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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 July 2006

Arrested on suspicion

Government and right-wing media create climate of fear and prejudice

ON 7 July, while Britain remembered last year's appalling 7/7 terrorist attack, the right-wing media and government were fabricating panic and prejudice. As a result, many false arrests were made and ethnic minorities were intimidated and humiliated.

Rozh and Senan

A Socialist Party (SP) member from Hull was arrested on his way to London, just because he and his fellow passenger whom he'd met at the bus stop were speaking in Kurdish and carrying a rucksack.

When the bus stopped in Leicester, the party member, believing it was a normal stop went to buy some drinks and waited for the bus to move. To his surprise two army trucks and a police car rushed to the bus stop. The SP member and his fellow Kurdish passenger were arrested immediately.

Apparently a passenger informed the police that two people, both carrying rucksacks, were talking suspiciously. The police were told that both of them were very nervous and counting all the passengers coming in and out the bus!

Police questioned and searched them for over two hours. They did not apologise and made no attempt to warn or talk to the passenger who made this racist call. However the bus service apologised to customers for being delayed, saying it was because of a passenger.

The young SP member was clearly upset and felt helpless and alienated. He wasn't alone. From 2001 to 2002 there was a 41% increase in 'Stop and Search' against Asians. The figure has rocketed again since 7/7, even though only 1% of those arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were convicted.

The cold-blooded killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and the shooting in Forest Gate weren't isolated incidents. Any more such incidents will only help to alienate the already poor and exploited Asian community and help create ethnic tensions.

In 1981 police intensified their 'stop and search' tactic in Afro-Caribbean communities, responding to ethnic tensions created by Thatcher's right-wing government. 44% of those arrested under SUS (short for suspicion) were Afro-Caribbeans and 77% of those arrested were black people. In one instance in Brixton 943 were stopped and 118 were arrested. Brixton exploded.

If the intensified use of stop and search against Asians continues, similar ethnic tensions and riots could unfold. We need to fight to defend our civil liberties and democratic rights but fighting to change the system is the best way to counter these right-wing measures.

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In The Socialist 20 July 2006:

War and occupation

Stop the carnage

Lebanon: Israel's air war threatens regional war

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Fighting for the future of the NHS

Hundreds march to stop Labour's 'leeches'

West Mids march builds links

No to cuts, no to privatisation

Activists organise for action

What the Socialist Party says

Socialist Party campaigns

Low pay, no way!

Police not to face charges

Arrested on suspicion

Bury campaign SOCs it to the council

International socialist news and analysis

Anger in St Petersburg as the 'Big Eight' arrive

Kazakhstan: Shanyrak shanty town in revolt

Scottish Socialist Party

Serious crisis for Scottish Socialist Party

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Sea of sleaze rises around Blair

RMT rejects move back to New Labour...

Can the Left reclaim Labour?

Gordon Brown steps up attacks on the public sector

New Labour's attack on the sick and disabled


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