Orwell’s Prediction that Freedom of Speech & Association Would Be Attacked by the State in the name of ‘Fighting Terrorism’ is Coming True
I had only just gone to bed, having finished a blog criticising Unite’s racist General Secretary Sharon Graham when I heard my front door bell ringing. Curious as to who was calling this early in the morning I hurriedly dressed and answered the door only to find the filth had decided on an early morning raid.
Areopagitica is Milton’s famous essay that passionately defends freedom of speech and expression – perhaps Sunak and Starmer might care to read it?
At the behest of the Zionists & apologists for Genocide Sussex Police Arrested Tony Greenstein on suspicions of ‘terrorism
My offence was having tweeted, in response to a Zionist, that:
‘I support the Palestinians that is enough and I support Hamas against the Israeli army
After having detained me in a police van the Police then proceeded to steal my laptop, desktop computer, two external hard drives and two mobile devices. Why you might ask did they need to remove all my electronic equipment?
William Tyndale was another martyr in the cause of free speech – he was executed by strangulation and then burned at the stake at Vilvoorde in 1536
If they were so confident of the flimsy case against me what need was there for my computers and phones? After all I wasn’t being arrested for having engaged in terrorism or planting bombs etc. My ‘crime’ was that I was alleged to have given my support to a proscribed organisation, Hamas. An allegation that I deny incidentally.
John Lilburne, leader of the Levellers, imprisoned by Cromwell. The Levellers appealed to reason against arguments drawn from precedent or biblical authority
The real reason for the Police thefts is that they are engaged on a fishing expedition and are using a solitary tweet as an excuse for an intelligence gathering exercise. There is nothing on my computers that will enable them to press further charges that they can’t obtain from the 3,000+ blogs that I have done in 15 years.
What is on my computers is confidential medical information on my autistic son and myself. As well as phone numbers/contacts of people on the left and in the Palestine solidarity movement.
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum, (Index of Forbidden Books) was first published in 1559. Publication continued till 1966 and it contained thousands of heretical books
This is not the action of a police force in a democratic state. They are sending out a warning that they are perfectly prepared to abuse the enormous powers that this Government has given them and which Starmer, the leader of the so-called Opposition would give them, in order to gather intelligence on their enemies on the Left and in the Palestine solidarity movement.
Those who are deemed to be the leadership of the radical section of the Palestine solidarity movement are particularly at risk. It is no accident that at almost the same time my comrade and friend Mick Napier, founder of Scottish PSC, was also arrested on very similar charges and given even more stringent conditions for his bail.
But they are wrong. The movement has far outgrown Mick and myself. It is led by thousands of people who are appalled by Israel’s genocide in Gaza and the complicity of the West’s leaders, not least Sunak and Starmer.
The Legal Basis for the Stasis’s Early Morning Raid
The whole basis of the early morning raid on my home is fraudulent. The Terrorism Act 2000 was enacted in order to prevent acts of terrorism such as the bombing of the Manchester Arena, for which we have to thank MI5 who employed the bomber as its agent.
It is now being used, along with Prevent, not to prevent terrorism but to label political opposition to the foreign policy of the British Government as ‘terrorism’. As Orwell wrote so perceptively:
political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
Peterloo Massacre of demonstrators in Manchester by the army – the local magistrates had summoned in the yeomanry to prevent a mass meeting
Clause 1A of Section 12 of the Terrorism Act was inserted in April 2019 by the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019. It is the kind of provision that Generals Franco and Pinochet would have been proud of. What it does is criminalise the expression of opinion. It creates what Orwell would have called a ‘thought crime’. It reads:
A person commits an offence if the person—
(a) expresses an opinion or belief that is supportive of a proscribed organisation, and
(b) in doing so is reckless as to whether a person to whom the expression is directed will be encouraged to support a proscribed organisation.
Note the weasel wording. The first part doesn’t say you support a proscribed organisation. What you say merely has to be ‘supportive’ of such an organisation.
The second part of this clause is even more slippery. You don’t have to have an intent to encourage others to support a proscribed organisation. You merely have to be ‘reckless’ as to whether or not someone will be encouraged to give their support.
And how can you just whether someone is reckless? It is entirely subjective and its only effect can be to intimidate people into silence for fear of saying the wrong thing. It is a dictator’s dream.
The list of proscribed groups can be found here. A group can be proscribed under section 3 of the Act on the basis of a decision by one person – the Home Secretary. There is no requirement that the decision be objectively justified. It is a nakedly political decision.
What is the justification for proscribing Hamas? There are 3 paragraphs. The first gives a potted history of Hamas. Prior to 2021 only the military wing of Hamas was proscribed but under Israeli pressure the government agreed to proscribe its political wing too.
This is justified by saying that
The government now assess that the approach of distinguishing between the various parts of Hamas is artificial. Hamas is a complex but single terrorist organisation.
We are not told what has changed between 2001 and 2021 which justified this decision for the simple reason that nothing had changed. The decision was political not factual. It follows that any prosecution under this section must also be political.
The second paragraph attempts to justify Sajid Javid’s decision in 2021 to proscribe Hamas’s political wing saying:
Hamas commits and participates in terrorism. Hamas has used indiscriminate rocket or mortar attacks, and raids against Israeli targets. During the May 2021 conflict, over 4,000 rockets were fired indiscriminately into Israel. Civilians, including 2 Israeli children, were killed as a result. Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, frequently use incendiary balloons to launch attacks from Gaza into southern Israel. There was a spate of incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza during June and July 2021, causing fires in communities in southern Israel that resulted in serious damage to property.
This is a truly pathetic justification. It was Israel which broke the ceasefire in May 2021 as it has done on all previous occasions. There is no mention of Israel dropping 2000 lb bombs on peoples’ homes killing scores of children. Even prior to the current genocide some 551 children were killed in Operation Protective Edgein 2014.
According to this definition Israel is a terrorist state but Israel has not been proscribed. Quite the contrary. The British government is not only supplying it with weapons but it has members of the armed forces operating in Gaza.
The dishonesty is obvious. The number of children killed by Israel is greater than those killed by Hamas by a factor of thousands. Over 8,000 children have been murdered so far in Operation Iron Swords. The case for designating Israel as a terrorist entity is overwhelming. As Lord Carrington, Thatcher’s Foreign Secretary once observed ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.’
The arrest of not just me, but Mick Napier of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Haneen Barghouti – a Palestinian student at Sussex University – and others that I am aware of, is strongly suggestive of the fact that the State, knowing that Israel’s genocidal war on the Palestinians is very unpopular, has decided to brand critics of the war and in particular supporters of the right of Palestinians to resist, as supporters of ‘terrorism’.
The Terrorism Act 2000, if it had been in operation at the time, could just as easily have been used to proscribe the French and Czech resistance to the Nazis. It would certainly have been used to proscribe the African National Congress in South Africa which was classified by the United States as a terrorist organisation.
In August 1988 the ANC was classed by the State Department as a terrorist organisation and until 2008 both the ANC and Nelson Mandela remained on the US terrorism watch lists.
That is why the proscription of Hamas is entirely political. It has no objective basis. What I and the others are being arrested and charged for is not support for terrorism but support for the right of the oppressed to resist their oppressors. The law under which people are being charged is both political and dishonest.
It is indisputable that the arrest and charging of activists is about freedom of speech on Palestine. It is an attempt to prevent us speaking out about genocide. This is made clear in the third of my bail conditions where it says that I am:
Not to post on X (formerly Twitter) in regards to the ongoing conflict in Gaza or the prescribed (sic) organisation Hamas
Eleanor Roosevelt with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which Western Governments are Busy Ignoring or even seeking to Abolish
This is a clearly unlawful attempt to prevent me speaking out on Gaza’s ongoing genocide. Article 10.1 of the European Convention of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers
Although there are restrictions in 10.2 they do not cover the expression of pure political opinions.
You might think that Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign would be the first to protest at this misuse of the Terrorism Act. Unfortunately the cowardice of PSC’s leadership of PSC is infinite.
Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley reports that when:
Asked about both Napier and Greenstein, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign headquartered in London – a separate organization from the Scottish PSC – declined to comment.
“No one is available to comment,” a spokesperson said on Friday.
The Socialist Action leaders of PSC have made political cowardice into a fine art.
Do I Support Hamas?
I should make it clear that politically I don’t and never have supported Hamas as an Islamist organisation (see here and here). However I also recognise that it is a Palestinian resistance organisation and as such it is entitled, indeed duty bound, to defend Palestinians against the ethnic cleansing and genocidal actions of the Israeli state. Ironically Hamas owes its creation to the actions of the Israeli state which in the late 1980s saw Hamas as a way of undermining secular Palestinian nationalism.
Like the United States sponsorship of the Taliban and Mojahedeen in Afghanistan the Zionist outcry against Hamas is completely hypocritical.
Please donate to our Crowdfunder
Unfortunately this attack on Palestine solidarity activists is also financially expensive. For example, although I was legally aided at the Police Station, once on bail I am not eligible for legal aid until charged but I need to retain a solicitor.
Other people who have been arrested are, for different reasons, ineligible for legal aid.
I have set up a Crowdfunder with Just Giving specifically to support people who are arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 in connection with Palestine solidarity. Please give generously whatever you can afford.