"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced" - James Baldwin
Monday 5 October 2020
"These are Dangerous Times"
of L/Cpl Reg Keys, who
was killed in Iraq in
He was left
angry man. His son he said was, with his five fellow soldiers, “let down in life by the men who
sent them to their deaths and they have been let down in death by the
people who continually deny responsibility.” Reg stood
against Tony Blair in the 2005 General Election when
I was working at the Stop the War Coalition. I
Reg in the early stages of his campaign and
helped Brian Eno organise his first press conference. Reg himself has
told of the harrasment he received at this time and
I too had frightening
experiences I have never talked about.
Here is how harrasment is practised today.
at Stop the War I got to know ex-ambassador, Craig Murray. As a
fellow whistleblower, I was an early reader of the account he gives of his time as UK ambassador in Uzbekistan, and how Jack Straw and Tony
Blair rid themselves of this ‘truth teller’. I have followed and admired his life in the intervening years.
Craig has spent many weeks attending and reporting on the Julian Assange
extradition hearings at the Old Bailey and these can be read on his website. His
most recent post is chilling. Here it is ...
Saturday a small, socially distanced vigil of 18 people for Julian
Assange at Piccadilly Circus was broken up by twice that number of
police and one elderly man arrested and taken into custody. The
little group of activists have been holding the vigil every week. I
had just arrived to thank them and was astonished to see eight police
vans and this utterly unnecessary police action. There could not be a
clearer example of “Covid legislation” being used to crack down
on unrelated, entirely peaceful political dissent.
was myself questioned by a policeman who asked me where I lived, how
long I had been in London and why, what I had been doing at the
Assange trial and when I was going back to Edinburgh. (You can see me
very briefly at 10 mins 30 secs trying to reason with a policeman who
was entirely needlessly engaging in macho harassment of a nice older
in the evening I had dinner with Kristin Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief
of Wikileaks. I returned to my hotel about 11pm, did my ablutions and
went to bed. Just after midnight I was awoken by an insistent and
extremely loud pounding at the door of my room. I got naked out of
bed and groped my way to open the door a chink. A man dressed like
the hotel staff (black trousers, white shirt) asked me when I was
checking out. I replied in the morning, and pointed out the hotel
knew I was leaving the next day. Why was he asking in the middle of
the night? The man said “I was asked to find out”. I closed the
door and went back to bed.
next morning I complained in the strongest possible terms, the hotel
refunded me one night’s accommodation. The duty manager who did
this added “It was not our fault” but said they could not tell me
any more about why this had happened.
person at my door had a native English accent. I had been staying in
the hotel over four weeks and I think I know all of the customer
facing staff – not a single one of them has a native English
accent. I had never seen that man before. This was a four star hotel
from a major chain. I suspect “do not get sleeping guests out of
bed after midnight to ask them what time they are checking out” is
pretty high on their staff training list. I cannot help but in my
mind put it together with my encounter with the police earlier that
day, and their interest in when I was returning to Edinburgh, but
there seems no obvious purpose other than harassment.
hotel incident may just be in the strange but unexplained category.
The busting of the Assange vigil earlier is of a piece with the
extraordinary blanking of the hearing by corporate media and the
suppression of its reporting on social media. These are dangerous