British Muslim teacher removed from US-bound plane… in Iceland!

February 22, 2017

Juhel Miah is a British citizen, a teacher accompanying students on a trip to Iceland and then, the plan was, to fly on to America.  But it was not to be.

Mr Miah, aged 25, was born in Birmingham and brought up in Swansea.  He attended Swansea University, where he got a first class degree, was one of five adults from Llangatwg community school near Neath, south Wales, who were accompanying a party of 39 children to New York via Iceland last week.  He had no problem entering Iceland.  But when it came to the next leg of the trip, flying on to the USA, everything changed.

At  Keflavík international airport near Reykjavik, Mr Miah was immediately targeted by US officials.  He told the Guardian:

I gave one of the American officials there my passport. My first name is Mohammed. It felt as if straight away she looked up and said: ‘You’ve been randomly selected for a security check.’

“Deep down I thought: ‘Here we go’ but I was polite and followed all the instructions. She took me into this room. There were five or six other officials. Two of them checked me. They made me take my jacket off, my hoodie off, they opened my bag, I took my shoes off. They made me stand on a stool. They rubbed me all the way down. They even pulled my trousers down to check my boxers. They rubbed their hands under my feet. They got a swab and wiped me all over. Eventually they let me go through.”

So he made it onto the plane.  But that was not the end of his ordeal. Not at all.  He was followed onto the Icelandair plane by an American official who told him he had to get off again.  And he was refused permission to reboard the plane and fly on to the USA – without even being given a reason for this treatment.  Instead he was forced to return to the UK, rather than being allowed to  do his job and accompany his students to America.

The US officials refused to give a reason why he was being treated this way.  And Mr Miah cannot think of a good reason.  He has never posted anything at all inappropriate on social media. He has not been to any of the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – whose citizens were the subject of Trump’s overturned travel ban. His parents are of Bangladeshi origin. His brother had no trouble visiting Florida last year.  But now, with Trump in office, suddenly Mr Miah is persona non grata in the USA.

He said:

“I hope this isn’t true, I really don’t want this to be true but it all started with the first American official I met and the moment she read Mohammed.

“I just hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else. That’s my number one goal now. I want a reason, an explanation. If it was a mistake someone should just put their hands up and say it was a mistake and it won’t happen again. I would still like to go to America one day. I just hope it boils down to human error and someone says sorry.”

The Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, has written to the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, asking for “urgent clarification”. The US has not commented.

Mr Miah has been very kind in his comments, but to a detached reader it is obvious he was targeted and removed from the flight – even though he had a valid travel visa – because he is a Muslim.

This might have an effect on his career.  He was subjected to a humiliating, pointless search before boarding the plane – and then he was removed from the plane as if he was a criminal, with his colleagues and students watching.  Through no fault of his own, Mr Miah has been stigmatised.  The Donald Trump “No Muslim” policy is being enacted, even though it has been suspended by the US court.  But, because no reason was given for his treatment, some might claim there was another reason for it.  The “no smoke without fire” principle.  Donald Trump’s ugly, bigoted, ignorant attitude is threatening an honest teacher’s life.

trump-may-composite

The bigot and the whore – you decide which is which

Why hasn’t the foreign secretary Boris Johnson summoned the US ambassador to explain this outrageous behaviour?  Is the clown too busy bumbling around, trying to conceal his extreme right-wing politics from the British electorate?  He is a vile man – but he is our vile man, and should be giving the US ambassador a harsh dressing down.  But no, he won’t get a response – he won’t even ask for a response – because the Tory government’s “hard Brexit” plan means the country must prostrate itself before the eminence noir of “President” Trump.  And good, hard-working people like Mr Miah count for nothing in the dangerous game our government are playing.  Theresa May is getting into bed with Trump, literally as well as figuratively, and when she emerges bow-legged from the monster’s den she will pass the syphilis onto the rest of us.  A syphilitic economy – that’s all we need – financial madness, removal of all the human rights we managed to gain from the EU – a political and moral sickness that is already dirtying our nation when our government connives with Trump to discriminate against British citizens on the basis of religion.


UFO hacker Gary McKinnon beats US attempts at extradition

October 16, 2012

So who’d a thunk it?  Gary McKinnon, intrepid UFO-conspiracy theory nut who skilfully hacked into NASA and US Department of Defence (robustly protected with no, I repeat no passwords, has finally won his appeal to home secretary Theresa May.

Then again, a cynic (who, me?) might argue that the government really needed the PR boost this decision has given them.  For a long time people have been protesting the blatantly skewed US/UK extradition.  Britain recently extradited the half-blind (heh) Abu Hamza to America. May says her decision was made solely on medical grounds, but it was obviously a sop for those who say that Britain is just the USA’s poodle.  I doubt very much that America will make much fuss over this – after all, it ain’t like McKinnon is an al-Qaeda operative who beat state-of-the-art intrusion systems to access military secrets – he’s a UFO nut who got into unprotected computer systems looking for evidence of LGM at Area 51 or somesuch crap.  So now May and her successors can point to the McKinnon case whenever someone accuses the UK government of extradition to America on demand.  Because we all know that’s what the US/UK treaty amounts to really, don’t we?  Well, don’t we?  Please don’t tell me anyone’s actually fallen for this theatre!

It’s also important to remember that McKinnon has been under threat of extradition for over eight years!  That’s a long time to sit worrying that you might soon be on the way to Gitmo.  As Gary’s mother wrote in an open letter in September:

My son has now been under arrest for longer than any British citizen ever has. He hasn’t raped anyone, he hasn’t murdered anyone, so can’t understand how this can be happening to him, as no matter how much anyone may choose to exaggerate his crime, the fact is that his crime was tapping on a keyboard in his bedroom in north London in search of information on aliens from outer space.

Gary rarely ever leaves his home as he is traumatised to the core. A boy who cycled, swam, composed music and sang, now sits in the dark with his cats and never wants to see or speak to anyone.

He has no life, and is broken, like a wounded animal with no outlet and no hope, seeing only the dark side and the cruelty that exists in the world. My only child has lost 10 years of his youth and has aged and died before my eyes.

Also spare a thought for the families of Babar Ahmad, and others who have been extradited to the US by virtue of our “special relation” no matter how flimsy the evidence.  Ahmad’s family released a statement:

We strongly welcome the decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon – we would not want his family to experience the pain and suffering we have all been enduring since Babar was extradited.

However, questions do need to be asked as to why, within the space of two weeks, a British citizen with Asperger’s accused of computer related activity is not extradited, while two other British citizens, one with Asperger’s, engaged in computer related activity are extradited. A clear demonstration of double standards.

That Theresa May felt compelled to postpone both the McKinnon decision on several occasions and the introduction of the forum bar (which would have prevented Babar’s extradition) demonstrates her willingness to make vulnerable individuals like Gary suffer in her determination to extradite others.

Many of our supporters are angry at what appears to be blatant old-fashioned racism under which all British citizens are equal but some are more equal than others.

It looks like the McKinnon decision is a victory in a war we’ve already lost.

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Call centre lays off employees – and replaces them with prisoner slave labour!

August 8, 2012

An article in the Guardian today (8 August 2012) tells how a call centre in Wales has laid off 15% of their employees, and replaced them with prisoners from Prescoed prison in Monmouthshire, paying them 40p per hour – just 6% of the Minimum Wage!

The roofing and environmental refitting company Becoming Green has taken on a staff of 23 prisoners. Currently 12 are being paid just 6% of the minimum wage.  The law specifically exempts prisoners from any right to the minimum wage,which suits Becoming Green just fine – it confirmed that since it started using prisoners, it had fired other workers – regular workers who do have the right to be paid the minimum wage.. Former employees put the number of workers laid off at 17 since December.

Becoming Green claim that there had been “performance issues” with the employees who had been fired; but the workers themselves say they were meeting targets and had worked as required.  Workers and ex-employees say it’s obvious that Becoming Green had sacked the regular workers because they can get slave labourers from the prison to do the same work for pennies.

Spokespersons for the Howard League for Penal Reform and prisoners’ charity Unlock said they’d never before heard of prisoners being used like this, taking jobs from other people while being prison wages – a derisory £3 per day that was dubiously justified as “training rates”.

So,is this another way for the booming private prison industry to finance itself – allowing businesses to use inmates as slave labour in return for kick-backs? Why else would the prisons let their inmates be taken advantage of in this way?

Apparently Kenneth Clarke wants to increase the number of prisoners working for outside companies. But speaking about the expansion of prison work from 10,000 to 20,000 prisoners over the next decade, Clarke told the BBC last month: “It would be a very serious downside if we started replacing job opportunities for law-abiding people, and we’ve been conscious of that all the way through.” Was this ignorance? Or a calculated lie?

Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said that for any company to rely on cheap labour of prisoners was “immoral and disgusting”.

He went on:

The association wants to see prisoners working and leading law-abiding lives but not at the expense of other workers being sacked or laid off to facilitate it.

Some employers must be rubbing their hands and the shareholders laughing all the way to the bank.

The ministers must be held to account if the factual position is this company has sacked workers to employ prisoners … The general public will be outraged if this proves to be widespread and proper scrutiny of contracts needs to be made public to ensure public confidence.

Private prisons, government-approved slave-labour, honest workers being sacked to make room for slaves with no right to the minimum wage… who’d a thunk it?

Well, quite a few people would have seen this coming – the cranks, the crackpops, the tin-foil hat brigade. Remember that, when you hear another outlandish conspiracy theory…

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Why won’t Theresa May just say clearly if she intends to allow Sweden to extradite Assange to USA?

July 27, 2012

Interesting article in the Guardian: Julian Assange, and the Ecuadorian government (in whose London embassy Assange has taken refuge for the past five weeks),have no problem per se with extradition to Sweden to face rape allegations. Ecuador, which wants to be an “honest broker” in this matter, is concerned that Sweden will go on to send Assange to the US where he faces possible charges of espionage and a natural life prison sentence for his role in Wikileaks’ publication of “top secret” diplomatic dispatches. Assange’s US lawyer, Michael Ratner, has said he was certain Assange had already either been secretly indicted by a grand jury in Washington or would face extradition with a view to prosecution. He believed the death penalty remained a possibility – which is a major reason why Ecuador opposes the extradition.

According to the Guardian article, there is a concept in extradition law called “specialty”: this means that if the UK extradite Assange to Sweden, the Swedes will not be allowed to extradite him to a third country (such as the USA) once they’ve finished with him – they will have to give him a 45 day grace period during which time he will be allowed to travel somewhere else (perhaps Ecuador). However, specialty can be waived by the country granting the initial extradition request – in this case the UK – thereby allowing an individual to be extradited to a third country. If home secretary Theresa May waives specialty under section 58 of the Extradition Act 2003, Sweden will be able to extradite Assange to the USA.

Assange is willing to be extradited to Sweden if specialty is not waivered. But the British government refuses to make this commitment. Instead they keep coming out with non-committal statements like:

Since Mr Assange first entered the Ecuadorean embassy five weeks ago, we have repeatedly made clear to the Ecuadorean government that the UK has a binding legal obligation to extradite Mr Assange to Sweden to face questioning over allegations of sexual offences. We have been seeking a diplomatic solution and expect Ecuador to resolve this issue in accordance with its international obligations.

The UK courts, including the supreme court, have confirmed that Mr Assange’s extradition to Sweden complies with all the requirements of the UK’s Extradition Act, including as regards the protection of his human rights. We have gone to great lengths to explain to Ecuador the human rights protections inherent in our law.

Britain usually refuses to extradite people to countries where there exists a possibility of cruel and unusual punishment – which includes the death sentence. Of course, if Assange is extradited to Sweden, this principle will have been upheld – Sweden has no plans to execute Assange. But if May waives specialty, she will effectively be sending him to the USA, where cruel and unusual punishment is a distinct possibility (remember, the USA would like to make an example of Assange, a foreigner whose own government doesn’t give a toss for – the US authorities can’t take action against the New York Times or the Guardian, the papers that actually published the leaked documents, because of how that would look in a country that supposedly prides itself on the “freedom of the press” – but destroying Assange would barely raise an eyebrow amongst Americans).

So come on May – tell Ecuador what your plans are regarding specialty in the Assange extradition case. Are you planning to have him sent on to the USA and possible execution? Or are you really just trying to abide by your legal obligations to Sweden?

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