Tag Archives: anti

David Miller wins in court; anti-Zionism is a protected workplace characteristic | Dorset Eye

David Miller is a friend of This Site so this is excellent news – that comes at a potentially very useful time, what with Israel’s ongoing Zionism-spurred genocide in Gaza:

academic David Miller, known for his anti-Zionist views, has claimed a victory against the University of Bristol. The case determined that anti-Zionism qualifies as a protected characteristic in the workplace.

Miller was dismissed by the university in October 2021 over comments about Israel that were deemed by some to be antisemitic. The university cited a breach of behaviour standards, with Jewish students expressing feelings of being unsafe.

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Miller, whose academic career he asserts effectively ended due to his views on Israel, argued during the tribunal that his belief in the inherent racism, imperialism, and colonial nature of Zionism qualifies as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

The Bristol Employment Tribunal upheld Miller’s anti-Zionist beliefs as a philosophical belief and protected characteristic.

Zillur Rahman from Rahman Lowe Solicitors, representing Miller, commended his courage in facing a campaign waged against him by Zionists, calling him a trailblazer.

Rahman emphasised that the ongoing events in Israel have brought attention to Miller’s belief that Zionism is inherently racist and must be opposed.

Source: David Miller’s victory in court legitimises anti-Zionism as a protected characteristic – Dorset Eye


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Bill is passed to stop us boycotting Israeli products – even after the genocide

A lamppost sticker promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions. Note that it demands “justice for Palestine” and makes no anti-Semitic statements.

Considering everything that has happened since October 7, did nobody in the UK’s Tory government stop to think that, perhaps, this piece of legislation is now in bad taste?

It has been hard to collect information on this Bill because nobody in the media seems to have covered it. I wonder why.

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Fortunately the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians has a bit of context:

Yes indeed.

The Bill – which still has to pass through the House of Lords – now explicitly demands that local authorities may not boycott products from a country that currently stands accused of genocide and may soon be a convicted, genocidal, rogue state.

That can’t be right.

This Site has discussed the situation previously, and some of what I wrote then bears repeating:

The innocently-titled Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill … specifically forbids public bodies like local councils from taking into account human rights abuses committed by foreign governments when making decisions, including on procurement of goods and services.

You see how harmful this legislation is, in the light of Israel’s activities since October 7, 2023?

The Bill specifically forbids such public bodies from ever refusing to take goods and services from Israel, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and/or the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, no matter what atrocities are committed there.

Some have suggested a simple way around the issue:

Personally, I think this would lay any councils following such advice open to accusations of boycott by the back door – for example, if they could not explain why they would not take Israeli goods that appear to be the most economical option.

Perhaps a better way forward would be simply to rename the legislation.

Why not call it the UK (Unconditional Support for Genocide) Bill?


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What could be more extremist, in the UK, than its own government?

Michael Gove: it seems this is the face of fascist extremism in the UK.

Leaked documents tell us that officials working for Michael Gove are planning to broaden the definition of extremism to include anyone who “undermines” the country’s institutions and its values.

But who defines the country’s institutions and values? The government, I would say.

So this is a plan to criminalise anybody who protests against the behaviour of the government.

I would say that was a bit… you know… fascist. Wouldn’t you?

According to The Guardian,

The documents state: “Extremism is the promotion or advancement of any ideology which aims to overturn or undermine the UK’s system of parliamentary democracy, its institutions and values.”

But the UK’s system is likely to fall out of date and require constant revision, so this definition is – or should be – useless.

The proposed definition … lists a number of organisations which it considers would be “captured” by the new definition.

Among them are the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Palestine Action and Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development), which has featured at some Conservative party conference fringe events and in 2021 provided evidence to parliamentary committees.

Also among them, by his own definition, is economist Richard Murphy, who has written a lengthy ‘X’ thread on the subject. Here it is (I did the work on this before realising he’s collected it all into a web article himself but this gives me a chance to comment on parts of it):

He’s saying the UK’s institutions are not fit for purpose and therefore require reform – that would be prohibited by Gove’s planning legislation.

Personally, This Writer would oppose an extensive written constitution. Such documents limit our rights to what they describe. One saying that we can do anything other than what is prohibited by democratically-passed laws might be acceptable, providing those laws were subject to periodic review.

These seem reasonable to me; I guess I’m a terrible subversive too.

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I am not keen on a Bill of Rights – because I have seen what the Tory government would do with it. Tories would ensure that the rest of us were only allowed to do what’s necessary to make them richer and increase their freedoms. No – thank you.

There’s nothing objectionable here – or shouldn’t be. Why would an advanced, enlightened democracy want to restrict our freedoms?

This is all right on-the-button. The state is not a private company.

I think everybody knows I agree that the libel laws are not fit for purpose.

I also agree about British media firms – indeed, any firm that influences the lives of many people should be owned by people who live in the UK.

While the changes are being drafted by Michael Gove’s people, they would be enforced by Suella Braverman’s Home Office, so Mr Murphy is right to name-check her.

And yes, we all know that her attitude to reform is biased against people on the basis of their ethnicity.

That’s extreme in itself.

So it seems the best that can be said of this Gove/Braverman ‘reform’ is that it is symbolic of the very extremism it claims to oppose.


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Rishi Sunak calls for police clampdown on Armistice Day anti-war ‘Million Man March’

So much for free speech in the UK, then.

Rishi Sunak has called for the Home Secretary and police to spit on everything the servicepeople commemorated on Remembrance Day died to defend.

He has been informed that, after 500,000 people marched in support of the innocent people of Gaza who are being murdered on a daily basis by Israeli war crimes last Saturday (October28), another march is being arranged, to take place on November 11, which it is hoped a million people will attend.

Here’s the poster for it:

And here’s Sunak’s response:

For those who can’t read images, he said:

“To plan protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and there is a clear and present risk that the Cenotaph and other war memorials could be desecrated, something that would be an affront to the British public and the values we stand for.

“The right to remember, in peace and dignity, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for those freedoms must be protected.

“I have asked the Home Secretary to support the Met Police in doing everything necessary to protect the sanctity of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.”

What utter – insulting – twaddle.

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Sunak is disrespecting every single man or woman who died in war with those words, and here’s why:

Armistice Day and Remembrance Day commemorate people who died to protect our freedoms – including the freedom to protest against war.

The honoured dead who we remember on those days fought to end war, and prohibiting an event calling for the end of a war is the gravest insult to their memory that anybody could commit – especially a serving UK prime minister.

He suggests that the cenotaph and other war memorials may be desecrated, and that preventing the possibility of this should rank higher than permitting the British people to express their right to free speech. This alone contradicts the very reason those memorials exist; it denies their reason for existing in the first place.

If the safety of a piece of rock is more important to Sunak than the freedom – the right to free speech – of the British people, then he is spitting on the graves of everybody commemorated by that rock, who died to protect that freedom.

If their purpose has been forgotten – as he seems to have done – then perhaps they should be torn down altogether and replaced with something that makes the original purpose more clear – even to the likes of Sunak.

He mentions “those freedoms” for which “those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice” fought – but doesn’t even bother to admit what they are, because if he did, he would not be able to justify the draconian response he is planning.

I fear that he is being deliberately provocative. But if he wants a confrontation, it will only show that the UK’s leaders have lost their way and must be removed.


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Leftwingers – Please Don’t Vote for Keir Starmer as Your Constituency MP | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

This Writer has been laid low with Lurgi over the weekend, so I’m looking to others to sustain This Site.

First up is my brother David, who runs Beastrabban\’s Weblog.

He’s not happy with Keir Starmer at all – and has published a 25-minute YouTube video explaining his very good reasons for wanting left-wing voters in Starmer’s Holborn & St Pancras constituency to vote for other left-wing parties, the Monster Raving Loonies or single-issue candidates rather than helping Starmer bring his brand of Conservatism into 10 Downing Street.

That’s right – Starmer is a Conservative and you need to make sure everybody knows it. If anything, he is more right-wing than Rishi Sunak. And that means he’s bad for you.

Here’s the video:

For text supporting the comments in the video, please visit the article: Leftwingers – Please Don’t Vote for Keir Starmer as Your Constituency MP | Beastrabban\’s Weblog


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New game: name all the ways the Tory government INTERFERES with your life

Tory interference in our lives: anti-protest laws were rushed into practice before the Coronation, so the police could be used to arrest peaceful protesters and take them off the streets.

I seem to have started something.

Yesterday (September 21), in response to Rishi Sunak’s televised trashing of non-existent ‘Net Zero’ policies which he justified by saying, “We’re making sure government stays out of your life,” I made a couple of points about how government does exactly the opposite:

Look at your energy bill. In return for the payments you make, you receive energy that comes from a number of different sources, including some that are highly polluting. For example: coal, nuclear, gas.

On a separate but related subject, look at the amount of plastic packaging you buy in your everyday grocery shopping, much of which is unnecessary and can end up polluting the environment.

These things happen because the government allows it. Indeed, among Sunak’s measures yesterday was a plan to continue allowing the sale of polluting petrol- and diesel-powered cars for an extra five years, until 2035. Who knows what some future prime minister will do then? Extend it to 2040?

Those are three ways the government interferes with our lives, right there.

But of course, I was missing the really big things that have happened lately. Here’s Peter Stefanovic:

Perhaps we should open this up for everybody to have a say?

You could make a game of it at home: sit in a circle with everybody challenged in turn to name a way the government interferes with their life.

If you are so disposed, it could be a drinking game, with people failing to think of an example taking a sip of their substance of choice (it doesn’t have to be alcohol).

It’ll help pass these lengthening autumn evenings.

And it will help remind us all of what hideous liars the Tories in our government are.


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Tory government is reported to UN over anti-strikes law. So what?

Strike: under the Conservative government’s new law, some of these strikers would probably have to work while their colleagues took industrial action – or lose their jobs legally. It might go against international laws, but does anybody really think the Tories care?

Does anybody really think anything useful will come of the Trades Union Congress reporting the UK’s Tory government to the United Nations’ watchdog on workers’ rights over a new law?

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act will require some people to work during industrial action – including people in the rail industry and emergency services – or face being sacked.

The TUC reckons this “anti-strikes law” is unworkable and may be illegal.

The government has responded with a claim that the law protects the lives and livelihoods of the general public, ensuring that people can still access vital public service during strikes.

there would be no automatic protection from unfair dismissal for an employee who is told to work through a notice but chooses to strike.

If a strike is not conducted in accordance with the new rules, employers would be also be able to sue unions for losses.

This Writer would like to know how having this reported to the United Nations would make anything better.

The UN is a paper tiger – it can’t force national governments to do anything at all, as we discovered when it found against the Tories over their treatment of disabled people (and, if I remember this correctly, the bedroom tax).

There seems no point in appealing to that organisation.

Even if the UN finds against the Tories, it seems the TUC will do a lot of work for nothing more than a public relations victory. Am I wrong?


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The Tories want the UK to become a criminal state – for the sake of some money?

A lamppost sticker promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions. Note that it demands “justice for Palestine” and makes no anti-Semitic statements.

Conservative government legislation will turn the UK into a criminal state in the international community – and it seems certain that it is being done so some Tories and their friends can make some money out of it.

Does that make you feel dirty – slimily, greasily, grubbily, maggots-in-your-food dirty?

It should.

The Bill that has caught public attention most vividly today is the innocently-titled Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill that specifically forbids public bodies like local councils from taking into account human rights abuses committed by foreign governments when making decisions, including on procurement of goods and services.

The Bill specifically forbids such public bodies from ever refusing to take goods and services from Israel, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and/or the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, no matter what atrocities are committed there.

Here’s an atrocity that was committed there yesterday (Monday, July 3, 2023). During an apparently-unprovoked attack on the Palestinian city of Jenin, which contains a refugee camp that crams 14,000 people into a space less than half a square kilometre in size, this happened:

The Economic Activity… Bill makes it illegal for public bodies to protest against atrocities like this in the only meaningful way available to them – by refusing to do business with firms from Israel or operating as Israeli firms in the occupied territories.

Legal opinion shows that the Bill is so badly-constructed that it will make the UK an internationally criminal state, with all the possible consequences this may create.

So why inflict it on a nation that doesn’t want it (we demand our right to oppose injustice wherever we see it, including in the actions of a rogue state like Israel) and will suffer for it internationally?

The only reason This Writer can find is that the trade it will generate will bring money to Conservative MPs or their friends – bosses of firms that will then donate money to them.

I wonder whether discussions to that effect have taken place between UK government or Conservative Party representatives and government or business people in Israel.

Let’s put some flesh on the bones of this argument.

Lisa Nandy, Labour’s Shadow Levelling-Up Secretary, together with Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, commissioned legal advice on the Bill from one David Hermer KC. His response was lengthy but I will try to distil it into the essentials:

This very poorly drafted Bill is likely to have a detrimental impact on the United Kingdom’s ability to protect and promote human rights overseas, is in certain respects inconsistent with our obligations under international law, will stifle free speech at home (in a manner incompatible with Article 10 of the ECHR), will take powers long exercised by local authorities into the hands of the Secretary of State and will likely lead to an array of illogical outcomes.

Many of the key provisions of this very poorly drafted Bill are deeply troubling from both a domestic and international law perspective. The implications for local democracy, for the proud history in our regions of campaigning for global human rights, for using our economic clout for the promotion of human rights, for free speech in this country and for compliance with our international law obligations are potentially profound.

The driving force behind the Bill is to address the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ campaign (hereinafter ‘BDS’) directed against Israel. The Bill is objectionable irrespective of whether one considers BDS to be thoroughly reprehensible or conversely a legitimate form of non-violent protest.

Irrespective of whether this Bill is enacted, all public bodies are already prohibited in law from pursuing policies, or taking any actions that are directly, or indirectly, antisemitic or otherwise discriminate against Jewish people. These protections… are all enforceable by the Courts.

So the Bill does nothing to counter anti-Semitism; protections against that are already in place.

There would appear to be at least two possible interpretations of what conduct is intended to be prohibited:

Interpretation 1 is that the Bill is directed at the policies of foreign governments only in so far as they relate to territorial disputes, or disputes limited to particular territories, whether they be internal or external territories to the foreign government.

Interpretation 2 is that it the Bill prohibits any relevant decisions based on moral or political disapproval of a foreign government. On balance, I consider that a court would determine that this is the correct interpretation of the clause… This … is supported by the fact that Israel (i.e. an entire country) is specified … in addition to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (hereinafter the ‘OPT’) and the Golan Heights.

Assuming Interpretation 1 applies then it would create an artificial distinction between acts borne of moral/political concerns arising out a territorial dispute (prohibited) and acts motivated by non-territorial based moral/political concerns (untouched by the Act). By way of example, the Bill would not impact a decision to refuse to buy certain goods from China because of its general disregard for human rights but would render unlawful a decision not to buy cotton goods from Xinjiang because of the crimes against the Uighur people2. That is because only the latter decision would be based on a consideration ‘relating to a territory’.

This is utterly illogical and exemplifies the dangers of seeking to introduce legislation of general effect in order to address a specific discrete concern. Even more starkly, the Bill would not prevent a local authority from refusing to buy any Israeli products for reasons unconnected to a territorial consideration – for example, because of discriminatory practices against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship living within the Green Line. That is because the discrimination is not one based on a territorial consideration but rather once based on race. Ironically therefore, the Bill (if Interpretation 1 applies) would in reality increase the prospects of public authorities making decisions based on the internal domestic policies of Israel rather than concerns about treatment/status of Palestinians in the OPT.

Assuming that Interpretation 2 applies, then … it will preclude public authorities from having regard to any human rights violations of a foreign government when making relevant decisions. Save for the limited exceptions provided for in the Schedule, it would at a stroke preclude public bodies from taking into account a range of deplorable conduct of a foreign state from genocide, unlawful military invasions, war crimes, other crimes against humanity and racial discrimination etc. On the face of the Bill this would preclude a council from refusing to purchase goods from Russian occupied Ukraine, or from Myanmar, or North Korea or any country on the basis of disapproval of their systemic human rights violations. Had legislation of this nature been in effect in the 1980s it would have rendered it unlawful to refuse to source goods from apartheid South Africa.

The enactment of the Bill would seriously hamper any public body exercising an ethical approach to (at least) its purchases and investments.

So if Interpretation 1 applies, then the Bill encourages public bodies to refuse goods from Israel on the grounds of any ill-treatment of non-Jewish people living within the internationally-accepted borders of that country. This would not be hard as a relatively-recent law there has turned everybody who isn’t Jewish into a second-class citizen.

And if Interpretation 2 applies (which is more likely), then the UK becomes a supporter of genocide, unlawful military invasions, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and most reprehensibly racial discrimination – the very behaviour that the Bill ostensibly seeks to curtail.

Many would be proud of the role played by local authorities in this country to oppose the South African apartheid regime. These acts have been propelled not simply by morality but by the perception that boycotts and other economic measures can have a positive impact on the promotion of human rights globally.

The prohibition … cannot logically be justified on the basis that it will always be inappropriate per se for public bodies to base their decisions on disapproval of a foreign country’s conduct. That is because the Bill itself recognises that in certain specified circumstances (i.e. those provided for in the Schedule) it will be entirely appropriate to take such steps.

What the Bill does … is remove the power of local authorities to make those decisions for themselves. Rather the decision is now vested solely in the hands of the Secretary of State although even then s/he is absolutely barred from making an exception in respect of Israel, the OPT or the Golan Heights.

In placing the power of exemption solely in the hands of the Secretary of State the Bill effectively infantilises all other public bodies, many of whom have a long history of using their economic purchasing powers in order to avoid supporting human rights violations and/or to pressurise foreign countries to adopt change. This would seem at odds with the general tenor of Government policy to decentralise power. It would also seem impervious to the democratic and legal restraints that already operate on public bodies such as local authorities. Not only are voters able to influence decision making processes in local government (often in a far more direct way than permitted in our parliamentary system) but they are also able to effect change through the ballot box. Similarly, decisions of local authorities which are discriminatory, or outwith their powers, or unreasonable are subject to reversal through judicial review and legal campaigning.

So – again – there are already protections against public bodies misusing their powers.

The ultimate sanction of effecting change through the ballot box is one that should have given the Tories who drafted this Bill cause for serious reconsideration. That it did not suggests an extremely cavalier attitude to election results.

History has shown the capricious consequences that flow when powers of this nature are removed from hundreds of public bodies and placed exclusively in the hands of one decision maker. During the apartheid regime local authorities in the UK played a prominent and powerful role in the South Africa boycott campaign. Had this Bill been in force during the 1980s this would have been very likely deemed unlawful and no exemption granted in light of the position of the then Prime Minister that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist and the apartheid regime was an ally.

In other words, if enacted in the 1980s, this Bill would have made the UK a staunch supporter of the racist regime in South Africa. It is even possible that, with such tangible support from Thatcher, apartheid may have remained in place to this day.

Whilst the Schedule provides some very limited … exemptions (labour rights, bribery and environment) it does not include other human rights abuses such as genocide, the systemic use of torture, other crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. From an international law perspective these are distinctions without any logical basis.

It would seem odd in the extreme that the Secretary of State is vested with powers to make exemptions for any country in the world except Israel, irrespective of what the ‘facts on the ground’ at any given time might be. Israel could only ever be included by amendment through primary legislation. In circumstances in which, if enacted [the Bill] would automatically render a BDS motivated relevant decision unlawful, [it] seeks [to] ‘double lock’ the position and tie the hand of the Secretary of State in respect of one country, and one country alone.

So Israel is given special status.

[The Bill is] rendered even more alarming, certainly from a legal and international relations perspective – by the inclusion [in the exemption] of the OPT and the Golan Heights in addition to Israel. This accords to territories occupied since 1967, (and deemed an unlawful occupation in international law) the precise same specially protected status as Israel itself. This effectively equates the OPT with Israel itself and is very difficult to reconcile with the long-standing position of the United Kingdom which supports a ‘two-state solution’ based on ‘1967 lines’ in which the security and right to self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians are protected.

So the Bill contradicts the UK’s stated policy on Israel and Palestine.

The effect … is that no exemptions can be made, even by the Secretary of State, to permit any decision maker to ever take into account the status in international law of the OPT or human rights abuses occurring there.

The terms of this exemption … are also very difficult to reconcile with our obligations under international law… Legislation prohibiting local authorities from taking steps to promote Palestinian self-determination within the OPT, taken with the terms of the exclusion… would likely place the United Kingdom in breach of international law obligations.

The UK’s support of Israel would make it a criminal state.

The fact that the clauses would put the United Kingdom in breach of its international law obligations is likely to give rise to early legal challenge to the Bill should it be enacted. That is not least because [the Bill] (rightly) provides that nothing in [it] should prevent the decision maker from acting if it would otherwise place the UK in breach of its international law obligations. One can readily foresee a public body reasonably deciding that purchasing goods made in illegal Jewish settlements in the OPT would place the United Kingdom in breach of its international law obligations. Such public bodies may well consider it prudent to test the issue through judicial review before exposing itself to the risk of penalties. Accordingly, an unforeseen consequence of this Bill might therefore be that the English courts will be required to adjudicate upon the legality of the occupation of the OPT in order to ascertain whether a decision not to purchase goods was justified … so as to avoid placing the UK in breach of its international law obligations. Whereas domestic courts to date have been reluctant to adjudicate upon issues relating to the OPT, the terms of the Bill may well require them to do so.

The Bill is likely to lead to decisions making it clear that Israel is a criminal state, according to UK law – and in contradiction of the intentions of its authors.

[The Bill] prohibits public bodies not simply from saying that they intend to act in a manner prohibited by [it] but (even more controversially) that they would have done so but for the prohibition. This is a legally unprecedented restriction on the ability of relevant bodies, many of them directly elected, to express a view on their own decision-making process. Indeed, the law would have the extraordinary effect of making it illegal for a decision-maker who has complied with the [Bill’s] requirements … to state that the only reason they have taken that decision is because they were required by the law to do so, and that – were the terms of the law different – … they would have acted differently. A relevant body would be prohibited, for example, from explaining to constituents that they did not want to purchase goods from North Korea but were prevented from not doing so by the Bill/Act. This is an extraordinary gagging clause on democratically elected politicians and public bodies.

What would be the purpose behind this? Is it to make it seem that public bodies in the UK actually support Israeli atrocities when they don’t? Would this not have a chilling effect on people wanting to take part in local democracy? Would they step aside on the grounds that this is against their principles? And would this leave space for people who do support atrocities – exactly the sort of people who should be nowhere near public power – to step in and take over?

This is not just an attack on free speech but on democracy itself – as Mr Hermer makes clear:

Freedom of expression has long been recognised as one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and the rule of law. It is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also those that often, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population… Here under the terms of the Bill, if a Council Leader was asked whether she was in favour of the local authority procuring goods from Xinjiang in the face of genocide she would have to refuse to reply, perhaps stating “I am prohibited by s.4 of the 2023 Act from answering that question or providing any indication (be it by words, statements or any indeed any facial expression) as what the council would do if not prohibited”

[The Bill] if enacted is highly likely to be deemed incompatible by the Courts with Article 10 of the ECHR, in particular (i) the relevant public official’s right of freedom of expression and (ii) the right of the public to receive information on matters of public interest/importance… It is vanishingly unlikely that the terms … could fall within an established Article 10(2) justification. This means that any the Bill, if enacted into law, would be readily amenable to a challenge, pursuant to section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998, on the basis that it is incompatible with a Convention right.

So the Bill would lay the government open to court action for inhibiting free speech.

The ‘Enforcement Authority’ (Secretary of State or Treasury, or Office for Students) [would have] a power to issue written notices requiring a person to provide a wide array of information and to penalise breaches and non-performance. The grounds on which their powers can be exercised are very wide indeed – a person merely needs to be suspected of being in the process of making a prohibited decision or about to make a prohibited statement. For example, if a person is served with a notice … they are obliged to hand over all information ‘likely to be useful’ to the enforcement authority in determining whether an offence has, or is likely to be, committed. The powers provided … to compel the production of documents are particularly troubling from a legal perspective. On their face, they appear to provide unprecedented powers to compel a person to hand over materials that would otherwise be protected by legal professional privilege. Remarkably broad, this would therefore be handing the enforcement authorities more powers than those enjoyed by anti-terrorism police and the security services. The Secretary of State [is also provided] with what is commonly referred to as a “Henry VIII power” giving her/him unchecked powers to change an enforcement authority (including that there not be one) in respect of particular types of decisions or statements.

In other words, public authorities may be penalised for even considering (for example) refusing a contract with an Israeli company working out of Palestine. And the government would be permitted to decide who to penalise or whether to penalise them at all, giving rise the possibility of favouritism. Or am I misreading that part?

As you can see, the legal advice is that the Bill is defective and should not be enacted in any way.

Ms Nandy, a staunch supporter of Israel who is not one to take sensible advice well, ignored it.

She spoke against BDS during the debate – in misleading terms:

And then she abstained on the vote (along with almost all of the 195 Labour MPs in the House of Commons. This means they allowed it to pass on to its Committee Stage by a vote of 268 in favour to 70 against.

This is because Keir Starmer, Labour’s leader and another staunch supporter of Israel no matter what it does, demanded the abstentions:

Still, some Labour MPs did oppose the Bill, but even this has led to division:

Zarah Sultana had previously stated that she was unable to attend the debate but would have voted against the Bill:

Taking all of the above into account, it seems unreasonable for any UK government to have brought a Bill as flawed as this before Parliament at all.

It is unnecessary because protections already exist to stop anti-Semitic discrimination against Israeli goods and businesses (and indeed any unreasonable discrimination against goods and businesses from another country).

It is undemocratic because the right to boycott goods and firms from a foreign country based on that country’s actions is also enshrined in law, and the measures proposed by the Bill to enforce its restrictions contradict other UK and international laws.

It is counter-productive because, if enacted into law, it is likely to generate court proceedings that will expose Israel’s behaviour towards Palestine as illegal according to international law, and its own provisions as unlawful in the UK.

In short, it will create a multitude of problems without solving any at all.

The only reason for the attempt to enshrine it in law, then, is financial. Or so it seems to me. Can anyone suggest an alternative?


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Israeli invaders murder eight Palestinians in Jenin; they are defended by tin-eared MPs

Hard to believe: as Israeli troops murder more Palestinians, the UK government is trying to remove our right to protest against the occupation of Palestine.

This is one instance in which the timing of an event is tragic.

The Israeli government always says it is defending that country when it launches these attacks – but This Writer finds it hard to believe when these operations always seem to take place on Palestinian soil (for an obvious example). These anti-terrorist operations never seem to happen in Tel Aviv – do they?

Consider also:

The reference to Russia and Ukraine is timely. Russian troops are known to have treated Ukrainians in invaded territory in ways that are more or less universally considered abhorrent, yet Israelis apparently avoid assessment by the same yardstick when they attack and kill Palestinians, including children.

And on the day when the latest Israeli atrocity comes to light, MPs in the UK were being asked to support that country by banning local authorities from campaigning against it, boycotting its goods or sanctioning it.

The wording of the legislation tries to obscure this by saying it’s about stopping councils pursuing their own foreign policy agendas but the upshot will be that local democracy will be overridden by a central government diktat ordering councils to support a country that has invaded a neighbour and is slowly destroying it.

Critics say the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill is inconsistent with longstanding UK foreign policy towards the Occupied Palestinian Territories because it specifically names them, along with Israel and the occupied Golan Heights (Syria), as places for which the Bill’s provisions must apply.

This undermines longstanding UK government policy that calls for an end to Israel’s military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In other words, councils that follow a boycott, divestment and sanctions policy against Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territories are in fact in line with UK government policy.

The situation is worsened by the fact that the Bill makes provision for its restrictions to be lifted with regard to particular countries, with Russia and Belarus as named examples.

That didn’t stop the usual useful idiots from standing up to support Israel:

How is it anti-Semitic to use economic means to express discontent with an oppressive political regime? It isn’t.

Thankfully, there was at least one voice of reason – and it was also the usual one:

Mr Corbyn spoke about events in Jenin during the debate:

He wasn’t the only one, either:

(In fairness, it seems other good points have been made in the debate – such as the possibility that the Bill will attract animosity towards Jewish members of the community, under the pretense that they represent the one nation that appears to be exempt from any criticism at all.)

The result of the vote (which has not taken place at the time of writing) will be revealing – although possibly not in the way some MPs hope.

It will show us which of them think it is okay to undermine UK democracy to support invading murderers. We should use that information to remove those MPs at the next election.


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‘They will kill me’ – the death of a war opponent tortured by security forces in Russia

Vladimir Putin: has he given orders for anti-Ukraine-war protesters to be silenced, no matter what it takes?

This Site was contacted with an unusual request: would I agree to publish articles from anti-war Russian websites?

Apparently, most people think everybody in Russia supports the war in Ukraine. In fact, it seems there are protests against Vladimir Putin and his aggression, but there is no information in the media outside Russia.

Russian anti-war activists are tortured and die in Russia as a result, but we don’t know about them.

Would This Site help to change that?

The answer is below – the first of what I hope will be a series.

This one is by Nikita Sologub, written on June 15 and  translated by Viana Tina.

It is a translation of the article ««Они меня убьют». Что известно о гибели противника войны, которого силовики пытали в Ростове‑на‑Дону» Никита Сологуб, 15 июня 2023, 22:50, Editor: Yegor Skovoroda

You can find the original here.

Anatoliy Berezikov, 40, was into noise music, liked cycling around Rostov-on-Don and spoke out against the war. In mid-May, Berezikov was detained by the security forces, and since then he has not been released from administrative detention – time after time new reports have been drawn up on him under invented pretexts. He told his lawyer that the operation officers tortured him and beat him with electric shocks, while the FSB investigator came to the detention center and threatened with treason charges. Berezikov never got out of detention and died on 14 June in the detention center. Police officers were quick to call his death a suicide, but his defenders believe that he could not withstand the new torture. “Mediazone” tells what is known about Anatoliy Berezikov and the circumstances of his death.

He came out of the detention centre and immediately started swearing (police version)

If the police records are to be believed, in the early hours of 11 May officers accidentally encountered a long-haired, bearded man with tattoos on his arms on the outskirts of Rostov-on-Don. They asked to see his documents, but the man refused, shoved one of the police officers and tried to escape. The fugitive, 40-year-old Anatoliy Berezikov, was caught, taken to Police Department No. 6 and a report drawn up for disobeying a police officer. Maria Kornienko, judge of the Pervomaisky district court in Rostov-on-Don, sent Berezikov to 10 days’ detention.

The arrest was due to expire on 21 May at 2.05 pm. At 2.20pm, barely out of the detention centre on Semashko Street in the city centre, Berezikov started swearing and harassing passers-by. Police officers asked him to stop, but the man did not respond and refused to get into the patrol car, pushing the officers and grabbing their uniforms. Rostov police officers, this time from Unit 4, had to detain him again and take him to court, now in the city’s Leninsky district. There, Judge Sergei Bychenko found Berezikov guilty of disorderly conduct and sent him back to a special detention centre, again for 10 days.

This time, however, Berezikov was able to send a message that he needed help. When lawyer Irina Gak came to see him, Anatoliy told her that what was described in the reports was a plain police lie.

Detention. “Beaten and threatened with rape, further torture, possible murder”

In fact, Berezikov wrote, on 11 May he was in a rented flat he had rented after moving to Rostov-on-Don from Shatura near Moscow several years ago. Around eight in the morning there was a loud knock on the door, someone shouting that it was the neighbours. While a sleepy Berezikov was figuring out how to react, the door had already been broken into. About six people in black balaclavas burst into the flat, ran into the room without any explanation, threw him on the floor and started kicking him, then dragged him into the kitchen. While some in the kitchen were beating the man, threatening him and asking questions, others were turning things upside down in the room.

It was only after this that he was brought to the sixth police department, and after drawing up a report, to the judge, which started the series of administrative arrests.

To inform him that the arrest would not be the last, an FSS (Federal Security Service) investigator came to the special detention centre in person, and no criminal case was opened against Berezikov. He not only told his lawyer about this visit, but he also repeated it in the notes he handed in during the meeting.

“I was told (in general terms) about the basement, torture and being sent to war”, he described his conversation with the investigator. Speaking about the end of his arrest, Berezikov feared: “I might be met with, like the last time, beatings and threats of rape, further torture, probable murder.”

New torture and a third arrest. “The man who experienced a stun gun”

On 31 May Anatol Berezikov was to be released from custody. By that time lawyer Irina Gak, activist Tatiana Sporysheva and two other women arrived at the detention centre on Semashko Street. In order not to miss the moment of exit, they took positions at both exits of the detention centre. There was already a police UAZ at one of them, Sporysheva recalls, and a man without a uniform was walking nearby – she thought it was an FSS officer. When he saw the women, he called someone and another car arrived at the second exit. When it was time to be released, the officer on duty told the women that Berezikov had already been released. Believing this, the lawyer and activists packed up, leaving one of the exits unsupervised.

“Then we realised that we had been cheated, that is, while we were discussing, he was taken out through another entrance and immediately taken away. We realised this from the behaviour of the police officers, but we didn’t even know where they had taken him, whether he was being charged again with administrative or criminal offences. So we decided to follow the second police car and when it moved, we followed it,” Sporysheva said.

Following the car led them to Police Station 4, where Berezikov had had a report drawn up before his previous arrest. There, Sporysheva and Gak noticed the same man without a uniform. At the police station, the lawyer was told that Berezikov was not there. A few hours later Irina Gak thought that her client could have been secretly taken to the Leninski District Court – and then she actually met Berezikov in the corridor.

He was pale, the lawyer recalled, “extremely frightened” and generally looked like “a man who had experienced a stun gun at least”. Sporysheva says that when the lawyer asked Anatoliy to write an application to get acquainted with the case file, he was unable to do so himself.

“He was just like a cotton doll who didn’t react at all. He had absolutely cotton hands, his fingers hardly moved, he could not write this statement at all,” she claims. The guards at the time suggested that Berezikov should give up his lawyer. In the minute-long recording from the court corridor he is sitting unresponsive, with his hands folded and staring at the floor.

He was pale, the lawyer recalled, “extremely frightened” and generally looked like “a man who had experienced a stun gun at least”. Sporysheva says that when the lawyer asked Anatoliy to write an application to get acquainted with the case file, he was unable to do so himself.

“He was just like a cotton doll who didn’t react at all. He had absolutely cotton hands, his fingers hardly moved, he could not write this statement at all,” she claims. The guards at the time suggested that Berezikov should refuse his lawyer. In the minute-long recording from the court corridor he is sitting unresponsive, with his hands folded and staring at the floor.

When the guards were distracted and withdrawn, the women managed to talk to Berezikov. He managed to tell them that while they were looking for him in Department 4, the operatives had taken him out of town and tortured him there with a stun gun. The lawyer took a picture – on his back one could really see multiple red dots, characteristic of stun gun blows.

Because this time the hearing of the administrative report – again drawn up by police officers from the Fourth Department under the pretext of foul language – was attended by lawyer Irina Gak and Tatiana Sporysheva (as public defender), it lasted several hours. The defence demanded that an ambulance be called to the court; when they arrived, the medics gave Berezikov an injection of anaesthetic, but refused to assess his injuries and did not leave any documents.

Despite the defence’s accounts of a visit from an FSS investigator, threats to life, torture and illegal detention in a special detention centre, Judge Lada Evangelovskaya did not accede to requests. Instead, she sent Berezikov under arrest for another 15 days.

According to Sporysheva, after the hearing he managed to say: “I am afraid that I will disappear. I’m afraid that they will kill me and I won’t live till I get out of the special detention centre, that is, I won’t live till 15 June”.

After the trial, the police guards took Berezikov to the car to take him to the police station to fill out the paperwork for his transfer to a special detention centre. On the way to the car, the man managed to tell his defenders that all the things he had with him when he was arrested were missing: his flat keys, a wallet with 15,000 roubles and a bank card with money on it.

The video shows him finishing his cigarette and getting into his car, but he does not have time to throw away the cigarette butt.

– Don’t you have an ashtray here? Aren’t there any rubbish bins nearby? – The detainee asks with bewilderment.

– Just throw it under the car! – The policeman answers.

Berezikov doesn’t want to litter, so the lawyer has to throw the cigarette butt away.

Death in a detention centre

On 10 June, Sporysheva took a parcel to Berezikov. On 13 June the lawyer Irina Gak met him in the detention centre – he was active and, expecting that a criminal case would be brought against him, promised not to admit guilt despite torture.

The day before the end of the arrest, on 14 June, the lawyer, expecting that this arrest might not be the last one, came again to the detention centre. But there she was told that Anatoliy Berezikov was dead.

“At the same time, the cause was not given exactly, they said: either he had a heart attack or committed suicide,” recalls Tatiana Sporysheva, who was next to her. – That is, it was unclear. We called an ambulance, phoned and told the police. We couldn’t believe it, we thought that maybe he was ill, maybe he was still alive, maybe he could still be helped, but they were lying to us.

But soon an ambulance arrived at the detention centre and took away the corpse. The next day Berezikov was identified by his close friend.

The staff at the detention centre claim that Anatoliy Berezikov committed suicide. His defenders are certain that he died after being tortured.

High treason for the enemy of the war. “They torture brutally.”

While he was alive, Anatoliy Berezikov was never charged with any criminal offence. Even the visit to his flat was not formalised as a search within the framework of the investigation, but as an operative investigative measure “inspection of the premises”.

Lawyer Yevgeniy Smirnov from the human rights project “First Department”, who was aware of Berezikov’s misadventures, is convinced that the Rostov FSS Department needed a series of arrests in order to coordinate the criminal case of treason with the Moscow one.

“The decision to launch treason proceedings is agreed in Moscow. They cannot initiate it on their own initiative,” Smirnov explains. – The bureaucratic machine works and it takes time. Some take 15 days, some take two or three months. All this time they tried to prepare him for the case, to make him confess when it happens and not try to defend himself, being without a lawyer under the agreement. So that he would behave obediently and not interfere with the quiet investigation of the case”.

However, Berezikov did not yield to the threats and did not refuse a lawyer, which probably led to the situation in which the detainee died – most likely after more torture.

“There is no forensic report at the moment. There may even be a case, in which a lawyer will be involved as a representative of the victim’s family. Then we will know what he died of. It could be in a month or two,” says Smirnov. – They torture brutally. The lawyer had seen him just shortly before his death and of course he was not going to commit suicide, on the contrary he said that he was going to defend himself, saying that he feared for his life and health. Electricity is such a thing. A little too much, and even the healthiest person’s heart can stop.

The reason why the FSS was interested in Berezikov is unknown to Smirnov, but he knows that from the beginning of the war he “took an anti-war stance, non-violent, he did not hide his views in personal conversations”.

In public social networks Berezikov did not talk about the war. He worked as a repair mechanic. According to his VKontakte (Russian Facebook equivalent) page, his only sphere of interest, far from political, was noise music. He made noise synths together with the legend of the Rostov experimental scene Papa Srapa (Eduard Srapionov) and gave concerts under the pseudonym Anatoliy Ryk.

On 14 June, Anatoliy Ryk was supposed to perform at the festival Noise and Fury in Moscow. But on that day he died in a special detention centre in Rostov-on-Don.

Berezikov’s hobby associates interviewed by Mediazona said that he was not sociable, “kept away from the party”, “was a loner”, and “gave the impression of a person excessively eager to draw attention to his person”.

Berezikov himself was repeatedly in the Rostov news because of his habit of riding his bicycle in only shorts even in the harshest of winters. He has observed elections, helped Navalny’s headquarters, and participated in protests, including in support of Alexei Navalny, who was arrested in January 2021 – and was fined for doing so.

Translation of tweet of Vadim Kobzev:

It turned out that I knew Anatoliy personally. He was an activist in our Navalny office in Rostov, participated in rallies and was an election observer. Many people in Rostov had seen him on a bicycle without a T-shirt with a sign saying “Putin is a thief”.

The scum who tortured and murdered him will pay the price

Translation of OVD Info (Transl.- Account in English: @ovdinfo_en Advocacy & monitoring for human rights in Russia. Track repressions & provide legal aid to unjustly persecuted)

Anatoliy Berezikov, a 40-year-old activist, died in a detention centre in Rostov-on-Don. His lawyer, Irina Gak, suspects the man may have been killed in the process of torture

“I cannot name specific names of the people he spoke to, but I know of cases where he vividly expressed his anti-war stance in conversations in public space.

He always took part in actions, and not just came, but showed some kind of activity, handed out materials. That is, he is a long-time activist,” said Tatiana Sporysheva.

According to her, after her arrest Berezikov said that “for months he had been putting up anti-war leaflets, actively doing that while riding his bicycle. Evgeny Smirnov of the First Department does not confirm this, but does not deny it either; lawyer Irina Gak refused to comment.

It was difficult for Sporysheva to say which leaflets had attracted the attention of the FSS. The OVD-Info project mentioned that it could presumably have been leaflets with instructions on how to use the Ukrainian project “I Want to Live” (which accepts requests from Russian servicemen to surrender).

Ukrainian telegraph channels and bloggers have regularly posted calls for Russians to participate in a “flash mob” to post these leaflets on the streets of their cities since at least last autumn, posting layouts for printing them out. On May 10, on the eve of the law enforcers’ visit to Berezikov’s flat, Ukrainian telegraph channel «Оперативний ЗСУ» (Operative ZSU) wrote that “in the flash mob for distributing leaflets over the past few days, Rostov-on-Don, the unchallenged champion St. Petersburg and the unexpectedly small town of Novotroitsk stood out.” “But a separate place in this company is held by Rostov, where flyers of the ‘I Want to Live’ project were posted directly on victory posters,” the channel noted.

Whatever really drew the FSS’s attention, after the search the law enforcers found confirmation of their suspicions in Berezikov’s seized gadgets, lawyer Smirnov believes. “Naturally, he was subscribed to various telegrams to receive information from both sides. Next, they began to get him to admit that he was helping Ukraine, that’s one, and two – why they tortured him was to take out some of their anger. “Traitor to the motherland. You are our enemy, we will do with you what we want.” Some kind of animal feelings,” Yevgeny Smirnov is sure.

There is no record of the “inspection of the premises”, but Tatyana Sporysheva says that in addition to electronic devices, one of the two bicycles was also taken from the flat.

She believes that initially the FSS officers wanted to make Berezikov one of those defendants under the article on state treason, whose detention becomes known only after the court decision is made – without any details of the case. But Berezikov found the strength to resist, sought help from the people outside and thus ruined the law enforcers’ plan.

“This is a very convenient target: Anatoliy has no wife, no children, he has no Rostov registration, and he only has an elderly mother in the Moscow suburbs. He came to Rostov and he has no one here, no one will worry about him, no one will look for him, hence the treason,” she reasoned.

Yevgeniy Smirnov from the First Department agrees with her: “From his words – he was talking about threats under the article, for which life imprisonment is envisaged. Knowing the practice that we have all over the country now – and I know many such cases already – it was, of course, treason.

That’s the end of the article: an anti-war activist was arrested multiple times and did not survive the experience. Make of it what you will – but please let me know what you think of the article and if you’ll read more.


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