[Freedom archives news] Notes on a UK Journey

Freedoml Archives Events freedomarchivesnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 3 12:06:01 EDT 2012

Thanks to all of you who have responded to our 
recent fund request letter. Those of you who have 
not, please know that only your support can 
ensure that we continue building our work. You 
can help us out securely via the website (www.freedomarchives.org).

I just returned from an amazing trip to England 
which was sponsored by 
This London-based organization was formed to 
oppose torture and the detention of hundreds of 
people in Guantanamo, Bagram, Kandahar and the UK 
under the justification of fighting the “war on 
terror.” The group exposes secret detentions, 
renditions and the ‘Close Supervision Centres’ 
(the British equivalent of Control Unit Prisons 
in the US). The Director of CagePrisoners is 
Begg who is a Guantanamo Survivor. Other former 
prisoners are also on their staff.

Four of us from the US joined members of the 
CagePrisoner staff in showing Cointelpro 101 in 
five venues – three events in London and others 
in Manchester and Leeds. We also went to 
community meetings and briefly attended “Policing 
Communities: Race, Class and the State: a 
Symposium comparing Black, Muslim, Irish and 
Gypsy Traveller community perspectives on public order policing.”

On Tuesday, June 19, our opening event was at the 
prestigious BFI – British Film Institute on the 
banks of the Thames in Central London and was 
packed to overflowing. The discussion raised 
issues of resistance in the streets especially by 
youth who oppose “stop and search” (akin to stop 
and frisk in the US) and the scapegoating and targeting of Muslims.

The BFI showing was attended by a producer and 
crew from <http://www.islamchannel.tv/>Islam 
Channel in London. The next day they invited us 
to the studio and interviewed Monami Maulik – the 
Executive Director of DRUM (Desis Rising Up & 
Moving) and myself about Cointelpro and current 
Islamophobia in the US. They also broadcast 
Cointelpro 101 twice the week we were in the UK. 
(Note: DRUM’s website describes it as a 
“multigenerational, membership led organization 
of working class South Asian immigrants in New 
York City. Desi is a common term used by people 
of South Asian descent to identify as people from 
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, 
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and parts of the diaspora 
including Africa, England, Fiji, Guyana, and Trinidad.”

Thursday, we appeared at the Stratford Picture 
House. This event was chaired by the 
<http://www.nmp.org.uk/>Newham Monitoring 
Project, a civil rights organization that works 
with members of the black and Asian communities 
suffering racial discrimination/violence and 
police misconduct. The discussion included a 
focus on policing practices triggered by the 
upcoming Olympics – many Olympic venues are in 
that neighborhood of East London.

On Friday, we traveled to Manchester for an event 
in the Central Hall Methodist Church. That event 
was threatened by the EDL – English Defense 
League – a racist organization that mainly 
targets Muslim communities. That event featured 
family members of 
Farooqi, one of the first British Muslims to be 
convicted of ‘terrorism’ based on actions and 
testimony of undercover police. The government is 
now trying to seize their <http://savethefamilyhome.com/>family home.

Saturday, we traveled to Leeds and appeared at 
the 100-year old Hyde Park Picture House along 
with community members challenging police 
infiltration of activist movements. There too, a 
few audience members tried to put forth EDL 
racism, but were firmly cut short from the stage.

Our last event was at the new community center 
and offices of the 
Women’s Strike in London. Another packed crowd 
engaged in a discussion hosted by Selma James, 
covering many issues, but especially support for US political prisoners.

While there are many differences between the 
United Kingdom and the US in how the state 
operates and how state violence is exercised, the 
fundamental unity of the western powers and their 
shared history of empire, racism and colonialism 
made political connections readily 
understandable. The police and population are 
much more overtly militarized in the US, but the 
most obvious manifestation of state intrusion in 
the UK is the massive presence of CCTV cameras 
everywhere. The torture and violence of prisons 
in the UK has its roots in the treatment of the 
Irish, and now Blacks, Asians, immigrants and 
Muslims – no different fundamentally than in the 
Guantanamos or Pelican Bays of the US.

The trip was great­we learned a lot and made many 
connections with activists and community members. 
We are very pleased that our work and the film 
are proving useful both near and far. As usual, 
things were done on a shoestring, and we hope you 
can contribute to help us maintain and intensify our work.

Claude Marks

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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