UK Newswire Archive
23-07-2012 15:31The greatest sporting, and money-making, show on earth The 2012 Olympic Games, held in London, will start with on Friday 27 July, watched by an estimated audience of 1 billion people around the world. Beyond the sporting excellence, Manny Thain looks at the crass commercialisation and increased state repression that accompanies the ‘greatest show on earth’.
As posted NNRF Mailout 22/07/12
- A Response to Notog4sNottm’s ‘Unholy Alliance’ Claim From Patsy Brand, Chair of Trustees, Nottingham & Notts Refugee Forum
In common with all concerned with the welfare of asylum seekers, everyone at NNRF was appalled to learn earlier this year that despite their terrible record of maltreating detainees and deportees, G4S were the Government’s favoured bidders for the asylum accommodation contract. We supported national protests and lobbied through our supportive local Labour MPs.
However once the contract was signed, we made the reluctant decision that in order to protect the interests of asylum seekers in the City who were about to be transferred to new landlords, it was regretfully necessary for the Forum to talk to G4S. The same approach has been taken by Citizens for Sanctuary.
Meetings and negotiations between, NNRF, CfS, City Council and G4S have resulted in improvements to their procurement policy, fewer asylum seekers being forced to move accommodation and NNRF being provided with advance information so that we can assist those anxious about the changes.
G4S management and staff will receive awareness raising training provided by NNRF & CfS with the involvement of asylum seekers and refugees. They are co-operating on drawing up protocols for the delivery of the contract and we will make sure they adhere to them.
Of course we realise that this is not ideal – but we have to accept that however much we may abhor the wholesale outsourcing by this government of public services to multinational hydra – and in spite of the current G4S debacle – the harsh reality is that this contract is not going to be cancelled in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, those of us in the front-line must concentrate our energies on reducing the fall-out for asylum seekers in Nottingham.
Stuart Brown - in a personal capacity.
Although I fully support the attempt to stop G4S from taking over the world and will happily support a campaign to try and get the contract withdrawn from G4S re- the asylum seeker housing contract, your report does raise some interesting questions - and some serious concerns!
The main question being: Is it the campaign’s position that all organisations should boycott working with both the UKBA and G4S? Which is what you seem to be suggesting in the para below although you don’t specifically say it.
Nottingham Citizens for Sanctuary are already forming a close working relationship with UKBA/G4S. This is a very detrimental position to take as it dilutes dissent, and getting onboard with UKBA/G4S neither provides extra resources or safeguards for asylum seekers.
Surely this is an untenable position to have, given that the only people who will suffer from this are asylum seekers being dispersed into G4S’s managed housing? The Refugee Forum and other organisations in the sector have a duty to support asylum seekers and without developing a working relationship with the main housing provider (and indeed UKBA), will not be able to fulfill their obligations. To have failed to have done so would have left newly dispersed asylum seekers to the mercies of G4S – a company responsible for the deaths and suffering of so many. Is this the line of other Notog4s campaigns around the country? If you’re not saying that then what exactly are you saying?
Your assertion that developing a relationship with them “neither provides extra resources or safeguards” is also spurious. What evidence is this based on? If there is some let’s have it. It may well be (probably will be) that, at some point down the line, evidence will emerge that this is true but surely it’s a little a bit too early for such categorical assertions?
Your contention that developing a relationship with UKBA / G4S “dilutes dissent” I also find difficult to understand. There’s plenty of dissent around just no campaign to harness it!
One of the many positive aspects with the way the Commission went about their task was that the dialogue with UKBA and G4S was all done up front and in the public spotlight, which makes it a little more difficult for both of them to renege on their commitments. Or at least not in the immediate future, which is actually the most crucial stage of the transition process. At least pressure has been put on G4S in relation to the geographical areas and the quality of the housing they intend buying in. As tactics go it’s not a bad one but equally it was the only option they had in the short term. Without a doubt, minor quibbles aside, the whole campaign was well thought through, well executed, and managed to mobilise a lot of people and organisations – and for that they should be applauded.
I also don’t think anyone is under any illusions that G4S will suddenly start behaving like model housing providers, and everyone I know is extremely sceptical about everything they say. We all know they’re motivated purely by profit. We all know they aren’t going to suddenly change their corporate spots and become a cuddly company that cares for anyone, let alone asylum seekers! And most of us recognise that as soon as their operation really kicks in, we’re going to have exactly the same battles with them (if not much harder) as we had with the previous contract holders. After all, G4S are doing the job cut price and something’s got to give somewhere! Which is why their ‘behaviour’ will be monitored and if they fail to live up to what they say they will do, then we will have some concrete evidence to start campaigning around.
The reality is that getting rid of G4S from this contract is / will be a long term campaign (the contract lasts 3 years!) and will only really gain traction when they (and other big multinationals) start to take over more and more public services that will directly affect the ‘general public’. Which, as we’re hearing every day on the news, is slowly beginning to happen. Even more reason to have an effective campaign up and running!
Which brings me onto my second question. Notog4sNottm: What Campaign?
To my knowledge there has never been a public meeting or any attempt, other than the circulated petition, to garner active support from as many people and organisations as possible. Disappointingly the petition has only 141 signatures (no criticism attached here – I for one should have pushed it a lot more), of which at least a third are people associated with NNRF and other homeless / refugee organisations in Nottingham. However, the Report Launch was a perfect opportunity to publicise, in the flyer you were handing round, the next (first?!) campaign meeting to encourage people to get involved. Although ideally this should have been done many, many months ago, it was still, in my opinion, a wasted opportunity.
Campaigns normally involve regular meetings to agree an overall strategy and plan tactics. As already mentioned, with the lack of support for asylum seekers and refugees generally, this was always going to be a long and hard campaign even before the contracts were awarded let alone once they had been. But there was / is plenty that could still be done: ensuring that there is a regular supply of ‘bad’ news stories in the local press and media; getting support from as broad a range of organisations as possible; linking up with other anti-privatisation campaigns through the wider labour and trades union movement - Notts SOS and the Trades Council; organising regular public meetings, direct action and protests. Apart from a twitter account, I still don’t understand how people can actually get involved in your campaign as there are no email / contact details!
Unless you get more people actively involved in the Notog4sNottm’s campaign then you will be seen by many as simply sniping from the sidelines, representing no-one and getting nowhere. Criticising organisations that are trying to make the best of a bad lot and whose sole interests are to ensure that asylum seekers under G4S’s ‘care’ are treated well, is not, in my opinion, a substitute for a well supported and democratically run campaign.
Obviously, if all this is being done already and I’ve missed the action, then I apologise. If so please let me know when the next meeting is and I’ll gladly advertise it on all the email lists I administrate. However, at the very least, I do feel you need to supply an email / contact so that people who wish to respond to your criticism can do so.
Have a listen to the latest Dissident Island Radio show - an Olympics special featuring a montage of interviews highlighting some of the many political, social and economic issues - this show cuts through the propagandistic messaging to give a more accurate picture of what Londoners are experiencing as a result of 'the games'...[read more]
MP3 dowload link (110MB)
OGG download link (77MB)
This edition of Dissident Island Radio casts a critical eye over the 2012 Olympic games, which are set to open in East London in a week's time. Adam and Tim spoke to a number of people involved in campaigns surrounding the Olympics and discovered some of the hidden consequences of the games.
First up, an interview with Julian Cheyne, former resident of the Clays Lane estate in Newham, which was demolished in 2007 to make way for the Olympic athletes village. Next, a conversation with two activitsts, Caroline and Kev, who are part of the save Leyton Marsh Campaign, a grassroots campaign to prevent the destruction of a community open space to build a temporary basketball training facility. Following on, some historical background on the repressive tactics used at past Olympic games and injunctions and exclusion orders that are being used today from Brian Richardson, a barrister based in East London who is also the author of Tell it like it is: how our schools fail black children. Adam and Tim also speak to several people doing research into the corporations sponsoring the games. These include Richard Solly from the London Mining Network talking about the Greenwash Gold Campaign; Anna McMullan from the Play Fair campaign; and Tim Hunt talking about the great Olympic Tax Swindle.
The show features tracks from Red Snapper, Radikal Guru feat Cian Finn, Dub Trio and Kidkanevil. And to finish things off in the usual island way - a DJ set from Little Shit and Squeaky Grinder.
On Sunday 15th July, the Observer revealed that West Midlands police officers had "made up" evidence against a University of Nottingham student in 2008. Rizwaan Sabir was wrongfully accused of "collecting information of a kind to provide practical assistance to a person committing an act of terrorism" after coming into possession of a document for his PhD proposal. An internal West Midlands police report has now concluded that investigating detectives fabricated key evidence in the case against him. Nottingham Indymedia (NI) contacted Rizwaan (RS) to ask him for further comments about the latest revelations in his case.
NI: Why do you think that the police fabricated evidence against you?
RS: Evidence was manufactured against me because the police were trying to justify their actions by giving the impression that I was somehow connected to terrorism. What people don’t understand - unless confronted directly by the police - is that when police undertake a counter-terrorism operation, they are involving themselves in deeply politicised policing and with such policing pressures comes an expectation to produce results that support and reinforce political agendas. In order to prove themselves, police simply invented evidence in my case. The question we must all therefore ask is - how many people have been charged as terrorists on the basis of falsified evidence? One must remember that the Observer revelations only emerged after 4 years of intense investigation and questions into the Nottingham case. In the vast majority of cases, however, where people are arrested as suspected terrorists and released without charge or are eventually acquitted – how do we know the police haven’t simply made up information to bring a case against them? I think it’s important for lawyers and those that have been subjected to false imprisonment to work together in figuring out whether evidence has been manufactured in their case too. An independent investigation into the Nottingham case, and similar cases, will allow this understanding to be formed, which will, one hopes, allow for a more proportionate and progressive series of anti-terror measures to be implemented.
NI: West Midlands police say that no action will be taken against the officers who made up evidence against you. Do you have any comment on that?
RS: Police are hardly ever willing to take action against their own. The entire struggle with this case, and I’m sure many others, is based on forcing accountability into policing, especially counter-terrorism policing, which is unnecessarily non-transparent and downright counter-productive. Since the Observer revelations, various meetings and discussions have taken place, and continue to take place, between the police, members of the legal profession and individuals who are well versed with counter-terrorism policing in the UK. When and if I can share any further information with you, I will do so.
NI: You've alluded to the fact that there are others accused of terrorism who are in a worse situation than you. Can you give more details?
RS: When I say others are in a far worse situation, I mean that there is no real way for an individual that has been subjected to arrest and charge (or prosecution as a terrorist) to fight in a legal structure that reinforces the power and authority of the State at every step. If you then bring in the revelation that has come to surface through my case that the police are simply inventing evidence to secure charges against innocent people, we find that people are in a terrible position. Considering that almost half of the terrorist convictions in the UK are connected to people merely possessing information that the police and law claim is criminal to possess; irrespective of whether that information is in the possession of somebody out of curiosity, for research purposes or because an individual has a desire to use that information for a violent purpose means that the police will paint a profile of a person, sometimes through falsified evidence, to convince a jury that they are guilty of being a terrorist. Unless these individuals are able to fight their cases from prison and are able to convince their legal representatives and political campaigners to help them investigate their case, they will most likely never be able to clear their names. This puts them in a far worse position than I was.
NI: An atmosphere of suspicion towards Muslims seems to have characterised your case. Do you think that there is institutional Islamophobia within the police and Home Office?
RS: The short answer is yes. It is no secret that the entire counter-terrorism structure in the UK is almost fully geared towards addressing the alleged threat of international terrorism, a by-word reserved for political violence used by Muslims against UK and Western interests. The UK’s approach to confronting this issue is to some extent based on the theoretical and practical structures of counter-insurgency warfare. Such a model views Muslims as having an innate potential to support political violence against British & Western interests which is why the police’s actions and responses target the entire Muslim community, whether it’s through stop and search, intelligence/information gathering programmes such as Operation ‘Rich Picture’ and the Prevent programme. On occasions, this targeting will take the form of financing community projects, co-opting members of the Muslim community by issuing honours, for example, or through sinister acts such as gathering intelligence on the lawful political and religious views of Muslims, such as myself. The point is that if an entire community is suspected of potentially becoming terrorists, then the policies and practices of the UK’s policing and security agencies will be based to a large degree on racial/religious profiling, or more simply, stereotyping. When such approaches are being used, ‘institutional Islamophobia’ is an inevitable outcome.
NI: In your recent Ceasefire article you've written about the importance of knowing your rights. How has knowing your rights helped you in this case?
RS: Knowing your rights is one of the most important ways in which people can defend and protect themselves against the police. If you don’t know your rights, the police can take away your rights without you ever knowing that your rights have been taken away. This means that you are defenceless when you are a suspect. The first step to ensuring that you’re safe and secure from the excesses of the State is by knowing what you are entitled to do, say and what you are not obliged to do and say. Knowing my rights has ensured – on ‘some’ occasions - that the police have not been able to get away with abuse, or a misuse of their power/authority. Your rights are given to you in order to protect you from State/police intrusion so use them if you’re dealing with the police and other agencies of the State. But before you can use them, you must know them. Learning is therefore priority number one.
NI: You're currently studying for a PhD at the University of Bath. What are you researching?
RS: Almost all of the government’s policies towards Muslims since 9/11 and especially 7/7 have been based around security and counter-terrorism, so the best way to simplify what I’m researching is to say that I’m researching UK counter-terrorism policies & practices which are targeted (rather specifically) at the UK’s Muslim population, and by their very nature, beyond.
NI: Thanks for your time. We wish you all the best with your research.
22-07-2012 21:35Here's my reason why.
22-07-2012 21:26A review of take back the Land and what it means for the current situation within the radical climate movement.
22-07-2012 19:30Anti-fracking activists today unfurled a banner at international golfing event.
A mini-rant from a few FITwatchers - not necessarily representative of the views of the organisation as whole.
22-07-2012 04:13This was the phrase with which Alex McFadden, long time trade union and anti-racist organiser, summed up the result of this year's James Larkin march in Liverpool.
21-07-2012 21:16Pull the udder one!!
while marines abseil into london with the heavily militarised olympic torch, desperately protected from protest by a merciless 'security bubble' that has already assaulted a young boy on a bicycle, an altogether more dignified and peaceful ceremony saw the first outing of the official vancouver poverty torch to london today.
click on image for larger version. 'some rights reserved' - free for credited non-commercial use, otherwise contact author for permission
the vancouver torch began life as part of an awareness campaign in british columbia to highlight poverty issues and broken olympic promises around vancouver's homeless and poor. the torch opened the 'poverty olympics' held in vancouver downtown eastside in february 2010, and it helped highlight housing issues and pressured the authorities into implementing some poverty-reduction plans for the area forcing them to keep at least some of the undertakings made as part of the vancouver 2010 olympic bid.
this year, the torch was brought to the uk after an official handover at the olympic cauldron in vancouver, and it made its first appearance in london at a counter olympics planning day at the bishopsgate institute in the city of london in april. it is the first time an alternative torch has been handed from one host city to another, and it will hopefully be carried on as a powerful tradition to highlight injustice, repression, and displacement at future games.
this afternoon, runners and supporters (numbering around 20 at the start) met outside stratford station, in the ugly corporate heart of the olympic machine. among groups represented were the leyton marsh campaign, the counter olympics network, and the carpenters estate against regeneration plan. police were represented by two 'protest liaison' officers on bicycles (neither of whom were sporting police identification badges).
after a brief speech on the steps to the westfield consumer mecca shopping centre, we were on our way.
as the runners made their way round stratford and up leytonstone high road, the public reacted with good-nature, many getting the point of it and cheering or tooting, as the runners shouted out slogans like "olympics for the sport, not for the millionaires", "no to the olympics for the 1%" etc.
amongst the traffic we passed several official olympic BMWs, including one followed by police and carrying members of the IOC - the runners offered the torch to them to hold, but they declined.
after a few miles, it was down some residential back streets, where some young boys joined us and carried the torch briefly, and on to the 'fred wiggs' tower, on the roof of which are stationed troops and missiles.
the runners carried on round to the north of wanstead flats to visit the main entrance to the snappily-named 'police mustering briefing and deployment centre' (MDBC). i had to look up 'mustering' in this context, and it's a primarily military expression for assembling troops etc. - very apt!
after a photocall there, for the wanstead guardian and some foreign press, it was back to the shadow of the fred wiggs tower for a small reception and refreshments put on by locals from the wanstead flats campaign which has been fighting the huge police centre built on normally protected epping forest land.
the torch will make another appearance on friday afternoon in a run from clissold park to leyton marsh.
there will be a large public protest next saturday in east london - see counterolympicsnetwork website for details.
links for more info:
21-07-2012 14:55this is a bristol indymedia story
We Are Bristol want to thank you once again for the support given by trade union and other groups to our peaceful counter-demonstration against the racist EDL on Saturday July 14th. More than 1000 joined our march and rally and we were proud to march together to join Pride at the end of our demonstration. We also note that more than £500,000 was spent by the authorities in the city in accommodating the EDL march, yet at the same time a grant of just £30,000 has been denied to the organisers of St. Pauls Carnival, meaning that this year the city’s prime multi-cultural event will not take place due to lack of funding for security.
However, we have since heard of an astonishing attack by Liberal Democrat councillors on two of the speakers at our rally, Marvin Rees, Labour Mayoral candidate and Mike Wollacott (Labour Councillor for Brislington East and Communication Workers’ Union representative). The statement from the Liberal Democrats is printed below in full (follow link), and speaks for itself.
We would like to offer maximum support to our colleagues from the city’s Labour group and ask you urgently to offer your trade union branch and personal support to the following statement which we will send to the City Council leader and to the press and media.
We Are Bristol are shocked at the attack by leading Liberal Democrats in the city on Marvin Rees (Labour Mayoral candidate) and Councillor Mike Wollacott for giving their support to the rally against the racist EDL on Saturday July 14th. Our march and rally was supported by over 1000 people, including trade union branches and community organisation across the city. Yet the Liberal Democrats in their statement have chosen to denigrate the people of Bristol who have dared to stand up against the racism and bigotry of the EDL. We call upon the Liberal Democrats to withdraw their statement immediately, and to respect our political representatives’ right to do their proper job of speaking up for the people of Bristol.
21-07-2012 14:32Ocean Spray fruit drinks are distributed in the UK. Ocean Spray is to be praised for its cooperative agriculture based in Lakeville-Middleborough Massachusetts in the US and for its production of berries, cherries and grapefruit, which as fruits are nature’s most perfect foods not only for health but for Mother Earth's environment and nonviolence. But Ocean Spray's diet drinks have toxins.
21-07-2012 13:26The campaign and calls for justice, and an independent enquiry, after the death of popular refugee Noureddin Mohammed, originally from Darfur, which began outside the 'Hotel de Police' in Calais by local sans-papiers and other No Borders activists, continued yesterday after two actions in the German city of Düsseldorf during the No Borders camp in the nearby city of Köln. (This camp is also being supported by actions and a solidarity camp for a hunger-strike by refugees in the regional capital, Düsseldorf.)