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Arrested on suspicion
Government and right-wing media create climate of fear and prejudice
ON 7 July, while Britain remembered last year's appalling 7/7 terrorist attack, the right-wing media and government were fabricating panic and prejudice. As a result, many false arrests were made and ethnic minorities were intimidated and humiliated.
Rozh and Senan
A Socialist Party (SP) member from Hull was arrested on his way to London, just because he and his fellow passenger whom he'd met at the bus stop were speaking in Kurdish and carrying a rucksack.
When the bus stopped in Leicester, the party member, believing it was a normal stop went to buy some drinks and waited for the bus to move. To his surprise two army trucks and a police car rushed to the bus stop. The SP member and his fellow Kurdish passenger were arrested immediately.
Apparently a passenger informed the police that two people, both carrying rucksacks, were talking suspiciously. The police were told that both of them were very nervous and counting all the passengers coming in and out the bus!
Police questioned and searched them for over two hours. They did not apologise and made no attempt to warn or talk to the passenger who made this racist call. However the bus service apologised to customers for being delayed, saying it was because of a passenger.
The young SP member was clearly upset and felt helpless and alienated. He wasn't alone. From 2001 to 2002 there was a 41% increase in 'Stop and Search' against Asians. The figure has rocketed again since 7/7, even though only 1% of those arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were convicted.
The cold-blooded killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and the shooting in Forest Gate weren't isolated incidents. Any more such incidents will only help to alienate the already poor and exploited Asian community and help create ethnic tensions.
In 1981 police intensified their 'stop and search' tactic in Afro-Caribbean communities, responding to ethnic tensions created by Thatcher's right-wing government. 44% of those arrested under SUS (short for suspicion) were Afro-Caribbeans and 77% of those arrested were black people. In one instance in Brixton 943 were stopped and 118 were arrested. Brixton exploded.
If the intensified use of stop and search against Asians continues, similar ethnic tensions and riots could unfold. We need to fight to defend our civil liberties and democratic rights but fighting to change the system is the best way to counter these right-wing measures.
In The Socialist 20 July 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Scottish Socialist Party
Campaign for a New Workers Party