Communities targeted for harassment and prosecutions
Communities together oppose MI5 blackmail and revocation of UK citizenship
Press Release 21 January 2013 - On 18 January a public meeting opposed MI5’s widespread practice of blackmail. MI5 has been pressurising people under various threats so that they become informers on political views of Muslim and migrant communities. The meeting focused especially on the case of the former Camden resident Mahdi Hashi, whose UK citizenship was revoked last year as punishment for refusing to become an informer.
Held at Camden Town Hall, the meeting was entitled “Stop MI5 blackmail! Protect UK citizenship from attack!” Despite heavy snow, the Council Chamber was filled to capacity with a hundred people, especially from Camden’s Somali community. Organised by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), it was co-sponsored by numerous groups. The Secretary of UNISON’s Camden branch, George Binette, reminded everyone that MI5 is no friend of ordinary people: it had played a central role in undermining the 1984-85 miners’ strike, for example.
Speakers from the Somali, Kurdish and Tamil communities condemned MI5’s blackmail efforts, along with government policy which supports these activities and stigmatizes entire communities as ‘terror suspects’. In particular (for longer quotes, see Note 3):
‘Mahdi Hashi’s treatment is an example of a twisted, failed system perpetuated with impunity by our government, which doesn't care for its minorities and targets them relentlessly.’ – Sharhabeel Lone, Director, KTCO
‘It is outrageous that Mahdi has been persecuted; his only crime was to be outside the UK.’ – Camden Councillor Awale Olad
‘Legal protection is difficult when the decision is based on secret evidence; this is used as a cover for incompetence and corruption.’ – Saghir Hussain, Director, Cageprisoners
‘I doubt this will end with Muslims. We are the excuse – the guinea pigs for the expansion of state powers.’ – Mohamed Nur, community worker, KTCO and friend of Mahdi
‘Such blackmail intimidates people, thus creating fear and deterring people from what they stand for. Our necessary response is unity – regardless of our differences in race, ethnicity and religion.’ – Can Samet Atas, Kurdish Federation UK
‘Secret chambers passing judgement on individuals and imposing penal consequences as serious as removal of citizenship is worrying – not only for Tamils but for all free-thinking people of this country. Mahdi Hashi and the Somali community are not alone.’ – Sasi Maheswaran, Tamil Coordinating Committee UK
Speakers proposed that everyone work together to oppose the widespread state practices stigmatizing and persecuting migrant communities. Les Levidow of CAMPACC gave an overview of the problem: Muslims and entire migrant nationalities have been treated as ‘suspect communities’ because they generally dissent from UK foreign policy. ‘To stop MI5 blackmail, therefore, we need to oppose the state’s entire “anti-terror” framework.’ After the main speeches, the discussion was joined by veteran civil liberties lawyer Gareth Peirce and the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC.
See here for full press release with contact details: CAMPACC rpt on 18.01.13 mtg_final.docx
See here for Meeting Demands: MI5 blackmail_demands actions_v130121.doc