By: Charlotte Silver
San Francisco Bay Area Palestine activists have declared their first victory in attempting to prevent the offloading of an Israeli cargo vessel at the Oakland Port. Originally planning to show up at 5:00 am Saturday morning to block the ship, activists sent word out late last night that the meeting time had been moved up to 3:00pm, as the ship had delayed its arrival at Oakland in an apparent attempt to avoid the protest.
Activist Mohamed Shehk told The Electronic Intifada that the organizers have been tracking the vessel Zim Piraeus, and realized last night that it had stopped before reaching its Oakland destination, spending the night at sea.
“This delay is seen as a victory for us. It shows how much Zim is trying to avoid our protest, and it shows how effective we can be when we can organize these types of actions,” Shehk said.
Moazzam Begg, the former Guantanamo Bay detainee and director of advocacy group CAGE, was one of four people arrested this morning on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences, police have confirmed.
In an event held earlier in January “Is Islam Being Criminalised?” Moazzam Begg spoke to an audience of 600 people regarding the British government’s anti-terror strategy and the harrasment he’s been facing for investigating the intelligence service’s relationship with tyrannical regimes in the Arab world.
During this speech he said: “Britain has truly taken a new turn in its persecution of religious minorities, especially Muslims. Sheikh Tony Blair telling us what our religion is! I told the British secret services that I’m going to Syria to investigate them. This war against Islam and Muslims transcends boarders and continents, unlike any other war against any other group. They wish to extinguish the light of Islam.”
His last Facebook post was: “Sometimes knowing too much can be a curse.”
Cerie Bullivant, Media Officer of CAGE said: “Moazzam has been very open about his international travel and his objectives, including importantly exposing British complicity in rendition and torture. The timing of Moazzam‘s arrest given his travel to Syria took place in December 2012 requires a detailed explanation.
“The timing coincides with the planned release of a CAGE report on Syria and a major news piece that was due to be televised soon. As with David Miranda it seems those who are engaged in exposing abuse of powers are targeted and smeared to prevent disclosure of vital evidence.
“We are also concerned that the Police and the security services are using the wide scope of terrorism laws, and applying them in Syria to set precedents that will make legitimate activity unlawful in future.”
Asim Qureshi, Research Director of CAGE said: “CAGE calls on all defenders of civil liberties and the rule of law to stand up and protest against the serious curtailment of yet another victim. The message may be unpalatable to those who wish to shroud their abuse in secrecy but that can never justify an attack on the messengers.
“We are disgusted that Moazzam Begg is being retraumatised with the same guilt by association accusations that resulted in his unlawful incarceration in Guantanamo Bay. We fully support our colleague and see his arrest as politically motivated and as part of a campaign to criminalise legitimate activism.”