11th March | International Solidarity Movement, Occupied Palestine
Tom Woodhead, an ISM activist who is currently being deported by Israeli immigration authorities, has pledged not to answer questions if British authorities attempt to misuse the Terrorism Act 2000 when he arrives at the airport in the UK. The British activist, is currently being deported by Israeli authorities after being arrested on the 1st of March by border police at a demonstration against Israel’s illegal colonial occupation of Palestinian land in Kafr Qaddum, a village in the West Bank.
Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act makes it an imprisonable offense in the UK not to provide information to the police if stopped at a port of entry and there is no right to representation by a lawyer. The act may only be used to ask questions with the aim of establishing whether a person is involved in terrorism or the preparation of acts of terrorism. However, two researchers from London based research organisation Corporate Watch were stopped under the act on their return from Palestine and questioned about their journalistic work, the work of the International Solidarity Movement and the international movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.
The researchers were also questioned about their involvement with Smash EDO, an anti-arms trade campaign. Woodhead has also been involved in the campaign. He was part of a group of activists who broke into the Brighton factory of EDO-MBM Technology and, after barricading themselves inside, proceeded to damage around £200,000 worth of manufacturing equipment. Following a month-long trial in summer 2010, they were cleared of charges of criminal damage after satisfying the jury that they had lawful excuse to cause the damage because they were acting to prevent war crimes being carried out, as equipment manufactured by the company was then being used in the Israeli’s December 2008 to January 2009 shocking attack on the Gaza Strip.
Woodhead, in a statement given from Givon detention centre in Ramle, said that he would risk imprisonment by refusing to give information to the police if they attempt to misuse the act. He plans to say: “I have reasonable grounds to believe you only want to interrogate me about my involvement in political movements such as the International Solidarity Movement and various campaigns against the arms trade. None of these movements has any credible links to terrorism. I therefore believe the use of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is a gross misuse of police powers. I intend now to hold my silence in protest against such abuse of power.”