Statewatch News online: The "war on terrorism" - "Not in our name"

The "war on terrorism" - "Not in our name"

A leading UK lawyer, Gareth Peirce, has called on people to oppose the "war on terrorism". Speaking at a public meeting organised by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) she said:


"The law in our society is no longer what it was, or at least what we thought it was. During the preparation for war on Iraq, a different kind of war has been waged for some time and has many victims. Our legal norms have been deliberately torn up. Human rights have been intentionally abandoned or destroyed. In arresting people under "anti-terrorist" legislation, governments have been intentionally lawless. Individuals can be kidnapped and taken to another country, interned and forgotten. All this severely undermines the UN Convention on Human Rights.

The UK government has shamelessly introduced internment without trial and has abolished other rights. Internees are allowed no access to friends, family, relatives or to the press. They have been deliberately disappeared into a legal limbo.

For the few lucky enough to stand trial, the defendants face a daily torrent of allegations in the mass media, which are not challenged by the government. The same Attorney General is responsible for both the prosecutions and for contempt of court. If one newspaper is not challenged, then it sets a norm which others can follow. Then the judge tells the jury to ignore all press accounts. This request is little use. In one trial, jurors told the judge that they were too frightened to sit on the jury (presumably, frightened of the defendants). And the accused face amorphous charges.

In one case, two men were arrested at Gatwick airport, enroute to set up a business in Gambia, on grounds that they were carrying suspect devices - which later turned out to be battery chargers. They were released, but their arrest in the UK led them to be interrogated in Gambia by US agents and then kidnapped to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The British Embassy knew in advance of their fate but refused to help. The two men have no diplomatic representatives because they are Iraqi and Palestinian.

Such persecution abrogates the absolute right to self-defence. All sorts of political activities are labelled as terrorism, e.g. in Chechnya. As part of the "war on terror", Russia asks the USA to put the Chechnyan resistance onto the list of terrorist organizations. Even the UN has colluded by creating its own terrorist list.

Hopefully the war on Iraq will be stopped. But the other war is already lost. The scars will be permanent. It would be better if thousands also said to this "war on terror" - "Not in Our Name".

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