| Friday 28th September
2007 | Issue 604
WAKE UP!! IT'S YER CRAWLEY-ING WITH COPS...
Version - Download, Print, Copy and Distribute!
Story Links: Things
Can Only Get Buddha | Crap Arrest Of The Week
| Gettin' On Me Gatwick | Party
& Protest | Return To Sender | Kerry
On Regardless | Falsane
365 | DSEi Business | and finally
CAN ONLY GET BUDDHA
...AS SchNEWS EXAMINES
THE SUDDEN INTEREST IN HUMAN RIGHTS IN BURMA
"I call on those
who embrace the values of human rights and freedom to support the
legitimate demands of the Burmese people." - George Bush.
are on the streets. Simmering discontent with the military junta
that keeps millions in poverty boiled over into saffron-clad streetrage
this week. The biggest clashes since 1988 were sparked by a 500%
rise in the price of fuel, which also sent the cost of foodstuffs
soaring. The first march by students and monks on 19th August led
to series of protests; a movement which has been confronted with
countrywide curfews, tear gas and live fire. There is no doubting
their courage but why the sudden outpouring of concern for human
rights from the Wests leaders? And why is it twenty years
Gordon gave us the answer
in a comment piece in the Independent when he came to the
heart of the matter - Burma should be one of the most promising
economies in south-east Asia. Instead, it is one of the poorest
countries in the region.
Burmas military junta just arent very good at ensuring
that enough of the countrys natural wealth ends up in the
hands of the western corporations. And recently, instead of opening
the country up to western investment, the regime has become more
friendly with regional superpower China. During the first seven
months of this year, China-Burmese trade reached £600m up
40% compared to last year. So suddenly the West swings behind the
idea of sanctions - maybe if the junta can be ousted then we could
find more PR friendly people with whom we could do business.
The clashes in 1988 led
to mass repression and the deaths of 3000, but extracted the promise
of an election out of the junta. This was won outright two years
later by the NLD, personified in the West by Aung San Suu Kyi whos
been under house arrest for 11 years. Suu Kyi has achieved a Mandela-like
status in the West in recent years, and Gordon demanded that any
solution in Burma have her at its heart. However her
party has little control over the uprising. In fact theyve
been pleading from the sidelines for the gatherings not to become
an excuse to topple the regime, preferring the adoption of sanctions
by the international community to bring the junta to the negotiating
Burma solidarity campaigners
have been screaming for sanctions for twenty years but apart from
an arms embargo, the EU has only issued guidance on
investment. The largest western investor is French oil conglomerate,
Total. The UK follows with $26m in trade but recommends
that the multinationals shouldnt increase trade with Burma.
The EU - policing its guidelines - has confiscated a wallet-busting
four grand. With such a brutal regime in power, its also a
little embarrassing when by 2000, the EU was responsible for almost
three-quarters of all investment and nearly one third of those corporations
doing business in the country had their headquarters based in Europe.
Profits from foreign investment have helped double military spending
at the same time the public health and education systems have crumbled.
Outside investment is not the answer in Burma its the
problem. What the west would like to see in Burma is a transition
to democracy of a wearyingly familiar market variety.
The question is: when
the military junta eventually have to step away from government
(although not necessarily power), will a free and newly elected
Aung San Suu Kyi sign on the dotted line with the IMF and World
Bank? And will there be a deal for Western support or will she think
a little more carefully about the historical precedent and tell
foreign investors where to shove it? Answers on a postcard to the
* For more background
about Burma see www.burmacampaign.org.uk
* Read John Pilgers
book Freedom Next Time, about how corporate interests
exert power over former authoritarian regimes -
ARREST OF THE WEEK
For Filming a Police
On the Saturday No Border demo in Crawley an independent journalist
who was covering the march was arrested by a police photographer.
The photographer who couldnt take his own medicine was getting
annoyed at being filmed by the journalist, but he lost the plot
when he was asked if he photographed children. The officer said
he was distressed by this comment and arrested the journalist.
After a few hours in the cells the journalist was released without
Its a fair question
to ask whether the police take pictures of children, see the SchMOVIES
film 'Video Nasties' at www.schnews.org.uk/schmovies
For speaking truth
Also on the No Border demo, one marcher was whisked away for
a stay at Crawley custody for allegedly muttering the word wanker
under her breath. Seriously alarmed by this almost unprecedented
outburst of foul language in the towns shopping centre, cops
tried to get the potty-mouthed protestor to hand over her details
for a potential ASBO when she refused it was one way trip to the
nick. Luckily shes been bailed out of Sussex to prevent further
offences so we neednt fear any more outbursts of profanity
in the Garden County.
ON ME GATWICK
Last week two hundred
people gathered at the No-Borders camp for a long weekend of action
against Fortress Europe, focussing on the building of
a new detention centre at Gatwick Airport.
The camp was moved at
the last minute to Balcombe, East Sussex (see SchNEWS
603) and had a permanent police presence with cops at the gates
photographing people coming and going. The camp was well organised
with food provided communally, compost toilets, rubbish and recycling
points, a kids space and lots of talks and discussions about immigration,
borders and campaigning. People came from all over the world and
shared their experiences of being a detainee and campaigning against
Actions started on Thursday
evening with people handing out the Gatwick X-press
paper in Crawley, outlining the reasons for resisting the building
of a new detention centre. This innocuous leafletting attracted
no less than five police photographers.
On Friday there were
- Virgin Holidays
had their Crawley office invaded by a dozen people. Virgin
make money flying deported refugees, especially to Nigeria. The
foyer was occupied and some protesters popped upstairs to the office,
where staff were leafleted about their companys activities.
Earlier in the month, Crawley-based charter airline XL Airways said
they would stop operating all deportation flights on behalf of the
Home Office following a successful campaign, highlighted during
the Camp for Climate Action.
- A larger group went
to Lunar House and Electric House in Croydon; the
offices of the Border and Immigration Agency where hundreds
of people go everyday to make applications to stay. Their claims
can be rejected immediately, so Lunar House has a holding facility
in order to speed up the processing of their asylum claims.
Electric House is a reporting centre where asylum seekers have to
sign-on (usually weekly) to fulfil reporting obligations.
They can be arrested on the spot and detained, with no contact with
friends or family. Failure to attend can result in the being deported
as well. Electric House also holds the snatch squads who raid peoples
houses in dawn raids.
At the Lunar House demo
one asylum seeker was clearly in a distressed state, shouting They
are not human! I need help. In response cops threw him to
the ground, handcuffed and arrested him. A witness to the arrest
said What this guy needed was some help, he possibly had mental
health problems. But rather than assisting him the police brutally
arrested him. Protesters went to Croydon police station to
complain about the arrest but cops responded by nicking two more
people for trying to hand in witness statements!
- In the evening Group4s
offices were paid a visit, the front entrance blockaded and, as
employees left by the back entrance they were asked to justify their
work in making their company millions out of detaining asylum seekers
at Dungavel in Scotland, and their role in deporting people back
to countries where they face war, torture, prison and death. Group4
also make a tidy sum from tagging prisoners. Chief executive, Nick
Buckles, wants tagging to be extended to all asylum seekers and
this would be one of the companys growth drivers going
On Saturday as more than
300 people started marching from Crawley Town Centre, they were
met with a mixture of support (and abuse from some ill-informed
locals). Police presence on the demo was high and when the march
reached Tinsley House Detention Centre protesters were herded into
a small pen facing a fence, ditch, two lines of cops, police dogs
and two high fences with razor wire. Phone contact was made with
those inside and a small sound system was used so all present could
hear detainees plight. One man, who has been in detention
for three months, is an asylum seeker from Angola. Having been in
the UK for eleven years, he has a British wife and three children,
yet is due to be deported to Angola after his asylum claim was rejected.
- 28-30 - Animal
Rights UK Gathering on land owned by a farm animal sanctuary
near Tonbridge, Kent. Talks, discussions and workshops related
to animal rights campaigning. www.veggies.org.uk/event.php?ref=1116.
- 6 - Planning Meeting
for 8th December Climate Demo, St Marys Chuch, High Street,
Oxford. 1-6pm. Free. See www.campaigncc.org
- 7 - Stop
Bombing Afghanistan walk to mark the 6th anniversary
of the 2001 invasion. 10am, St Ethelburgas Centre for Reconciliation
and Peace, 78 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AG. Tel 0845 458 2564 or visit
- 9 - Stop Deporting
Cameroonians! called by UK Cameroon Support Network (CSN).
12-2pm at UK Immigration Service, Sandford House, 41 Homer Road,
Solihull, West Midlands B91 3RJ www.ncadc.org.uk
Members of a Palestinian
delegation to Brighton went to the weekly Smash EDO noise
demo on Wednesday (26th). Naveen from Tubas womens group and
Mohammed from Tubas Red Crescent visited the Brighton factory to
express their anger at the manufacture of weapons components used
against their families in Palestine. They said they also wished
to experience an English-style protest. Cops attempted to film them
without asking permission and were prevented by some locals. After
persistent negotiations the police stopped filming for the duration
of the demonstration.
Naveen said It
makes me angry to think of these people who have such easy lives
thoughtlessly making weapons that are making the lives of my family
and friends so hard and miserable. Mohammed commented If
they could see my ambulance being delayed at checkpoints while critically
ill patients are dying I am sure they would think twice about making
the weapons that support the military occupation of my homeland.
Tom Hayes, 38, of the
Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group said It is
fantastic to be able to take these people on a demonstration here
and to see they approve, because it shows we have the support of
the people most directly affected by this companys merchandise
* Smash EDO Noise Demos
continue each Wednesday, 4-6pm, at EDM MBM, Home Farm Rd, Brighton.
* See also www.smashedo.org.uk
A seminar with John Kerry
at the University of Florida went all Big Brother when a student
asked one too many probing questions.
The Senator and ex-presidential
hopeful was busy listening to student Andrew Meyers questions
when two cops moved in and dragged him away from the microphone
after he asked if John Kerry was in the same secret society as George
Bush! More cops arrived and escalated the arrest into a sloppy farce,
eventually tazering the helpless Meyer as he lay pleading on the
ground. Two cops were later taken off street duty and are under
The official reason given
was that Meyer had gone over his one minute and was resisting arrest.
Get your stopwatch ready and judge for yourself at
October 1st is the
Faslane365 Big Blockade.
After a year of blockading Faslane nuclear base (see SchNEWS 562,
565, 568, 574,
581, 589 featuring
the Faslane365in365-o-meter). For a grand finale there'll
be a mass action to celebrate the campaign and shut down the base!!
Be colourful and wear big smiles. Starts 6.30am, at the north and
south gate of Faslane naval base. Tel 0845 45 88 365 Web www.faslane365.org
Once again the arms dealers
were in town for this years Defence Systems and Equipment
International (DSEi) which started on 11th September (see SchNEWS
602). It seemed obvious on the day before the fair was due to
start that the Metropolitan Police were not going to allow protesters
to gain much ground. 100 plus cops arrived to meet 30 protesters
outside of the Mayfair hotel where delegates were having a pre-
arms sales banquet. Individuals were stopped and searched for almost
any reason, even for blowing a kiss to one officer!
On the opening day of
the conference, a 17 strong group from Brighton and London breached
security at the ExCel centre, running into the east car park at
7:45am - just before a press conference was due to start. Unfortunately
the group didnt get very far with one protester telling SchNEWS
how, within seconds, he was pushed to the tarmac by a sergeant from
Met Riot team on their back. Taken to hospital with a newly glued
together chin and some bruised ribs, he and others were eventually
nicked following a series de-arrests and re-arrests until cops finally
decided what crime had been committed.
The Space Hijackers managed
to get a tank booming with music outside the main entrance of the
ExCel centre. A 200 strong party caused a bit of a stir making sure
that arms fair delegates didnt forget that their business
is one which profits from innocent lives and illegal wars all the
world around. Another 100 joined the CAAT rally, and around 50 cyclists
embarked on critical mass, leading to a number of pointless arrests,
as the Met attempted to assert authority, and justify their presence
at the event.
The police fabricated
excuses to criminalise individuals who are willing to take stand
against the wrongly legitimised arms trade, one protester
told SchNEWS, Our government profits from stealing the lives
of too many people worldwide, while spending £3.5 million
on oppressing its politically conscious public.
* For more at www.dsei.org
Ultra patriotic Yankees
in Oregon, no doubt trying to take their minds off the Iraq quagmire,
have complained about the abuse of the Stars and Stripes. But its
not flag-burning, draft dodging, long-hairs this time though, it's
City officials in Hillsboro
have painted a fire hydrant red white and blue with Old Glory
in testament to the bravery of a four-footed member of the City
Police Department - Hondo the police dog, who died in the line of
duty. Unfortunately the rest of Hillsboros canine population
were less patriotic and started to use the hydrant as a territorial
marker. With each cocked leg cocking a snook at the honour of the
Home of the Brave it was time for god fearin folks to take
That gallant dog
must be turning in his grave at the thought of the flag being desecrated
every time a dog pees on that hydrant! wrote Louanne Douris,
a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer.
Parks officials swiftly
placed the hydrant on an 18-inch-high base and surrounded it with
Another hydrant (painted perhaps with the Iranian flag?) was placed
at ground level for the dogs convenience. Parks officials,
monitoring the situation said there had been no reports of dogs
urinating on the flag hydrant although reports of people taking
the piss have increased since the hydrant was installed.
SchNEWS warns all readers
not to get up to any monk-ey business or else you'll get one up
the junta. Honest!
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