Attack on our Civil Liberties III
In our first post on this subject, we cited some letters from readers of the Independent. There is one in particular that I found interesting:
We should not assume that a terrorist is someone else, what is at stake here is that a government can always define a terrorist how it wishes.
This reminded me of a statement of Margaret Thatcher, said 20 years ago, on the miner's strike:
We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.
Mrs Thatcher ran the campaign against Scargill as if it were a military operation. Subsequent energy secretaries, Nigel Lawson and Peter Walker, had built up massive coal stocks. Striking miners and working miners' groups were infiltrated by MI5. Large numbers of police were used to keep the pits open,leading to set-piece clashes like the battle of Orgreave.These actions are now recognised as serious violations of the rights of workers. The state itself now recognises that some excesses were committed.
(From the BBC site)
South Yorkshire police have paid more than half a million pounds compensation to mineworkers arrested at the Orgreave coking plant in June 1984. The police agreed to pay £425,000 compensation and more than £100,000 legal costs to 39 mineworkers. The settlement followed the collapse of prosecutions against 95 mineworkers for riot, unlawful assembly and other offences. Their trial was stopped after 43 days in 1987 when it was revealed that the prosecution HAD FABRICATED EVIDENCE. The police was also found responsible of harassment and victimisation.
(From the BBC "Faith" program)
Again, and coming back to the first citation, it is very dangerous to let the government decide on who is terrorist or not. The miners were regarded as terrorists 20 years ago, but they are not certainly regarded the same way today. Was Che Guevara a terrorist? What about the americans that fought for the independence of the USA from the British empire? What about the partisans that fought against the Nazi occupation in Italy?