UK Repression Feature Archive
On March 29 Zimbabwe went to the polls. The election was widely criticised with accusations of vote rigging, state orchestrated media bias and violent intimidation of opposition activists. The outcome was generally considered a foregone conclusion, which would have little to do with the opinions of most Zimbabweans and early indications are that these concerns were well placed, although events now seem to have taken a more complicated turn.
In Nottingham the Zimbabwean community used the election to draw attention to the situation in their country and camapaign against the threat of deportation which many Zimbabwean asylum seekers face. They organised a meeting at the Sumac Centre on March 28 and held at protest at Nottingham's new speakers corner on March 28.
Previous Features: Refugees In Need Of Community Protection? | Situation in the Congo is worsening as deportations continue | Nottingham Protest against Deportations to Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) :: Pictures
At approximately 12:30pm on 2nd April hundreds of Romanian police violently raided a convergence center in Bucharest, the country's capital. The convergence space was set up to facilitate an anti-NATO gathering and was legally rented. It is reported that during the raid at least two protesters were hospitalized. Various reports state people are badly beaten while in custody and even while taken to hospital. Numerous people are reported to be seriously injured and some have been refused medical assistance while in custody.
It is estimated that 46 people have been arrested. No demonstration or action had happened before the raid and all the arrests were made inside the convergence center. Police officers were masked and reportedly very aggressive towards journalists trying to access the scene. The convergence center is located near the center of Bucharest, which is hosting a NATO summit that just got underway today. It is estimated that up to 27,000 police officers, military, snipers and secret police are 'guarding' the city. The security alert code yellow has been announced, meaning that all demonstrations are forbidden in the whole city amongst other restrictive laws.
Indymedia articles: Riot police storms convergence centre at Bucharest anti- NATO protests | Massive Repression during the NATO Summit in Romania | Anti-NATO Convergence Centre in Bucharest attacked by Anti-Terror Police | Breaking News: Mass Arrests during NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania | Mass Arrest of demonstrators in Bucharest | Anti NATO activists faced police brutality
Other media: Massive Repression during the NATO Summit in Romania | Videos of the raid on the convergence centre | Photos of mass arrests | Info for anyone going to Romania | Solidarity demo in Berlin | Protests at police stations | Bucharest Declaration | Solidarity from Vienna, Bern, Berlin, Skopje, Kopenhagen
Links: Indymedia Romania (english)
Over a year ago, a rumour was doing the rounds in Nottingham libraries about the introduction of uniforms for library staff. The union reps looked into it and it was brushed aside as 'not going to happen for ages'. A couple of months ago they were surpised to hear that the uniforms would suddenly be introduced by March. No consultation, no advanced notice. So why does the council feel there is a need for uniformed staff in our libraries? And why does it threaten its own staff members with dismissal if they were to speak openly about these changes?
One library assistant did decide to speak out. Barbara, who's identity we cannot reveal, has worked in Nottingham's libraries for many years. She told Notts Indymedia in an interview about her anger over the decision by the City Council to introduce uniforms. In addition, she talked about the depletion of library service resources and the bully tactics employed by City Council managers to keep its staff in line.
The weekly vegan open picnic has recently faced growing repression from Police and consistent support in the community.
People taking part in Brixton's Reclaim Your Food weekly action faced arrest last Sunday 2nd March 2008 as they challenged the legitimacy of a Dispersal Order issued by the Lambeth branch of the Metropolitan Police.
Police (consisting of a mix of PCs, CSOs and higher-ranking officers) were waiting for the collective before they even arrived. They came equipped with a mobile surveillance van, 2 regular Police vans and 2 Police cars.
The first arrest came as a result of a refusal to comply with the Dispersal Order placed upon the group, the second for attempting to establish the legal basis for such an arrest. The Dispersal Order, made possible by the controversial Anti-Social Behaviour Act, was issued in response to an alleged Section 5 Public Order offence - defined as causing harassment, distress or alarm. However, when questioned, the Police failed to provide adequate evidence to suggest that such an offence was taking place.
Thankfully, the long arm of the law did not stretch to the Bicycle Repair Workshop or those making Puncture Repair Kits and Wallets from recycled and sustainable materials. These were welcome additions to the Town Square, which was reclaimed as a fully-functional public space for all...with room for a bit of a dance to the chilled reggae/dub soundsystem!
Despite all the Police intimidation and generally not fantastic weather, a good time was had by most people who turned up or happened to be passing by! - Same as today 9th of March when there were no arrests.
The collectives involved in Sunday's action are keen to welcome anyone who is interested in any aspect of the project to come along - Bring food to share. Instruments. Sound Systems. Practical Social Activities. Or just yourself!! All welcome.
The project will continure to meet at Brixton Town Square (by Coldharbour Lane, opposite the Ritzy Cinema) from around 2/3pm every Sunday. The town square is well on it's way to being a free public space, for anyone to use. This does not figure in the plans of the Police and Local Government, who are intent on seeing through gentrification of the area. Every Sunday at approx 3pm in BRIXTON TOWN SQUARE, opposite BRIXTON LIBRARY
Video: 3 march (1)
After months of inhuman siege and daily attacks, Israel last week mounted a massive offensive against the Gaza Strip, which has claimed the lives of over 100 Palestinians, including many civilians and children. Israeli officials had threatened the Palestinians with "a holocaust" if home-made rockets fired at nearby Israeli towns did not stop. As the aggression continues, so do solidarity protests throughout the world.From the Newswire: Children gassed and shot in Gaza solidarity protests | Blockade on Gaza: Crime against humanity | The Gaza Strip's People are dying, Help us! | Palestine in darkness | Israel's policy in Gaza: at least as evil as it is self-defeating | Still no justice for October 2000 killings | Palestine society not allowed in Birmingham
Audio: Indy Global Report from Bethlehem | Palestine Today & This Week in Palestine | Flashpoints
On the 10th April 2007, 11 people walked into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station and locked on to the coal conveyor and assorted plant there. Their objective was to take direct action to halt operations and thus to diminish the CO2 emissions of the E-on plant, the greenhouse gas thought to be largely responsible for climate change. They were all charged with aggravated trespass and throughout the court case (which lasted for 3 days), the defendants argued that yes, they did take these actions, but employed the defence of "duress of circumstances" or necessity, and pleaded not guilty.
On Monday 25th Feb, 10 defendants (one having had the charges dismissed due to lack of evidence) returned to court to receive the judgement. Judge Cooper had earlier said that he wished to compliment all the defendants on the way they had handled themselves and on the presentation of their case. However all were found guilty.
On The Newswire: Ratcliffe Power station Climate Action, The Judgement | Power station 10 found guilty | Ratcliffe Power station Climate Action, The Verdict | Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 1] | Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 2] | Ratcliffe Power Station Court Case : Nottingham Magistrates [day 3]
Links: Eastside Climate Action
Transparency website Wikileaks has been muzzled with a legal injunction by a US court following the publication of leaked documents about a Swiss bank implicated in alleged money laundering. The anonymous whistleblower site, devoted to battle against corruption and censorship, published several hundred documents from a Swiss banking whistleblower purportedly showing that Bank Julius Baer and its Cayman Islands subsidiary had been involved in offshore tax evasion and money laundering by extremely wealthy and, in some cases, politically sensitive clients from the US, Europe, China and Peru. Rather than ordering the removal of specific documents, however, the San Francisco District Court ordered Wikileak's DNS registrar, Dynadot, to remove all DNS hosting records for the wikileaks.org domain name and prevent it from resolving to the wikileaks.org website or any other website or server other than a blank park page. There have also been reports of attempts to lock down the site through Denial of Service attacks and threats to its DNS record.
From the newswire: US judge arranges summary execution of Wikileaks.org | US Court order shuts down Wikileaks.org | US court attacks web freedom, enjoins Wikileaks.org out of existence | Wikileaks and Internet Censorship: a comparative study | Full correspondence between Wikileaks and Bank Julius Baer | Reports elsewhere: IndyBay | Indymedia Ireland | About Wikileaks
On Thursday around 80 protesters marched around the University of Nottingham's campus to demand freedom of expression and an end to the University's repression of student activists.
The campaign was started following the arrest of a student at a Palestine solidarity protest on the campus in November last year. In spite of the University's deployment of undercover spies and a police cameraman, the mood was good and protesters recieved a warm reception from other members of the student body.
Newswire: Protestors demand freedom of expression at University | Freedom of Speech demonstration at Nottingham Uni | Heavy Handed Police Condemned Over Peaceful Protest | Arrest at Nottingham Uni over Palestine Protest
The four migrants accused of "conspiracy to commit violent disorder" during the Harmondsworth uprising in 2006 were today found not guilty. Relying on a clearly insufficiently indoctrinated jury, the attempt to single out and punish few individuals with violent criminal convictions and long sentences has been thwarted. Of course, all four have already served one year and three months in prison, on top of varying times in immigration detention. Now they will have to resume their struggle against the immigration system, which imprisoned them for seeking refuge in the first place, and will most probably be dispersed around Britain's detention estate until their cases are 'resolved'.Today the Support the Harmondsworth Four Campaign held a protest outside Sodexho's London headquarters. There had been a solidarity protest outside the court every Monday [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5].
Background: letter from two of the Harmondsworth 4 to Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! | 'Report of the Investigation into the disturbances at Harmondsworth and Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centres', Robert Whalley | Chief Inspectors of Prison Report on Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre
The hotly contested 'Caltongate' gentrification plan has been approved by city councillors on Wednesday, in a meeting that lasted over 10 hours. The two listed buildings will be demolished. Save Our Old Town protesters were present inside the meeting, and there was a demonstration outside the City Chambers all day. Campaigners vow to continue the struggle against this development, and plan to provoke a public enquiry.
[ full report | photos of demonstration | Save Our Old Town website | Independent Republic of Canongate | alternative strategy proposal by community forum | background article ]
Other older gentrification features: [ Edinburgh Tenants vote No to Stock Transfer | Save Meadowbank Stadium | Glasgow Resident Network takes to the streets | Midlothian council's destructive development plans | ACE under threat | Demolition Threat in Glasgow | Save the Cameo ]
During the early hours of this morning, two crew members of the Sea Shepherd vessel, 'Steve Irwin', have been taken hostage by the Japanese harpoon vessel 'Yushin Maru No. 2'. Benjamin Potts 28, an Australian citizen and Giles Lane, 35, a British citizen, are being held onboard the whaling vessel which is currently on the run. Both men boarded the vessel to deliver a letter to the Japanese captain stating that the whalers were in violation of international conservation law by targeting endangered species in an established whale sanctuary and in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling. They also notified the captain that Australia had just passed a court ruling barring Japanese whalers from the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone. Once they boarded the vessel they were assaulted and tied to the railings of the whaler. They were then moved and tied to a radar mast. The Japanese vessel has not responded to messages in English or Japanese from the Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson to release the hostages.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship 'Steve Irwin' has been in full pursuit of five vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet including the Japanese supply vessel 'Oriental Bluebird' since this morning. The Japanese factory ship 'Nisshin Maru' has fled over 700 miles to the northwest and is heading towards South Africa accompanied by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. The entire whaling fleet is on the run. According to the Sea Shepherd no whales have been able to be slaughtered for the last four days and it does not look as if the whaling operations are going to begin again for another week at least, and not at all if the vessels are prevented from regrouping. Crew members from the Sea Shepherd ship 'Steve Irwin' point out they have a "good supply of fuel and can remain in the area for some time and will continue to police the illegal whaling operations by the Japanese fleet".Contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: firstname.lastname@example.orgContact the Japanese Embassy: email@example.comPhone: London 020-70081500 / Edinburgh 0131-225-4777 / Dublin 01-202-8300 | Web: List of Japanese Embassies
Solidarity Protest Reports: DC Protest For Sea Shepherd Hostages Video | Sea Shepherd Solidarity Protest at Japanese Embassy, Berlin | Sea Shepherd demo, Barcelona | NYC Protest for Sea Shepherd Hostages | Hostage Release Demonstration, London
Recent Updates: Sea Shepherd Hostages Return Back to Steve Irwin | Whalers Hands Activists Over To Australia's Ship | Whalers threaten to take activists to Japan | Sea Shepherd Crew Remain Hostages On The Japanese Whaling Ship | Whalers Make Demands Over Hostages | Sea Shepherd considering rescue mission
Previous feature: Japanese Whaling Ship rams Greenpeace vessel
On the newswire: Video of Sea Shepherd Activists Taken Hostage | Sea Shepherd volunteers 'detained' by Japanese whalers | URGENT - protestors held hostage by Japanese wailing ship | British Sea Shepherd activist held hostage on Japanese whaler | Japanese whalers take Sea Shepherds hostage | Call out for solidarity demonstration
From the 28th January, as part of an extended pilot scheme, residents of Nottingham will be subject to Voice Risk Analysis when telephoning to make a claim for Job Seekers' Allowance.
Voice Risk Analysis (VRA) software analyses a person's 'normal' voice and flags up changes in frequency and tone characteristics which may mean the person is lying. The DWP has helped to fund a series of local pilot schemes to study the effectiveness of the technology in reducing so-called "benefit fraud" (which pales into insignificance when compared with tax evasion by the rich). Even amongst those who worry about such things, there is scepticism about this usefulness of this technology as an anti-fraud tool. Mainstream critics say that savings do not necessarily mean the software is accurately pinpointing fraudsters, arguing that genuine claimants may also be deterred from claiming when entitled to benefits.
Background Links: Nottingham Proforma for Expressions of Interest for DWP City Strategy | Strategy: Nottingham Local Area Agreement | DWP Fraud and error - Voice Risk Analysis (VRA) | DWP Press Release: Hutton announces new technology to strengthen fight against benefit fraud | TUC lies, damned lies and lie detectors: introducing lie detector tests for benefit claimants | Handard - Social Security Benefits: Lie Detectors 23 Apr 2007 : Column 928W | Government to use voice 'lie detector' technology to catch benefit thieves | Advanced Validation Services (AVS)
Animal rights activists in Nottingham campaigning against the sale of Foie Gras in the city have found themselves the targets of police repression. On the evening of Friday December 14, campaigners were told that they could not use a megaphone, with the police citing Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 as their basis for this prohibition.
The heavy-handed police response is indicative of a national trend towards increasingly repressive policing of animal rights protests and a a more general limitation on the right to protest.
Newswire: Foie Gras Demonstrations Continue Despite Renewed Police Repression | Foie Gras protests continue in spite of increased pressure from police | Foie gras day of action | Foie Gras Not Fair to the Goose | Kick foie gras out of Nottingham
On Tuesday November 27, Nottinghamshire Police used a Taser stun gun on a man in Beeston. Although it has attracted only limited interest, it could be an important development. Tasers have recently been introduced to the police arsenal in the UK, having been widely used by police in the US and Canada for some time. This happened with minimal public debate, despite increasing concerns about their use across North America. Currently restricted to armed response officers there are calls from both senior and rank and file police officers for their use to be greatly expanded. They certainly aren’t going to go away any time soon
According to the Evening Post, Notts police were called to reports of a man acting erratically outside the Natwest on High Road, Beeston at 11.30am. The Post also indicates that there was a suggestion the man might have been carrying a firearm, however it is now clear the man did not have a gun and there is little in the article to indicate on what basis such suspicions might have arisen. The various eyewitness reports certainly indicate erratic behaviour, but if anything make the presence of a gun seem unlikely. One account has the man shouting, “Call the police,” while another has him pushing people about threatening to “knock you out.” Hardly behaviour which would indicate he was armed.
Links: Tasers in Nottingham | Police taser diabetic in a fit,when they should be arresting terror oil corprats | Canada Probes Taser After Another Death | USA - anotherone killed by police using "less" lethal taser | TASER GUNS BY UK POLICE ,HAVE BEEN CAUSING CONTROVERSY IN AMERICA | Taser’s don’t kill, Excited Delirium does!
A court in Bangalore has issued an order for the 'arrest without the possibility of bail' of seven campaigners over their websites postings about labour conditions of an Indian supplier of fashion label G-Star. The activists are from the Clean Clothes Campaign and the India Committee of the Netherlands; the director of their Netherlands based ISP, Antenna, is included.
The case could have implications for activists posting anything on the web, with the court using the Convention on Cyber Crime to call for extradition. It all happens with the backdrop of the continuing campaign about labour conditions and particularly the huge number of child workers in India coming up against the religion of 'free trade'.
The case has been running for some time now. As the legal threats get worse the campaign are asking for solidarity. As G-Star is the only remaining buyer from the jeans manufacturer at which the CCC and ICN have highlighted the labour rights violations they are asking people to make demands of them listing things you can do [cleanclothes.org]. In the UK No Sweat! have called a picket of G-star [nosweat.org] focusing on their Covent Garden store. There are lots of outlets around on their store locator [g-star.com].
Nottinghamshire Police have been condemned for their heavy handed dealing with a peaceful protest which took place at Nottingham University. The protest, which was organized by students, occurred outside the Hallward Library on the University Park Campus, to raise awareness about the Israeli West Bank barrier, aka 'the wall'. A mock wall was constructed and spray-painted with slogans and images.
After Nottingham Uni security failed to 'apprehend' the situation, the police were called. This resulted in the threat of arrest to a number of students. For 'breach of the peace', 'assaulting a police officer', 'filming a police officer'(!), obstructing a police officer and obstruction of the highway. One student was arrested to 'apprehend a breach of the peace'. The wall was dismantled (rather symbolic given the context) and moved on after about half an hour.
Previous protests: Starbucks Not Welcome at University | Nottingham University Student Die-In :: to protest at ethical investments | 'Die-in' at Nottingham University to protest at unethical investments | Protests as arms dealers attend careersfair
The Home Office has recently published a consultation paper which hints at what was really meant by Gordon Brown's promise to look again at the law which restricts demonstrations near parliament, far from repealing this legislation the consultation indicates that the government wants to extend the restrictions on demonstrations to cover the whole country.
The current law on demonstrations around parliament bans spontaneous protests, requiring demonstrators to seek advance police permission, which allows the police to impose arbitrary limits on numbers and effectively act as political censors. See a timeline of its effects.
A public meeting challenging the new proposal will be held at the London School of Economics on the 2nd December.
The Global Day Of Action in solidarity with those arrested, harassed and questioned on and since October 15th has seen over 2000 people take to the streets across Aotearoa, while overseas, solidarity protests took place in many other parts of the world.
For latest info see: Aotearoa indymedia
Six months ago, the 25-year old Ungdomshuset (Youth House) occupied social center in Copenhagen, Denmark was evicted by police so that it could be handed over to the new owners, a Christian fundamentalist religious sect. This led to three days and nights of rioting in the city, with observers calling it the most serious internal security disturbance in Denmark since the end of the Second World War. 750 demonstrators were arrested.
This past weekend saw dramatic street actions in Copenhagen, as activists attempted to squat a replacement social centre named "G13." On Saturday 6th, between 3,000 - 10,000 people took part in a co-ordinated day of non-violent confrontation, which was met with heavy police repression. A total of 436 arrests resulted according to Danish mainstream media - a new record for a single police operation. Later in the evening, the G13 press group issued a statement declaring an end to the day's action. Demonstrators made it through police lines into the G13 site, but were cleared from the building by police after several hours of occupation. Despite this, many in the Danish scene believe the day was a success. As one participant said:
Last summer we couldn't do anything as a movement. Whatever we did we couldn't do it together and the police and the media hated us. Then last fall we learned to throw rocks. The movement rediscovered militant tactics. Then for half a year since the eviction that tactic has played out its usefulness. So now, we've developed a new tactic [non-violent confrontation]. As a movement we are now able to do anything.
English background on http://english.indymedia.dk
Indymedia UK has been issued with a takedown notice [10th of September & 21st of September] from lawyers acting for Alisher Usmanov. The notice served to Indymedia charged Indymedia with publishing allegedly libellous accusations about Usmanov, one of the richest men in Russia, recently linked to a possible hostile takeover of Arsenal FC.
The author of the posting, Craig Murray, is a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan and claims to have inside knowledge of the businessman’s allegedly illegal dealings. Murray was sacked by the UK government for exposing the Uzbek government’s use of torture to attain ‘intelligence’ information, and for exposing and criticising UK-US support for a vicious dictator in pursuit of resources.
Murray’s allegations are that Usmanov “is a criminal”, “a gangster and racketeer”. Allegations of criminality seem partly to have been inferred from his connections to “Uzbek mafia boss and major international heroin overlord Gafur Rakimov”. However, Murray also suggested that Usmanov has a criminal past, having been charged with “various offences” in the Soviet Union.
Usmanov’s lawyers minded Murray that Usmanov was pardoned, and all charges against him were removed from police records. However, in response to what seems an inaccurate statement from Usmanov’s lawyers, Murray alleged that "Usmanov is a criminal. He was in no sense a political prisoner, but a gangster and racketeer who rightly did six years in jail. The lawyers cunningly evoke 'Gorbachev', a name respected in the West, to make us think that justice prevailed. That is completely untrue". Furthermore, Murray implies that the pardon was spurious because the real source was the Dictator of Uzbekistan, Islom Karimov.
Karimov himself is an unsavoury character. On completing his investigation into allegations of torture in Karimov’s Uzbekistan, the United Nations Special Rapporteur noted that the use of torture was ‘pervasive and persistent’. He also reported that he had ‘no doubt that the system of torture is condoned, if not encouraged, at the level of the heads of the places of detention where it takes place or of the chief investigators’
Though evidence to support Murray’s allegations has not yet been presented directly to Indymedia UK (but has been collected in his book "Murder in Samarkand"), the Daily Mail informs us that, ‘[r]eports years ago claimed Britain's National Criminal Intelligence Service was monitoring him for alleged links — never proven — to suspected mafia figures.' More recently, the allegations have been repeated by Tom Wise MEP in the European Parliament
Indymedia UK is now waiting for Usmanov’s lawyers to confirm exactly what information posted on the web site is defamatory, and it looks like they have resolved to remove any defamatory material. Indymedia, as with other small non-commercial media groups, has very limited options available to them due to the UK’s archaic and elitist libel laws.
Indymedia hopes, however, to avoid the forms of complete censorship that other web hosts have pursued.
For further information on this case, see Bloggerheads | Chicken Yoghurt | Moscow Times.
For further information on Murray’s research on UK-US (at least tacit) support for terrorism in Uzbekistan, see