Human Rights campaigners demonstrating infront of the RCJ, London, 5th Oct 2012
As a spokesperson broke the news of the verdict, ice impaled the bones of gatherers outside, at the odious Injustice delivered at the bequest of ‘our’ Government’s mouthpiece: ‘our’ Royal Courts of Justice.
“The decisions are very unfortunate, both for Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan the judges ruled that they will be extradited immediately. Both Babar and Talha are very strong individuals. We ask you to pray for them. We ask that you don’t lose hope, the campaign continues. Frankly, the decisions are a disgrace to the British legal system. They are a disgrace to British Citizens across this country. What the campaign is going to continue to do is, they are going to continue to fight, and we are going to fight for every single British Citizen. We are going to fight for Babar and Talha, for Gary and Richard and for everyone else.” Solidarity Campaigner
Statement from Babar Ahmad
Moazzam Beg, Director of Cage Prisoners, delivered a statement, prepared in anticipation of such a verdict:
“These are the words of Babar Ahmad: Today I have lost my 8 year 2 month battle against extradition to the U.S. I would like to thank all those over the years who supported me and my family; lawyers, politicians, journalists and members of the public of all walks of life. By exposing the fallacy of the U.K. extradition arrangements with the U.S, I leave with my head held high, having won the moral victory.”
Syed Abu Ahsa, Talha Ahsan's father
Syed Abu Ahsan, the father of Talha Ahsan whose verdict was determined today explained:
“It is a political justice. It is not a legal justice because from the very beginning, the day he’s arrested …the same thing. The Home Secretary wants to send him, as soon as possible.” After the ECHR decision “the Home Secretary was so pleased, so today she will also be pleased. …It is that same Home Secretary when she was in opposition, she opposed this law. She wanted to amend it, she wanted to improve it. She don’t like this unbalanced, she don’t like this unfair, she don’t like this one sided law but when she is in power, she change. And to us in the manifest, of conservative as well as liberal, that they will look after this case but still they’re silent. On the other hand we are very very pleased with Boris as well as Ken Livingstone, whatever in their manifesto they said they will honour it; still they want because they are British Citizens and they should be tried in this country. They expressed that view.”
Exhortation delivered by a solidarity campaigner
A solidarity campaigner spoke to the crowd with a level of indignation. He was clearly frustrated by the ardent failure of ‘our’ British political System to consider, respect and act upon the reasonable wishes of the British public though legitimate and substantial acts had engaged within it.
“We have gone through the process of lobbying. We have gone through the process of trying to make people understand. We have gone done everything they talk about in forms of big society. They talk about political engagement. When we do, do you listen? How can I, as someone who is supposed to engage in politics and encourage people to engage in politics. When over 140,000 people signed this petition for Parliamentary debate, when so many people over the 8 years have stood in protest after protest, signed petition after petition, when people have been on the street, when people have gone to masjids, when people have gone to churches, we have spoken, we have used every single method that we can, yet justice has now been denied to us. Justice has been denied. Let no one tell you anything different.”
Hamja Ahsad, Talha Ahsan's Brother
Hamja Ahsan, Talha Ahsan’s younger brother shared:
“It looks like my brother is going to be transferred very quickly to pre-trial solitary confinement in American Prison. He has already been detained 6 years without trial or charge …that’s bad enough and now he will be punished further. It’s like a punishment for the whole family, before anyone’s been found guilty of anything. What’s frightening is that people aren’t being picked up from the battle fields of Afghanistan or Pakistan, they are being picked up from their family homes in Tooting, South London.”
Yasin Fatin, a British citizen and medical Student at the demonstration, when asked if he was scared that he could now possibly face extradition under US laws replied:
“It scares me massively, even standing here on protests. I don’t feel 100% comfortable even though we have the ‘right’ to protest. There is always intimidation by the police, you’re always being photographed and one day they could just bring it up in court and say you were at this protest. You know, I may as well just be in Syria right now. It’s exactly the same thing. The erosion of civil liberties is happening at an alarming rate. It will just go further down. If you have read 1984 by George Orwell you will know what I mean. The similarities are scary to be honest.”
Justice Has Been Denied
A solidarity campaigner addressing the crowd provided:
“From the moment they stepped foot on the first day into the court, everyone has come out from listening to the judges and the QC’s in the court, have all said one thing. It’s like a circus. The decision seems as though its’ been made. The QC’s, their body language, says as though there has been political pressure. Where is the judicial review? We were supposed to find the private prosecution to be upheld by the DPP. He was supposed to rule that. Instead he referred to the Attorney General. The Attorney General is a political position. This has been a political decision. Not a legal decision. If this was on legality alone, our brother would have been free 8 years ago.”
Issues of Institutional Racism and Islamophobia
“Unfortunately, some politicians will try and say that we should part the issue of them being ‘Muslims’ at the door and not raise this. I unfortunately disagree. The extradition was hanging over the heads of Babar, Talha, Gary and Richard. However, it was Gary and Richard, they were both facing extradition from home. Babar and Talha for 8 & 6 years have been in prison, not knowing the charge, no trial, no due process. What was the difference in those two brothers and the other two brothers? Two brothers are Muslim, the other two are not. So let us be clear. There is an issue of institutional racism and islamophobia here.” Solidarity Campaigner
Syed Abu Ahsan, when asked about his feeling having heard the verdict today shared:
“You know that it’s very difficult to express because you can see my face but you can’t see my heart. It is on the inside. But to speak the truth, I know it from the very beginning, that the home secretary wants him to take the next available plane. The home secretary wins. We may be lost in the case but we’ll win. At the end of the day we will win. Truth will prevail. I seen him yesterday [Talha Ahsan] and he says he is a warrior and he’ll fight for and inshallah he will be successful.”
A Distinct Protest
On the opposite side of the entrance to the RCJ another group of campaigners demonstrated on the issues being determined by the court. They appeared to be distinct to the family and friends campaigns of detainees whose cases were being heard inside. Part of this group was blessed with a powerful auditory microphone system. Having listened to some of their views amplified, to my mind it was a real loss, as they chose not to only raise and highlight legitimate issues pertinent to the cases. Instead they chose to also portray an aspect of 'British Muslims' which the government and media tirelessly work to propagate to engender islamophobia. The press swarmed this set of demonstrators and stories in the mainstream media substantially covered this demonstration.
A short clip documenting part of their auditory demonstration can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/Pc5pqVU6YMc
Some aspects of their protest appeared to highlight relevant issues.
Special Administrative Measures (SAMS)
In the U.S terror suspects are usually held in pre-trial detention facilities enforced by SAMS. This means, that in addition to the isolation subjected upon inmates in federal supermax prisons they are also grossly limited in their ability to communicate with people on the outside.
Sadhbh Walshe, writing for guardian on 5th October 2012 wrote:
‘A defendant placed under Sams is usually only allowed to communicate with his immediate family (parents, siblings, spouse and children) and his attorney. Letters to and from his approved family members can take up to six months to be cleared. Such prisoners cannot write to or receive visits from anyone else: friends, extended family or supporters; and they can have absolutely no contact with the media. In addition to the gag that is placed on these defendants, the small number of people with whom they are allowed to have contact are also gagged, as they, too, are bound to abide by the Sams.
The challenges for defendants under Sams is all too graphically illustrated by the story of Syed Fahad Hashmi, a political science student from Queens, New York, who, while completing his masters degree in London, was arrested for "providing material support to terrorists". This material support involved allowing an acquaintance to stay in his apartment for two weeks – an acquaintance who later delivered raincoats and waterproof socks to al-Qaida. Hashmi was extradited back to America, held in total isolation under Sams for three years at the notorious Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan as he awaited trial. One day before his trial, to the dismay of his many supporters, Hashmi, who was facing 70 years if convicted, agreed to a plea bargain of one count of conspiring to provide material support. He was sentenced to 15 years, which he is now serving, in total isolation, at ADX.’
The Model Village
To my mind, in the UK we live in a matrix, akin to a model village I visited as a child. It had its own train station, village centre, schools and parks but it came up to my knees and though I endeared it, I realised it was not real, it was a fabrication. Similarly the UK has been ‘set up’ as a model country, except the buildings are tall and I can walk into them. We have an unwritten constitution, doctrine of separation of powers, law and Order, a government chosen by the people to serve the wishes of a majority and act in the best interest of their welfare. These are submitted to be the foundations of the model village in which I live. But much like the model village I visited as a child, it is not real.
As a British citizen I cannot chose who I want to elect to government, as the election system is overtly prejudiced against independent candidates standing and being elected. Thus, political candidates who I did not have the choice to represent me write the laws which bind me. There is no separation of powers. The courts have only the power to ensure justice is delivered in accordance with the laws written and their limited discretion is overtly levied in favour of government policy. The political candidates who I did not have the choice to represent me have an army to defend them – their police force. Those who dissent against the laws made are silenced and/or punished by draconian sentences.
There is no retribution in turn
There is no law and order, a principle I was ‘taught’ was inherent to ‘our’ UK constitution: that no man is above the law. This reality is evident. People on the bread line who carry out petty crimes are sentenced to prison, yet politicians who steal from the public purse are not indicted. Tony Blair, responsible (in part) for the brutal murder of a nation walks free. Police who murder members of the public are not convicted. Bankers responsible for the looting of a nation are bailed out by the public purse, yet those with disability are forced to work to pay for them.
They also have a media, which plays a significant role in their art of ‘illusion’. Once I believe the model village in which I live is real, I have submitted.
Accountability of Politicians
Politicians are described as having power. This is evidence of the illusion. Politicians should not have power, only a duty to serve. In a democracy, a politician would have the highest duty of trust; a trust afforded to the people. Politicians who lie in their manifesto, a fraudulent act on which the public base consideration in the form of their vote cast, would be immediately sacked and indicted for attempting to defraud democratic process.
After the verdict was delivered, I wondered whether the brothers fighting extradition should have not fought extradition to the U.S, as they have spent over 8 years in detention in doing so. It is unlikely that the U.S will in reality reflect this in any sentence given. So it was not in their best interest. However, by fighting and challenging extradition, as Babar said, they have exposed the ‘fallacy of the U.K. extradition arrangements with the U.S’. They are heroes for doing so, and in doing so, they have put their British nation before themselves.
For some time I have been reflecting on a question, whether to change the system you have to be part of it? These events have answered my question: You only join them when you can’t beat them.
Assalamualaikum, peace be upon you.