Socialist Worker

Babar Ahmad writes from his prison cell

Issue No. 1938

Babar Ahmad, a 30 year old computer technician from Tooting, South London, is currently in jail awaiting an extradition hearing. He was arrested last year on the request of US authorities, who accuse him of funding “terrorism” in Chechnya and Afghanistan, which he denies.

The evidence that the US has produced against Babar ranges from the flimsy to the ridiculous. But under new extradition rules rushed through parliament in the wake of 9/11 this “evidence” can’t be contested in British courts. In December 2003 Babar’s home was raided in an “anti-terror” police swoop. He was arrested and badly beaten up by police officers.

Dear Socialist Worker,

I wanted to thank you for your continuing coverage of my case and the unpopular topic of civil liberties in Britain, especially when applied to minorities. January was a good month. It saw the release of the four Guantanamo Britons, the release or bail of some of the “detention without trial” detainees and a miniscule acknowledgement by the Independent Police Complaints Commission that the officers who tortured me in December 2003 might not all be entirely innocent.

These “victories”, if we can call them as such, are in part due to the campaigning, protesting and lobbying of many justice-seeking good natured members of the British public, such as yourselves and your readers.

Making a fuss about issues does bring results, however slowly. Politicians cannot ignore public opinion, media pressure and the “whips” of voters.

In relation to BBC 2’s documentary on my father (The Terror Suspect’s Dad, 26 January), while 30 minutes cannot do justice to the efforts that my father is putting in campaigning for me, it nonetheless provided an insight into what my family are currently going through.

I and my family do feel, however, that the programme failed to mention the support that we have received from the indigenous British public.

The programme showed only our Muslim supporters and campaigners. While the BBC did film several protests attended by non-Muslim protesters (Home Office, Belmarsh etc), for reasons only the producer can answer they did not include these shots in the programme.

Despite filming him, the programme also failed to mention our MP, Tom Cox (Labour) for Tooting, who has been absolutely fantastic throughout this ordeal by making time to frequently meet my family and regularly writing to me here in prison.

Nevertheless, there is no such thing as a 100 percent “perfect” programme and we congratulate the producer on an otherwise excellent piece of journalism.

Since the airing of the documentary we have received a huge amount of support from all members of the community, including the media.

One minority newspaper featured an excellent editorial paying tribute to the way individuals like Mr Azmat Begg and my father have tirelessly campaigned against all odds for their sons. There have also been interview requests from other radio stations and magazines.

Currently my father and my wife are attending events that have been organised by Respect, Stop the War and others, in order to raise awareness and increase support for my case.

Everywhere they have been thus far they have been moved by the level of support that they have received from the supporters of the aforementioned organisations. So the juggernaut has started to move and is, we hope, heading in the right direction.

My main extradition hearing is on 2 and 3 March at Bow Street Magistrates Court in London. I have been told to hope for the best and expect the worst. My legal team have told me that due to the nature of this new US-UK extradition treaty, it is like throwing someone into the deep end of a swimming pool with their arms and legs tied.

However, if the likes of all those commendable citizens who have supported us thus far continue to campaign with us, then I see no reason why my arms and legs cannot be untied, so that I can swim to the surface.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” as was said by the late Mahatma Gandhi, is what I will end with. And again, I would like to thank everyone who has stood by my family, the family of Mr Azmat Begg and the families of other political prisoners in this difficult, turbulent period.

Regards, Babar Ahmad

Babar Ahmad, MX538, HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes MK4 4DA

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Sat 12 Feb 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1938
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