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Year 2001 No. 212, December 12, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Anti-War Protests Continue

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Anti-War Protests Continue:
Huge Demonstration in Birmingham against Continuing Anglo-US War Aims
Tyneside Stop The War Coalition: Militant Action against Repression and for Freedom
Anti-War Protest at Northwood Military Base
Sheffield Anti-War Demonstration

"Anti-Terrorism" Legislation and the Defence of Rights:
Pierre Boulez Held over 1960s' Ideological Comment
European Appeal Against Anti-Terror Laws: Democratic Rights Must Not Become the Collateral Damage Caused by the War Against Terrorism
Welsh MEP Upholds Minority Languages

International Activities:
Somali Prime Minister Rejects US Charges
US Expands Military Training Programme in Philippines
Condemnation of US and Israeli War Crimes

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Anti-War Protests Continue

Huge Demonstration in Birmingham against Continuing Anglo-US War Aims

A huge demonstration of several thousand people, from all sections of the community, marched through the centre of Birmingham on Saturday. The marchers assembled at 11.30 am in Chamberlain Square and militantly marched through Birmingham City Centre shouting slogans on the route. Many shoppers joined the demonstration as it passed by. Banners and placards reflected the feelings of the protesters with such slogans as, "Not in our Name!", "No to war!", " No to the aims of Anglo-US Imperialism!", "Murder of Afghan Children by Bush and Blair!"," Stop the killing of Afghans!".

The demonstration was led by the large Trades Council banner, co-organisers with the Stop the War Coalition. A large number of youth and students took part in the demonstration. There were people from the Muslim community, workers, socialists, trade unionists and peace protesters. At the end of the march in Centenary Square a rally was held, where the demonstration was welcomed by Banner Theatre who played new anti-war songs. Many bookstalls circled the rally where anti-war literature was sold along with various socialist and trade union books and pamphlets as well as Islamic literature.

Mick Rice, President of the Trades Council and Councillor, and Salma Qaqoob from the Stop the War Coalition spoke at the rally, as well as representatives of health workers, of CND, a Palestinian representative and many others.

Speakers posed the question: "What happens now?" This was in reference to those who were saying that the war was over in Afghanistan. The sentiment of the speakers was that one thing is sure and that is that the war is not over and the aims of the Anglo-US imperialists are the same. The strategy of global capitalism is to continue with its rapacious movement into the territories of sovereign nations. George Bush is in the business of moving into other countries and so the anti-war campaign must broaden too. Already the US imperialists are talking of stepping up their actions against Iraq and there is talk of military intervention in the Sudan, Somalia and other countries.

Mick Rice said that it is important for people to work in their trade unions and branches to oppose war and build organised workers' opposition. He pointed to the aftermath of the military operations at Kandahar in Afghanistan and exposed Tony Blair's fraudulent "aims". He said that Blair had failed with education and social welfare here but that he is now saying that he is going to bring peace and prosperity to the people of Afghanistan, and so how could this be possible?

One area of concern for the demonstrators was the right to dissent and the dangers of the anti-terrorism laws. The other area of concern was the atrocities of the Israelis against the Palestinian people, who are justified in demanding a homeland. The fascist nature of the attacks has been encouraged by Anglo-US imperialism and is part and parcel of their global strategy, which includes subjection of the Arab nations and people.

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Tyneside Stop The War Coalition:

Militant Action against Repression and for Freedom

Campaigners against the military action in Afghanistan used a mock coffin and gravestones on Saturday to symbolise the deaths of critical freedoms if the government's current Anti-Terrorism Bill becomes law. Members of the Tyneside Stop the War Coalition added their voices to the many others who are condemning the Anti-Terror, Crime and Security Bill as excessive and disproportionate, and counter-productive in defeating terrorism, according to the organisers.

The gravestones were marked "RIP Habeas Corpus Act, 1679-2001" and "RIP Human Rights Act, 1998-2001", to indicate the important ways in which the Bill would curtail important freedoms. The campaigners pointed out that, like the military action in Afghanistan itself, the Bill will do more to destroy freedoms and curb protest than to defeat terrorism.

Nova Brockbank, a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) from Fenham, Newcastle, added, "We have already seen thousands of people arrested without charge in the US and threatened with trial before military courts."

The previous week, Paul Marsden, the Labour MP who defected to the Lib Dems, revealed attempts to curb and attack him because of his views. The Tyneside Stop the War Coalition point out in this context that new measures to criminalise protest within the Bill concern many different groups. "The Home Secretary has said that the Lords are 'naive' for opposing the bill," said Andrew Gray. "The real naivety belongs to those who believe that we can defeat terrorism by passing draconian laws, or that we can bring lasting peace through military violence."

Members of the coalition handed out leaflets about the new Bill outside the law courts on Newcastle's Quayside last Tuesday, and received a good response from many of those present. They set up a stall (with coffin and gravestones) at Grey's Monument on Saturday afternoon, December 8, and later held their regular silent vigil outside St Thomas' church, Haymarket.

Article Index

Anti-War Protest at Northwood Military Base

Two anti war activists, Rosie Bremmer and David Heller, entered the Ministry of Defence's Joint Support Unit in Northwood, north-west London, at 8 am on Monday, December 10, to "check what they were up to" and to register their opposition to the slaughter being meted out on Afghanistan from Northwood.

Three other activists – Ciaron O'Reilly, Sr. Susan Clarkson, and Scott Albrecht (ex US Air Force) – were arrested on criminal damage charges after daubing the sign at the entrance to Northwood with a red substance and scattering photos of Afghan children. They then knelt before the sign in prayer for the dead. Eight anti-war protesters were arrested in all.

Ciaron O’Reilly said, "We have transformed this military sign into a shrine for the dead, the past, present and future victims of the state terror that flows from this military base. We remember the 500,000 children killed by sanctions on Iraq and the innocents slaughtered in Afghanistan by indiscriminate hi-tech bombs after the last two months. We pray for people throughout the Third World who find themselves in the sights of the Bush and Blair administrations."

Dozens of activists outside the base obstructed traffic from entering the base.

The action was sponsored by London Region CND, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Youth and Student CND, Aldermaston Women's Peace Camp and London Catholic Worker.

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Sheffield Anti-War Demonstration

Sheffield Stop the War Coalition held a stop the war demonstration in Sheffield city centre on Saturday, December 8.

The march assembled at Barkers Pool and returned to Barkers Pool for a rally. At the final rally there was a minute's silence in sympathy with the victims of the aggression against Afghanistan.

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"Anti-Terrorism" Legislation and the Defence of Rights

Pierre Boulez Held over 1960s' Ideological Comment

According to a BBC report, one of the world's most famous conductors was briefly detained by Swiss police on suspicion of being linked to terrorist activities.

French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez had his passport confiscated in the town of Basle where he had been conducting at a music festival last month.

Europe has seen a series of "anti-terrorist" dawn raids since September 11, and the incident demonstrates the danger of being regarded as a "security threat".

Pierre Boulez was sleeping in his Swiss hotel when police dragged him from bed and informed him he was on their national list of terrorist suspects.

The 75-year-old Pierre Boulez, who is a former conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and has been a leading avant-garde composer for over 50 years, had his passport confiscated for three hours before he was free to go.

The basis for this degrading treatment seems to have been that in the revolutionary 1960s Pierre Boulez made the remark that opera houses should be blown up, to make the point that new forms and new models were required, a stand captured in his declaration that "there is no true creation except in the unforeseeable's becoming necessity". It was the comment on blowing up opera houses which the Swiss felt made him a potential security threat.

The organisers of the music festival where he had been conducting have now demanded an apology from the authorities.

Perhaps David Blunkett might like to consider a clause on incitement to artistic hatred in the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

The incident underlines the threat to the right to conscience which comes from such measures as the Anti-Terrorism Bill, and its European and North American equivalents, and the drive to reaction bound up with the "war on terrorism". It underlines how the authorities are increasingly treating political, religious or ideological protest, equating such with "terrorism", and highlights the dangers in this approach. The incident also underlines the importance of all progressive and democratic people taking a stand against these measures and the entire retrogressive programme of the "war against terrorism".

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European Appeal Against Anti-Terror Laws:

Democratic Rights Must Not Become the Collateral Damage Caused by the War Against Terrorism

The following European Appeal is being circulated for use as a basis for a petition or letter / email template.

The European Commission had prepared a framework decision concerning the struggle against terrorism the aim of which is to streamline legislation of the member states regarding not just sanctions imposed but equally concerning the very definition of terrorism.

The project is presented as a reaction on the attacks on New York and Washington. However the perpetrators of such acts would not go unpunished in any European country given the current legislative provisions of those countries.

In fact the legislative provisions of the States of the European Union provide the most severe sanctions for those who participate in whatever way in such acts of terrorism. That is equally true in those member states that have provides for specific anti-terrorist legal measures in the past and for those who have no such specific legislation.

The new legislation proposed by the Commission's framework decision adds nothing to the legal armoury which is already in place to combat activity of this nature. Further the definition proposed is so wide that it permits the criminalising of all forms of social struggle which can now be defined as terrorism.

"The unauthorised capture of infrastructure with a view to seriously attacking social or economic structures." The scope of this definition would enable any occupation of a public place or any factory to qualify as a terrorist act. "Disruption of supplies of water, electricity, air or any essential natural resource" would render any protest by the employees of such facilities an act of terrorism. Further the incitement to commit this type of offence by any organisation would result in that organisation being defined as a terrorist organisation.

Freedom of association, the right to strike and freedom of expression are all seriously threatened by this framework decision. It is couched in the language of "war against terrorism". In reality this anti-terrorist legislation once imposed will become a real war machine against fundamental democratic rights and against those who come up against a political and social system with its basis in economics, a system increasingly global and unjust.

We the undersigned call on those guardians of democratic rights to oppose this framework decision of the Commission, a decision which is binding on member states.

We demand that those in authority in Europe and their representatives in the European parliament prevent the coming into force of this project, which will see the demise of liberty.

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Welsh MEP Upholds Minority Languages

As the European Year of Languages draws to a close, Welsh Euro-MP Eluned Morgan has succeeded in putting the issue of the minority languages spoken in the European Union onto the agenda.

Eluned Morgan, who is President of the cross-party group on Regional and Minority Languages, has won her case to place the issue on the agenda at Strasbourg next week, for the final plenary session of the year. The Euro-MP will begin the debate on the issue with an Oral Question to the European Commission this week.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Eluned Morgan said: "I am delighted to have succeeded in this first vital step in securing a European Parliament Resolution on minority languages. As a Welsh MEP, this is obviously an issue close to my heart and I have had to lobby hard, across all political groups, to win this debating time.

"There are 40 million people in the European Union who speak a language that is not one of the official 11 EU languages – it is vital that the necessary support is in place to ensure that this cultural diversity is safe-guarded and nurtured. There could be no more fitting an end to the EU Year of Languages initiative, than a move to protect these lesser-used languages."

The Welsh MEP added: "EU governments have shown a recent lack of willingness to support regional and minority languages – removing vital sources of funding. Next year's EU budget includes steps to reverse this trend, but it is clear that a formal resolution is needed to cast in stone the rights of minority language users."

Eluned Morgan's success in getting an Oral Question with Debate on Minority Languages onto the agenda follows last year's successful campaign to secure protection for lesser-used languages through the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

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International Activities

Somali Prime Minister Rejects US Charges

The Prime Minister of the Somali transitional government, Hassan Abshir Farah, has strongly rejected charges by the US government that the al-Qaida network has bases in Somalia. He invited the US and other countries to send a fact-finding mission to Somalia "to come and see what is here".

His remarks came in response to comments by the US Deputy Defence Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, who stated that the US government was looking for "possible sanctuaries" for al-Qaida members who might attempt to flee from Afghanistan. Wolfowitz is reported to have claimed that Somalia was "a country virtually without a government, a country that has a certain al-Qaida presence already". His comments have been widely interpreted to refer to links between al-Qaida and the Somali Islamic group al-Itihad.

Paul Wolfowitz’s comments have fuelled speculation that the US now plans to intervene in Somalia. In addition news agencies have reported that some of the leaders from the Rahanwein Resistance Army, one of the political groups within Somalia, have held talks about the activities of al-Itihad with US officials in the city of Baidoa, north west of the Somali capital Mogadishu. It has also been reported that US spy planes have been making surveillance flights over Somalia, that a US warship has been stationed off the Somali coast and that the US is making other military preparations in the area.

However UN officials are reported to have said that they had found no credible evidence to link Somalia to "terrorist camps" of any kind.

Wolfowitz's comments also presage US intervention anywhere it is declared that a government is weak or virtually non-existent, where by that fact alone it is suggested that that state has links with "terrorism".

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US Expands Military Training Programme in Philippines

The Wall Street Journal reported on December 10, "Washington's growing military assistance to the Philippines shows how the US war on terrorism is already being fought in the jungles of Southeast Asia. On Friday, 19 US soldiers flew to the southern Philippine island of Mindanao to expand a military training programme for Philippine troops battling the Abu Sayyaf guerrilla group, which the Bush administration believes is linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network."

The US troops, "decked out in camouflage gear and backpacks, landed at an air base in Zamboanga City hours after Philippine soldiers killed 11 rebels and captured another in a fierce gun battle on the nearby island of Basilan. These Philippine troops were trained by another team of US advisers who visited Mindanao in October."

This report reveals another aspect of the "war against terrorism", the training by the US, not to mention Britain, of the military in various countries to carry out their dirty work for them.

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Condemnation of US and Israeli War Crimes

In a letter to Jakob Kellenberger, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Head of Iran's Red Crescent Society, Ahmad Ali Nour-Balla, has condemned war crimes carried out by Israel and the US. The letter calls on the ICRC to take steps to prevent the recurrence of such human tragedies. Referring to the Israeli killing of six wounded Palestinians and the US led assault on Afghanistan's Qala-I Jhangi Fort on November 27, he branded these as war crimes and called for the concerned international institutes to open an inquiry into them.

In a related development, the Tehran based newspaper Kayhan International reporting a Friday sermon of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution, at Tehran University, quoted him as having said, "US bombardment of a detention centre in northern Afghanistan which killed hundreds of Taleban and Al-Qaida detainees should be investigated as an instance of war crimes." The paper also quoted former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as having said, "With its criminal invasion of Afghanistan, the US has destroyed whatever sympathy that it gained in the world in the aftermath of the terror attacks on its soil."

The newspaper noted, "With the crimes in Afghanistan, the US has once again added to its already grim record on human rights and state-sponsored terrorism."

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