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Global Injustices and Violations of Civil Liberties Go Hand in Hand at Shannon

category clare | anti-war | feature author Tuesday December 22, 2009 13:33author by Shannonwatch Report this post to the editors

featured image
It Takes More than This to Stop Us

Every day the war machines roll through Shannon, as the innocent populations of Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere suffer the brutal consequences of neo-liberal occupation. The Gardai react by mounting public displays of strength against half a dozen innocent protestors, while claiming to have no opinions or authority over the cargos and personnel passing through the airport.

The US-led “war on terror” has resulted in the erosion of human rights in the interest of state security, as disappearances, illegal imprisonment and torture of detainees has become commonplace. The rights of ordinary people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza to live safely with the full enjoyment of their economic, social and cultural rights have been systematically violated by invading powers as they seek to secure their strategic interests. Technology is used to bring death and carnage to millions as the rhetoric of Western security is repeated like a mantra.

Shannon Airport is a prime example of how the lives and human rights of ‘other’ distant peoples have become expendable in the context of Western self-interest. The ongoing use of the airport by the US military and their contractors is justified locally on the basis of its economic benefit to the region. In the past we have even been told that it is linked to multinational corporate investment, and that we somehow can't have one without the other (that lie stopped when Dell announced it was firing 1900 employees). In fact our support for US imperialism makes us complicit in the suffering and death of innocent people, and contributes to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. It is made even worse by the routine refueling of CIA rendition planes under the watchful eyes of the airport police and Gardai and in clear violation of national and international law. This is all too high a price to pay for jobs.

Gardai at Shannon go to great lengths to protect the illegal and immoral business being conducted at the airport. Take their actions at the peaceful vigil on December 13th for example. For a start there was the completely unnecessary presence of 10 – 15 uniformed officers and metal barriers, in position for over an hour to stop a total of 7 peaceful demonstrators from getting anywhere near the airport. In fact the demonstrators had no wish to go into the airport on this occasion; public expressions of protest like these outside the airport are quite effective in gaining the attention of other citizens – and of policy makers it seems, judging by the large Garda presence.

Around the world the erosion of civil liberties goes hand in hand with governmental abuse of human rights, and Shannon is no different. When this writer attempted to drive into the airport after the vigil to leave two older members of the group to their bus stop, he was refused entry. The reason given was that “you have no lawful reason for going in”. But repeated efforts over a 15 minutes period, combined with unanswered requests regarding the legal basis for refusal, finally resulted in a change of heart from the Gardai. This confirmed that lawful reason did exist! It also confirmed that the Gardai at Shannon – acting under orders from higher authorities (or perhaps from the US officers stationed at the airport?) – will attempt to administer the law in a discriminate and improper way.

Perhaps the Gardai did not believe the reason given for entering the airport, and felt that the real purpose was to engage in further protest near the terminal building. If so they should note that this too is a lawful reason for entry, as the Irish Constitution guarantees ones right to freely express their convictions and opinions. Or perhaps they were under instruction to protect an arriving warplane from peaceful photographers … a visitor to the viewing gallery at the airport an hour and a half earlier was told that it was being closed “for security reasons”!

The abuse of state power was in further evidence after this writer had dropped his passengers off in the airport and was waiting for one of them to return to the car. The Garda sergeant who had tracked the car all the way in told the writer that he was liable to arrest if he did not immediately leave the aerodrome. Why? You guessed it – because he had “no lawful reason …”.

It is shameful that our law enforcers do not seem to know what is and what is not lawful. While they impede the movement of peaceful protesters without valid reason, they turn a blind eye to known rendition planes and their crews, to cargo destined for Iraq and Afghanistan, and to US occupation soldiers on their way to kill or be killed. It’s been happening for years but it still astounds and dismays me.

Thursday last, December 10th, was Human Rights Day. It was a day on which ordinary people around the world were asked to stand up for human rights. But this Christmas human rights abuse will continue in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more innocent lives will be lost. Its not enough to write letters of complaint to distant governments. Standing up for human rights means ending what goes on at Shannon.

Related Link: http://www.shannonwatch.org/
author by DoubleStandardspublication date Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:32Report this post to the editors

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2009/12/....html

The US tipped off Thai authorities to search a North Korean plane for arms.
Lots of huffing and puffing about illegality etc

Pity you can't search and seize planes passing through shannon for criminal activities though!

I guess, well, thats different! Hypocrites

author by Edward Horganpublication date Tue Dec 15, 2009 20:50Report this post to the editors

Well done John and your six other supporters at the December vigil at Shannon. Its a sorry day for Ireland when the vast majority of its people choose to ignore our Government's complicity in crimes against humanity. It is vital to contlnue to pursue the illegal activities of the Gardai at Shannon in harrassing innocent people, and also, more importantly, to pursue them for their illegally failing to carry out their crime prevention duties at Shannon airport, especially their duties under the UN Convention Against Torture, and the Geneva Conventions on War.

author by Coilínpublication date Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:01Report this post to the editors

What provisions exist in the law for a Garda to command a law-abiding member of the public to "leave the aerodrome"? Which section of which act of which year? I don't see such provisions anywhere in any of the Air Navigation and Transport Acts.

It a member suspects you of unlawful activities, then I see provision for him to detain you (not arrest you) so as to establish whether you have lawful business in the airport, but if he has grounds to suspect that your business is _unlawful_, then surely it would be neglect of duty to let you go!

Meanwhile, please note the following:
"GARDA SIOCHANA (DISCIPLINE) REGULATIONS. 1926.
1.—Any member of the Force shall commit an offence against discipline if he is guilty of:—
... (4) Neglect of Duty, that is to say, if he
(a) neglects or without good and sufficient cause omits promptly and diligently to attend to or carry out anything which is his duty ...
... (8) Unlawful or Unnecessary exercise of Authority, that is to say, if he
(a) without good and sufficient cause makes any unlawful or unnecessary arrest, or
(b) uses any unnecessary violence ... , or
(c) is uncivil to any member of the public, or
(d) exceeds his duty in any manner to the prejudice of good order and discipline."

Have you put in a complaint to the Ombudsman about the member failing to establish your lawful business at the airport, thus _neglecting_ one duty, and at the same time threatening unnecessary arrest, and thus _exceeding_ any other duty?

author by Bazooka Joepublication date Tue Dec 22, 2009 17:29Report this post to the editors

Shannon Airport features on a map in this report about the secret prisons in Lithuania

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxyxK2P7NEY

author by John - Shannonwatchpublication date Wed Dec 23, 2009 18:20author email shannonwatch at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

Shannon Airport may still be a Stop-off for Illegal Rendition Flights: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/95175

Related Link: http://www.shannonwatch.org
author by Ex Shannon Airport Workerpublication date Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:37Report this post to the editors

There are NO RENDITION FLIGHTS taking place here in shannon,and the irish government has done more than their fair share to see to that!This is a lot of hype whipped up by the interent media..
There are more pressing politicial issues at hand but your just too lazy to find them!

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Sun Jan 17, 2010 14:00Report this post to the editors

To ex-Shannon airport worker - There were OFFICIALLY no rendition flights at Shannon when in reality there were.

Is your new information based on inspections that you have carried out personally, or are aware of, or is your statement based on the words of ex-Taoiseach Ahern who said that he had got an assurance from the "great (sic) President Bush" to that effect.

Bertie Ahern said: "I looked at - at the great President Bush and I said to him 'Y'know, I want to be sure to be sure'. And he assured me. Couldn't do any more than that"

Look at the video clip of RTE news on You Tube and the biting of the lip after that inane statement of ex-Taoiseach Ahern.
("Bertie Ahern Gaffe - calls GW Bush great")

Do you believe him?

author by John - Shannonwatchpublication date Thu Jan 21, 2010 19:49Report this post to the editors

And we will continue to hype it up because there are no more pressing politicial issues than state-supported kidnapping and torture. Or illegal wars that destroy entire nations of people.

As local activists who seek accountability for the well documented use of Shannon for renditions, Shannonwatch would be very interested to meet with 'Ex Shannon Airport Worker' to find out how he knows that there are no rendition flights taking place in Shannon.

We are particularly interested because in 2009 we logged 5 known or suspected rendition planes at the airport. The Gardai, of course, would not inspect them ...

Ex Shannon Airport Worker, you can reach us on shannonwatch(at)gmail.com at any time to arrange. Or even better if you know anyone who still works at the airport and is therefore in a better position to say what does or does not happen there, please give them our email address.

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