'I APPEAL to everyone not to let the Muslim and Asian communities suffer the way the Irish suffered under the anti-terrorist laws,' Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six urged a public meeting in Moir Hall, Glasgow, last week. The meeting, held on the eve of the Scottish Labour Party conference, was called to oppose the latest government attack on civil liberties.
Azmat Begg, father of one of the British nationals held in Guantanamo Bay, joined Paddy on the platform. Fatima Helow, a Palestinian refugee and justice campaigner threatened with deportation, also warned that the demonisation of asylum seekers would make it harder for people to speak out against injustice.
Fatima, a survivor of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, received death threats after she gave testimony in the war crimes case against Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar said, 'The new laws will make fighting injustice almost impossible, with secret evidence heard in secret tribunals at the behest of the home secretary.'
AROUND 100 people met in Brent, north west London, on Friday of last week to discuss Hutton, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. The event was organised by Brent Stop the War Coalition and took place in the Pakistani Community Centre. Shahid Butt spoke movingly about his personal experience of wrongful arrest as a terrorist. There followed imprisonment without trial and five years of torture and ill treatment in the Yemen.
He described how little the British Foreign Office did to assist him but also how important were the acts of solidarity organised by friends, family and well-wishers.
Human rights lawyer Imran Khan warned of the dangers facing everyone if current attacks on civil liberties are not challenged. John Rees spoke for the national Stop the War Coalition steering group. He argued that the mass anti-war movement had the British government on the defensive and was forcing into the open the truth on WMD and the real motives for the war.
The audience was a diverse mix of faith, age and ethnic groups.
ANNE DRINKELL and ASIM ALI
AROUND 50 people came to hear Greg Powell, civil rights lawyer for Guantanamo Bay detainees, at the first ever Stop the War meeting held in St Anns in Nottingham. The meeting was organised jointly by local Stop the War members and the local mosque. It was filmed by Panorama.
BILL O'BRIEN, St Anns Stop the War