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The Terrorism Act 2000 and the Criminalisation of Dissent

John Rhys-Burgess | 21.11.2005 00:07 | Analysis | Repression | Social Struggles | Terror War | World

If the UK's Terrorism Act of 2000 existed in 1940, Europe would still be occupied by the Nazis

Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000 defines "terrorism" as any action or threat of action involving the use of firearms or explosives against any government anywhere in the world for the purpose of advancing any political, religious or ideological cause.

Section 11 makes it an offence to belong to any organisation which the government "proscribes" as a terrorist organisation (which essentially means any dissenting political group of which it does not appove), or even to profess or invite support for such an organisation or attend meetings connected with it, with penalties of up to ten years imprisonment for infringement..

By this definition, armed resistance to any regime anywhere in the world, is criminalised.

If this legislation had for example, been in place during 1940s, it would never have been possible to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Ceaucescu would still be in power in Romania and Milosevic would still be committing genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo.

This legislation is therefore a flagrant violation of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms under Articles 9 (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion), 10 (Freedom of expression) and 11 (Freedom of assembly and association).

Chrisitian ethics fully permit armed resistance to authority in certain instances. Paragraph 2242 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for example states that "The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the direction of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order... (or)... to the fundamental rights of persons..." and the catechism also specifically legitimises armed resistance to oppression by political authority where "...there is certain, grave and prolonged violation of fundamental rights" and "all other means of redress have been exhausted."

Bizzarely, according to Section 1 (2) (e) of this perncious and dangerous legislation, any act which "is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system" is defined as an act of terrorism. In other words, even for example, to use countermeasures to prevent some government agency from using electronic surveillance equipment to interfere with one's fundamental right (under Article 8 to respect for private and family life), could possibly render oneself liable to prosecution as a terrorist.

This legislation is entirely consistent with the government that appeased, aided and abetted the unlawful invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and which has allied itself to a corrupt American administration that does not scruple to use assassins and torturers to further its policies presided as it is, by a man whose grandfather was himself one of the earliest principal financial backers of the Third Reich.

John Rhys-Burgess
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