Socialist Worker

Babar: beaten, abused and still denied justice

Issue No. 1922

THE CROWN Prosecution Service (CPS) has refused to bring a case against the police officers who detained Babar Ahmad under anti-terrorism laws last December.

The CPS claims there is “insufficient evidence” for a prosecution, despite a medical report stating that “he was clearly badly beaten up, although in a reasonably controlled manner” while in custody.

Babar is held at Woodhill prison and faces extradition to the US, where he will face the same kind of “justice” described by British prisoner Moazzam Begg in his letter from Guantanamo Bay (see right).

The independent medical report into Babar’s treatment was conducted by Manolis Gavalas, a consultant at University College London Hospital.

It says Babar was “punched and kicked all over his head, torso and extremities. Police officers grabbed him by his genitals and pulled him all over like a dog on a lead.”

The beatings were “aimed at inflicting significant soft tissue trauma with pain, but not to cause any life-threatening injuries”.

Babar’s defence campaign, Stop Police Terror, has renamed itself Stop Political Terror (SPT) in response to what they see as a political failure.

Dr Adnan Siddiqui spoke at an SPT conference held last Saturday at the London Muslim Centre, explaining, “The police are just part of a wider problem with the political system.”

He told delegates, “The time for Muslims keeping our heads down is over. It’s no longer a case of ‘moderate’ Muslims, or these Muslims, or those Muslims. Everyone is being targeted.”

He added that campaigners should raise Babar Ahmad’s case at the European Social Forum later this month, and join the anti-war march on 17 October organised by the Stop the War Coalition and others.

Ashfaq Ahmad, Babar’s father, said, “If Babar is extradited to the US it is likely that he will face physical, mental and sexual abuse in much the same way as Muslims in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram.”

Respect MP George Galloway pledged his support for Babar’s case: “Babar Ahmad voted for me in the 10 June elections and his family supported me. I’m not going to turn my back on any one of them.

“I believe that he is an innocent man, and I’m prepared to stand by him in the trial he now faces.

“Less than one in ten Muslims arrested under anti-terrorism laws have been charged. That means more than nine in ten should not have been arrested in the first place.”

Drawing a parallel between the plight of Babar Ahmad, Moazzam Begg and Ken Bigley, the British engineer being held in Iraq, he said, “We should call for the release of all hostages, whether they are held by fighters in Iraq or states over here.

“They are all being held hostage because of a state of war between imperial powers and people around the world.”

Send messages of support to Babar Ahmad MX5383, HMP Woodhill, Tattenhoe Street, Milton Keynes MK4 4DA. For more details of the campaign go to www.stoppoliticalterror.com


Protests against Britain’s Guantanamo

CIVIL RIGHTS protesters gathered outside Belmarsh prison last Sunday amid reports of prison wardens handing out beatings and racist abuse to inmates detained under terrorism laws.

Alain Charlemoine, an activist with the International Legal Support Team, travelled from Paris to join the protest. He told Socialist Worker:

“We want to visit the detainees in Britain to write a report about them and the violations of their human rights. We are going to demand that we should be able to come and visit the prisoners.

“The European Commission on Human Rights has a resolution against torture, and we believe the British government has violated that anti-torture resolution.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, told Socialist Worker that awareness of the Belmarsh detainees’ plight has been steadily rising since the 11 September attacks:

“In those three years we’ve had a war in Iraq, stories coming out of Guantanamo Bay and the scandal of Abu Ghraib.

“People are less trusting of governments that say we have to suspend a few human rights because of the war on terror. People are angrier and braver now.

“If human rights mean anything they have got to be robust enough to survive times like this.

“History shows policies like this one are disastrous. They were in Northern Ireland and are now.”

About 200 demonstrators attended the protest at the gates of the London prison where 17 foreign nationals are being held in indefinite incarceration.

“Our people came to this country to find peace and security, but we don’t feel secure in this country any more,” said one demonstrator. “We fled because of dictators, but now Tony Blair is the biggest dictator.

“Tony Blair with his beautiful suit kills our people. Leave Iraq, let us deal with our dictators, don’t teach us how to deal with our lives. We know our dictators better than you!” he added.

The Belmarsh protest was organised by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities and Stop Political Terror. Both groups say they will highlight the issue at the European Social Forum later this month.

For more details of the campaign to free Belmarsh detainees go to www.stoppoliticalterror.com or www.cacc.org.uk


Government obstructs fight to save Bigley

THE FATE of the British hostage held in Iraq, Ken Bigley, was surrounded by mystery as Socialist Worker went to press.

But his brother Paul was continuing to campaign for his release—and coming up against interference from the British government.

Paul was shocked to find Dutch and British police effectively raiding his home and copying computer files three times last week.

The British government has denied any involvement in the raids. “But I saw it happen,” said Paul in disbelief.

“One guy showed me his Dutch police credentials, and behind him another flashed a Metropolitan Police warrant card. I said, ‘I’ve got nothing to hide.’

“If they are accusing me of having contact with terrorists, I don’t know what they are playing at.

“All I’ve done is appeal to leading figures in the Middle East through the Al Jazeera television channel—something I asked the British government to do from the start.”

Paul also had a message for anti-war activists in Britain who have backed his fight. “I am grateful for every bit of support,” he said.

And of fresh revelations about torture in Guantanamo, he added, “It’s shocking. There can be no double standards.

“Treating people like that is absolutely wrong, whoever is doing it.

“And it’s the cause of much anger in the Middle East.”

The Stop the War Coalition will pass messages of support on to the Bigley family. E-mail office@stopwar.org.uk


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Sat 9 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1922
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