Kent Police have finally conceded that their stop and search procedures at the 2008 Kingsnorth power station demo were illegal, and have agreed to pay a (so far undisclosed) sum of money to the three.
In a way, this is a victory – it’s pretty unusual for the police to ever admit they’ve done something wrong. But thousands of protesters were dealt with in a similar fashion, and I doubt very much that any of them will see a single penny of compensation. Protester Sarah Horne told the Guardian:
‘Hundreds of people’s possessions were seized, from walking sticks to crayons to health and safety supplies. ‘Riot police burst onto the site on a number of occasions and started beating people with batons, without warning or provocation.
‘Kent police have offered compensation to three people – but thousands of members of the public were searched, attacked or otherwise harassed at the 2008 Camp. Are Kent Police going to compensate and apologise to them all?’
It was only the tenacity of the “Kingsnorth Three” that ensured the police didn’t get away with their gung-ho approach. And two of those three protesters were children – twins just 11 years old!
The law used by the police to justify the use of stop and search powers requires police officers to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that an individual is carrying prohibited weapons or articles that could be used to cause criminal damage.
However, during the case, brought against the police by the three protesters, it emerged that police had been conducting a blanket stop and search policy. Kent police now admit that search policy was ‘unlawful’ and ‘should not have happened’. Of course, what they mean is that this policy should never have come to light. The police, and many of their friends in government, would love to make it illegal to demonstrate.
So thousands of protestors were unlawfully detained, searched and physically abused; but only three are to receive compensation. Also, the police conduct at the demo has been characterised as “unlawful”; so police officers broke the law while on duty. It is very probable that these unlawful actions were authorised, even ordered, by senior officers. This needs to be investigated by an impartial commission, and any officers found to have broken the law should be sacked and possibly sent to prison.
There’s an oft-quoted question: “Who watches the watchers?” The answer, of course, is us. The police are entrusted with great power. When they are found to have abused that power, they need to be stamped on. Hard.
So it would seem that Israeli commandos did not shoot activists on the Gaza aid flotilla ships only in self-defence. Autopsies on nine Turkish men killed on board the Mavi Marmara aid freighter show that victims had been shot from behind, and some had been shot repeatedly in the back of the head. The Guardian reports:
The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.
The autopsy reports have heightened the pressure on Israel to allow a full, independent inquiry into what happened. Andrew Slaughter MP, a member of the British government’s all-party group on Britain and the Palestine said: “”Given the very disturbing evidence which contradicts the line from the Israeli media and suggests that Israelis have been very selective in the way they have addressed this, there is now an overwhelming need for an international inquiry.”
Israel is trying to downplay the significance of the autopsy results. An embassy spokesman in London claimed that the number of bullets found in the bodies did not alter the fact that the soldiers were acting in self defence. “The only situation when a soldier shot was when it was a clearly a life-threatening situation. Pulling the trigger quickly can result in a few bullets being in the same body, but does not change the fact they were in a life-threatening situation.” This explanation is nearly compelling… if you ignore the details of the autopsies. For instance a 19-year-old man, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. All but one of the bodies examined had been shot multiple times. And these were all direct shots, not ricochets. Dr Haluk Ince, the chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul, said: “All [the bullets] were intact. This is important in a forensic context. When a bullet strikes another place it comes into the body deformed. If it directly comes into the body, the bullet is all intact.”
Israeli sources are trying to portray the flotilla activists as terrorists. But that is a ridiculous notion. Check out this account from one of the activists – are these the words of a terrorist?
As the controversy rages on, another freighter carrying aid is approaching Gaza. Israeli authorities have said that if the Rachel Corrie changes its course and goes to the Israeli port of Ashdod, Israel will take the aid material and deliver it to Gaza for them. But the aid workers don’t trust Israel, and they are continuing direct to Gaza. So, another confrontation is going to happen. I wonder how many innocent men and women will be murdered by Israeli soldiers this time?
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Seeing that I’m a bit of a shutterbug on the side as well as a tech freak/geek, this little birdy caught my eye:
It’s the DraganFlyer X6, a remote controlled helicopter with camera attached. Any gadget-madmen amongst us must surely salivate at the idea. As will voyeurs, photographers, and voyeuristic photographers. It has a range of 8000 ft, and built-in stabiliser sensors mean you can tell it to hover round while you concentrate on your photographer. The version that the What Digital Camera reporter hot his hands on carries a Panasonic Lumix LX3, though apparently there are 3 others to choose from.
All sounds great, huh? So what’s the catch? £21,585 plus VAT.
But those of us who lack pockets overflowing with gold sovereigns don’t have to sit to one side of the playground, weeping piteously while everyone else wants to hang with the kid with the DraganFlyer. Reading the What Digital Camera article stirred something deep in my memory, and a quick google sussed it out – check out this video from the DefCon 17 archives. And a video google for “quadrotor” turns up a whole bunch of projects where hackers are building remote controlled flying vehicles with live camera connections. A good few of them are autonomous too – meaning they are robotic birds!
Of course the authorities love kit like this… so long as it’s the forces of law and over at the controls. Many countries (the UK included) strictly restrict where and how remote controlled vehicles can be operated. All under the blanket excuse of “safety”. And “security” too, no doubt. Just think of all those terrorists spying on us through our bedroom windows, or delivering bombs to high-rise high-profile targets! OMG I’m terrified!
I certainly do dread the thought of big brother sending out flocks of quadrotors to do their evil bidding. But the mass of detail out there on the interwebs about hackers’ projects to develop the same kind of thing for a much smaller budget makes me feel a little better. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having one of these things for myself. For its photography potential, of course: just think of all those shots that would be otherwise unobtainable… like the flash of claw and fang of a murderous pussycat that mistakes your quadrotor for a quick snack…
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