27 Apr 2009

Follow the repression + why I love Tony B (no not that one)

This is from todays Morning Star...based on my speech to Faringdon Peace Group's massive conference on civil liberties, 240 people turned out for a meeting in very rural West Oxfordshire...hung out with Tony Benn who was great fun to be with, very lovely and fascinating human being and yes Britain's best known socialist.

Tony is pretty ecosocialismo as well, I asked him about vegetarianism, he has been veggie for decades partly because he doesn't really like meat and because his son convinced him that it was a wasteful way of feeding the world. I had such a good day, also ran into some ex-Cowley Motor works workers...isn't it great some of the greenest people used to make cars!

Just think Tony could have been labour party leader in the 1980s and become PM and used all the oil cash to green the UK economy but no we had that loco women who killed the economy built roads, smashed the unions and put the bankers in control.

anyway on to the Star article

I took part in a day conference on civil rights organised by Faringdon Peace Group in west Oxfordshire on Saturday.

I must admit that I was far from happy that recent events have given me plenty to talk about when it came to my chosen topic of civil rights and the environment.

The over-the-top policing of the G20 protests which left passer-by Ian Tomlinson dead after being hit and pushed over by the police is just the worst example of a day of brutality.

As has now been widely publicised, on an entirely peaceful protest to commemorate Tomlinson's death, a policeman from the Territorial Support Group slapped a women around the face and then hit her legs with a baton.

Despite protest, a law was recently introduced which made it illegal to take photographs of the police, so it's easy to see why the Territorial Support Group was so relaxed about hitting non-violent protesters if officers thought they would not be photographed and identified.

It is ironic that this month also saw the 30th anniversary of the death of Blair Peach at an anti-fascist demonstration. He was killed by members of the Special Patrol Group in 1979. Despite weapons and nazi regalia being found after a search of police lockers, his killer or killers were never brought to justice.

The Special Patrol Group was abolished after the outcry and it was replaced with the Territorial Support Group, which was involved in the G20 abuses.

Environmental concern and civil rights are closely bound because green activism often involves challenging vested economic interests.

It is no surprise that the G20's peaceful climate camp was attacked. These activists have pointed out that much of what has been done to tackle climate change is irrelevant.

The climate camp was organised to point out that carbon trading helps the City but does nothing to get to the root causes of an unfolding environmental catastrope.

It has recently been revealed that the police infiltrated the climate camp campaign in 2008 and gave information to the Eon company they were protesting against.

Corporate interests, when challenged by environmentalists, have been willing to assault the human rights of green activists time after time.

I have been reading a lot about the good work of Haringey Solidarity, a network that has been supporting the Visteon workers recently made redundant.

Dave Morris of Haringey Solidarity has written much about how the Visteon workers are keen not only to regain their jobs but to green them by producing environmentally friendly products rather than car parts.

Morris is one of Britain's most effective and long-standing environmental campaigners, so you'd be safe in assuming that he has had his human rights abused - and you'd be right.

Morris and Helen Steel took part in Britain's longest-running libel trial when McDonald's took them to court for distributing a Greenpeace London leaflet which claimed that the firm produced unhealthy food, exploited workers and damaged the environment.

Fran Armstrong, who recently released the climate change film Age of Stupid, documented the trial in her first feature McLibel.

During the trial, it was revealed that McDonald's had hired private investigators to infiltrate the tiny Greenpeace London group that Morris and Steel were members of.

It's incredible that a firm would use the full force of the law to challenge a small radical environmental group that makes critical statements.

Environmentalists often challenge corporations. And corporations spend large amounts of money spying on environmentalists.

At one time, the majority of activists in the Greenpeace London group were paid by McDonald's.

There are countless other examples. The phrase "follow the repression" comes to mind.

The more important the campaign and the more effective its strategy, the more likely that those environmentalists involved will be spied on, beaten up or otherwise harassed.

Of course, such repression is not confined to Britain. Global environmental problems created by corporations create resistance and such resistance is often repressed.

To take one current example, there is a close connection between the European Union and the activities of death squads in Colombia.

The EU has insisted that 10 per cent of vehicle fuel must come from biofuels. Biofuels have numerous negative effects and are one reason why we have a food crisis, because if farmers grow fuel, this reduces the amount of land used for food, leading to rocketing prices.

Many biofuels come from rainforest land specifically cleared for the purpose, as has happened in Indonesia.

However, the main source for EU biofuels is Colombia, where right-wing President Alvaro Uribe has allowed death squads to threaten peasants and indigenous people so that land can be made available for more biofuels.

Another example is the EU free trade agreement with Peru, another Latin American country which routinely ignores human rights abuse and where such abuse allows corporations to gain access to minerals and oil.

Clearly we need to protest and make some noise because British liberties are sliding down the drain. In turn we need to look at how the EU supports repression.

Above all, we must recognise that real environmental action upsets powerful vested economic interests.

Such interests have the ear of government, can help to shape repressive policies and can only be challenged by robust protest.

I often think of Utah Phillips, a radical US green, who believed in such robust direct action. Phillips, who died not long ago, famously stated: "The Earth is not dying. It is being killed and the people killing it have names and addresses."

These people have the cash to employ spies and lobby governments to repress those who draw attention to their crimes.


Lizard Watcher said...

"...Tony could have been labour party leader in the 1980s and become PM..."Like how? If Derek Wall had been the only registered voter in the UK maybe?

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