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From: The Socialist issue 336, 28 February 2004: Global Warning: Profit Threatens our Future

Search site for keywords: Guantanamo - Democratic rights - US - War - Terrorism

End The Occupation Of Iraq - Troops Out Now!

Liar Blair Must Go! 

  • Let The Iraqi People Decide Their Own Future

  • Bring The Oil And Energy Industry Under Democratic Public Ownership

  • For A Socialist World Free Of War And Terror


March 20th, Assemble at 12 Noon Hyde Park, Central London

National Demonstration Called By Stop The War Coalition

Workers Must Fight Attacks On Democratic Rights

FOUR BRITISH men imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay are to be 'transferred' to Britain. Home Secretary David Blunkett said: "I think you'll find that no one who is returned... will actually be a threat to the security of the British people".

So why have they been held without charge, trial or access to lawyers or their families for over two years ? For much of that time they were caged in cells 8ft by 6ft, in conditions which the Red Cross described as "not quite torture, but as close as you can get".

Human rights lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, says that the timing of the decision to deport them is no accident. The US Supreme Court was about to hear a case brought by two of the men which could have found Bush and the US government guilty of acting illegally over the detentions at Guantanamo Bay.

Two of the four British men who remain incarcerated face a kangaroo court - a military tribunal where secret evidence can be heard and where there is no right of appeal to civilian courts. The only right of appeal is to George Bush who has already branded them "bad people". Even some of the US military officers chosen to represent the prisoners have refused to do so, because of the unjust nature of the trials.

'War on terrorism'

THE SEPTEMBER 11 attacks have led to an increase in state repression internationally in the name of 'war on terrorism". Draconian laws have been passed which will not prevent terrorism. The Socialist Party opposes repressive legislation which denies democratic rights and could be used in the future against those who take collective action, such as workers on strike or anti-war protesters.

Already the Prevention of Terrorism Act, passed after September 11, has been used to prevent protesters peacefully demonstrating outside an international arms fair in London.

The British state has its own mini-Guantanamo Bay in Belmarsh prison, where 14 foreign nationals have been held indefinitely without trial for almost as long as those in Guantanamo Bay itself. Now Blunkett wants to introduce even more draconian anti-terrorist laws which would allow for 'pre-emptive trials' for crimes which haven't actually been committed and allow lower standards of proof than in normal criminal courts.

These proposals will not stop terrorist attacks and are a threat to all working-class people by further eroding democratic rights. They should be opposed.

By actions such as attacking and occupying Iraq, US and British imperialism have fuelled anger that will unfortunately lead to an increase in the very terrorism which they hypocritically claim to be fighting.

The Socialist Party opposes terrorism, but the only way of effectively defeating it is to tackle its root causes - poverty, inequality, exploitation and the oppression of religious, national and human rights on a global scale - all of which are products of the capitalist profit system.

Collective action by workers is needed to defend hard-won rights against government attacks and to fight for a socialist system as an alternative to capitalist repression.

Release Moazzam Begg

ONE OF the four detainees still held by the US military in Camp Delta, Cuba is MOAZZAM BEGG, a 36-year-old from Birmingham. He won't be released to the British authorities because he's deemed 'high risk'.

Moazzam's wife and four children have not seen him since February 2002. His father AZMAT BEGG has been campaigning for his release. He spoke to the socialist.

"THE US authorities should have respected his human rights and straight away brought him to court and charged him if there was any charge to answer. This is the normal procedure but they didn't do that.

"In what way is he a terrorist? Has any court determined that? The US authorities have come forward with no evidence whatsoever. He hasn't done anything wrong.

"For the last two years he has been tortured, kept in isolation. I can't talk to him, lawyers can't talk to him. Letters have been stopped.

"He was doing humanitarian work in Afghanistan. They captured him not from Afghanistan but from Pakistan. They sent him to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, they tortured him a lot. And then they transferred him to Guantanamo Bay.

"The British government is definitely involved in it. If the government wanted to get him released they could have done so. They have said nothing. They should publicly demand my son's release."

Coalition Forces Run Amok

THE BRUTALITY of Bush and Blair's military occupation of Iraq was highlighted by an unexpected source last week.

The crudely pro-war Sun newspaper reported a British soldier's account of the execution of an Iraqi and the severe beatings meted out to other Iraqi prisoners by members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, last September.

Nine Iraqis were detained following a roadside bomb which killed a regimental captain.

Over a period of 48 hours the Iraqis - all innocent - were systematically bound and tortured. One of the nine (whose father is a senior Iraqi policeman), was murdered during the frenzied attacks, having sustained 50 injuries to his body. Yet the report suggested that the soldier responsible would only be charged with manslaughter.

During this time no officer intervened to stop these atrocities.

Moreover, the whistleblower claims that other Iraqis were arrested and tortured. "They were being treated worse than animals," he said.

Manchester demonstration

There will be a demonstration against the occupation of Iraq coinciding with the Labour Party Spring Conference in Manchester.

Saturday 13 March, 12 noon, All Saints Park, Oxford Road, Manchester.

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