By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:
Friday, January 17, 2020
Left-wing? You may be on police extremism list
The Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) document has categories including white supremacist and nationalist groups, left-wing and “associated single-issue groups”, animal rights groups, and environmental campaigns.
The left-wing and environmental groups listed include the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), Stop the War, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Greenpeace.
CPB general secretary Rob Griffiths told the Star that it is “not surprising” that the party is included on the extremism watch list.
He said: “The primary function of Britain’s intelligence services is to protect the capitalist status quo and the ruling class, so it is no surprise that CPB should be listed as it is an organisation which wants to replace capitalism with socialism.
“The biggest threat to democratic rights in Britain has always come from the capitalist state — and this confirms that any turn towards authoritarianism must be opposed by the widest range of democratic organisation.
“We have one of the most secretive secret services in the world and this document also urgently confirms that we need to try and bring our intelligence services under some form of genuine democratic scrutiny.”
Mr Griffiths also referred to the infiltration of “perfectly legal and legitimate campaigning organisations” by undercover police officers for decades — which is currently subject to the Pitchford inquiry.
CND general secretary Kate Hudson questioned why the organisation was on the counter-terror list, noting that it has a history of more than 60 years of peaceful protest and an “open, democratic structure and policy process.”
She continued: “We have no secrets and act in the public interest. It is nuclear bombs that terrorise people, not our campaign, which works to eradicate weapons of mass destruction.
“This is massive state overreach and threatens our right to political engagement and peaceful protest.”
Andrew Smith of CAAT said that the “appalling” document sends the message that people who “care about social justice or oppose war, arms sales, discrimination or conflict then you can be included alongside white nationalists and neo-nazi hate groups.”
“It is yet another shameful attempt to repress dissent. This further discredits the fundamentally flawed Prevent scheme. It is long past time for police and government to stop criminalising democratic protest,” he added.
Extinction Rebellion called the literature and posters “crude, divisive and dangerous”.
It added: “The guidance document makes it clear that not all the signs and symbols are of counterterrorism interest. However, if that’s the case, why include them in a counter-terrorism document?
“The chilling effect is to leave people feeling under scrutiny, watched and pressurised, feeling ‘othered’, ashamed or afraid to be open about the things they care about such as the environment and the world around us.”
Clare Collier of human-rights organisation Liberty said the counter-terror agenda is “one of the greatest threats to free speech in the UK.”
The latest leak comes after more than 100 academics, campaigners, and community organisers signed a joint statement released by human rights charity Cage calling for the abolition of the Home Office’s Prevent anti-extremism strategy, which primarily targets Muslims.
Cage research director Dr Asim Qureshi said: “Ongoing calls for ‘more security and surveillance’ only lead to circular discussions, and policies that exacerbate fracture and distrust. We must break this impasse.”