Sunday, 28 November 2010

Torture on British Streets

We saw torture on our streets last week. More shockingly, the torture of schoolchildren by British police officers, whose job is to protect and serve, not bully our children. A joyful protest by students last Wednesday was turned into a new attack on democracy in the UK by the police.
Let's be clear kettling is deliberate and unlawful torture. We all have the right to peacefully protest and the police have no right to unlawfully stop peaceful protesters from going home.
What is kettling? In the words of Laurie Penny of the New Statesman, who was caught up in the heat of the kettle, it is to trap people in the open with no water or toilets or space to sit down. “It takes a shockingly short time to reduce ordinary kids to a state of primitive physical need” she says. “Without blankets, food or first aid, it's unspeakably cruel when it's done for six hours on the coldest night of the year, in sub-zero temperatures, to minors, some of whom don't even have a jumper.”
“Children who have fainted, and need medical attention, or the loo are denied their basic rights. The Police decide when old people can get warm, when the diabetics can get their insulin, when the kid having a panic attack can go home to her mum. It's a way of making you feel small and scared and helpless, a way for the state's agents to make you feel that you are nothing without them, making you forget that a state is supposed to survive by mandate of the people, and not the other way around.”
This is torture and we need the legal eagles to take them to court. There will be further protests and next time we may not have brave school children stopping the agents provocateur from turning a peaceful protest into a riot. That, of course, is what the police want. They were hitting peaceful protesters with their batons last Wednesday, just imagine what they could do if they can cause a riot? In recent protests most students have said they did not know the minority who caused trouble. A combination of agents provocateur and police unlawful kettling is going to provide government with the excuse they need to further curtail our civil liberties. With a Government of liars who were elected on false promises, we are going to see big confrontations on our streets in the coming months. As a former Liberal, it is a source of great sadness for me to see the Liberal Democrats being part of removing Liberty from our society and causing children to be tortured on our streets.