A counter-terrorism briefing document, as the Guardian has discovered, has been “distributed to medical staff and teachers as part of anti-extremism briefings included Greenpeace, Peta and other non-violent groups as well as neo-Nazis … The guide … is used across England as part of training for Prevent, the anti-radicalisation scheme designed to catch those at risk of committing terrorist violence”.
This discovery comes hard on the heels of the same paper discovering that “Counter-terrorism police placed the non-violent group Extinction Rebellion (XR) on a list of extremist ideologies that should be reported to the authorities running the Prevent programme, which aims to catch those at risk of committing atrocities”.
Former independent reviewer of Prevent, Alex Carlile - a successor has still not been appointed - was unimpressed with the latter revelation, telling “The Prevent strategy is meant to deal with violent extremism, with terrorism, and XR are not violent terrorists. They are disruptive campaigners”. This should not need to be pointed out.
And it gets worse: “the list of groups viewed as a potential concern contained in the new 24-page document includes Extinction Rebellion. It also includes Greenpeace … and the ocean pollution campaigners Sea Shepherd … Also included is Stop the Badger Cull”. Then worse still, as the range of non-violent groups included is revealed.
“Among the groups listed with no known link to terrorist violence or known threat to national security are Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, vegan activists, anti-fascist groups, anti-racist groups, an anti-police surveillance group and campaigners against airport expansion. Communist and socialist political parties are also on the list”. All very 1960s establishment paranoia.
To put this in perspective, these are some of the far-right groups included: “Combat 18 and the National Front, as well as National Action, which has been banned for terrorist violence … [those who have adopted] religious and historical symbols used by white supremacists including ‘Odin’s Rune’, ‘SS Runes’ and ‘Thor’s Hammer’”.
John Sauven of Greenpeace has responded “Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism … It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers … How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?” Yet the Government is silent.
And by Government, that has to mean a good long look at Priti Patel, the MP now claiming to be Home Secretary. What, one has to ask, did she know about this and when? And if she didn’t know what was going on, what’s she doing in the job? Apparently, “Police said it was ‘unhelpful and misleading’ to suggest non-violent groups in the document were being smeared”. That’s the same Police who report to Ms Patel.
Branding XR a terrorist organisation was bad. Equating Greenpeace, XR, Sea Shepherd and Stop the Badger Cull with C18, the NF and National Action is worse. A lot worse.
So will Priti Patel get this particular part of her house in order? Don’t hold your breath.
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