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Year 2001 No. 199, November 20, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Anti-Terrorism Bill Being Rushed through Parliament

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Anti-Terrorism Bill Being Rushed through Parliament

Stop the War Coalition – Not in My Name Demonstration – November 18, 2001

From the Placards and Banners on the Demonstration

Speeches at the Demonstration to Stop the War, London

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Anti-Terrorism Bill Being Rushed through Parliament

Yesterday, Monday November 19, saw the first stage in the emergency anti-terrorism measures being rushed through the House of Commons. As well as the second reading of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill itself, both the Commons and the Lords approved the order under the Human Rights Act opting out of the provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights relating to detention without trial, which is necessary for the Home Secretary’s measures to be adopted.

Three days only have been allowed to pass the Bill through all its Commons stages, and next week it goes to the Lords. The votes in the Commons are along party lines, not even allowing the MPs themselves to vote according to their conscience on a Bill which it is universally acknowledged is controversial. Even the all-party Home Affairs select committee had earlier complained in a report that the legislation was being rushed through Parliament too quickly for adequate scrutiny to take place. The electorate themselves, of course, have absolutely no part in the decision-making.

The issue which presents itself is what kind of rule of law this is. Since the Human Rights Act became law in 1998, bills are prefaced by a declaration of their sponsor that they are consistent with the European Convention of Human Rights. The present bill is no exception, brought about by the simple expedient of leaving the appropriate provisions out of account. Emergency legislation which has become permanent is piling up, as the government decrees that the "exceptional times" that we are living through require the putting in place "substantial safeguards" which on balance are more necessary than defence of rights and freedoms. This not only makes a mockery of the conception of rights and freedoms which the government by decree can strike out, but also brings into question whether one can speak of the rule of law when any piece of legislation can be pushed through no matter what fundamental law is thereby overturned, especially when the legislature is being made completely subordinate to the executive, as is at present the case. This process is further bringing into question the legitimacy of the authority of the government, as well as the political process by which it assumes such authority.

In the face of the disquiet which is being expressed, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, commented: "Circumstances and public opinion demanded urgent and appropriate action after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. I don't believe 10 weeks is a hurried period, given the necessity for putting in place substantial safeguards that may be required at any day and any time." Those 10 weeks, of course, have not been spent in reasoned deliberation among the people, no mandate has been tested, and the government has been trying to mould public opinion to its aims while declaring that circumstances demand exceptional measures, including military aggression against another country.

A number of implications of various parts of the legislation have been highlighted in recent days.

For example, it has been pointed out that Ministry of Defence police are to have sweeping new powers, allowing its officers to arrest people anywhere in the country, under a clause in the bill. MoD police – all of whom can carry firearms – will have the same powers as officers in regional forces in "any police area", the bill says. They will be able to arrest anyone "whom they suspect on reasonable grounds of having committed, being in the course of committing, or being about to commit, an offence". At present, MoD police have jurisdiction inside or near bases, including US bases, and personnel working or living there. Elsewhere they have to seek permission of local police forces before intervening.

Increased powers for the MoD police were included in the Armed Forces Bill which fell before the general election as a result of opposition to the measure and lack of parliamentary time. That move, prompted in part by the MoD force's inability under existing law to intervene in last year's fuel protests, was also opposed by MPs because it is less accountable than local police forces. Commentators have pointed out that it will transform the MoD police into a kind of national paramilitary force.

Opponents of the Armed Forces Bill believed the government wanted to use the 3,700 officers in the MoD police to help make up the shortfall in local police forces and deploy them, in particular, during demonstrations. The Anti-Terrorism Bill goes further than the Armed Forces Bill which gave the MoD police new powers only in "life threatening" situations. The new bill also increases the powers of British Transport police and Atomic Energy Authority special constables.

The MoD police are not formally subject to police complaints authority investigations, to the inspectorate of constabulary, or to the same disciplinary procedures as local police. It is not accountable to an elected police authority. It is an MoD agency controlled by a senior civil servant and the defence secretary without formal outside scrutiny, though the ministry recently agreed to appoint three civilians to its police board.

Another concern is that the bill will outlaw even mentioning where nuclear weapons are based in Britain or that they are routinely transported by lorry to the secret submarine base at Faslane. The Anti-Terrorism Bill contains a clause making it illegal to disclose any information which may "prejudice the security of any nuclear site or any nuclear material". "Nuclear material" means "nuclear material anywhere in the world which is being transported to or from a nuclear site or carried on board a British ship". The clause could mean that publishing a map showing where nuclear weapons are based in Britain or giving any detail about any specific base could lead to a maximum of seven years in prison.

Organisations such as Trident Ploughshares, CND and Faslane Peace Camp – responsible for the growing and successful sit-down blockades of the Trident Faslane base on the Clyde, thirty miles north of Glasgow – could now have their legitimate campaigning activities seriously affected. Similarly, the nuclear weapon transport monitoring organisation, Nukewatch, which tracks and protests at the movement of nuclear weapons around the country by military convoy also faces having its successful campaign curtailed by the legislation.

It is becoming extremely necessary that the working class and people pay serious attention to the way the government is acting in contempt of the rule of law and to further criminalise dissent and political protest on the grounds of state security, and that they should intervene not only by building up the opposition to the increasing fascisation of the state but by discussing the alternatives and taking up responsibility for setting the agenda for a just and democratic society.

Article Index

Stop the War Coalition – Not in My Name Demonstration – November 18, 2001

by a Workers’ Daily Internet Edition reporter

Marchers still arriving in Trafalgar Square at 3.50 pm while rally is in progress

Thousands of people from throughout Britain stepped up the struggle to stop Anglo-American war against Afghanistan and oppose the Anglo-US New world Order on Sunday at the second national march demonstration called by the Stop the War Coalition.

Accompanying the events in Afghanistan over the previous week has been, within the pages of the monopoly-controlled media, on the airwaves and on TV screens, an arrogant, but quite simplistic, assertion of "we told you so". Frustrated by inability to finish the job before Ramadan and of the apparent failure to successfully overthrow the Taleban through bombing, the Afghanistan government’s retreat from capital city Kabul and other cities provided the media and apologists for war opportunity to deride all opposition. So Sunday’s march was an important gauge of the public opinion of which it is the most vociferous and active.

Whether the turnout was the 100,000 suggested by organisers or the 15,000 figure claimed by the mainstream media the sentiment of the demonstrators reflected the widespread national opposition to the war and to the dangerous and repressive measures which accompany it. Whatever the figure the demonstration took over four hours to snake its way from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square where speeches were heard from Tony Benn, John Pilger, Tariq Ali, and others. Street Theatre, mobile sound systems, samba bands, mobile art vied with contingents of political and social organisations, women’s groups, peace groups, youth organisations, national minority organisations and religious groups. The atmosphere reflected the determination to press on towards successful realisation of the aims of the anti-war movement .The ubiquitous Not In My Name and Stop the War placards predominated alongside others hand-made displaying slogans, commentary, cartoons and also banners – creatively and directly – denouncing both the aggression against Afghanistan, interference in that country’s affairs and the hypocrisy of the British government and the United States imperialists.

In its response to the New York and Pentagon terrorist attacks, RCPB(ML)’s statement of September 14 called for an end to state terrorism and war preparations against the people; for defence of the rights of all and encouraged the workers and people’s movement to persist in their struggles towards their goals.

Since the release of that statement, events nationally and internationally vindicate the Party’s stand. National and international opposition to Anglo-American state terrorism and war preparations has increased. The bombing of Afghanistan that began on October 7 has worsened that country’s humanitarian crisis, destabilised that society even more with "Taleban chaos" being replaced by Anglo-American "order". Evidence for the war’s pretext – responsibility for September 11 – remains unseen apart from Osama bin Laden’s religious calls, and the collective punishment of an entire country continues. Nationally yet more repressive legislation has been initiated, with more likely, including possible imposition of a permanent public state of emergency and internment without trial. Fascisation of the state to criminalise dissent and extend and justify the impunity from accountability already enjoyed by the police and government persists. Yet the people’s movement against the war grows. Sundays march reflected as much.

National Union of Teachers delegations from Greenwich, Ipswich and South Gloucestershire were seen as well as contingents of Public Sector workers behind UNISON banners representing Middlesex University, London Region LFEPA, Northern Regional HealthCare Trust, Manchester Community Health Workers, Doncaster, Tower Hamlets, Oxford Brookes University, Rochdale and Wolverhampton.

Stop the War Coalition and Anti-War Groups also displayed banners, flags and placards representing Bath, the University of Westminster, the School of Oriental And African Studies, West Norwood, Bury, Wycombe, Walsall, Kings Heath, Harrow, Wigan, Bristol Tyneside and Tower Hamlets.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament were represented by delegations from Leicester, Bath, Bromley and Beckenham, Prestwhich and Whitefield, Wales/Cymru, Sheffield and Sevenoaks.

Workers’ movement delegations participated behind banners representing Birmingham Health Workers Against the War, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Health Workers Stop the War Group, NATFHE – University of East London, Rail Maritime Transport Union – London Transport Region, London Healthcare Workers Against the War, Haringey Trades Union Council, Camden Trades Union Council and the International Union of Sex Workers amongst others.

In the heart of the demonstration a contingent of the New Communist Party of Britain and Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) disseminated the two Parties’ joint statement calling for the struggle against the war to be stepped up and in opposition to the Anglo-US "New World Order".

Article Index

From the Placards and Banners on the Demonstration

Contingent of NCP and RCPB(ML) on the march

Hand-made placards

· You Arm tyranny – then it Kills people
· ‘Stop bombing – this War is Worse than ever’ -
· ‘Stop the War – Wage War on Poverty – Not the Impoverished’
· ‘No to US/UK Intervention – Not in this war’
· ‘Politicians Fight Your Own Bloody Wars’
· ‘All lose with war, all hope with peace’ placard –
· Knowledge is Power – Not Wealth – No Race Will dominate – all Are Equal –
· ‘Why Is Death the answer’
· Stop Bombing Innocent People
· Where’s the aid for Afghanistan
· Muslims for Justice – Stop Killing Muslims
· Imperialism will not bring peace, against war; fight capitalism
· Muslims for Justice – blood and Oil do not Mix
· Media Freedom Now – US/UK Stop Killing for Profit
· ‘Careful Now, Down with this sorta thing!’
· Break the cycle of Violence
· ‘I am Not at War’
· ‘Dead of alive – Created by the CIA – Wanted by the FBI – He’s America’s Family Secret – the American president
· ‘War, What is it good for – Oil’
· Three Wise Men – Bush, Blair, Bin Laden’
· Stop United States Crusade National Secular Society – Just Say No to Religion
· Complete Separation of Religion from State
· Bombing solves nothing – But Kills Many
· ‘We are all Afghans
· Muslims not guilty for Twin Towers
· Stop the destruction


· Scientists Against the War
· Lawyers Against the War
· Cuba Solidarity Campaign – ‘We Are against Terrorism and Against War’
Welwyn Garden City – Quakers
· London Branch – Palestine Solidarity Campaign –
· Indian Workers Association
· International Socialist Revolution – Youth against War
· ‘Just Peace’
· Bikes not bombs
· Communist Party of Britain
· Morning Star
· Bikes Not Bombs
· Chiltern Women’s Peace Coalition
· Globalise Resistance
· Birmingham Socialist Alliance
· Plymouth Socialist Alliance
· Woodcraft Folk
· Stop Killing Please – An Unholy alliance – Cambridge University Students Union
· Imperialism Will Not Bring Peace – SWP
· Defend Afghanistan – International Bolshevik Tendency
· Caution do not Eat – [placard in sharp of bomb]
· ‘No Weapons in Space’
· Hand-made banner with portrait of Tony Benn and slogan ‘Listen to T. Blair [crossed out] Tony Benn’
· Northampton Connolly Association
· Ratify International Criminal Court – World No 1 Terrorist State – USA
· Say No to Ethnic Cleansing
· New Communist Party Central Committee
· Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain [Marxist-Leninist]
· Nottingham Students Peace Movement
· Vicious Circle – hand painted cartoon of twin towers destruction and depiction of destruction of Afghanistan
· Green Party
· Basildon Socialist Alliance
· Toddlers in Government – Play Nicely and Stop fighting
· Stroud Peace Movement
· Latin Americans against Imperialist War
· Brighton University
· Muslim Students Oppose bombing Innocent Afghanistan Civilians
· Pax Christi – Peace and Justice
· Justice and Peace – Justice and Peace Network
· Young Communist League – London
· Anti-Capitalist Bloc

Article Index

Speeches at the Demonstration to Stop the War, London

Speakers at Hyde Park included the following:

Dave Nellist (former Labour MP; now leader Socialist Alliance) spoke strongly against the war and highlighted the attack on civil liberties. Caroline Lucas (Green Party MEP) said you cannot bomb your way to lasting peace. She said that the causes of poverty, of conflict, such as in the Middle East, must be tackled. She said the current attacks on Afghanistan had made the end of terror further away. She called for the use of the judicial process and the setting up of an International Criminal Court which, she pointed out, the US opposed. She called for no more violence in our name, to make our voices heard, to make a difference. Sait Akgul (Federation of Kurdish Associations in UK) compared the effects of the US bombing of Afghanistan to the effects of the US bombing of Northern Iraq. He also pointed out that some 5,000 Kurds had been killed as a result of Saddam Hussein’s chemical bombing in 1988, yet no protest or action came from the US or Britain. He also spoke of the dangers posed by the current Anti-Terrorism Bill in Britain. Adam Price MP (Plaid Cymru) said that his party was 100% against the war. He said it was necessary to reaffirm the principle that violence met by violence only breeds further violence. War cannot be the route to peace, he said. Alan Simpson MP (Labour) said that you cannot eradicate terrorism by bombing the poorest country in the world. He denounced the notion being pushed in the national press that those who opposed the war were "terrorists and traitors". One cannot defend democracy, he said, if you refuse to practise it. He said there can be no peace without justice.

At Trafalgar Square the speakers included the following:

Canon Paul Oestricher (St Paul’s Cathedral) appealed to those in power that one cannot defeat violence with violence. He said the people of Afghanistan had suffered from warring factions for generations. To back one side against another would only lead to chaos. He said the present course was not the road to justice. He said those who opposed the war were patriots who stood for a better Britain. Paul Marsden MP (Labour) said the demonstration was sending a powerful message to No 10 and the White House that thousands upon thousands would not stand by and let September 11 be followed by further atrocities in Afghanistan. There was a better way via the UN and Courts of Law. It was time to end the suffering, he said, it was time to take power back from the Prime Minister to the people and Parliament. Dr Gyasuddin Siddiqui (Muslim Parliament) said there was an unfolding New World Order in which state terrorism was being made the norm. He denounced the criminalisation of protest and the policies of globalisation. Tony Benn (retired Labour MP) said a world peace movement must be developed. He described the bombing of Afghanistan as terrorism and spoke against the taking away of civil liberties. He said this was a fight for our freedoms as well as those of the peoples of the world. He said this war was not even approved by Cabinet, let alone Parliament. He said we must build a world fit for future generations. Bianca Jagger denounced the concept of "collateral damage" and the withdrawal of civil liberties. Paul Mackney (General Secretary NATFHE) noted the trade unions which opposed the war and called on all trade unions to "come off the fence". He said nothing could justify bombing a country already devastated by 20 years of war. Getting rid of the Taleban would not deal with terrorism or its causes. He said Tony Blair wanted to reorder the world but would better put things right at home. The war, he said, was about US aims and control of the world. Michael Letwin (New York City Labour Against the War) spoke of the opposition to the war in the US. He called for justice for the dead of September 11 but safety for the living. Justice did not mean vengeance, he said. He spoke against heightening racism and curtailing civil liberties. George Galloway MP (Labour) said that 100,000 people had marched today in the biggest peace demonstration for 20 years. He denounced the fact that the British government was standing shoulder to shoulder with the biggest terrorist state – the United States. He said until there was justice there would be no peace. Carol Naughton (chair CND) spoke of the "dirty deals" being done among various powers in the present war. She said one and a half million lives were being sacrificed in the war. Tariq Ali (journalist) described Tony Blair as the messenger boy of the US. He said there was no military solution to terrorism. Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour) said that the demonstration was a great show of unity of all faiths and political persuasions. He denounced the concept of a war between "civilisation" and the rest. Such "civilisation", he said, meant the imposition of US domination and the will of the multinationals on the whole world. He called for international peace and justice, for opposition to the war and the attack on civil liberties. Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition) spoke of the hypocrisy of calling this a war for democracy and rights, including women’s rights. George Monbiot (Guardian journalist) spoke of the dangers posed by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s call for further war on 30-50 countries. They were preparing for a Third World War, he said. John Pilger (journalist) identified the real enemy as the US. He spoke against the double standards in journalism and called on his colleagues to oppose manipulation. He said these were dangerous times. He said September 11 had been a trigger to reorder US priorities, and spoke of the dangers posed by US plans to attack further countries. Public opinion must make itself felt. Mohammed Islam (Council of Mosques) gave thanks for the solidarity with Muslim people. He said the war against the innocents must stop. Mike Mansfield (barrister) said that Tony Blair and George Bush had turned their backs on the rule of law. He spoke against the new government legislation attacking rights. Liam Foss (SOAS Students Union) said students were not asleep. He called for a broad-based student coalition against the war. Dr Amanya, a visitor from Afghanistan, called for peace. Assad Rahman (Newham Monitoring Project) spoke of the dangers of racist attacks in the present climate and denounced the Anti-Terrorism Bill and other legislation.

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