Members of Palestine Action have been questioned under counter-terror legislation for non-violent and peaceful protests, such as occupying the roof of Elbit’s Bristol HQ, an Israeli arms company that makes drones used to surveil, shoot and kill people in the Gaza strip. In 2014, Elbit drones were used to shoot and kill four boys playing on Gaza beach. This should be a major concern for activist groups around the country as this is precisely the sort of powers that will be endowed upon the police by the Tory Policing Bill.
openDemocracy have discovered that, last year, when returning from a trip to Ireland, co-founders of the group Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard were arrested and had their laptops confiscated, at the Holyhead ferry port in Wales, under the Terrorism Act, by the Wales Extremism and Counter-Terrorism unit and were subsequently threatened with a, minimum, three months prison sentence. On the experience, Ammori remarked.. “They asked me a load of racist crap. They asked about my family in Iraq, they wanted to know about all my family in Iraq, all my aunties and uncles… they asked if I was Sunni/Shia, I said I’m not religious. They asked if I was Jihadi. It’s very frustrating, being asked if I’m a terrorist.” Although the terror charges against her have since been dropped, Ammori’s laptop is yet to be returned and she still faces trial for criminal damage in Stafford Crown Court on 17 May.
In another shocking development, yesterday, Richard Barnard was charged with conspiracy to blackmail and asked if he was a Jihadi because he threatened to go on a hunger strike against LaSalle Investment Management unless they agreed to evict Elbit Systems from their London offices. Another member of the group, Milly Arnott (a full time charity worker), was also arrested by Met Police last week and told she could face charges under terrorist legislation for peaceful protest that caused, they alleged, ‘more than £2m of damage’ to the arms company.
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