Relatives of the victims and survivors of the 1974 Birmingham bombings will receive a 2016 Liberty Human Rights Award in recognition of their long fight for truth and justice.
Justice4the21 – who in June 2016 finally secured the re-opening of inquests adjourned 41 years earlier – will be presented with the Human Rights ‘Long Walk’ Award.
Twenty-one people died and more than 200 were injured when bombs exploded in two public houses in Birmingham on 21 November 1974.
While the killers escaped detection, six innocent men were wrongly convicted of the crime and the inquests that opened into the incident were never completed.
After several appeals and a campaign that won global support, the ‘Birmingham Six’ were eventually released in 1991. No one has ever been brought to justice.
With no government support, the survivors and victims’ relatives used their own money, resources and time to campaign for a new police investigation and inquest.
Thanks to their unfaltering and determined campaigning, it was finally announced on 1 June 2016 that the inquest would reopen – more than four decades after the original was adjourned.
They continue to lobby for funded, non-means tested legal representation so that they can fully participate in the forthcoming inquest.
Julie Hambleton (picture above campaigning outside the Conservatives conference earlier this month) for Justice4the21, said: “We thank Liberty for this award which is as much for those we lost, as it is for ourselves – it is in their names that we seek truth, justice and accountability.
“We have come a long way in the past decade, especially in the last two years; but it should be remembered that since 21 November 1974 all that we have achieved has been by our own efforts, our time, our money, our emotional investment, our battle.
“We are still fighting for public funding in order for us to effectively participate in the inquest with legal representation. Without it, our seats at the inquest will be empty – and justice, truth and accountability will be absent.”
The Liberty Human Rights Awards celebrate the achievements of organisations and individuals from all walks of life who have worked tirelessly to protect fundamental freedoms and promote human rights values of compassion, fairness and respect.
Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, said: “Faced with odds that must have seemed almost insurmountable and forced to fight for far too long, Justice4the21 have been relentless and tenacious in demanding justice for their loved ones.
“This year – acting without support, but with uncompromising ambition – they have taken a vital step forward in discovering the full truth about what happened in 1974.”
The Awards will take place this week at London’s Royal Court Theatre. They will be hosted by comic, political activist and writer Mark Thomas.