[Freedom archives news] Notes on a UK Journey
Freedoml Archives Events
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Tue Jul 3 12:06:01 EDT 2012
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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: DRUMs 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
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
Womens 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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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