What a fun spectacle this should be, even if the Met succeed in keeping all of London City cordoned off. I particularly like the inerviews with the students. Good thing for Bush he's not going to Italy! http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnew...WE-HAVE-TO-MARCH-AGAINST-DUBYA-name_page.html WHY WE HAVE TO MARCH AGAINST DUBYA Nov 13 2003 By Kate Allen Uk Director Amnesty International THOUSANDS of people will take to the streets in Britain next week to voice their anger, frustration and political opposition to President George W Bush's policies. Some will criticise these protestors, writing off their views as knee-jerk anti-Americanism. But the critics should think before condemning them. Why? Because after almost three years of President Bush's "war on terror" many would argue that the world is now a more dangerous and divided place than it was immediately after 9/11. Countries don't protect freedom by attacking hard-won civil liberties, locking up thousands of people without charge or trial, and rushing through ever-more draconian laws. You don't win the hearts and minds of the doubters and the disaffected by riding roughshod over human rights. But you DO provide terrorists and extremists with the kind of propaganda they could only have dreamt of a few years ago. Take Guantanamo Bay. What is the impact of the image of the orange boiler-suited detainees crouching in submission behind Camp Delta's chain-link fences? Most people in this country seem to be revolted that nearly 700 people are held without charge or trial and without access to lawyers or family for almost two years. They question our own government's weakness in failing to properly stand up for the rights of the nine British men imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. RIGHTLY, they wonder whether our government would have been more robust had these men been held by a country like Iran or Syria or almost any other country besides the US. But, take the understandable outrage in this country and apply it to a Middle-Eastern country. When the manacled men from Guantanamo Bay flash up on Al-Jazeera television, for example, we can easily guess that outrage reaches new levels. No Americans are being held at Camp Delta. Only non-US citizens. John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban", was given a defence attorney and brought before an independent civilian court. Camp Delta's "enemy combatants", on the other hand, have to endure indefinite detention without charge or trial and no access to legal counsel or any court. Hanging over them is the possibility of unfair trials, military tribunals with restricted rights of defence, no independent appeals and the threat of the death penalty. It stinks. And that's why Amnesty International plans to make its point - on the streets of London dressed in orange boiler suits. The journey from the Twin Towers to Guantanamo Bay has been a disastrous one - from an international atrocity to an international disgrace. It is a massive own goal in the war on terror and its sinister consequences are likely to haunt the world for years. But it is not just Guantanamo Bay that is so worrying. Since September 11 the USA has used its over-arching "war on terror" as an alibi to create a parallel justice system to detain, interrogate, charge or try suspects under the "laws of war". In mainland USA people have already been held under military procedures as "enemy combatants'. For example, Jose Padilla - the so-called Dirty Bomber - has been held for more than a year in solitary confinement at a naval prison in South Carolina. He is imprisoned without charge, trial or access to his lawyer or family. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, was arrested after flying back into the US from the Middle East where he had, according to officials, been plotting to use a bomb packed with radioactive waste on the US. This is a virtually unprecedented suspension of the fundamental rights of a US citizen in US custody - not to mention a violation of international law. In other countries people in the hands of US forces are seemingly classified as "enemy combatants" simply if Donald Rumsfeld's Defense `Department says they are. In Iraq as many as 10,000 people are being held, most without any legal process. Beyond the high media visibility of Guantanamo Bay there also appears to be a shadowy network of "war on terror" detention sites. At the US air base at Bagram in Afghanistan, for example, former inmates have spoken of a regime of forced stripping, hooding, blindfolding with blacked-out goggles, 24-hour lighting, sleep deprivation and prolonged restraint in painful positions. As with Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International is not allowed into Bagram and not even the Red Cross has had access to all prisoners there. Meanwhile, there are rumours of other prisons - on island military bases or in embassy buildings. These are unconfirmed, but the US already admits to holding people at "undisclosed locations". Frighteningly, what we are seeing is the almost day-by-day erosion of the USA's commitment to human rights. Where once the world might have looked to America for inspiration, Bush's America is now actively undermining the international system for human rights protection. On other issues the trend is the same - America ripping up the rulebook. The US is now by far the most active opponent of the new International Criminal Court, a court that the US should be celebrating as a historic attempt to deter and punish genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. INSTEAD it has embarked on a campaign of bullying weaker countries into agreeing exemptions for US personnel. Next week the slogans of the protestors will be mixed - anything from anti-war messages on Iraq, opposition to "Star Wars" defence projects, environmental objections to America's gas-guzzling economy and protests at its trade policies. But one thing unites these voices. A belief that the United States has strayed way off course and forgotten its own traditions of supporting human rights and fundamental liberties. Crucially, Bush protests will also test our own government's commitment to freedom of speech and legitimate dissent in Britain. This month a court controversially ruled that police use of terrorism powers to arrest peaceful protestors at an arms fair in Docklands, East London was reasonable. Why are ordinary people with a point of view on the arms industry considered a threat to the nation? Mr Bush's three-day trip to Britain is a high-level visit with all of the pomp and ceremony of any such occasion. However, the right to have your say is a proud British tradition and the government should see to it that policing during President Bush's visit is done with a light touch. There should be no "exclusion zones" and Mr Bush should not be protected from protests. Four years ago protestors during the visit of Chinese President Jiang Zemin had flags and banners ripped from their hands. Then the Metropolitan Police behaved in a way more reminiscent of the Chinese secret police than the friendly British bobby. This time let's hear it for peaceful, good-humoured free expression. Taking to the streets to protest during George Bush's visit will be pro-American and pro-human rights. Exercising your legitimate right to protest is a core American - and British - value. It's what makes me proud to protest. http://education.independent.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=463862 Anti-war pupils to face crackdown By Sarah Cassidy, Education Correspondent 15 November 2003 Schools are ready to crack down on pupils who miss classes next week to attend anti- war protests during President George Bush's three-day visit. Despite warnings not to skip lessons, pupils are co-ordinating a series of "school strikes" using text messages and internet message boards. Some anti-war groups are urging pupils to walk out of school on Wednesday to protest against Mr Bush's state visit at a rally in Parliament Square. They also hope pupils will attend the main demonstration the next day, which will culminate in a statue of Mr Bush being toppled in Trafalgar Square. Politicians and headteachers have condemned the groups as irresponsible and warned pupils that any unauthorised absences from school will be treated as truancy. Tim Collins, the Conservative education spokesman, said: "It would be disgraceful if children were permitted or encouraged to leave lessons to attend this demonstration. Anti-Americanism is not on the national curriculum and if teachers are condoning this behaviour it is they, not their pupils, who should be looking for something else to do next week." Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: "It's not my job to support children taking time off school. But clearly the arrival of the President at such an important time is an issue that is of interest to schools. If young people choose to attend these demos I hope that schools will look at that in a positive rather than a negative way." More than 10,000 school pupils attended protests this year in the run-up to the Iraq war. Some schools locked their gates in an attempt to stop pupils walking out. Police were called to some schools after pupils took their protest to the streets. The Government warned parents yesterday not to allow their children to miss school to attend the protests. Headteachers have threatened pupils with detention or suspension if they boycott lessons. A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "While we fully respect young people's right to protest, this should be done outside school hours. During the school day, we expect pupils to be in school. If a pupil is out of school without permission, the absence is, of course, unauthorised and parents should be informed." John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said headteachers were responsible for ensuring pupils did not miss school. "This is truancy and would be treated as such by schools," he said. "The normal punishments for truancy would apply - depending on the individual school's policy. It could mean suspension but it's more likely to be detention." A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition said: "We do not advocate people leaving school to attend protests. People will decide for themselves what they want to do. The national demonstration on Thursday goes on until 7pm so that is the ideal opportunity for people to come after work or school." Verity Marriott, 16, an organiser for Schools Against the War, which is part of the Stop the War Coalition, is co-ordinating "school strikes" next week across London despite warnings from her school. "I think it is really important for people to express their opposition to the war," said Verity, who is a sixth-former at a north London comprehensive. "Students will gain an awful lot from going on the demo. Education is not just about sitting in lessons. I'm going to be missing a politics lesson on Thursday to be part of the protest and I think I'll learn far more at the demo than by being in school. "My teachers don't know that I'm going to walk out - although a think a couple probably have a pretty good idea." Michael Higgs, 15, a GCSE student at Pimlico School in central London, plans to skip lessons. He said: "My parents are pleased I have got a political mind and I am speaking it. I am against the war and against George Bush's state visit to London."