[R.S.F news] iris no 316

Irish Republican Information Service (no. 316)
Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757; e-mail: saoirse@iol.ie
Date: 30 Iúil / July 2013

Internet resources maintained by SAOIRSE-Irish Freedom

In this issue:

1. Orange Order riots in Belfast following Twelfth
2. Republican Sinn Féin reorganisation in Belfast
3. White-line picket for Martin Corey in Belfast
4. Wexford remembers
5. Ballymurphy Massacre families ask for independent review
6. British ‘breached human rights’ in shoot-to-kill slayings
7. Key 1916 site on Moore Street to be preserved
8. General Joseph Holt of the United Irishmen
9. 26 Counties refuse arrest warrant for Snowdon
10. Hezbollah no ‘terrorist’ organisation!
11. Irish apprentices in ‘disastrous situation’
12. Man stole arch flags and put Tricolour up instead
13. British police investigating Shell and ENI over Nigerian oil block deal
14. Michael Campbell & the EU Presidency: Lithuanian hypocrisy
15. Dementia report must not be ignored
16. Complaint filed against BT over facilitation of illegal US drone strikes
17. Guantánamo hunger strike: US to force-feed detainees during Ramadan
18. California prisoners on mass hunger strike against torture
19. Police raids in Istanbul
20. Palestinian national strike to stop Israel’s ‘Prawer plan’ ethnic cleansing
21. British police authorised to seize mobile data at the border without reasonable suspicion
22. The Age of Regression

1. Orange Order riots in Belfast following Twelfth

DUP MP Nigel Dodds, a number of RUC/PSNI/PSNI members and a member of the public were injured in north Belfast as loyalists rioted and attacked the RUC/PSNI/PSNI when an Orange Order feeder parade was prevented from marching past the Ardoyne shops as they returned from the Twelfth of July parade due to a Parades Commission ruling.

Loyalists tried to force the march through the area but were prevented from doing so. Bottles, bricks, golf balls, paving stones and fencing torn from houses were thrown at the RUC/PSNI by loyalists.

They were joined by loyalists from other areas, including Portadown, who have been prevented from marching down the nationalist Garvaghy Road for many years. The worst of the rioting took place in the Woodvale area of Belfast where three water cannon were deployed and at least 20 plastic bullets were fired.

One of the loyalist bands stopped outside St Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Carrick Hill/Donegall Street and played the Sash (like they did last year) despite a ruling by the Commission that that only hymns should be played and that the parade should not stop.

In east Belfast, loyalists attacked the Short Strand and St Matthew’s Church while nationalist homes were attacked in Henry Street and Great Georges Street.

All of the anti-Catholic Orange Order speeches attacked the Parades Commission for their refusal to allow the bands march past the Ardoyne shops and fully supported the loyalists’ demand to ‘walk where they want to’.

“These are the bandsmen that demand we respect their culture while they march past and through the New Lodge playing the Famine Song and Sash,” said to one resident of the Short Strand.

A line of RUC/PSNI Land Rovers and members in riot gear moved crowds along the Lower Newtownards Road away from St Mathew’s Church at the Short Strand interface. Castlereagh Street and Albertbridge Road were also closed due to a build-up of crowds in the area.

A 28-year-old man was detained in the Broadway area of west Belfast accused of rioting and possessing articles for use in petrol bombs. A 14-year-old boy was arrested in the Oldpark Road area of north Belfast and charged with rioting. A 22-year-old man arrested in the Springfield Road was charged with disorderly behaviour and indecent behaviour. Two people were arrested for rioting in the Lower Newtownards Road, where golf balls, bricks and fireworks were thrown at the RUC/PSNI.

According to Orange Order Grand Chaplain Mervyn Gibson the playing of the Sash by loyalist bands outside a Catholic Church in north Belfast during the Twelfth was not “a deliberate defiance”, as the Church was closed at the time.

There were 18 main parades and some 540 feeder parades across the Occupied Six Counties on July 12.

Approximately 4,000 RUC/PSNI members were on duty, 600 of whom were drafted in from England. Police from Britain were drafted in the Occupied Six Counties during the G8 summit in Fermanagh in June also.

On July 13 seven members of the RUC/PSNI were injured after petrol bombs, fireworks and masonry were thrown during a second night of rioting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast. Police used water cannon and fired 10 baton rounds. There was also rioting in Rosapenna Street, where the British colonial police claim that a number of petrol bombs were thrown and in North Queen Street.

Masked rioters threw blast bombs at the RUC/PSNI in Pitt Park on July 15. There was also rioting at Woodvale Road, Newtownards Road, the Village area of west Belfast and in Mount Vernon in north Belfast petrol bombs were thrown. Paint bombs, petrol bombs and masonry were thrown at the police. Twenty-seven members of the RUC/PSNI sustained injuries during the rioting.

British Army Land Rovers ware back on the streets in Belfast on July 16. The distinctive ‘Snatch’ Land Rovers were seen at flashpoints across the city over the last days. Painted the same white as the RUC/PSNI Land Rovers the army vehicles have the word Police painted on the sides. Around 140 British Land Rovers were ‘loaned’ to the RUC/PSNI during the G8 summit in June.

Three men appeared in court in connection with rioting in Belfast. One of them was charged with stealing a baton from a member of the RUC and then attacking them with it.

Loyalist rioted for a fifth night in Belfast. Petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at the RUC/PSNI on the lower Newtownards Road and four cars were hijacked and set on fire on Templemore Avenue. There was also rioting on North King Street, in Woodvale Road pallets were set on fire and Mount Vernon in north Belfast.

Trees were uprooted, walls were knocked and bins overturned and set on fire, along with garden furniture, in the New Lodge area of Belfast. The trouble was not linked to the ‘Twelfth’ trouble. There was a peaceful protest at Twaddle Avenue in north Belfast. Four men were arrested in connection with the rioting.

More police arrived in Belfast from England on July 17 to assist the RUC/PSNI/PSNI with policing during the marching season.

On July 18 Orangemen stated they would stage weekly ‘Drumcree-style’ parades every week in north Belfast in protest at not being allowed to walk past the nationalist Ardoyne shops. Portadown Orangemen have been lodging weekly applications to the parades commission for almost 15 years since being prevented from marching along the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

Thousands of Orangemen and their loyalist supporters gathered at Woodvale Road on July 20 to protest at the refusal of the Parades Commission to allow them to march past the nationalist Ardoyne shops. A heavy RUC/PSNI/PSNI security operation was in place.

According to media reports, to date 78 people have been arrested over rioting related to the parades dispute. Sixty-eight members of the RUC/PSNI and three drafted in from Britain have been injured despite an assurance by Chief Constable Matt Baggott that the police from England would not be deployed in ‘flashpoint’ areas, and 51 plastic bullets fired

The Orange Order, under the banner of the ‘3 Ligoniel Lodges, bands & Local Residents’ handed out leaflets at the Woodvale protest telling its supporters that violence ‘only plays into the hands of Republicans’. The leaflet also stated that that plans to step-up the Belfast protests will “unfold over the coming months”.

On July 27 the Orange Order held another protest against a decision to prevent it from parading past the Ardoyne shops. Thousands accompanied Orange lodges on the march, but the parade was halted by the RUC/PSNI/PSNI on the Woodvale Road. There was an hour-long protest before the Orangemen and their supporters dispersed. It was the Order’s third attempt this month to march along that route. The Order has said it will stage a protest there every week until it completes the Twelfth parade.

2. Republican Sinn Féin reorganisation in Belfast

ON July 18 the PRO of Comhairle Uladh, Republican Sinn Féin. Kevin Trainor, said in a statement:

“Following the July meeting of Comhairle Uladh [Ulster Executive, Republican Sinn Féin it was decided by the delegates that Republican Sinn Fein would commence recruitment and reorganisation in Belfast City.

“Belfast is an historic Republican area and is a pivotal city in Ulster. With this in mind it was decided to concentrate on rebuilding Republicanism in Belfast, following years of counter-revolutionary dominance in that area.

“Sinn Féin Poblachtach will be launching a recruitment campaign shortly and we ask that people who support us and the Republican view make contact to help in this project.

“For further details contact Sinn Fein Poblachtach, Belfast at belfast@rsf.ie.”
Or the Belfast Office: 229 Falls Road, Belfast, BT12 6FB, Co Antrim

3. White-line picket for Martin Corey in Belfast

A SUCCESSFUL Release Martin Corey white line picket was held outside the Ulster Sinn Féin Poblachtach office on July 27. Throughout the one-hour picket RUC video recorded all those in attendance. The picket received fantastic feedback from motorists who took leaflets and beeped their in support.

4. Wexford remembers

ON July 11 Cumann Pádraig Ó Pearaill, Wexford Town, held a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of Volunteer Maurice Spillane at his graveside in St Mary’s in Enniscorthy. Maurice was at a Republican garrison in the town of Enniscorthy when it was attacked by Free State troops.

The IRA units were commanded by Commandant Ernie O’Malley and in the fighting, two Republican soldiers were killed. One was Maurice Spillane, the other was Commandant Patrick O’Brien, a native of Inchicore, Dublin, who had been O/C of the Four Courts Barracks.

On July 7 Wexford also remembered the first Republican soldier to die in Co Wexford after the treaty was signed, Mayoman, Volunteer Patrick Connolly, of Belmullet, who worked in the town. He was killed by a shotgun blast discharged by a person unknown while he was trying to prevent looting at Monk St.

Wexford will continue to honour its fallen dead throughout the year when their anniversaries occur.

5. Ballymurphy Massacre families ask for independent review

THE families of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre have proposed the appointment of an independent panel to examine all documents relating to the 1971 slaughter, according to a report on July 26.

Eleven people were murdered by the British army’s notorious Parachute Regiment in the West Belfast estate in a 36-hour period in August in 1971. For decades the families of those killed have campaigned for truth and justice, but so far to no avail.
At a press conference on July 25 the families’ lawyer, Pádraig Ó Muirigh, explained the proposal and what the families hoped to achieve by it.

“The Ballymurphy families propose the appointment of an independent panel to examine all documents relating to the context, circumstances and aftermath of the deaths of their loved ones,” he said. “It’s focus would include the investigation of the role of the British Government, British army, criminal justice agencies such as the RUC, DPP, the Coroner’s Office and the significance of the media.

“Reflecting the terms of reference of the British Government-funded work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, the proposed project’s research and analysis would demonstrate how disclosure of all documents ‘add to public understanding’ of the circumstances in which the deaths occurred. It would also create a public archive of all documents reviewed by an independent panel. Finally, it would establish an evidence base on which further legal actions and new inquests could be progressed.”

A number of leading human rights figures, including Nuala O’Loan, Professor Phil Scraton from QUB and lawyer Gareth Peirce, have already agreed to sit on the panel. John Teggart, who lost his father in the massacre, said the “cost-effective” proposal could establish the truth and put on record that those killed were not gunmen or gunwomen but innocent civilians. Briege Voyle, whose mother was killed, said the proposed model would work and, in light of the recent news about the Historical Enquiries Team’s failures, the proposal should be given a chance.

Fr Tim Bartlett, representing the Catholic Church at the press conference, described the proposal as “reasonable, responsible, realistic and achievable,” adding that the families have the full support of the Catholic Church.

6. British ‘breached human rights’ in shoot-to-kill slayings

ON July 16 it was reported that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg had ruled against Britain in actions taken over the killing of three people by British Crown Forces in the Six Occupied Counties.

One case was taken by relatives of Martin McCaughey and Desmond Grew, who were both shot dead by a specialist British Army unit in 1990. The other action was taken on behalf of John Hemsworth, who died from head injuries during an incident with the RUC in 1998.

In its ruling, the ECHR found that Article 2, which protects the right to life, had been violated by British authorities.

The judges noted that investigations into such killings “had been marked by major delays and that such delays remained a serious and extensive problem”.

They ruled that “all necessary and appropriate measures had to be taken” in such cases in the future so that “the procedural requirements of Article 2 were complied with expeditiously”.

However, the court also judged that much of what was in the cases taken by the two families was “inadmissible”, as the matters they raised were either premature or before all domestic remedies had been exhausted.

The court decided, under what it termed “just satisfaction”, that Collette and Michael Hemsworth be awarded “non-pecuniary damages” of €20,000 and a further €11,000 “in respect of costs and expenses”.

It further ruled that Brigid McCaughey, Pat Grew and Letitia Quinn be awarded €14,000, but only “in respect of costs and expenses”.

7. Key 1916 site on Moore Street to be preserved

IT was announced on July 16 that several buildings in central Dublin which were used by leaders during the 1916 Rising are to be saved from the wreckers’ ball.

Approval was also given for a commemorative centre at the site, which has controversially been allowed to fall into serious disrepair.

Although numbers 14-17 Moore Street were declared a national monument five years ago, planning permission was granted in 2010 for a massive shopping centre between the site and O’Connell Street.

James Connolly Heron, great grandson of the 1916 leader James Connolly and a leading campaigner to save the site, said they had a won a battle but would fight on.

“Our concern is for the entire area, which should be viewed as a battlefield site and developed accordingly,” he said.

“We have won the battle and now the war beckons. Where there are victories we must claim victories. It is certainly a progressive step from our point of view.”

He said concerns remained that the proposed commemorative centre would “sanitise” the buildings.

“But that’s a matter for down the road,” he said.

“The most important thing is that the minister has refused consent to develop on the national monument or indeed under it, where there were plans for a four storey car park.”

One of the country’s highest profile developers Joe O’Reilly’s Chartered Land, who built the Dundrum Shopping Centre and who is now one of Nama’s most indebted clients, was behind the plans.

Campaigners said the proposals were endangering what was part of the most important battle site in modern Irish history.

The final headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Rising before they surrendered was at 16 Moore Street.

The works are to be carried out by 2016, the 100th anniversary of the rebellion.

8. General Joseph Holt of the United Irishmen

DURING July Ruairí Ó Brádaigh/Maolmhuire Ó Raghallaigh Cumann in Wicklow commemorated General Joseph Holt of the United Irishmen.

Holt was born in 1756 in Redcross, situated in the east of the county, into a farming family of Protestant Loyalists. He became a member of the Society of United Irishmen in 1797. A master of guerrilla tactics, he utilised the natural cover of the Wicklow mountains to lead a fierce campaign of raids and ambushes against British military targets in County Wicklow.

It was a campaign that seriously reduced British influence in the county leaving many rural areas ungovernable. A testament to his valour in combat was the fact that he received many of the plaudits for the planning of the ambush and defeat of a pursuing force of 200 British cavalry at Ballyellis on June 30, 1798. Holt together with Captain Michael Dwyer tied down thousands of enemy troops and his forces were augmented by a steady supply of recruits. Wicklow was one of the last counties to surrender in 1798, thanks in no small part to General Joseph Holt.

“Whenever Ireland was reported in newspapers it was to tell of the exploits of Joseph Holt, who became the symbol of Irish resistance.” (The United Irishman, David Dickson, Daire Keogh & Kevin Whelan, p.266, 1994).

Men like Holt fought for an Ireland which runs totally contrary to the one we live in today. As a Protestant Nationalist he rose above sectarianism to garner support in Wicklow from Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. In essence his success in the field was accelerated by his support among the ordinary people who lived across the county. His exploits and message are as important today as ever.

The sectarian assembly which sits in Stormont is an affront to the ideology which was the cornerstone of the foundation of the United Irishmen. With no opposition, the “us and them” mentality is entrenched in Stormont. This is how British influence quells another Holt type character coming to the fore. With 48 “peace walls” erected in the Occupied Six Counties the sectarian divisions still remain. This unhealthy reality can only lead to more division and bitterness.

The ÉIRE NUA document offers a clear and concise alternative allowing a working majority to Loyalists in the North, along with a nine-county Ulster parliament eradicating foreign involvement in Irish affairs.

Do as Joseph Holt did and free yourself of the shackles of sectarian thinking. It is through this mindset that full freedom can be achieved.

9. 26 Counties refuse arrest warrant for Snowdon

THE 26-County State denied the US an arrest warrant for whistleblower Edward Snowden in case he lands in the country.

The High Court in Dublin ruled in early July that Washington DC security chiefs failed to show where alleged crimes had been committed by the former intelligence contractor.

The US applied for a provisional arrest warrant on July 5 through its Ballsbridge embassy. Officials made the move after Snowden contacted 21 countries, including Ireland, seeking asylum.

There were concerns the fugitive intelligence officer, who has been living in the transit section of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo-2 airport, would pass through Shannon Airport en route to South America.

A request for asylum in the 26 Counties can only be considered if Snowden makes an application on arrival in the country.

Judge Colm Mac Eochaidh refused the request for an arrest warrant on the grounds that no information had been given by the US authorities about where the alleged offences took place.

The ruling also stated that the decision was taken because the US failed to show where the theft of government property took place or what had been stolen.

Judge Mac Eochaidh said offences may relate to theft of information and its misuse rather than to physical property but that assumptions could not be made that it took place in Hawaii.

Former NSA analyst Mr Snowden has requested asylum across the globe, in Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.

He is wanted for leaking details of secret surveillance operations in the UK and US and has been in limbo since his arrival in Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said Mr Snowden would have to stop leaking US secrets if he wanted to get asylum there.

10. Hezbollah no ‘terrorist’ organisation!

Hezbollah Resistance Movement
IN A statement the Republican Sinn Féin International Relations Department said on July 27, 2013:

“The blacklisting of Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the EU has been condemned by Republican Sinn Féin. In a statement RSF International Spokesperson Dieter Blumenfeld said by putting Hezbollah on the EU-terrorlist, the EU-members once again follow the US-Israel-agenda in the Middle East and blocking the way for a democratic and federal solution of the conflicts in Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East.”

Dieter Blumenfeld, International Spokesperson of Republican Sinn Féin said:

“Hezbollah is no terrorist organisation but a legitimate people’s movement. They play both an important social role in Lebanon and a very progressive role in defending the Arabic people and the minorities against Imperialist and Zionist aggression. The huge support the get from the people in Lebanon, Syria and all over the Arabic world proves their analyses and politics as correctly.

“By putting Hezbollah on the EU-terror-list, the EU members follow the Imperialist and Zionist agenda of blacklisting and demonising all progressive movement in the Middle East and world-wide. We as Irish Republicans know this situation all too well. The Irish Republican Movement stands for the same democratic rights once the progressive revolutions of America, France and Russia held up high, though for decades Irish Republican organisations are on these terror-lists of the EU, the UN and the US State Department.

“By proscribing Republican Sinn Féin as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organisation’ and refusing our former President and Patron Ruairí Ó Brádaigh entering the United States, it has been proven that all these organisations and states show no real interest in a democratic and lasting solution of the Irish conflict.

“The same happens with Hezbollah these days. Hezbollah is no terrorist organisations but a progressive people’s movement that is forced to take up arms to defend their people against Imperialist and Zionist aggressions. The whole episode once again shows that we as Irish Republicans cannot wait to see the EU or UN standing up for Irish Unity. All these events are in vain. What history told us is that only the international people’s struggle will lead to a lasting and just solution of the national, democratic and social question in the Middle East and Ireland.” Dieter Blumenfeld, said.

11. Irish apprentices in ‘disastrous situation’

THE Ruairí Ó Brádaigh/Maolmhuire Ó Raghallaigh Cumann of Republican Sinn Féin seeks to highlight the disastrous situation many Irish apprentices currently find themselves in. “I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place” is how one young apprentice poignantly put it to us.

In 2010 figures were released which indicated that over 40% of apprentices registered in the FÁS system are unable to complete their apprenticeship due to an inability to find an employer who would employ them. This is directly due to the downturn in the economy. To alleviate this problem in late 2011 FÁS set up the Competency Determination Mechanism (CDM) and the Redundant Apprentices Placement Scheme (RAPS). In essence an Apprentice needs four years served and all seven phases of their apprenticeship completed to be qualified.

However thousands of apprentices cannot secure four years work. Many have durations left to serve, ranging from 18 months to three months and less. If the CDM system was running efficiently these apprentices would be qualified by now. However this is not the case and many find themselves left in limbo unable to get their qualifications through no fault of their own.

The problems surrounding the CDM system which have been articulated to our Cumann by local people include:
• Only a small number of FÁS test centres are running the CDM tests
• The test is at best only run 4 times a year (less for some trades) with only 5 people tested at a time
• The waiting lists are in their thousands and some people are waiting up to 18 months for the test
• After successfully completing the course Apprentices must wait a further five months in some cases for their results to be sent to them

We feel that this treatment of our brightest and best skilled workforce is totally unacceptable. Apprentices feel like they are on the scrapheap and are not wanted by the Free State. The sentiment from FÁS is that emigration is their only option. It is a sad indictment of the current state our country is in.

The Proclamation of 1916, which Republican Sinn Féin stands true to, states we must cherish all the children of the nation equally. Yet again the 26-County government has demonstrated that it has no respect or care for such a sacred document. In the same way it has no care for the Irish people. This despicable betrayal must not go unnoticed. We urge people to see through their lies and realise that it is we the people who have ownership of our country. Not an elite ruling class sitting in Leinster House.

12. Man stole arch flags and put Tricolour up instead

A PORTADOWN man who climbed an Orange arch and stole flags, replacing them with a Tricolour, was jailed for six months on July 24 at Craigavon Magistrates Court.
Desmond Hatton (42) of Woodside Green admitted a number of offences which happened on June 30 last year.

They included having a set of ladders for use in course of a theft, damaging a flagpole on Parkmount Loyal Orange Arch, stealing two flags valued at £40 and replacing the flags with an Irish Tricolour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

For the first three offences he was given six months in prison and four months for the breach of the peace. Suspended sentences were also put into operation. All the terms are to run concurrently making a total of six months.

The court heard Hatton had gone down the Garvaghy Road with a set of ladders and took the flags from the arch. When interviewed by police he admitted scaling the arch and taking the flags, saying it was done for community relations.

13. British police investigating Shell and ENI over Nigerian oil block deal

ON July 23 the Irish Times reported that British police are investigating a money-laundering allegation related to a big oil field bought by Shell and ENI from Nigeria for $1.3 billion (€984 million), after most of the cash they paid ended up in a company linked to a former Nigerian oil minister.

The probe concerns offshore block OPL 245, which industry sources say contains up to 9.23 billion barrels of crude – more than enough to keep China running for 2½ years – the ownership of which had been in dispute for more than a decade.

Transparency campaigners, who asked the British authorities to look into the matter, assert that Shell and ENI used the Nigerian government as a go-between to obscure the fact that they were dealing with former oil minister Dan Etete, who also has a 2007 money-laundering conviction in France related to bribes he was alleged to have taken when in government.

In his capacity as oil minister, Etete awarded block OPL 245 in 1998 for a payment of just $2 million to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company in which he played a prominent role.

The critics claim that Shell and ENI, which haven’t been accused of any legal wrongdoing, wanted to distance themselves from Etete given his reputation and his involvement in the original award of the oil block to Malabu.

A Shell spokesman said it had purchased the block from the government, making no payment to Malabu, and that it acted transparently and in accordance with Nigerian law.

ENI declined to comment but it told shareholders in May that the transaction was with the government, not Malabu. Etete was not contactable for comment. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Shell and ENI say they bought the block from the Nigerian government, for which they paid it $1.3 billion in 2011, Nigeria says it was helping resolve an ownership dispute over the block between Shell and Malabu and immediately transferred $1.09 billion from the sale to Malabu. The government retained the remainder.

Etete had awarded the block to Malabu during the rule of military dictator Sani Abacha, whose son Mohammed and other close allies were shareholders in the company. That deal was later annulled after the death of Abacha by a new government that judged the award improper.

In a British court case brought by Emeka Obi against Malabu for unpaid fees relating to his help in brokering the Shell/ENI deal, the judge in that case, Justice Elizabeth Gloster, concluded in her ruling last week that “From its incorporation and at all material times . . . Etete had a substantial beneficial interest in Malabu.”

Etete said he was only a consultant to the company, but he represented the company in the court case and in all negotiations with the oil majors, and he told the court he was the sole signatory to its accounts.

Documents relating to Obi’s London case show that both Shell and ENI met several times with Etete to negotiate the deal. An email from a Shell employee to another middleman recounts how he met Etete for face-to-face negotiations over “lots of iced champagne”.

Obi said in court he approached ENI on Malabu’s behalf on December 24, 2009, and introduced Etete to an ENI representative to discuss the deal.

Global Witness campaigner Tom Mayne said: “It’s obvious from the meetings Shell and ENI both had with Dan Etete that they knew he was the person to speak to and then agreed that the deal be structured in such a way that it went through the government.”

Babatunde Oluajo, national secretary of Zero Corruption Coalition, told Reuters his Nigerian campaign group had asked the UK government to look into the matter.

“In regard to our . . . commitment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria … we wish to . . . formally request for a full investigation into the activities of … companies and individuals in the procurement of the OPL 245 in Nigeria,” reads a letter the group sent to the UK High Commissioner on July 5.

Nigerian lawmakers also began investigating the deal last week to ascertain if Attorney General Mohammed Aboke, who helped finalise the deal with Eni and Shell, had acted properly, as his involvement only came to light in the London court case.

Aboke said he was acting in the interests of all parties to facilitate a deal and end the long-running ownership dispute over the oil block. He also said in a press report last week that resolving the dispute would help the government attract investment into the oil and gas sector.

The investigations highlight the regulatory risks faced by oil companies doing business in African countries with a history of weak governance and endemic corruption.

In the five years Abacha was in power, he liberally dished out oil blocks to political allies and is suspected of having enriched himself to the tune of about $4 billion before he died.

Malabu had been registered on April 24, 1998, five days before Etete awarded it block OPL 245. Three months later, Abacha died.

Though Malabu’s original shareholders had been Abacha’s son and allies – and Etete himself, according to the British judge in Obi’s court case – the company secretary Rasky Gbinigie told the court he had lost all the documents showing who owned it now.

The ownership of OPL 245 had also been unclear ever since the government annulled the initial award to Malabu in 2001, and then awarded it first to Shell and then back to Malabu after a series of court cases.
Shell was still pursuing action to recover the block when it finally struck the deal to buy it with ENI in 2011.

14. Michael Campbell & the EU Presidency: Lithuanian hypocrisy

ON July 1, 2013 Lithuania began the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the 26-Counties Administration in Dublin for the coming twelve months.

On this day the programme of the Lithuanian EU-Presidency was published in Brussels. Referring to the illegal treatment of republican prisoner Michael Campbell and the inhumane treatment in prison, Republican Sinn Féin International Spokesperson Dieter Blumenfeld on July 229, 2013, called the programme of the Lithuanian EU-Presidency “pure hypocrisy”.

The programme of the Lithuanian EU-Presidency vows to safeguard “that the EU institutions remain active in their protection of fundamental human rights both within the EU and abroad”. The programme continues: “Regarding the Southern neighbourhood, Lithuania will support the EU focus on more effective implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy aiming at promoting democracy and inclusive and sustainable growth, based on promotion of human rights, especially the equal rights and freedoms of women, as well as closer cooperation with civil society.” Furthermore the documents claims: “The EU is ready to take on leadership in protecting human rights.”

The chapter D “Justice and Home Affairs” starts with: “The Council dedicates particular attention to the protection of interests and the needs of citizens and other EU residents, in order to ensure respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms.”

In a statement, Dieter Blumenfeld said: “The whole document is pure hypocrisy. While the EU and the current EU Presidency of Lithuania try to play the role of heralds of human rights and democracy, they hold an innocent Irish citizen under inhumane conditions in Lithuania. Not just that his basic human rights are continuously denied by the very government that produced this document, Michael Campbell should have never been sentenced in the first place. The whole process of coercion, incitement and setting traps is unlawful as such.

“While we demand the repatriation of Irish republican Michael Campbell, we are very aware of the fact that Michael Campbell should have never been sentenced. The whole court case was a farce, disreputable for a so-called democratic state in the 21st century. Thus, we call on all Irish republicans and their supporters in Europe and elsewhere to put pressure on the Lithuanian government. The unlawful refusal of Michael Campbell’s basic human rights must end immediately! We ask all our supporters to write letters to the Lithuanian embassy and consulate in your countries and demand justice for Irish republican prisoner Michael Campbell. We ask you to raise the case of Michael Campbell among your family, friends and in your workplace. Contact local, regional and national media outlets.

“Only a campaign of international pressure on the Lithuanian government can and ultimately will achieve justice and the repatriation of Michael Campbell,” Republican Sinn Féin International spokesperson Dieter Blumenfeld said.

15. Dementia report must not be ignored

A BRITISH government report that revealed Irish dementia sufferers are being overlooked by state organisations in Britain must be not be ignored, says the charity who prompted the enquiry.

The findings of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia’s research into the condition among minority ethnic communities showed: “As a non-visible minority, the needs of the Irish community are often overlooked by policy-makers and service providers.”

The enquiry was launched earlier this year after the Federation of Irish Societies made representations to the group requesting acknowledgement of how the cognitive disorder disproportionately affects the Irish community in Britain.

In response to the APPG’s findings, released a fortnight ago, FIS Chair, Dr Mary Tilki told the Irish Post newspaper: “We welcome the report and take pride in asking the APPG Dementia for an inquiry into Dementia issues, not just for the Irish but in wider minority ethnic communities.

“The report provides empirical evidence of what Irish and other minority ethnic organisations knew already about the barriers facing their own communities.”

She added: “But the question remains as to whether and how this report will inform service provision for Irish and other minority ethnic elders and I still have concerns about how the needs of Irish will be addressed.”

For Dr Tilki, a long-term campaigner and researcher on the health of the Irish in Britain, the community needs to be recognised at local and central government levels as a minority in health terms.

“The APPG report and the presentations at its launch still emphasise skin colour notions of ethnicity which focus on Asian and Caribbean communities, with less attention to the Irish,” Dr Tilki explained.

“The needs of Asian, Caribbean are undeniable,” she added, “but without a shift in thinking at policy and political level, it is doubtful to what extent the voice of Irish citizens of Britain will be heard.”

The APPG report also called on the Department of Health to map the provision of services for ethnic minorities across Britain so that successful approaches could be implemented.

APPG Chair Baroness Sally Greengross added: “I regret that there are tens of thousands of people living with Dementia every day who are not getting the services they are entitled to.

“And disproportionately it is people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities who are being failed by the system.”

16. Complaint filed against BT over facilitation of illegal US drone strikes

REPRIEVE, the British human rights charity filed a complaint with the British Government against British Telecom (BT) over its apparent facilitation of illegal, covert drone strikes carried out by the US.

BT has contracted with the US government to supply key communications infrastructure between a US military base in Britain, and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the covert centre from which armed drones carry out lethal missions over Yemen.

The contract, valued at around $23m, requires BT to provide services between RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire and Camp Lemonnier until 2017. When asked by Reprieve for an explanation of the contract and of the company’s risk assessment procedures for contracts related to US counter-terrorism, BT Legal said it “does not disclose contractual matters”.

Reprieve is calling upon the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines to investigate BT’s possible contribution to the gross violations of international law and human rights that the use of drones in non-war zones entails.

The OECD Guidelines are a crucial mechanism for holding corporations to account in respect of breaches of ethical principles, including human rights. The Guidelines are supported by National Contact Points which investigate and issue statements to ensure corporate responsibility for breaches.

In the complaint, Reprieve sets out a series of breaches committed by BT through its apparent facilitation of drone strikes, including that it is contributing to adverse human rights impacts in Yemen, which it has not sought to prevent or mitigate, and has not shown what human rights due diligence it carried out before entering into the contract.

Reprieve represents a number of individuals who have lost relatives in drone strikes or are affected by the ongoing use of drones in Yemen. Their testimony demonstrates the severity of the trauma inflicted upon communities – one client explained how following a strike, “villagers’ unease with drones and planes turned to terror. We all lived in a state of fear for months.”

The National Contact Point will now invite submissions from BT and issue an Initial Assessment within three months. Reprieve has also notified several of BT’s key shareholders of the complaint and called on them to seek information from the company.

Catherine Gilfedder, Reprieve’s Corporate Social Responsibility Advocate, said: “The US’ secretive and illegal campaign of drone strikes in Yemen is killing civilians and traumatising communities, yet it remains largely hidden from the eyes of the world. BT needs to give a clear answer on whether or not they are involved in facilitating this deadly programme. Its shareholders must demand this if their own responsible reputations are to be maintained. Hopefully this complaint will encourage the company to be open about its activities and take steps to ensure it is not complicit in the brutal violations suffered by Yemeni civilians.”
July 22, 2013.

17. Guantánamo hunger strike: US to force-feed detainees during Ramadan

THE US government refused to stop force-feeding detainees on hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay during the holy month of Ramadan, according to an article in the Guardian newspaper on July 3, 2013.

In court papers rejecting a petition by four of more than 100 detainees said to be refusing food, the US said the feedings provided “essential nutritional and medical care” and would not interfere with religious observance of Ramadan.

Observant Muslims fast daily from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan. Lawyers for President Obama also said that the “public interest lies with maintaining the status quo”.

Last month, Obama gave a speech in which he promised to work towards closing the base, and to allow the release of many of the 86 prisoners held there who have been cleared for transfer. He described the camp as a moral problem for the nation that had to be solved.

The feeding of detainees, via neogastric tube, will be carried out by the facility “before dusk and after sunset in order to accommodate their religious practices”, they said, “absent any unforeseen emergency or operational issues”.

Government lawyers said that enteral or force-feeding is authorised by federal regulations when a prisoner’s life or permanent health is in danger, and is related to “preserving order security and discipline within the detention facility”, according to court documents in the case.

US government lawyers also argued that the detainees bringing the case, Shaker Aamer, Nabil Hadjarab, Ahmed Belbacha and Abu Wa’el Dhiab, are not ‘persons under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and are therefore not protected under it.

A group of detainees began a hunger strike in February this year, in protest at their detention. Some have been detained without trial for more than a decade. It also highlights Obama’s failure to deliver a 2008 campaign pledge to close the camp.

Aamar, who has spent 11 years without trial at the camp, despite being twice cleared for release, recently spoke of increasingly brutal tactics being used in an attempt to break the strike.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the US, reiterated its call on Monday for the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to stop.

Lawyers for the detainees described the tube feeding as “barbaric” and hit out at the failure of the US government to provide a specific guarantee that no feeding would happen during the day.

Cori Crider, counsel for the men and strategy director at Reprieve, said: “These are more weasel words from the Obama administration – they say they have ‘no plans’ to force-feed during the day in Ramadan, but give no guarantees. Meanwhile, on the eve of Independence Day, they ride rough-shod over the fundamental right of people to choose what goes into their bodies.”

Jon Eisenberg, US counsel for the men, said: “The Obama administration argues here that ‘the public interest lies with maintaining the status quo’. The status quo is that these men are being held indefinitely without any sort of trial, even though they were cleared for release years ago.

“Consider the irony of the Obama administration arguing here that the Guantánamo Bay detainees are not ‘persons’ within the scope of US law guaranteeing religious freedom, in a post-Citizens United world where even corporations are endowed with legal personhood.”

There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo, 106 of them are on hunger strike. Of those, 45 of them are being fed through tubes directly into the stomach, according to the court papers.

In its court filing, the US Department of Justice also denied claims that it was giving the drug Reglan to the detainees.

18. California prisoners on mass hunger strike against torture

“WE are certain that we will prevail,” said a statement published on July 22 by the more than 30,000 Californian prisoners on a hunger strike, “the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement? The world is watching!”

On July 8, tens of thousands of prisoners in 24 of California’s jails began an indefinite hunger strike and work stoppage. This historic struggle is the third hunger strike by prisoners in three years. The prisoners are protesting against indefinite solitary confinement in Security Housing Units (SHU). A further 2300 prisoners refused to work or attend classes.

Donna Willmott of the Prison Hunger Strikers Solidarity Committee has said the hunger strike is a continuation of previous non-violent struggles for justice. She said: “In 2011, over 12,000 prisoners and their family and community members participated in state-wide hunger strikes protesting the inhumane conditions in the SHU. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation promised meaningful reform. Prisoners have undertaken another hunger strike that began July 8 because of CDCR’s failure to fulfil that promise.”

On June 20, prisoners issued a statement calling for the hunger strike and work stoppage starting on July 8. In their statement, they said: “Our non-violent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long-term solitary confinement will resume on July 8, 2013, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms).”

Condemnation of the widespread use of solitary confinement has come from a variety of groups including the California Catholic Bishops. In a statement, Bishop Richard Garcia called upon Governor Brown and Dr Jeffrey Beard, California CDCR secretary, to end the overuse of solitary confinement and the various abuses committed against prisoners in the Secure Housing Units.

These abuses include denial of medical and mental health care, being fed cold under portioned meals, being forced to wash in freezing cold water, denial of access to cold weather clothing and random brutality by prison guards.

Bishop Richard Garcia at the recent conference of California Catholic Bishops stated that: “We stand opposed to this treatment because it is not restorative. Placing humans in isolation in a Secure Housing Unit (SHU) has no restorative or rehabilitative purpose. “International human rights standards consider more than 15 days in isolation to be torture. The world is watching California and the United States. No one affected by crime is helped when a human being is subjected to this inhumane form of punishment. It is time for change now.”

The hunger strikes have been organised across prison-manufactured geographical and racial lines. The prisoners have five core demands:

1. Ending group punishment and administrative abuse. This includes prison administrations’ policy of “safety and concern” to justify indefinite solitary confinement in SHUs.

Prisoners can be accused of being gang members on the flimsiest of pretexts and then put away in solitary. Having books by Malcolm X or Black Panther George Jackson or possession of drawings of Aztec culture can lead to men being put into a Secure Housing Unit for years.

2. Abolish the debriefing policy, and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. Perceived gang membership is one of the leading reasons for placement in solitary confinement. The practice of “debriefing” ? offering up information about fellow prisoner, particularly regarding gang status ? is often demanded in return for better food or release from the SHU. Debriefing puts the safety of prisoners and their families at risk, because they are then viewed as “snitches”.

3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 recommendations regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement.

4. Provide adequate and nutritious food. Cease the practice of denying adequate food and provide a wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals.

5. Expand and provide constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status inmates. Examples include: Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week, allow a weekly phone call.

In press statements, the CDCR acknowledges the mass nature of the hunger strike. But it dismisses the hunger strikes as the work of prison gangs and refuses to acknowledge the demands of the hunger strikers. In a punitive tone that bodes ill for the future, the CDCR warned that those prisoners taking part in the hunger strike or refusing to work will be subjected to disciplinary action under state law.

The CDCR also warns the leaders of the hunger strike, many in solitary confinement already, that they may be removed from the general prison population and placed in an Administrative Segregation Unit.

These warnings appear to have had little effect with the mass hunger strikes spreading from California to prisons in Washington State.

The hunger strikers have won a lot of public support and a solidarity campaign has been organised. The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition (PHSS) is a state-wide coalition of family members, legal workers, community groups and members of the public.

The PHSS was formed at the request of the prisoners to help raise public awareness about the hunger strike and coordinate a campaign to win the prisoners’ five demands.
The PHSSC is calling upon Governor Brown and the CDCR to enter into “fair and accountable” negotiations with the hunger strikers immediately. It also demands that the civil and human rights of the prisoners be respected and that no retaliation be taken against those who have participated in the mass hunger strike.

On July 13, there was a large demonstration of support for the prisoners at Corcoran State Prison, which isolates 2000 prisoners in Secure Housing Units. This is just the latest protest in the ongoing solidarity campaign designed to put pressure upon Brown and the CDCR to meet with prisoner representatives to negotiate an end to the mass hunger strike.

On July 10, prisoner representatives released a statement calling for solidarity action from the public: “We encourage everyone to take action to support the strike wherever they live. Sign the petition demanding California Governor stop the torture; plan rolling solidarity fasts if you are able; use every means to spread the word; and participate in non-violent direct action to put pressure on decision-makers.
“If it was not for your support, we would have died in 2011.Thank you everyone. We are confident we will prevail.”
— Dylan Murphy
– See more at: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/54574#sthash.cHPyXrCr.dpuf

19. Police raids in Istanbul

The police raided and searched some 104 locations this morning in Istanbul, taking 30 into custody. Among those detained are members of several political organisations and university students taken from their dorms.

I have now lost count of how many waves of detentions have been conducted since the protests began, but the last one was two weeks ago: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=173234636180905&set=pb.163062643864771.-2207520000.1373969570.&type=3&theater

Some 3900 people have been taken into custody in connection with the protests that began 50 days ago. The protesters are not feeling intimidated, saying the wall of fear has already been breached.

Timeline of the 2013 protests in Turkey For May and June 2013 can be seen on http://en.wikipedia.org/

#?üniversitelileriÖzgürB?rak? ?#?direngezi? ?#?occupygezi? ?#?occupyturkey?

20. Palestinian national strike to stop Israel’s ‘Prawer plan’ ethnic cleansing

ISRAEL’s Prawer plan, which passed a first reading in parliament in June, aims to expropriate over 800,000 dunams of land in the Naqab desert (a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters) and expel between 30,000 to 50,000 Palestinian Bedouins.

Thirty-five unrecognised villages would also be demolished, culminating in an unnervingly blatant ethnic cleansing campaign that will occur under the nose of the international community. These Palestinian Bedouins will be expelled to one percent of the land.

On Twitter and Facebook, the hashtags #StopPrawerPlan and #?????_??_??? have been used to mobilize and create awareness. Monday, 15 July has been designated as a national day of rage and “Anger Strike” by Palestinians from the river to the sea. Gaza and the West Bank have also planned for protests to take place on Monday.
Unsurprisingly, the PLO has denied (Arabic) issuing a statement that supported the Anger Strike.

The main protest took off from Ben Gurion University in Bir al-Saba at 10am on Monday and marched to the building of the Bedouins Settlement Authority. So far, 14 Palestinians have been arrested, including two minors.

Cities, towns, and villages inside the 1948 occupied territories including the Galilee in the north, the Triangle in the centre, and the coast have organized their protests at busy street junctions, squares and roundabouts.

Abir Kopty has put together a schedule of the protests that will happen today throughout Palestine.

Why now? Why carry out the largest demolition, land confiscation and forced displacement campaign now? Anas Abu Daabas, president of the Academics Association in Rahat, explained at a 20 April seminar held by the al-Bireh Municipality I attended.

In recent years the largest economic hardship Israel has faced is the housing crisis, he said. Israel seeks to take advantage of the vast lands of the Naqab by building towns and cities for soldiers who will be closer to the military training camps, which Israel has transferred to the south of the country. This plan comes at the expense of the indigenous, who they mischaracterise as “invaders” and “nomads.”
“The embodiment of racial discrimination”

Amir Qweider, a student at Ben Gurion University who lives in the unrecognized village of Zarnouq, spoke at the same seminar about the reality of Bedouin villages in the Naqab. They are forbidden to house any permanent structures and risk immediate demolition if they do so.

“There are no paved roads, no schools, no electricity or water grids, no telephone lines, and no sewage system,” he said. “The difference between the Jewish settlements and Arab villages is the embodiment of racial discrimination, even though we both are Israeli citizens.”

“Using the term ‘nomads’ to classify us is a way for Israel to justify the colonizing and settling of the Naqab, saying that since we roam the lands we do not own them,” Abu Daabas said, “but that is an outright lie. Our forefathers and tribes lived in villages, and [the Israeli lie] doesn’t explain why we still have structures of buildings like schools and homes dating to before the Nakba.”

On 30 March 1976, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel protested at the state’s announcement it would confiscate 60,000 dunums of Palestinian land. A general strike was organized from the Naqab desert to the Galilee, and the Israeli army killed six Palestinians as protests ensued. This became known as Land Day and is commemorated every year.

Palestinians should all take to the streets today and protest Israel’s land grab of 800,000 dunams in the Naqab. Just as Land Day, in the words of Arjan El Fassed, “reaffirmed the Palestinian minority in Israel as an inseparable part of the Palestinian and Arab nation,” the Anger Strike of 15 July asserts that despite political division, non-representative and collaborative leadership, Palestine remains from the river to the sea, with the Bedouins in the Naqab an integral component of the Palestinian population.

Jerusalem, Sakhnin, Yafa, Umm al-Fahem, Shifa Amro, Gaza, Nablus, Hebron, Jenin, Upper Galilee, Ramallah, Kufr Kanna, Nazareth, Haifa. Israel can’t win on this.
History of Israeli land-grab

The Naqab desert, historically neglected in Palestinian discourse, makes up 60 percent of Palestine, and its importance was not lost on David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. In a letter to his son Amos written in 1937, Ben Gurion emphasized how total colonization of the Naqab is essential for Israel’s settler colonial concept:
We must expel Arabs and take their place … and if we have to use force, we have force at our disposal not in order to dispossess the Arabs of the Negev, and transfer them, but in order to guarantee our own right to settle in those places.

The ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948 affected 90 percent of the Naqab’s population, who were forcibly displaced to Jordan, Gaza and the Sinai desert. About 11,000 Bedouins remained in the desert, and between the years 1948-1965 were forced to live under an Israeli military regime. Internal displacement forced many of these Bedouins around the Bir al-Saba-Jaffa road to an area called Siyaj, on the border close to Hebron.

Under the occupation policy of confining the biggest number of Palestinians on the smallest percentage of land, Israel used a number of laws like the Land Ordinance Law, the Land Acquisition Law, and the Absentee Property Law to consolidate their land grabbing of the Naqab and legalizing the dispossession of the indigenous population. In 2004, the Expulsion of Invaders law was put into effect, demonizing Bedouins as trespassing attackers in their own land.

Between the years of 1993-2007, Israel increased demolitions of Bedouin homes, buildings, and other structures. On 11 September 2011, the Netanyahu government approved the Prawer plan, named after Ehud Prawer, the former deputy chair of national security. In that year alone, 1,000 houses were demolished and 2012 continued in the same vein.

In 1969 and throughout the 1970s Israel planned seven townships to push the Bedouins in, as part of its grandiose scheme of settling one million Jews in the desert. The largest of these townships today is called Rahat, ranked two out of ten on the Israeli socio-economic ladder, and has 60,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there. There are 46 Bedouin villages (which have existed since before 1948), with 35 of them unrecognized by the Israeli state. The remaining ten are supposedly recognized but they are not offered even the most basic of government services.

— Linah Alsaafin, July 15, 2013.

21. British police authorised to seize mobile data at the border without reasonable suspicion

DATA can include phone contacts, text and email metadata, photos and call history
Police are using counter-terrorism laws to confiscate mobile devices from individuals travelling through UK air, sea and rail hubs and then download their data. Such seizures can be carried out without grounds for suspicion and the information taken can be held for “as long as is necessary.”

News of this practice came from a report in the Telegraph, who spoke to David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws. Mr Anderson is expected to flag his concerns over these powers in his annual report this week and call for proper oversight to ensure the power is not abused.

“Information downloaded from mobile phones seized at ports has been very useful in disrupting terrorists and bringing them to justice,” he said. “But ordinary travellers need to know that their private information will not be taken without good reason, or retained by the police for any longer than is necessary.”

Information taken can include call history, metadata of emails and texts, any photos taken, as well as the individuals’ address book. Up to 60,000 people are stopped each year as they enter or return to the UK under powers created by the Terrorism Act 2000. It’s unknown, however, how many individuals have had their phone data taken.

Commenting on the news, Dr Gus Hosein of the campaign group Privacy International said: “Seizing and downloading your phone data is the modern equivalent of searching your home and office, searching through family albums and business records alike, and identifying all your friends and family, then keeping this information for years.”

“Under law, seizing a mobile phone should be only when the phone is essential to an investigation, and then even certain rules should apply. Without these rules, everyone should be worried.”

The powers in question are outlined in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which empowers police “to stop, examine and search passengers at ports, airports and international rail terminals, compel them to answer questions aimed at determining whether they are terrorists.”

The law also allows cops to detain citizens for up to nine hours and keep their possessions for up to a week. Moreover, data collected from mobile phones and other gadgets can be downloaded and stored for examination for an unspecified length of time.

“Ordinary travellers need to know that their private information will not be taken without good reason, or retained by the police for any longer than is necessary,” said Anderson to the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

He writes in his blog that around half a million people each year are stopped “either on the basis of intelligence or in accordance with guidance contained in a code of practice.” However, about 60,000 of those detained are held for over 15 minutes and some for more than three hours.

Anderson notes that authorities may exercise this right without having to justify their suspicions. Furthermore, there is no wording in the legislation to account for how long any digital information downloaded from a mobile device may be stored.

“Just to say we are going to glean information from anybody and hold it for as long as the police deem necessary really isn’t acceptable,” Dia Chakravarty of the Freedom Association told RT’s Tesa Arcilla. She emphasized that questions need to be asked to ensure the fine line between protecting state security and violating personal privacies is not crossed.

Similar stop-and-search powers that can be exercised by police officers on the street are currently under review in a six-week consultation by the Home Secretary. It follows a damning report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which stresses that out of the one million people stopped every year, only 9 per cent are actually arrested.

“Conducting stop and search encounters without reasonable grounds will cause dissatisfaction and upset, and whilst some may think it will help to ‘control the streets’ in the short-term, it may lead to major disorder in the long-term,” wrote the HMIC.

Of particular concern to QC Anderson is how the law is exercised in minority ethnic communities in Britain, as “fewer than half of those selected for examination in each of the past three years have been white.” Moreover, more than a quarter of those searched under the law have defined themselves as Asian or British American.

22. The Age of Regression

How we are impoverished, gentrified and silenced … and what to do about it

I have known my postman for more than 20 years. Conscientious and good-humoured, he is the embodiment of public service at its best. The other day, I asked him, “Why are you standing in front of each door like a soldier on parade?”

“New system,” he replied, “I am no longer required simply to post the letters through the door. I have to approach every door in a certain way and put the letters through in a certain way.”


“Ask him.”

Across the street was a solemn young man, clipboard in hand, whose job was to stalk postmen and see they abided by the new rules, no doubt in preparation for privatisation. I told the stalker my postman was admirable. His face remained flat, except for a momentary flicker of confusion.

In Brave New World Revisited, Aldous Huxley describes a new class conditioned to a normality that is not normal “because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does”.
Surveillance is normal in the Age of Regression — as Edward Snowden revealed. Ubiquitous cameras are normal. Subverted freedoms are normal. Effective public dissent is now controlled by police, whose intimidation is normal.

The traducing of noble words like “democracy”, “reform”, “welfare” and “public service” is normal. Prime ministers who lie openly about lobbyists and war aims are normal. The export of £4bn worth of British arms, including crowd control ammunition, to the medieval state of Saudi Arabia, where apostasy is a capital crime, is normal.

The willful destruction of efficient, popular public institutions like the Royal Mail is normal. A postman is no longer a postman, going about his decent work; he is an automaton to be watched, a box to be ticked. Huxley described this regression as insane and our “perfect adjustment to that abnormal society” a sign of the madness.
Are we “perfectly adjusted” to this? No, not yet. People defend hospitals from closure, UK Uncut forces bank branches to close and six brave women climb the highest building in Europe to show the havoc caused by the oil companies in the Arctic. There, the list begins to peter out.

At this year’s Manchester festival, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s epic Masque of Anarchy – all 91 verses written in rage at the massacre of Lancashire people protesting poverty in 1819 – is an acclaimed theatrical piece, and utterly divorced from the world outside. Last January, the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission disclosed that 600,000 Mancunians were living in “extreme poverty” and that 1.6 million, or nearly half the city’s population, were “sliding into deeper poverty”.

Poverty has been gentrified. The Parkhill Estate in Sheffield was once an edifice of public housing – unloved by many for its Le Corbusier brutalism, poor maintenance and lack of facilities. With its Heritage Grade II listing, it has been renovated and privatised. Two thirds of the old flats have been reborn as modern apartments selling to “professionals”, including designers, architects and a social historian. In the sales office you can buy designer mugs and cushions. This façade offers not a hint that, devastated by the government’s “austerity” cuts, Sheffield has a social housing waiting list of 60,000 people.

Parkhill is a symbol of the two thirds society that is Britain today. The gentrified third do well, some of them extremely well, a third struggle to get by on credit and the rest slide into poverty.

Although the majority of the British are working class – whether or not they see themselves that way — a gentrified minority dominates parliament, senior management and the media. David Cameron, Nick and Ed Milliband are their authentic representatives, with only minor technical difference between their parties. They fix the limits of political life and debate, aided by gentrified journalism and the “identity” industry. The greatest ever transfer of wealth upwards is a given. Social justice has been replaced by meaningless “fairness”.

While promoting this normality, the BBC rewards a senior functionary almost £1m. Although regarding itself as the media equivalent of the Church of England, the Corporation now has ethics comparable with those of the “security” companies G4S and Serco which, says the government, have “overcharged” on public services by tens of millions of pounds. In other countries, this is called corruption.

Like the fire sale of the power utilities, water and the railways, the sale of Royal Mail is to be achieved with bribery and the collaboration of the union leadership, regardless of its vocal outrage. Opening his 1983 documentary series Questions of Leadership, Ken Loach shows trade union leaders exhorting the masses. The same men are then shown, older and florid, adorned in the ermine of the House of Lords. In the recent Queen’s Birthday honours, the general secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber, received his knighthood.

How long can the British watch the uprisings across the world and do little apart from mourn the long-dead Labour Party? The Edward Snowden revelations show the infrastructure of a police state emerging in Europe, especially Britain. Yet, people are more aware than ever before; and governments fear popular resistance – which is why truth-tellers are isolated, smeared and pursued.

Momentous change almost always begins with the courage of people taking back their own lives against the odds. There is no other way now. Direct action. Civil disobedience. Unerring. Read Percy Shelley – “Ye are many; they are few”. And do it.
— John Pilger
johnpilger.com, July 25 2013 (this article originally appeared in the New Statesman).
John Pilger’s new film, Utopia, will be previewed at the National Film Theatre, London, in the autumn.


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