Peace groups and NGOs on anti-terror list

Crop greenpeace

Film star Gillian Anderson on a Greeneace protest.

CND demands reassurances that terror list is not in operation in Scotland

Graham Martin's photo

24th January 2020 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Peace campaigners and NGOs have demanded they are taken off a controversial terror watch-list.

Groups such as Animal Aid, PETA, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) were included alongside far right terrorists National Action, the neo-nazi Combat 18 and fascist street fighting mob the English Defence League in the document.

The guide, published last summer by anti-terror cops, bears the logo “Counter Terrorism Policing”, and has been used in briefings to teachers and NHS staff as part of the government’s counter-terror Prevent programme.

It’s presented as “a guide to help them identify and understand the range of organisations they might come across”.

The logos of left wing and socialist organisations, as well as progressive campaigners and not for profit groups, also appear in the document, which was published by The Guardian.

This has led to a massive backlash from the groups included.

And CND Scotland has written to Police Scotland demanding reassurances that no such tactics are being used north of the border.

In her letter to chief constable Ian Livingstone, Scottish CND Chair Lynn Jamieson says: “We are writing to share our concern over reports that peaceful and legitimate campaign groups, such as Greenpeace and CND, have been included in training manuals and other advice by officers in English police forces engaged in counter–terrorism. 

“Entangling the policing of peaceful protest with counter-terrorism activity is the thin edge of a very dangerous wedge and a step towards a situation in which all activity critical of the state is deemed illegal. We seek your assurance that Police Scotland is not and will not be engaging in such unacceptable categorisations.

“As regards protest in Scotland against the UK's nuclear weapon system we are used to the almost universal acceptance by Scottish police of the legitimacy of our activity and its entirely non-violent nature. This has built a reputation that no-one wishes to lose.”

A spokesperson for Animal Aid said: “We are profoundly shocked to see our organisation listed in this way. Animal Aid is a completely peaceful organisation, with a strict policy of non-violence. We have campaigned peacefully against animal cruelty for more than 40 years, so to see our compassionate organisation listed alongside neo-Nazi and terrorist groups is absolutely soul-destroying.

“What could be less extreme than our campaigning peacefully for a cruelty-free world, where animals are allowed to live out their lives without being exploited or killed?”

TFN has asked Police Scotland for a response.

Meanwhile, Dean Haydon of Counter Terrorism Policing, which runs the Prevent programme, said: “Why are Extinction Rebellion (XR) and other legitimate protest groups even mentioned in Counter Terrorism Policing documents in the first place? Does this mean that we consider those groups, and the people who support them, to be extremists who pose a threat to national security?

“The simple answer is, no. We don’t consider those groups to be extremist, we do not consider them to be a threat to national security. Nor do we consider membership or affiliation to XR or other environmental groups to be reason for a Prevent referral.

“Counter Terrorism Policing creates a range of guidance and documents for use across the whole of policing, not just by Counter Terrorism officers or Prevent practitioners. We produce these documents to help frontline officers and other colleagues make informed decisions – including protecting crowded places at times of protest.

“The ‘Signs and Symbols’ document was produced to help police and close partners identify and understand signs and symbols they may encounter in their day-to-day working lives, so they know the difference between the symbols for the many groups they might come across.”

4th February 2020 by Lok Yue

Is there any particular reason why extinction rebellion should be allowed to disrupt the daily activities of those who simply want to carry on their lives? Why should such groups be allowed to take action (climbing onto aircraft and trains for instance) which would result in private individuals (quite rightly) being prosecuted? And finally, why do such groups think that angering, disrupting and costing the public is going to lead to the public supporting their activities?