Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
Published in Brighton by Justice? - Brighton's Direct Action collective
ISSUE 312, FRIDAY 6th July, 2001
Big SIS is Watching You
"Everyone was told the Schengen agreement was all about the removal of internal borders. In fact 98% of it was about police co-operation, internal security, public order and securing external borders." - Statewatch.
As thousands of protestors head to Genoa to demonstrate against the G8 summit later this month, European leaders are putting their heads together to try to stop those pesky anti-capitalist demonstrators in their tracks.
More laws, closed borders and increased police co-operation are all on the agenda with a special meeting being planned later this month for ministers to talk about safety at future EU summits. Not that the authorities don't already have an arsenal of measures at their disposal.
One of these is the Schengen Information System (SIS) first dreamt up in the late eighties by interior ministry officials in secret working parties. A computerised information exchange system whose purpose is "to maintain public order and security" SIS stores peoples names, descriptions, nicknames, sexual behaviour, habits, friends, political opinions and membership of organisations. You don't have to have done anything wrong to have your details stored with much of the SIS info 'intelligence' based on suspicions. Dr Heiner Busch from Germany's Citizens Rights and Policing complained that "The amount of data is growing and growing." By the end of the year it's predicted it will have 14 million pieces of information (much of it false) including details on 1.9 million people. 15 countries have now signed up to SIS.
32 year old Artem Chlenov became a victim of SIS when he was arrested at a peaceful demonstration against police brutality in Gothenburg last month (see SchNEWS 310). After he was nicked he was put in isolation "for the sake of national security" and has been there ever since. Artem's crime was that in 1997 he was with a group of Russians travelling by train from Berlin to Prague when he was stopped at the border and his visa queried. He was eventually let through. However, he had a collection of souvenirs from Berlin squats, including the Radikal newspaper, which was eventually banned by the German authorities, but which Artem couldn't even read as he only speaks Russian. Still, that was enough proof to be labelled a potential terrorist and to be recorded on SIS. A record which Swedish police picked up more than four years later.
In 1998, Stephanie Mills, a Greenpeace activist from New Zealand who had flown into Holland, was denied access to the whole Schengen area because the French government had entered her and other Greenpeace activists names into the SIS.
The Schengen Agreement promised open borders for "markets, goods, services and people" but a get-out clause says that borders can be closed or controlled "where public policy and national security so require...". There is no time limit for the suspension of borders and countries can inform their neighbours after they've been closed. Earlier this year Belgium re-introduced border controls to stop (they claimed) record numbers of Romanian refugees seeking asylum.
At the weekend Austria re-imposed border controls turning people away who were trying to get to the protests against the World Economic Forum. This tactic was also used recently by Czech Republic to stop IMF protestors getting to Prague, and in Slovenia for USA President Bush's meeting with Russian premier Putin. Now Italian officials are promising the same treatment for demonstrators against the G8. They've warned they will halt what's been called dubbed the 'Anarchist Express' long before it reaches Genoa. Italian police have promised to stop and search everybody with British cops on hand to help identify 'troublemakers' who will then immediately be deported.
In the UK the Football (Disorder) Act gives police powers to arrest and detain people they believe might commit offences and gives magistrates the power to issue banning-orders where there were "reasonable grounds" that it would "help" prevent disorder. How long before 'emergency legislation' could be extended to anti-capitalist protestors? Stephen Jakobi from Fair Trials Abroad said the "notion of hooliganism is expanding. Anyone who demonstrates will be seen as a hooligan." This is already happening in Germany. During last weekend's protests in Austria a 20-year-old German student was one of four political activists classified by the German police as 'dangerous troublemakers'. Her passport was taken away and she had to report to a cop station twice a day. If she tried to leave the country she would have faced a year in gaol. She was arrested during anti-globalisation protests in Davos earlier in the year (see SchNEWS 292). No charges have ever been brought against her but her details were taken and added to the German Federal Crime Office database.
So what does happen to all the names and addresses of people arrested en masse at anti-capitalist protests around Europe but never charged? A spokesman from Statewatch told SchNEWS "Data will certainly be shared and, since there's no enforceable data protection rules for such exchanges, copied into whatever databases or files that the receiving state decides." Which is reassuring. As one of Artem's friends put it "you better not travel in EU with the wrong magazines, wrong company, wrong ideas or wrong outlook. All these are enough reason to record you to SIS, and be the next international terrorist to be locked up."
* For details of how to help Artem go to www.tao.ca/~dikobraz/freeartem (but you'll have to speak Russian).
* Despite 5,000 police who threatened to "shoot at protesters", strict border controls, and most protests being banned there were still demonstrations against the World Economic Forum in Salzburg. To find out what happened check out http://austria.indymedia.org/
* SISNET, is SIS the next generation with plans for it to be up and running in time for European Union enlargement. It will enable the electronic transmission of photos, fingerprints and DNA. Finland wants it to go even further with "real-time video and sound", including that obtained during undercover surveillance operations.
* Police forces from Europe, North America and Australia have all been invited to an international conference "maintaining public order: a democratic approach" in The Hague at the beginning of October.
* To find out more about how big sis' and bro' are watching you contact Statewatch, PO BOX 1516, London, N16 0EW. Tel 020-8802-1882 www.statewatch.org/news
After opening up a community centre in Blaenllechau village, a small welsh ex-mining village, in 1996 the Community Blaenllechau Regeneration Programme is celebrating the opening of community allotments this Saturday (7). They already run a credit union, cafe, chip shop, youth drop-in centre and a 106-acre permaculture farm and are an example of the how the community can take control of its own environment. Info 01443 730749, Ffaldau2000@hotmail.com
It's been kicking off in Cyprus with 1000 angry locals attacking British Military Police, injuring 40, destroying the police station and burning vehicles at the British Episkopi military base. It happened after the arrest of Cypriot MP Marios Matsakis who was leading a campaign to stop the building of a 190 metre high radio mast which is needed for "the UK military's global communications network" (in other words for spying). It will emit radiation that could cause cancers and will ruin the natural habitat of the lake, home to migratory pink flamingos. The MP also claims the mast will be used in part of the Star Wars programme.
The British high commissioner in Cyprus described Marios as "a medical monkey stuck up a stick", presumably he wants to cut Marios open for medical research.
* On US Independence Day over 100 Greenpeace activists invaded Menwith Hill US spy base in Yorkshire to protest against Britain's impending involvement in Star Wars, which provoke a new arms race (SchNEWS 307).
* Trident Ploughshares are having a direct disarmament camp at Coulport on Loch Long, Scotland (near the Trident nuclear warhead store) from 27 July to 11 August. 0845-4588361
BANK OF WEAPONS
Bolivian workers have had enough of being exploited by corrupt, neo-liberal private banks, so last Monday kicked things off with a bang. 1000 Workers occupied the government's bank authority and detained 94 of the institution's top brass and tied bundles of dynamite to them to make the police behave themselves! Gasoline was sprayed outside the superintendent's office meanwhile from the balcony - in between speeches, and singing - dynamite and molotov cocktails exploded onto the la Católica plaza below.
After three months 12,000 workers (and debtors) have converged on La Paz to protest against the private banks' exorbitant interest charges, and the impounding of their meagre goods - many have lost everything and are living on the street, while the banks dish out funds to venture capitalists. A statement from Juventudes Libertarias (Anarchist Youth) read "The Bolivian government is openly fascist. The genocidal President-General Banzer has murdered many social fighters during the four years of his regime. We denounce the human rights clowns, the reactionary Catholic Church and the Bank vultures as makers of a smoke screen to divert attention to the negotiating table while the government prepares its dogs to execute a bloodbath".
* Twelve days ago Aymara farmers blocked highways in the Altiplano region to demand an end to neoliberalism - two were murdered. www.come.to/jlb (in Spanish)
SPILL THE MILK
Nestlé's plans to open a new café in Bristol turned sour this weekend when activists disguised as job seekers 'applied' for work. Interviews went out of the window as the would-be 'employees' asked managers why they should want to work for Nestle. Spawn of East Croydon, Nestlé continues to pressurise the world's poorest mothers into buying powdered milk for their babies. As a result, the mothers' milk, rich in essential antibodies dries up and babies fed on the milk powder and water mix get an often lethal dose of water-borne diseases. More actions are planned and if you'd love to work for Nestlé for £4.20 an hour selling their crap coffee give the New Era recruitment team a ring on 0117-908-1241 or email NEWERA2000LTD@aol.com www.babymilkaction.org
"The UK Government support for arms exports and the defence industry has been based for too long on an unchallenged belief that it is good for jobs, the economy and our military." - Dr Ian Davis, Arms and Security Programme Manager at Saferworld.
While the UK government continues to cut subsidies to hospitals and schools by forcing them into Public Private Partnerships (SchNEWS 257& 293) it is reassuring to find that there are no such plans a foot for the UK arms industry! A new report from the Oxford Research Group and Saferworld reveals how the UK government spends around £420 million annually to subsidise the arms trade. Who said New Labour-New Bastards?
At a cost of £69 million to the taxpayer, the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) works endlessly to find tin-pot dictators and heavily indebted countries to sell the latest British weapons to. When an arms export deal is struck, SchNEWS faves, the Export Credit Guarantee Department, step in to underwrite any credit agreement, after all heavily indebted countries are by their very nature skint, the last thing they can afford are new tanks and war planes and might just default on repayments. Annual cost to the UK taxpayer £227m. But it gets better, any costs incurred by arms firms in winning export contracts with foreign governments i.e. bribes and other corrupt practices are all of course tax deductible, wonderful! Annual cost to the taxpayer around £64m.
The government claims that arms exports and supporting a UK defence industry are vital for jobs. So vital in fact that the subsidy works out at £4,600 for each of the 90,000 jobs (or just 0.3% of UK employment) reliant on arms exports! The ending of ALL subsidies to the UK arms industry, an industry that continues to prolong poverty and suffering around the world, would save the government a further £4billion! www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/
* Ever wanted to buy some guns, tanks or cluster bombs to kill pesky protestors? If you are a nasty dictator you'll be welcomed with open arms at the Defence Systems and Equipment International arms fair at the Excel Centre, London Docklands, 11-14 September. Maybe you'll be able to pick up some landmines, they're banned under international law but they got away with it last time.
Mind you, if you're a peace protestor please don't turn up on the opening day for A Fiesta for Life Against Death, and don't call 020-72810297 or visit www.disarm-trade.org, to find out how you and your mates can get involved.
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For peeing against a tree! Italian police, in preparation for the Genoa invasion, cracked down on a 3 year old boy having a wee against a tree in a Rome park. The boy was so shocked he couldn't pee for 3 days fearing he be nicked again. His family is taking the police to European Court for breach of Human Rights. SchNEWS is concerned that the poor boy may be permanently treematised.
SchNEWS in brief
The law doesn't just have a long arm. A shame faced Tonbridge custody sergeant with 26 years experience has been fined £500 and could lose his job and pension for flashing at old ladies in a retirement home. The 21 stone copper told magistrates that he had not realised his private parts were on display because he was so fat, and couldn't see beyond his stomach! SchNEWS supposes he'd have been promoted if he'd shot someone with his weapon instead of showing it off.
Cor-blimley-theyre-practically-giving-them-away book offer
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Last updated 6th July 2001