Originally published: https://medyanews.net/uk-parliament-panel-condemns-border-harassment-of-kurdish-community-journalists/

A UK Parliament panel has condemned the harassment of the Kurdish community and journalists by UK police using Schedule #7 of the Terrorism Act. This law, allowing detention and interrogation at borders without the right to silence, has targeted marginalised communities, including Kurds and Muslims. The panel included MPs, legal experts, and activists who criticised the misuse of anti-terrorism laws and called for solidarity against discriminatory practices.

24 May 2024 | Medya News

The harassment of the Kurdish community, Kurdish representatives and journalists working on the Kurdish issue by UK police has been addressed at a panel discussion on the UK Parliament, following a film presentation concerning the use of the widely-condemned Schedule #7 of the UK’s Terrorism Act. This power, described as the most far-reaching in Europe, enables UK police to detain anyone at the country’s borders, interrogate them without the right to silence, and demand the passwords to their phones and computers.

The power has typically been used to target members of persecuted communities, including the UK’s Muslim minority, as well as extensively against the Kurdish community. A new film ‘Phantom Parrot’ profiles the case of Muhammad Rabbani, director of advocacy organisation CAGE, which seek justice and fair treatment for those accused of terrorism offences in the course of the West’s War on Terror. Rabbani had his devices confiscated and was convicted of a terror offence for failing to hand over his passwords while investigating allegations of torture by US intelligence agencies.

Following a screening of the film, the panel heard from Labour MPs Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Claudia Webbe; Richard Parry, a lawyer who recently led a high-profile case on behalf of French publisher Ernest Moret following another controversial Schedule #7 stop, resulting in the UK police being reprimanded by the country’s independent Terrorism Commissioner; the UK Democratic People’s Kurdish Assembly Co-Chair Sonia Karimi; British journalist and Medya News contributor Matt Broomfield, who has faced persecution via Schedule #7 for his own reporting on the Kurdish issue; and Rabbani himself.

“The Kurdish community come to this country to seek safety, and yet they face threats,” Karimi said. She described widespread harassment of the Kurdish community at the border through this power, notwithstanding the leading role the Kurdish movement has played fighting Islamic terrorism as a key partner of the West in the fight against ISIS. “Everyone has the right to justice, and to a fair trial,” she added. “The judicial system has to be functioning.”

MPs Russell-Moyle and Webbe joined calls for solidarity between the diverse communities affected by discriminatory UK policies and harassment, as well as advocating for the UK Labour Party to rethink the power following its expected return to government later this year. “This power is being applied to more and more people, including refugees – none of us are safe,” Webbe said, referring to a recent decision to extend the power to apply to refugees arriving on the UK’s borders on small boats, many of them also Kurdish.

Panellists all pointed to the extent of foreign influence on UK security policy, and the sharing of information garnered through Schedule #7 – from the USA exerting influence following Rabbani’s investigation of torture on US soil, through Turkish demands for prosecution of Kurdish activists, representatives and journalists, to the French government’s apparent use of the UK police power to gather information on their own citizens.

“People might see this anti-terrorism legislation and think oh, they’re targeting the bad guys, Islamic terrorists,” Broomfield said. “But it’s being used to target the ‘good guys’, the Kurds who led the fight against ISIS, as well; and then to target journalists and rights activists. It’s a slippery slope, and ultimately this will affect all of us in civil society, all of us concerned with our fundamental rights.”