Yes Ok. I take back everything I said about Charles Clarke not being as bad as Mr Blunkett. Since when have we condoned house arrest for a subjects of her majesty? This is getting too close to America and police state mentality for my liking.
Sunday, June 1, 2003
What is democracy? Is it really just a vote once every couple of years. What is it? Is it caring about other people, an extension of trying to help? Like wanting to be friends with everyone or trying to help all your friends, and make them happy and stuff.
Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the opposition party in Burma. It’s not a country that allows for an oppositions party, expecially not one that promotes democracy.
Burma’s Suu Kyi arrested
Does her fate make my opinions on democracy naive and childish? I guess it must make me seem stupid that a woman goes through house arrest after house arrest; restrictions of her freedoms one after the other and I see democracy as being an extension of friendship. Or are these thoughts the trivialising of what friendship is. The continual spider light link that occurs without anyone really knowing why or how it occurred.
Can I say democracy is an extension of love? If it is then anyone could endure anything in order to see that everyone might experience it. Or am I being too American in my seeing democracy as an extension of love? Not that the Americans seem to understand democracy but it seems to be an American trait to over-enthuse and overbuild such things.
There is no rush, no thrill to voting. But there is a thrill to trying to achieve freedom, the inconcievable subject that it is, trying to fly without wings. The smallest impossibility that never occurs, I guess that it democracy. And it has similarities now to romantic love, the impossible dream. The chivalric ideal that never occurs save in memory. ‘I never understand these small moments why can’t we have the memories and nothing more?’ And we have democracy supposedly invented in Ancient Greece, its an ideal. Its never going to be entirely real.
Freedom within its human limits that’ll be there somewhere, on planet earth eventually. If we’re going to believe in love then let us fight for democracy. Let us fight for art and beauty and all the ideals but let us have some sort of democracy first so that we can all fight for the amazing things that humankind can create.
Posted by Mish @ 01:38 AM GMT [Link]
7 thoughts on “Apologies To Jo”
Did you also note the cunning plan to get around part of the law lords ruling by extending the provision to British citizens as well as foreign nationals? Just to add to the fun… :p
House arrest was the extreme end of the tagging policy, and quite frankly, it’s an improvement; at least they’re with their families again. Wait for the Law Lords to condemn the tagging system as well, and the situation improves more.
Personally, I think the government’s landed itself with the cockup of having made a knee-jerk reaction after 9/11 and arresting everyone they were already watching, for fear of a repeat in this country, without actually having the evidence to justify the arrests. (Just because no one’s been charged doesn’t mean that they aren’t actually terrorists, it just means there isn’t the evidence to charge them. Lack of evidence in itself doesn’t indicate either innocence or guilt.)
What they should have done was just redoubled the surveillance of terrorist suspects, and then arrested them when they actually committed a criminal offence. That way, they could have widened the scope of their investigation by uncovering new acquaintances who otherwise went to ground after the suspects were hauled in, and also potentially found new Al Qaeda intelligence.
Additionally, that would have eliminated any innocent men amongst the twelve Belmarsh prisoners (if they exist) from their enquiries.
On the plus side (civil rights speaking), all four Guantanamo Bay Britons have been released without charge.
Unless there was ~literally~ no evidence to back charges against those four, and our police are convinced of their innocence, I suspect MI5 and Special Branch are watching them like hawks, waiting for them to go back to their God-given alleged vocations. A nationalist or even ideological terrorist (or someone who just went to join the Taliban, rather than an actual terrorist group) might just give up and go home after three years of imprisonment, interrogation and allegedly torture, but a religious fanatic? God doesn’t change his plans like that.
The same plan probably applies to those being tagged. If they’re not up to anything, they’ll stick to the terms of their licence until such a point that the Home Office decides to stop (whenever that is…). If they’re fanatics, then at some point or other, they’ll skip out and possibly allow MI5 to get more intelligence.
Why the government didn’t think of this earlier is beyond me. (Oh, except that Blunkett was a hardliner, so could never be proven wrong.)
We’re not in a perfect situation, by any means, but it was impossible (for reasons of national security) to just release the Belmarsh 12. This is a step towards righting the wrong of internment (no one’s used that word this time around…).
House arrest is still internment as far as I’m concerned. One of the fundamental principles of British law is innocent until proven guilty. We cannot, in all conscience, lower that standard because of fear. The standard of proof required for these house arrests will be "reasonable suspicion" which as I understand is even lower than balance of probability.
Hell, the number of things I’ve said about disagreeing with the concept of the nation state they could probably found ‘reasonable suspicion’ to impose one of these things on me.
That’s really the problem as far as I see it. We need it to be more than ‘reasonable suspicion’; what is the difference at the moment between the UK and Burma where Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest in Myanmar?
Incidentally I uploaded my last entry on Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader in Burma to the ‘more’ section of this entry. If you have forgotten about her!
I never said it was an ideal situation, or a good situation, I said it was a better situation.
And the difference between Aung San Suu Kyi and the Belmarsh inmates are that the former wants to give people the vote, while the latter are suspected of wanting to reduce innocent people to shreds of bloody flesh in the name of God.
Utterly different ballgame. If you can acknowledge that there’s a sliding scale of morality, rather than yes/no, good/evil, democratic/tyrannical, our democratically-elected government is still far ahead of the Burmese junta, even if you only take the house arrest issue into account.
Yes, house arrest isn’t somewhere we particularly want to be at, but it’s where we are, and it’s where the new post-9/11 civil rights battlelines are being drawn, closer to a return to normality (not further, as Mish suggested in the original post). The government has been defeated, civil rights have won, but this is only a battle, not the entire war.
Postscript to Jo, about you being an enemy of the state:
You have never (to my knowledge) advocated the murder of innocent civilians in either this or any other country. You have also never (again, to my knowledge) sent money or given material support to a terrorist organisation. Don’t belittle the situation, or reduce the credibility of your own argument, or misrepresent your opposition’s intentions, by categorising yourself as the same kind of ‘potential victim’ as a suspected member of Al Qaeda. Your opinions can safely be ignored by the people in power. Osama Bin Laden’s can’t.
(Update on the Guantanamo Britons: The US has accused them of still being a threat, and it’s pretty much been confirmed that they will still be under observation.)
We tried internment of suspected terrorists in Ireland, it did not work. And there are generations of Irish people that hate Britain for it. The key word is suspected, if you have proof that those imprisoned at Belmarsh have broken any law in this country, I’m sure the police would be glad to hear it (in fact by not releasing it you make yourself a suspected terrorist under the anti-terrorism legislation). We must presume innocence until there is proof of guilt. We cannot punish on the basis of mere suspicion. The threat al qaeda poses to the British state is minimal, even less than the minimal threat it poses to the US. It may sound callous but I do believe that security is pointless if it comes at the expense of human rights and civil liberties, tragic though terrorist attacks and the associated loss of life may be, as the law lords said the threat posed to our society by them is minimal in comparison to the threat posed by the anti-terrorist laws.
I’m all about a sliding scale of morality Archie. But locking up innocent people, (yes I said innocent because I am English not Scottish) is on my sliding scale of morality, WRONG. They are innocent until proven guilty ergo they are innocent so treat them as such. Now I know for a fact there is a record of myself at MI5 so I got no issues with them being watched but not house arrest.
We are not the Pope locking up Galileo for spouting self-evident truths, we are not the Burma government trying to prevent democracy we are apparently the BRITISH trying to protect said state of being.
You cannot protect democracy and civil liberties by impinging on them.