Liz Fekete, Deputy Director of the Institute of Race Relations, spoke out against the anti-terrorism acts at public meetings held by Scotland Against Criminalising Communities in Edinburgh and Glasgow on 17th and 18th June. She said that the new legislation has been driven by the USA's determination to redesign the world's security arrangements to meet its corporate and resource needs. A global security state is emerging, she said, and the USA and the EU are working in close partnership to create it.
In September 2001, The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1373, imposing on every state an obligation to take measures against terrorism. It also set up the UN National Terrorism Council to monitor states' compliance with Resolution 1373. Britain holds the presidency of this council. In December 2001 the European Union responded to Resolution 1373 by introducing a framework and common position on combating terrorism.
The Framework Position extends and "internationalises" the definition of terrorism. 'Terrorism' now includes acts directed against any country and it includes acts that are political in nature. 'Terrorist' acts committed abroad can now be classified as crimes at home.
The Common Position focuses mainly on refugees and asylum seekers. It forbids both 'active' and 'passive' support for terrorism. Passive support could amount to anything - attending a rally, wearing a badge, or simply agreeing with the organisation's aims - for ethnic self-determination of Tamils or Kurds, for instance. The Common Position imposes a duty on governments to vet asylum seekers and create a central file on their political and Trade Union activities. Refugees are strapped into a 'straight-jacket of fear'. There is a real danger that EU governments will pass information on their political activities back to their home countries; EU intelligence agencies are expected to work closely with intelligence services abroad.
The Global Security State has had the effect of destabilising democratic movements in Asia and of creating new heavy military presences in countries just beginning to break free from military domination. Many of these countries already possess draconian laws inherited from the colonial period. New terrorist legislation can have devastating consequences. Indonesia for example had just begun to recover from military rule, but under post September 11th legislation it has seen the re-emergence of the military, as shown by the recent repression in Acheh.
The effect of EU Counter Terrorism Measures has been the absolute undermining of the Geneva Convention and the abolition of suspected terrorists' basic human rights such as the right to a fair trial. The secrecy of arrests and detention and the inability of anyone (including detainees' lawyers) to gain information about those arrested just serves to further violate their civil liberties and compound the difficulties in ensuring that they are being treated humanely.
Liz Fekete's booklet 'Racism - The Hidden Cost of September 11th.' can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her new booklet 'Reclaim the People's Security - from National Security to Global Security - Counter-Terrorism in Asia and Europe' discusses the issues raised in this article.It is published by the Institute for Race Relations and the Trans-National Institute.
View "Reclaim the People's Security" as a pdf document >>
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