British secret police spying on anti-apartheid movement

This music video from Britain is The Specials with their song Free Nelson Mandela.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

The spooks in the anti-apartheid movement

Friday 28 June 2013

Rob Evans and Paul Lewis’s revelations in the Guardian that undercover officers spied on the Lawrence family at precisely the same time as they were failing to catch their son’s killer points to the rotten behaviour of secret cops.

They spend their time spying on legal protest movements while allowing terrible crimes to go unpunished.

This is a common feature of Special Branch spying. So, for example, Freedom of Information documents I obtained show the cops had agents in the anti-apartheid movement (AAM) when Margaret Thatcher invited South African president PW Botha to Britain in 1984.

Botha was running apartheid and imprisoning Nelson Mandela so Thatcher wanted to show him her “enormous reservoirs of goodwill.”

But she was worried about protesters.

According to the documents: “Special Branch have learned from their own sources inside the AAM that the AAM are to mount a protest occupation of the South African Airways office on Regent Street for the two days before and after the Botha visit.

“The police cannot do much about this without compromising their source but they will be ready to step in at once when requested by South African Airways.

The police are also considering whether and, if so, how they can warn South African Airways that this is likely to happen.”

While the spy cops were infiltrating anti-apartheid the South African government was allowed to get away with bigger crimes.

Home secretary Leon Brittan wanted Thatcher to raise with Botha “criminal activities” by “South African intelligence” in London.

Apartheid‘s spies were breaking into offices of the ANC and anti-apartheid movement.

They even exploded a bomb at the ANC offices in 1982 in a failed attempt to kill ANC leaders.

But Thatcher refused to complain to Botha about his agents’ criminal acts in London.

So, spy cops are immoral – but are they effective?

I was on the 1993 Unity demo organised by Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE) and the Anti Nazi League against the BNP HQ in Welling.

So were 50,000 other people – and so were the undercover cops, one of whose number, Peter Francis, was pretending to be a YRE activist.

Did he uncover any secrets?

Lois Austin, who headed YRE at the time, says: “There was no purpose to infiltrating YRE. Far from being secretive, we publicly advertised our events – the police could have read our leaflets and newspapers, or attended our public meetings, to find out what was going on.”

The problem we had on the demo was not undercover cops but riot police who launched a medieval-style attack on protesters, charging with horses, shields and truncheons.

Protest movements are mostly about organising large groups, not small secretive events, so undercover spies are of limited effectiveness.

Where they can hurt, though, is through causing disruption and intimidation inside protest movements.

Which is why the most intrusive, sleazy and sinister behaviour of the undercover copssleeping with women activists – has caused so much disgust.

Britain: Spying network exposed targeting organisations critical of police: here.

Britain’s secret police have a long history of trying to undermine ‘subversives’, writes Simon Basketter: here.

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