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Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 23:40:35 GMT
From: "SchNEWS" (
Subject: SchNEWS 242, Friday 7th January 2000


Are you digging a tunnel to prevent a road from being built through your neighbourhood? Have you pulled up a few Genetically modified crops from your local test site? Maybe you spoke at a meeting where a member of the Animal Liberation Front, for example, also spoke? Well I'm afraid to tell you that you are soon to be deemed a TERRORIST!

The government are starting to realise that protests are not going away, that people are getting more advanced and organised by using such new technology as telephones and the internet! To combat the outrageous behaviour of people meeting up in public spaces and discussing issues, the government have introduced the glorious, updated, newly improved... Terrorism Bill!!

Terrorism, in it's hot off the press state, is now "the use of serious violence against persons or property, or the threat to use such violence to intimidate or coerce the Government, the public or any section of the public for political, religious or ideological ends."

This new Bill, which is being fast-tracked through parliament, is targetting environmental groups, animal rights protestors and anyone who shows a social or moral conscience.

If you intended to destroy GM crops coz they are contaminating your local organic farm, you will have less rights than a person who was involved in deliberate assault and robbery. Basically, you will be classed the same legally as the Soho nail bomber!



At present, the only organisations listed are those associated with Northern Ireland. But the Bill gives the police or government the power to add to this list. Reclaim The Streets, Earth First!, Animal Liberation Front have all hit the headlines recently as leading persistent and destructive campaigns against property . By demonising a group, organisation, or sector of a community, you can legitimise a treatment of them that is seen as 'fair punishment' by the general public. This is exactly what happened with Northern Ireland, the coal miners, the anti-poll tax demonstrators, etc.

Under Clause 3 of the new legislation, it will become an offence just to be connected with the new definition of 'terrorists'. If direct action organisations are being targeted as potential terrorists, then it is only a short step to 'proscription'. Once an organisation has been proscribed 'terrorist', it will become a criminal offence to belong to that organisation, to openly support it, or to speak out at a meeting where members of that organisation were also speaking. The Bill is scare-mongering people against joining organisations, regardless of whether or not they personally take part in criminal activity.

In fact, you won't even have to be directly involved with the organisation. The Incitement clauses of the Bill (clauses 57-59) would make it an offence to support by words alone an armed struggle in a country outside the UK. Those supporting such struggles as the Zapatistas in Mexico, or the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, will be under investigation.

Under the same clauses, there is a danger that refugees who have fled from repressive regimes to this country will become a legitimate target of the police merely because they support the overthrow of that regime.

CLAUSE 38/39 states that the police will be able to arrest, without a warrant, anyone they reasonably suspect as being a 'terrorist'. You won't have to actually have done anything. The powers of stop and search will be extended to include strip searches without a warrant, and failure to comply will result in a three month sentence.

As well as this, new rights are being given to the armed forces regarding searching premises if there is reasonable suspicion of the property containing munitions and 'wireless transmitter or scanner'. Does this mean that we could be listening to Pirate Radio Terrorism FM? Or that John Peel and Jimmy Saville were terrorists in their early career? The wording of the Bill is ambiguous and open to misuse thru' misinterpretation.

Clause 18 states that it will be an offence not to report any knowledge of 'terrorist activity'. This has far-reaching implications for investigative journalists who could face up to five years in jail for not grassing people up.

The Bill is going through its Parliamentary stages at an alarming rate, and looks set to become law this autumn.It will replace both the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1974, and the Northern Ireland Act, 1973. These two Acts have led to some of the worst human rights abuses in this country over the last 25 years, contributed to miscarriages of justice and have led to the unnecessary detention of thousands of innocent people, mainly Irish. This new Bill blatantly ignores the European Convention of Human Rights.

The original Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act was rushed through Parliament in 1977 in record time - first presented to Parliament on a Wednesday it was law by Friday morning. Not a single Labour MP voted against it.

Despite what the government said at the time, the PTA wasn't meant to convict people or prevent bombings - it was introduced to prevent the Irish community in Britain from expressing support for a united Ireland. Less that 7% of the more than 5,000, mainly Irish, people arrested under the PTA in Britain in its first seven years were charged with any offence, although many were detained for days.

The PTA has been widely used to expel innocent Irish people from Britain and prevent Irish republicans from speaking in Britain - In 1982 Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness were both banned from entering Britain to speak. The Act has also been used to remove prominent opposition figures during 'difficult' times for the government - the week before the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands, 30 leading republicans were arrested under the PTA, subject to 'extended detentions', then released without charge.

If you think SchNEWS is getting its knickers in a twist for nothing then here's an example of the PTA working in Ireland.

Bernard O'Connor, a teacher from Eniskillen, was arrested under the PTA in 1977. His first interrogation session in Belfast lasted for over three hours. He was forced to stand on his toes, bend his knees and hold his hands out in front of him and was hit in the face when his heels touched the ground or he lost balance. Every time he denied taking part in bombings and shootings he was hit again. That afternoon, three detectives tried to get him to admit lesser charges to avoid 35 years in jail. Then at night the brutality really started. He was stripped naked, beaten up and forced to do press ups continually. His underpants were placed over his head and he was threatened with being choked, then threatened with being handed over to the death squads of the Ulster Volunteer Force. These interrogations continued until he was released without charge on Monday night.


Want to know more???

* Liberty, 21 Tabard Street, London, SE1 4LA
   Tel: 0171 403 1904

* Discussion list:

* Brighton Against Benefit Cuts January 11th
   upstairs at The George Beard Pub, 7:30pm, Gloucester Road, Brighton
   to plan for a large gathering on Sat, 11th March.

* Manchester EF! Mon 24th January, 7:30pm
   One World Centre, Manchester
   Michelle 0161 442 8635 or Chris 01942 513 792

* Cultures of Persistance Squat 13th January, 7:30pm
   to discuss a strategy to mobilise against the Bill

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