United to Protect our Rights

Since the bombings in London in July 2005 the police have succeeded in conducting widespread investigations using the vast range of powers already available to them.

Throughout those same 5 weeks, however, we have observed with fear and horror announcements by the government of the steps it intends to take to change legal certainties that it was previously believed would stand firm in all circumstances. We are particularly concerned that the government is giving a green light to racism and Islamophobia and signalling a general attack on freedom of expression in the Muslim community.

We the following register our grave concerns, and our total and stalwart opposition to the following steps proposed by the government:

  1. The removal of trial by jury for offences linked to terrorism
  2. The hearing of evidence in secret by judges and special advocates alone in terrorist trials with the accused person not told of the evidence against them and no public accountability
  3. The deportation of individuals at risk to regimes known to practise torture in reliance on "diplomatic assurances"
  4. The extension of pre-charge detention beyond the already lengthy 14 day period and the encouragement it will give to arrest people about whom there is no reasonable suspicion or intelligence
  5. The banning of organisations which are not involved in terrorism or violence and do not advocate it such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir
  6. The criminalisation of imams, bookshops, mosques and organisations for the expression of legitimate religious and political ideas (even if such ideas are thought to be offensive or wrong) such as the adoption of sharia law
  7. The creation of new offences of indirect incitement to terrorism – even though incitement to murder is already a crime – and of acts preparatory to terrorism – even though existing law already makes it an offence to be knowingly involved in terrorism
  8. The amendment or repeal of the Human Rights Act

We the undersigned have not forgotten the experiences of the conflict in Northern Ireland and the lessons of the last 30 years when the removal of fundamental rights and the creation of an entire suspect community achieved nothing other than the continuation of violence, fear, bitterness and the creation of an unbridgeable divide. We call on the government to protect all of the people by advocating a proper and judicious use of the existing law and by realising that over-reaction will be deeply counterproductive.

 

 

Organisations

  • Newham Monitoring Project
  • Islamic Forum of Europe
  • Birnberg Peirce Solicitors
  • Christian Khan Solicitors
  • The 1990 Trust
  • CAMPACC
  • National Civil Rights Movement
  • The Monitoring Project
  • Hizb-ut-Tahrir
  • Islamic Human Rights Commission
  • The 1990 Trust
  • Bangla 2000
  • East London Communities Against State against Terror
  • Stop Political Terror
  • Statewatch
  • Muslim Association of Britain
  • Stop The War Coalition
  • Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)

Individuals

  • Gareth Peirce (Civil Liberties Lawyer)
  • Louise Christian (Civil Liberties Lawyer)
  • Asad Rehman (Chair NMP)
  • Azad Ali (Assistant Gen Sec IFE)
  • Karen Chouhan (Director 1990)
  • Suresh Grover (Chair NCRM)
  • Abdurahman Jafer (Legal Affairs Committee MCB)
  • Qasim Khwaja (HT)
  • Ruhul Tarafder (Bangla 2000)
  • Zareena Mustapha (NMP)
  • Saghir Hussain (Lawyer/SPT)
  • Trevor Hemmings (Statewatch)
  • Ben Hayes (Statewatch)
  • Naima Bouteldja (Journalist)
  • Andrew Burgin (STWC)
  • Ihtisham Hibatullah (MAB)
  • Saleh Mamon (CAMPACC)
  • Sajida Malik (Civil Liberties Lawyer)
  • Fahad Ansari (IHRC)
  • Andrew Murray (Chair STWC)
  • Lindsey German (Convenor STWC)

The statement was originally published by Black Information Link. Many more people (in addition to those listed above) signed up online.