By Margaret Rees
15 November 2008
In a series of articles published last month, Melbourne’s Age newspaper revealed that a covert police agent recently infiltrated several left-wing political and activist groups, including Socialist Alternative, Stop the War Coalition, Unity for Peace, and Animal Liberation Victoria. Beginning in 2006, the agent provocateur was involved in anti-Iraq war demonstrations—including last year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) protests in Sydney—animal liberation actions, and participated in planning meetings for a protest to be held against a weapons fair in South Australia.
The two-year operation represents an extraordinary abrogation by the state of the right of citizens to participate in public activities and join political organisations without fear of police harassment. It underscores the extent to which basic democratic rights and established legal norms have been torn up under the banner of the so-called war on terror. Political dissent—any form of disagreement with the existing social and political order—is now being effectively criminalised.
The so-called war on terror has been promoted by ruling elites in Australia and around the world as a means to legitimise their predatory, neo-colonial operations abroad and their attacks on democratic rights at home. It has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting ordinary people from the threat of harm from terrorist attack.
The question can be raised: if it is regarded as legitimate “anti-terror” police work for the agents provocateurs who infiltrated a group of disoriented men, influenced by religious fundamentalist ideas, to actively encourage their disorientation, incite discussions about violence, and provide them with the illegal material that triggered their arrest and prosecution, then on what grounds can one oppose the same methods being applied to other citizens, including members of political parties and protest organisations?
Nothing new about cops spying on the left
Nov. 10, 2008
In October the Melbourne Age newspaper reported that Victoria Police had infiltrated a number of left-wing groups in the city. A police officer posing as a peace activist attended the organising committee for the Palm Sunday anti-war rally, participated in planning for a protest outside an international arms fair, and signed up as a member of Socialist Alternative.
It’s outrageous that the politicians who initiated and keep approving money for murderous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who profit from selling the means to slaughter human beings, are free to walk the streets – while those of us opposed to the war find ourselves under surveillance. We should be outraged, but we shouldn’t be surprised: police harassment and infiltration of socialist groups has been going on for as long as socialist groups themselves. Victoria’s first socialist organisation, the Australian Socialist League, was established in 1889. Police disrupted meetings, arrested socialist newspaper sellers and hired thugs to beat them up.
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