October 1, 2010 -- The Socialist Alliance (Australia) reaches out in comradely solidarity to the socialist and anti-war activists in the US who were subjected to early-morning raids on their homes and offices by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in Minneapolis, Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina on September 24.
We understand that the FBI seized computers, passports, books, documents, cell phones, photos, financial records, diaries, maps and other materials using warrants were issued under a 1996 statute which made it a crime for US citizens to provide “material assistance” to any organisation designated by the government as “terrorist".
We condemn these raids and demand that the property seized be immediately returned and the victims of the raids be fully compensated. We also call for the revocation of the anti-democratic grand jury subpoenas against some of the raided activists.
We will also approach other organisations and activists to discuss and plan solidarity with the activists now being victimised under US "terrorism" laws.
Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, former Guantanamo detainees -- and in the case of Habib a victim of US torture rendition -- continue to be harassed and restricted by the post-9/11 "anti-terrorism" regime in Australia.
In 2005, US anti-war activist Scott Parkin, was arrested, detained and then deported on the grounds of “national security". He has been denied the right to legally challenge what many experts have deemed to be a clear abuse of the law and democratic rights.
In 2007, Dr Mohamed Haneef, an Indian medical practitioner employed in an Australian hospital was arrested, detained and finally deported with no justification on anti-terrorism. The Australian Federal Police leaked false information to the press in an attempt to justify their treatment of Dr Haneef but later an official inquiry found that they had no grounds to arrest and detain Dr Haneef. Haneef's subsequent deportation was "legitimised" by the government arbitrarily cancelling his visa. Protests initiated by Socialist Alliance on this case received global media coverage and extensive coverage in India.
In February this year, Alejandro Rodriguez, a Latin American-Australian activist, was detained and interrogated by the Australia political police because of his efforts in solidarity with the progressive movements in Latin America, and Colombia in particular.
The Socialist Alliance continues to protest against and campaign for the repeal of the anti-democratic "terrorism" laws in Australia hand in hand with our campaigning against the imperialist wars of aggression, in which the Australian government is also complicit. Socialist Alliance also campaigns for a Bill of Rights, which Australia still does not have.
An injury to one is an injury to all. End terrorism by ending the imperialist wars of terror against Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations, and by ending the war on civil liberties conducted in the guise of fighting terrorism.(Adopted by the Socialist Alliance National Executive on October 1, 2010.)
An International Socialist Organization statement condemns the FBI raid that targeted activists and socialists as part of a history of government repression of the left.
October 1, 2010
THE RECENT FBI raids targeting antiwar and international solidarity activists and socialists continue a long and despicable tradition of government political repression of the left in the U.S. We stand in solidarity with those targeted in the raids and with the movement to defend their political and civil rights.
What is perhaps most ominous about the FBI raids and grand jury investigations in Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina is that they apparently rely on a law that bars solidarity activists from providing "material support" to organizations deemed as "terrorist" by the U.S. government. In a June 2010 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower federal court's ruling and upheld the law. According to civil liberties attorney David Cole, "In the name of fighting terrorism, the Court has said that the First Amendment permits Congress to make human rights advocacy and peacemaking a crime. That is wrong."
This blatant attack on political free speech protected under the First Amendment should be of grave concern to all who value freedom of expression and political organization, and the right to dissent.
No one should be taken in by the FBI's attempt to justify this crackdown with a list of "terrorist organizations" in Colombia and Palestine that the targets of the raid supposedly supported. It should be recalled that the U.S. government once listed South Africa's African National Congress as a "terrorist" group when the left in the U.S. and internationally correctly saw that organization as a leading force in the liberation struggle against apartheid.
Indeed, the U.S. "terrorism list" is tailored to U.S. political considerations at any given time. Thus, the Islamist forces that the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan today were, in the 1980s, the recipients of U.S. guns and money to further the American interests in the Cold War.
It is in this context that we must view the political agenda behind the FBI raids. U.S. trade unionists are being targeted for their efforts to aid their counterparts in Colombia, where murders of union activists are commonplace, with the connivance of a regime that is one of the top recipients of U.S. military aid.
Others were targeted in the raid for their efforts to build solidarity with the Palestinian people. At a time when the 1.5 million people of Gaza have been reduced to semi-starvation by Israel's U.S.-backed blockade, such solidarity efforts are more urgent than ever. By making aid to Palestine a central issue in the raids, the U.S. government is trying to intimidate activists in this country from joining the growing international movement against the blockade. The FBI raids are, in effect, an effort by the U.S. government to criminalize international humanitarian solidarity efforts.
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MANY MAY find it shocking that such repression is emanating from the Democratic Party administration of Barack Obama, who made opposition to George W. Bush's encroachment on civil liberties an important part of his presidential campaign. In fact, the raids are perfectly in keeping with Obama policies. The administration has not only continued the Bush administration's violations of civil liberties, but has sought to expand them. In the wake of the FBI raids, the Obama administration announced that it will seek legal authority to "wiretap" the Internet and virtually all electronic communications.
These attacks on civil liberties are only the latest efforts by the U.S. government to intimidate and silence dissidents in complete disregard for rights supposedly protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The history of such repression includes the struggle for the eight-hour day in 1886, which resulted in the executions of four of the Haymarket martyrs; the imprisonment of Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs and members of the Industrial Workers of the World for their opposition to the First World War; the anti-socialist and anti-immigrant Palmer Raids of 1919-20, which resulted in the imprisonment and deportation of thousands of radicals; the Smith Act trial of socialists during the Second World War; the McCarthyite witch hunt of communists and socialists in the 1950s; the FBI surveillance of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the Socialist Workers Party in the 1960s; the lethal repression of activists in the Black Power, American Indian and Puerto Rican nationalist movements in the 1960s and 1970s; and FBI harassment of Central America solidarity activists in the 1980s.
In almost every case, the influence of socialists, communists and anarchists--or, in the anticommunist shorthand, "reds"--was used by the federal government to justify attacks on free speech. So it should come as no surprise that members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization are the most prominent target of the latest raids. If history is any guide, the FBI and federal prosecutors believe they can drive a wedge between socialists and the wider left, including liberals, and establish a precedent for further violations of civil liberties and political repression.
This cannot be allowed to happen. Whatever political differences may exist between those targeted in raids and the rest of the left, they are irrelevant when it comes to defending our rights to express our political views and to organize. This is an attack on the entire left, and the left must respond with unity and resolve.
The outpouring of statements denouncing the raid from left-wing and antiwar groups is a heartening first step in building the defense campaign that is needed now. The task must be to turn that sentiment into a vigorous solidarity effort. The International Socialist Organization is fully committed to that project, and urges all concerned organizations and individuals to act likewise.