terça-feira, março 01, 2005

Attack on our Civil Liberties

Here in the UK, we are assisting to an interesting discussion. The labour government of Tony Blair is proposing a new bill to prevent terrorism. If this bill becomes a law, a suspect of terrorism may be arbitrarily detained, by decision of the Home secretary (a politician), for an indefinite period, based on evidence provided by the secret services, and without being able to challenge the evidence against him.

This constitutes an unprecedented attack to civil liberties in western Europe — the right to a fair trial is a fundament of our laws. This undermines the very basis of our civilization as we know it, based on the principle of illuminism and the French revolution.

Blair's government argues that we must restrict our liberties in order to properly fight terrorism —"Britain is under a serious terrorist threat", the government says. We should ask ourselves how serious is this threat? To attack Iraq, Blair dramatised and distorted facts as to justify the invasion. We believe that this bill is also a struggle for his political survival. He is afraid that if such a terrorist attack occurs, public opinion will turn against him, blaming the attack on Britain's participation in the invasion of Iraq, as it happened in Spain with Aznar. But, it is exactly the Spanish example that should have taught Blair a lesson: lying to people, and exploiting terrorist attacks and consequent fears, can be very harmful to those in power.

Are these proposed measures really essential to our protection? How come terrorist attacks have been prevented already in this and other countries? Who is going to protect me from a future authoritarian government, from unlawful and arbitrary imprisonment? The arguments of these government are sinister. Have we forgotten that this kind of arguments were also used to cover and justify the raise of fascism in Europe? Can we afford to forget that our civilised Europe gave birth to fascism and nazism?

As several readers of today's Independent wrote:
Those of us who oppose the bill must make it clear to the government that we prefer the risk of terrorism to the risk of injustice. We must not pretend that the choice does not exist.

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.

The bigger threat is to succumb to totalitarianism. That means misery on every day and on every street.
Chiara and Nuno.

2 Comments:

At 3/02/2005 12:07 da tarde, Anonymous Ana said...

Dear Chiara and Nuno,

There was a program on channel 4, “Guantanamo Guidebook” (yesterday night), about an experience with the aim of evaluating the effects on a person's mental and physical health, of being arrested in Guantanamo Bay. There were 7 volunteers who were subject to all the tortures that take place in Guantanamo. Muslims, for whom showing private body parts to unfamiliar people is a religious offence, are undressed and exposed to their fellow prisoners, bombarded with anti-Muslim statements, they are subject to sense deprivation which consists of putting head phones with extremely loud music in detainees who are naked in rooms with extremely low temperatures. The Pentagon also allows explicitly for the "uncomfortable positions", considered a form of torture by the UN Human Rights Declaration. It is shown that men can start hallucinating after only 40 minutes of being subject to these conditions. The actual reports of suicides, mental disorders and nervous breakdowns in Guantanamo (as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan) where strengthened by the conclusions of this experience: it is highly unlikely that any man maintains his mental health if held in this conditions for an undetermined period. Moreover, most intelligence gathered through these brutal interrogatories are unreliable.
The only thing I ask is the following: What is going to happen to these prisoners, guilty or not? And their sons? What kind of scars this will leave? And as Nuno and Chiara highlight: Even if the method was effective, although I deeply believe it’s not, better to live with the threat of terrorism than to cooperate with disgusting injustice.

Sorry for the long text and congratulations on the blog

Ana

 
At 3/02/2005 6:06 da tarde, Blogger Nuno said...

Ana,

We also saw that program. It is obvious to me that anyone will confess anything when under torture. This actually shows that war on terror is just bulshit. Like Chiara said yesterday, when we were talking about this, "it is just an excuse to take civil rights away from us".

 

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