‘Anti-Terror’ police were used to arrest protesters in Sydney this week. It was alleged that the protesters were involved in the G20 demonstration held in Melbourne last November. The protesters homes were raided and their doors were kicked in. They were then dragged away to be charged with offences such as riot and affray.
The arrests came after Victorian detectives from Taskforce Salver analysed thousands of images captured on security cameras and taken by the media during the protest. Police from the NSW anti-terrorism unit joined Victorian detectives in the pre-dawn raids. Dozens of police ransacked the activists’ homes confiscating items such as clothing to be used as evidence.
The protesters were bailed from Sydney Central Local Court on conditions that they report daily to police, reside at their home address, not contact prosecution witnesses and do not go to any points of international departure. They will face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court next Tuesday.
Whilst the Socialist Party did not agree with the tactics used by all of the protestors at the G20 demonstration we are totally opposed to the use of anti-terror police against political protesters. The actions taken by the Victorian State Government and the police in this regard are a gross attack on democratic rights.
These raids also follow the brutal police intimidation of protesters during recent actions against US Vice-President Dick Cheney in Sydney. On that occasion people were physically stopped from demonstrating and two people were hospitalised.
It is clear that the ‘Counter Terrorism’ unit is being used to intimidate young people who stand up against the war and poverty being inflicted by organisations like the G20. They are also trying to send a message to the many thousands of youth who stand against the system and will demonstrate at the APEC summit in Sydney later this year.
The involvement of ‘anti-terror’ police implies that the protesters are ‘terrorists’ this classification could make them liable for penalties under the new anti-terror laws. When these laws were first introduced the Socialist Party warned that in the future the laws could easily be used against socialists, trade unionists or anti capitalist protesters. Many people at the time said we were being ridiculous. Now it is starting to happen.
At a time when many people across the world are turning against the war in Iraq and many more youth are questioning the capitalist system, these raids are being used to divert people’s attention away from the real issues facing ordinary people. Federal and state governments are also desperate to justify the massive amounts of money currently being used to counter ‘terrorism’.
We urge all activists to support the arrested G20 protesters. In the coming weeks there will be public meetings and fundraisers organised. Today it is the G20 protesters tomorrow it could be anyone else who stands against the system.