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Thousands of Muslims from across Britain are to march from Parliament Square to Hyde Park on Saturday December 10, 2005, to demonstrate against the governments oppressive "anti-terror" laws. The demonstration is entitled "March for Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya before they make it a crime" and is organised by the Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Demonstrators will hear speeches from representatives and leaders of a diverse range of Muslim groups including Massoud Shadjareh [Islamic Human Rights Commission], Ihtisham Hibatullah [Muslim Association of Britain], Taji Mustafa [Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain], Ashfaq Ahmad [Father of Babar Ahmad], Dr Muhammad Naseem [Birmingham Central Mosque], Maulana Faiz al Aqtab Siddiqui [International Muslims Organisation], Imam Sulaiman Gani [Tooting Mosque], Jahangir Mohammed [Centre for Muslim Affairs], Tariq Mehmood [Tehrik Kashmir], Mohammed Omar [Ramadhan Foundation] and Abu Yusuf [Stop Political Terror]. The demonstration is also endorsed by Cage Prisoners, New Civilisation Foundation, Prisoners of the West, Crescent International, Fuad Nahdi and Shaikh Haitham Haddad.
Speakers will condemn the proposed draconian measures including the criminalising of support for Muslims suffering under the oppressive occupation of Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere. Of particular concern is the governments legislation for the punitive closing of mosques suspected of harbouring so-called "extremists", as well as the extradition of Babar Ahmad to the US, the proposed proscription of Islamic organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir which the government labels as "extremist", and the silencing of legitimate political dissent. It is reported that a call will be made for the release in Iraq of the four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, including the Britain Norman Kember, held in murky and brutal circumstances.
Dr Imran Waheed, a media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said, "This demonstration will show that these anti-terror laws do not have the support of the Muslim community despite the claims of the government. Almost every leading Muslim organisation and personality has stated their opposition to these draconian measures. Even the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office's own taskforce on extremism have stated their opposition to these measures, but the government seems set on ignoring them."
"We will never remain silent about oppression whether at the hands of a tyrant dictator who boils his opponents alive or an occupying foreign army. We will continue to stand up for justice and call on all people of conscience to prevent the silencing of thought, the muzzling of criticism and the repression of dissent under the pretence of fighting terrorism."
Press Release of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, November 22, 2005
A report in yesterday's Guardian newspaper reveals that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) "knows of no intelligence to justify a Hizb ut-Tahrir ban" and that the anti-terrorism proposals currently before the House of Lords "risk alienating Muslims". The report outlines the police's outright opposition to 4 of the government's 14 proposed anti-terror measures including the banning of non-violent Islamic political parties, amending human rights laws to get round obstacles to new deportation rules, making the justification or glorification of terrorism anywhere an offence and automatically refusing asylum to anyone linked to terrorism anywhere. (see: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,15935,1647285,00 .html) The Muslim community has also spoken out in a resounding manner against these draconian laws in an unprecedented joint statement issued by almost 200 prominent Muslim organisations and individuals.
Prior to the government's defeat over the extension of detention of terrorist suspects to 90 days, the government encouraged the police to make their position on the issue through the media and through direct contact with members of parliament. Andy Hayman, head of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, wrote a memorandum arguing the case for the plan, which was widely circulated, including at the Prime Minister's monthly press conference on Monday, November 7, 2005. He also joined Home Secretary Charles Clarke to meet Labour backbenchers and was interviewed on television and radio. The Conservative Party also say that MPs received telephone calls, emails and letters from chief constables.
Taji Mustafa, a media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said, "Blair made much of the police advice to extend the detention of terrorist suspects from 14 days to 90 days but is now playing down these new revelations. However, in ignoring the ACPO advice and the views of the Muslim community it would seem that the Prime Minister has a wider agenda. The banning of non-violent political parties despite the opposition of the Muslim community is similar to the policies of the dictatorial regimes of the Muslim world. Is it that Blair is so eager to prop up these dictators and prevent the return of the Islamic Caliphate that he is willing to be indifferent to criticism? Will the government now circulate ACPO's view that there is no intelligence to justify a Hizb ut-Tahrir ban?
"If these draconian laws are enacted, with the right to speak out about illegal occupation and call for the removal of dictators being curtailed, then it will only further prove that freedom and democracy are only a smokescreen to hide the interests of western governments in the Muslim world."
There is once more the danger of a war erupting between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The war has been a tragedy for the peoples of the two countries and of Africa as a whole, who need to strengthen their unity against imperialist intervention and relations of exploitation, and reject the various "plans for Africa" which the British and other big power governments have been pushing and implementing.
Such disputes as that between Eritrea and Ethiopia over borders have their roots in the colonial occupations of Africa, the inter-imperialist conflicts and the artificial drawing of borders by the colonial powers. They are not primarily issues of military force, but are political problems requiring political solutions. As such they will ultimately find their solution in the political mobilisation of the peoples for their resolution.
Since the end of the bi-polar division of the world, as well as the peoples of Africa affirming that they are their own liberators and acting on this basis, Africa has also become the theatre of a new scramble for Africa. This has produced a very complex situation for the African peoples and their governments. Frequently, "humanitarian" pretexts have been given for intervention by the big powers, as well as the pretext of the necessity to act against "failed states", a "failure" the blame for which in any case rests on the shoulders primarily of Anglo-US imperialism. The peoples, as always, therefore need to be vigilant against the "progressive" intentions and actions of these powers, who come with talk of "democracy" and "human rights", but seek to impose the agenda of neo-liberalism and the domination of the monopolies, as well as plunder the labour and resources of the African peoples, and subvert their independence and sovereignty.
For those communities from the African countries who have settled in Britain, for example, it is imperative that they do not succumb to the imperialist pressure and divorce themselves from the politics of the "host" country. They have common cause with the British working class and its militant fighting traditions and its doctrine of modern communism.
The British government has for long acted as the "saviour" of Africa. Nothing could be further from the truth. The New Labour government has at best shown itself to be the fair-weather friend of countries such as Ethiopia and Eritrea. The popular movement against such international institutions as the G8 has been growing in strength, and it is becoming ever more evident that on the world scale there is one humanity, one struggle!
The UN news agency reports that two top United Nations officials are expected to arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday and in Eritrea Tuesday, acting on the urgent request of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to ease tensions after Eritrea requested the pullout of personnel of certain national origin.
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and General Randir Kumar Mehta, the UN military advisor, plan to interview UN staff in both countries to assess the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, whose ongoing border dispute erupted into war between 1998 and 2000.
They have also requested meetings with political leaders on both sides, whom Mr. Guéhenno will encourage to adhere to the peace process and subsequent Security Council resolutions, according to a spokesman for the world body.
The UN has already conveyed a message to the Eritrean authorities that it cannot accept their request for a pullout, within 10 days from 6 December, by staff of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) who originate from the United States, Canada, Europe and Russia.
On Tuesday, both the Secretary-General and the Security Council demanded that Eritrea rescind its request, which they said was inconsistent with the fundamental principle of the universality of peacekeeping operations, which represent the whole of the international community.
Both the Council and the Secretary-General also demanded that Eritrea reverse its ban on air flights and lift all restrictions imposed on UNMEEs operations as called for by the Councils 23 November resolution on the matter.
That resolution threatened actions, possibly including sanctions, against Eritrea and Ethiopia if, in the case of Eritrea, it does not immediately rescind its flight ban, and against both parties if they do not reverse their military build up
The military situation in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas remains tense and potentially volatile, UNMEE reported on December 8. Troop movements have been noticed on both sides of the border, though it is also reported that Ethiopia is moving its troops away from the border area.
UNMEE also said that about 180 people would be affected by Eritreas request for the pullout of the nationalities specified, which would encompass 91 military observers, about 10 UN Volunteers and 70 international civilian staff members.
The UNMEE Force Commander noted that that out of a total of 44 troop contributing countries, 18 have been asked to go.
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