Vigils against torture flights

Press Release from Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC)
Friday 16 December 2005 - for immediate release

Simultaneous vigils are to be held at Prestwick, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports this Sunday (18 December) in protest at the suspected use of these airports by US aircraft involved in the obscene practice called "extraordinary rendition" - a euphemism for the transport of prisoners to torture centres around the world. Complicity in torture is a crime under international law.

Prisoners subject to "extraordinary rendition" are undoubtedly at risk of torture. It is also feared that they may be subject to inhumane treatment during their journey; that some of them may not have been arrested under due process but may simply have been kidnapped; and that they may be being held without recourse to a court of law, in violation of the principle of habeas corpus.

Protestors will be calling on the Scottish Executive and the Westminster governmment to take urgent steps to prevent aircraft involved in these abuses from using Scottish airfields or Scottish airspace. They will also be calling on the police to investigate any aircraft suspected of involvement in "extraordinary rendition" that land in Scotland; to arrest individuals suspected of responsibility for abuses, and to afford protection to people suffering from abuse.

The vigils will begin at about 12.30pm on Sunday 18 December and are expected to continue for about 2 hours. Organisations supporting the vigils include Edinburgh Stop The War Coalition, Glasgow Stop The War Coalition, Ayrshire Friends of Refugees and the parliamentary group of the Scottish Socialist Party.

  • For more information about the events at Edinburgh airport, phone 07773 423051. Protestors will be meeting at 11.45am at Waverley Bridge to travel on the Airport Bus. Representaives of the press would be welcome to join them on the journey.
  • For more information about the events at Preswick airport, phone 07738 615 562

Notes for Editors

  1. The evidence that rendition flights are using Scottish airports is mounting. A Danish Government report has revealed that at least 176 flights into or out of Scotland have been logged by aircraft owned or run by the CIA. The airfields involved include Glasgow, Prestwick, Edinburgh, Leuchars, Wick and Inverness.
  2. The Scottish Socialist Party are tabling a motion on the torture flights to be voted on in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 22 December.
  3. Green MSP Chris Ballance has written to Strathclyde police asking them to investigate the Glasgow flights, and Green MSPs Robin Harper and Mark Ballard have made a similar request to Lothian and Borders Police.
  4. A group called Witnesses Against Torture held a vigil at Guantanamo Bay earlier this week. The group of US Christians arrived at the gates of Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday, but were refused access to the base. Solidarity events in support of the vigil were called all around the world, and the protestors receivied many enquiries from people interested in joining them. The protestors declared an unexpected end to their vigil on Thursday. More information at www.witnesstorture.org
  5. Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) has given support to Guantanamo detainees and their families since 2003. Azmat Begg, the father of former detainee Moazzam Begg, has spoken at a number of meetings hosted by SACC. Moazzam Begg was kidnapped in Pakistan and bundled into a car boot before being taken to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan - one of the possible destinations for the "ghost flights" - and then to Guantanamo Bay. Reports suggest that at Bagram Air Force Base he witnessed a murder by US forces. Former Guantanamo detainee Jamal al-Harith spoke last year at a meeting organised in Glasgow by the Muslim Association of Britain and SACC. He told the audience about the appalling conditions on board the plane that took him from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay. We fear that these are the sort of conditions that prevail on the aircraft now using Scottish Airports.
  6. Scotland Against Criminalising Communities is a grassroots group that campaigns against Britain's anti-terrorism laws and offers solidarity to the communities most affected by them. SACC calls for an end to detention without trial and to torture, wherever they are practised.