” after American, French and German victims received pay-outs over the years, while successive British governments have blocked payments from Libyan assets held in London, they point out.
“A number of Docklands victims have sadly committed suicide or attempted suicide,” the association’s Johnathan Ganesh said. “This is due to stress and suffering during our campaign. They felt abandoned by the government which tells us it’s a private issue.”
Jonathan, a bank security guard at the Midland HQ at South Quay badly injured in the bombing in 1996 which killed two men and injured 50 other people, is urging MPs to support Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick’s Asset Freezing Bill to “seek redress for victims and their families” and release some of the dead Libyan dictator Gaddafi’s £9.5 billion assets.
Jonathan lost two friends in the bombing, newsagent Inam Bashir, 27, and shop-worker John Jeffries, 29, both killed outright.
Inam’s brother IIhsan Bashir said: “What kind of government tell its victims to fight for themselves? They should have done the right thing many years ago.”
Gaddafi supplied the IRA semtex that was used at Canary Wharf, at Bishopsgate, at the Baltic Exchange in The City and at Harrod’s.
Many survivors have been left disabled decades after, like Zaoui Berezag in the Canary Wharf bombing who remains brain damaged, blind and paralysed, living on Millwall’s Barkantine estate which was shattered in the 1996 blast.
Zaoui was hit in the head and suffers severe brain damage needing 24-hour care, in a wheelchair the rest of his life. His son and one of his daughters were also caught in the blast, but recovered.
Another survivor at the Barkantine estate, Joyce Brown, said: “We campaigned for years by ourselves with no help from the government. How sad it that?”
The Treasury estimates Libyan assets held in London at £9,467,630,000 in properties, investments and cash.
But Theresa May’s government said last year that the assets “belong to the Libyan people” which were seized under an EU directive and held by a UN resolution that makes it “illegal to sell off or redeploy funds”.