Death and guitars

To quote Twisty Faster “wait, I have a blog?

Two things happened in the last two weeks that I’m going to write about: my grandmother died and I started building a guitar.


My grandmother was a pediatric nurse and spent her entire life looking after children. When she retired from that she worked as a carer for disabled women. She died from Acute Myeloid Leukemia last Friday. It is strange how death affects people. There’s a song she sang to every child in my family, including my mum, aunt, uncle when they were young, my sisters, cousins and recently my nephew. We always called it “onga bonga bonga”. I only remember her singing us the chorus:

“Bongo bongo bongo, I don’t wanna leave the Congo, oh no no no no-no, Bingle bangle bongle I’m so happy in the jungle I refuse to go, don’t want no bright lights, false teeth, doorbells, landlords, I make it clear, that no matter how they coax me, I’ll stay right here”.

Anyway, I Googled it and discovered that the whole song is actually quite racist, in a “noble savages” socially-acceptable-in-the-1940s sort of way.It feels very strange to have such affection for something I would otherwise have felt was unacceptable. My grandmother was not racist, not in any way she ever expressed, but when she was younger phrases like “three educated savages hollered from a bamboo tree” would not have been considered unacceptable. With the nationalism surrounding the Olympics, the Jubilee and the Euro 2012 football thing, it’s been a reminder of just how close we are to a past when Great Britain ruled almost a quarter of the planet, and the glory of the British Empire was something to be proud of.

When I heard someone commenting on the Olympics say “Britain is great once again” after we won another medal, I just thought clearly we’ve forgotten what that actually means.

and Guitars

On to cheerier stuff, I’ve started making a guitar. In what is no doubt going to be, or possibly already is an emerging trend coming soon to the streets of shoreditch, I’ve started building a cigar-box guitar from a piece of maple and, well, an empty cigar box. Here’s some pics.

The cigar box and the maple neck beneath.

The 2×1 maple neck with the lid-notch chiseled out. That took AGES.

Closer side-view of the lid-notch.

Cigar box body with neck-notches cut out. I cut them a bit too deep so I’m going to need to use the cut-outs as spacers.

Neck sitting flush against the lid. Below you can see the spacer. Need to cut the headstock next.

Will update with more pics as it the build progresses. In the mean time, here’s some cool cigar-box slide blues.

Taking on Tarmageddon launch

For the last year or so I’ve been directed a documentary about the tar sands in Canada called Taking on Tarmageddon. Blurb:

Join two groups of young campaigners on an emotional journey exploring the human cost of the biggest industrial project on the planet. Canada’s tar sands cover an area the size of England & Wales combined and produce 3-5 times the emissions of conventional oil.

Living in the heart of this are Canada’s First Nation communities whose lands and rights have been trampled on by the tar sands.

The first is a group of student activists from the environmental campaign group People & Planet. They travel out to Alberta to stay with the indigenous Beaver Lake Cree Nation and see the tar sands and their impact first hand.

The second group is two young members of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation who came to the UK to tell their story and build support for the campaign to end expansion of the tar sands.

We’re launching it tonight at the Amnesty International Human Right Action Centre in London. Come along, it’s free!

Chinese police fire on Tibetan protesters

(Originally published by New Internationalist)

The People’s Armed Police have celebrated Chinese New Year by opening fire on unarmed Tibetan protesters in two towns in north-western Kham (Chinese west Sichuan) province.

Last year, 16 Tibetans, monks, nuns and lay people set themselves on fire in protest at the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since the uprising in 2008, Tibet has been under de facto martial law. Columns of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police marching through cities and towns in Tibet are now a common sight.

Yoten was one of the Tibetans shot

When posters threatening more self-immolations began to appear in towns in Drango county the Public Security Bureau started arresting people. The posters stated that more protesters would set themselves on fire if the Chinese government did not listen to the concerns of Tibetan people. A large unarmed group that gathered to protest against the arrests were fired on indiscriminately by the People’s Armed Police. It was confirmed on Tuesday that six people had died following the shooting, with a further 30 thought to be seriously injured. Free Tibet Campaign has reported that many wounded Tibetans were too scared of arrest to seek medical treatment. This is likely to increase the numbers of those killed as a result of the shooting.

After this shooting on Monday, news came through on Tuesday of second incident. An estimated 600 security personnel arrived at a peaceful demonstration in the main town of neighbouring Serther county and began firing into the crowd. Five Tibetans have been confirmed dead with more than 40 seriously injured.

So far there has been little, if any, attention from the mainstream media and silence from governments around the world.

The Kalon Tripa1 Dr Lobsang Sangay said: ‘Silence from the world community sends a clear message to China that its repressive and violent measures to handle tensions in Tibetan areas are acceptable.’

The increasing scale of the protests and the level of force the Chinese government is willing to use to suppress them is increasing the desperation of many Tibetans in Tibet. Until global diplomatic pressure is put on China to cease the brutal crackdown on peaceful and unarmed protests, it is feared many more Tibetans may lose their lives.

In response to the shootings, candle-lit vigils are being held by Tibetans and supporters across the world and many Losar2 celebrations have been cancelled.

1. The Kalon Tripa is the equivalent of the Prime Minister in the Central Tibetan Administration aka Tibetan Government In Exile.

2. Losar is Tibetan New Year which this year falls on 22 February.

You don’t need anonymity to have power

(Originally published by Bright Green)

I originally wrote the piece “Why I don’t mask up“, to which Majsaleh responded “We don’t need martyrs” – this is my reply.

In response to the article We Don’t Need Martyrs, I agree with some of the points raised, and conceded as much in the comments thread of my original post, but disagree with a number of the others.

Firstly, I am not calling for people to martyr themselves for the cause. People should take precautions against threat of arrest. I have, however, had a number of conversations that have lead me to the conclusion that wearing a mask does not breed solidarity and has become a default for protests.

I conceded in the comments section of my article that when used as a specific tactic there could be occasions when concealing ones identity might be important. Redwatch is another example of this, or indeed protection against tear-gas. Masking-up is not, however, a guarantee against prosecution or of anonymity and has in recent protests been the cause of people’s arrest; snatch-squads and undercover officers target people with masks. Many people who were involved with the Great Climate Swoop at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station were identified and later arrested and charged based on their clothing, including masks/scarves.

I chose the example of the Seeds of Hope action specifically because they were both very accountable and very well prepared. The acquittal was indeed a good outcome but the defense had been well thought out in advance, to the extent that they knew they were likely to spend 6 months on remand before the trial and that the likely outcome would be a 6-month prison sentence. So in that case, it didn’t particularly matter, though acquittal is obviously the best outcome. I concede that perhaps Seeds of Hope was a clumsy example but it was also most definitely a protest. But if you look at other examples where real change has happened, those movements have been accountable. The civil rights movement in the US, the Indian freedom movement led by Gandhi being the two tired clichés but still apt.

The assertion that masking-up does not separate you from the people you are standing with is something I do not agree with. For the person masked up perhaps that is the case, but for many people it is not. If you cannot identify with someone, it is hard to have genuine solidarity with them. That isn’t about being personally recognizable; it is about others being able to see something or someone they know in you, having a point from which to build solidarity. This can start with agreeing on an issue but to extend it further, people need a stronger connection. I don’t necessarily mean the person standing next to you on a march, I mean the person at home watching the news who agrees but isn’t yet out on the street or the person with children who is worried about violence. A lot of people simply don’t view those masked-up as allies, and it is exactly that which you accuse me of being, self-indulgent, to assume that everyone on a march knows your intentions.

Very often protests are about who you are, not personally, but collectively. Teachers, doctors, students, firemen, public-sector workers, these are all groups of people that have been out on protests. They gain strength from being a group. If they were all masked and anonymous then they would be labeled“protesters”, quickly dismissed by the politicians and mocked by the media.

Masking up is used tactically by some, but if hiding your identity is your main concern then it is not the be-all and end-all. The police employ highly sophisticated electronic surveillance systems to track people. They don’t need to see you to know where you are. GeoTime, software being trialed by the Met, tracks IMEI numbers on phones, IP addresses, social networking, GPS data from mobiles and satnavs and even financial transactions, including which machine you get cash from. If anonymity is really what it is all about, the we have a long way to go.

Direct action is not about asking for a change to be made, it is about making that change yourself – by your actions you force a change. Stopping a coal-fired power station from pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, dismantling parts of a bomber heading for Afghanistan, throwing computers used to test and control nuclear missiles into a lake, driving a speedboat between a whale and a harpoon ship. These are examples of effective direct action.

Recently we have seen people on protests masking up and smashing windows, ostensibly in the name of an economic damage deterrent – you cost the company money, they stop doing the thing you oppose. But this is on such a small scale as to be of negligible impact to the companies. Santander can withstand a few broken windows.

UK Uncut, which I have been critical of in the past, built a movement out of open, accountable protest and they have put tax dodging on the political agenda. Yet they have avoided the personality cult that affects many groups on the left.

So my point is this: there are occasions when a tactical decision to conceal ones identity would be the best course of action. As a default setting for protest, however, it is not conducive to building solidarity and, whilst it can be liberating for the person wearing the mask, it is very inward-looking to assume that people see you as an ally and that they know you are there for the same reasons they are.

Why I don’t mask up

(Originally published by Bright Green)

During the protests over the last year and a bit certain trends have cropped up amongst both those newly radicalized and those old hands that have been involved in protest movements for many years. One in particular has been singled out by both protesters and the law as one to watch; wearing masks.

More protesters are wearing them and the law has responded by using undercover police snatch-squads to arrest people wearing masks. Under s.60AA of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act the police can require you to remove a mask and arrest if you refuse to do so, they may also use “reasonable force” to remove your mask. But as the police become more and more oppressive, protesters are becoming more radicalized.

I do not, nor will I wear a mask on a protest. For me, the power of protest comes from being accountable for my actions. Those actions that inspire me the most are those where people say, “Yes, I did this, I’d do it again because I am right”.

In 1996 four women broke into a BAE Systems factory in Lancashire and took hammers to a Hawk fighter jet destined for Indonesia. After smashing the jet beyond use, they didn’t leave the scene; in fact they waited nearly 2 hours before a security guard arrived. They even had to call a journalist to call the security to come and get them. They spent 6 months on remand and were eventually found not guilty as by their actions they prevented the use of the jet against Indonesian citizens protesting against the government.

This is, obviously, a very different situation to the recent protests that have seen masked-up black blocs smashing the windows of high-street shops, banks and obscenely posh hotels. But what it demonstrates is the power of accountability.

A friend recently posed me the question “why should we be accountable to a state and a police force that isn’t accountable to us?” For me, it is not the state that I am being accountable to it is the people with whom I stand in solidarity.

If I refuse to be accountable for my actions, I cannot justify them openly and defend them in the light of open criticism. If I am not acting in solidarity with others then I am acting unilaterally, the equivalent of telling someone that I know better than they do.

The amount of support I have received after my conviction over the Fortnum & Mason protest in March has been almost overwhelming. People who would never have questioned the police and judiciary before have seen how corrupt it is, how biased against dissent. This is because they see us as the same, they can recognise their friends, children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers in us. And they support us because we are accountable to them.

Fortnum and Mason Protestor Arrests Are a Sign That Protest Policing Needs to Change

(Originally published by Huffington Post)

In the last year dozens of young people in the UK have received criminal records and jail sentences for protesting. This week I received a conviction for my part in a protest described by Chief Inspector Clare Clarke of the Metropolitan Police as “sensible and non-violent”. My crime was to sit on the floor of a shop. It just so happens that this shop is the Queen’s grocer, Fortnum & Mason, and one does not mess with the supplier of the royal tea.

Back in March 2011 I joined several hundred others in occupying Fortnum & Mason in protest at the tax avoidance scheme employed by its parent company Whittington Investments. For this I was arrested, held in a cell for 18 hours and ejected onto the streets of London having had my phone, my clothes and my shoes confiscated – though they did gave me a delightful white tracksuit to wear and some plimsoles.

We were charged with trespassing with intent to intimidate staff and customers of Fortnum & Mason so as to deter them from carrying out their business. During the trial we heard from witnesses who described the scene in the shop variously as “chaos”, “exciting”, “amusing”, “loud” and one even said we were “…sitting about reading poetry”, ‘intimidating’ poetry mind you, about how if we taxed the rich we wouldn’t need to cut spending.

After hearing the evidence District Judge Snow ruled that by not leaving Queen’s corner-shop, although we ourselves did not intimidate anyone, our presence whilst others did meant that we were guilty by virtue of what the law terms “joint enterprise”. The broader implications of this ruling are simply that anyone present at the time a crime has been committed who doesn’t actively disassociate themselves from that crime is potentially just as culpable.

By this same logic the staff of any bank that dealt in collateralised debt obligations, the bundles of toxic loans, are guilty of causing the financial collapse.

In the digital age, protests such as the Fortnum & Mason’s occupation are increasingly organised over Facebook or Twitter. If you attend one of these and someone does something illegal, this ruling states that you can be arrested and convicted for not leaving the scene immediately.

The sentence handed to me and each of my nine co-defendants was a six month conditional discharge* and an order to pay £1000 towards the cost of the prosecution. The prosecution’s total costs were around £17,000, that’s £17,000 spent to convict 10 people for the heinous crime of sitting on the floor of a posh shop. That’s £17,000 more than has been spent since this protest chasing the biggest tax dodgers, £17,000 more than has been spent bringing the bankers that have destroyed the global economy to account.

The government and the police have, over the last 20 years or so, been pursuing a policy of increasingly criminalising protest. They no longer see it as their role to facilitate protest, they see their role as to police protest, to regulate and control it. This new interpretation of the law could see many hundreds more arrests and convictions of people whose only crime is to attend a protest and many thousands more intimidated into keeping their mouths shut. This ruling betrays the clear priority of the government and the police; to ignore the crimes of the rich and persecute those who dare to shout about them. There is only one way to challenge this and it is not in the courtrooms, but on the streets.

For more information or to support the campaign visit

*A conditional discharge means that if a new offense is committed during the period, in this case six months, then the person can be re-sentenced for the original offense and as well as the new one.

Fortnum & Mason convictions are unacceptable assault on protest

(Orginally published by New Internationalist)

In Courtroom 7 of Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday, I joined many others convicted so far this year for protesting against unjust austerity measures. For my protest, I walked into a shop and sat on the floor. It just so happened that this shop was Fortnum & Mason’s – the Queen’s grocer – and owned by a company guilty of millions of pounds worth of tax avoidance.

District Judge Snow ruled that by failing to leave the Queen’s corner-shop while others behaved in an intimidating manner, we were guilty of what the law terms ‘joint enterprise’.

The broader implications of this ruling are simply that anyone who is present when a crime is committed, and who doesn’t actively disassociate themselves from that crime, is liable to be considered equally culpable.

When I thought about this, after the ruling, a number of other ‘joint enterprises’ came to mind.

In 2008, the Lehman Brothers collapse plunged the global economy into a recession that has brought entire countries to bankruptcy, sparked the destruction of public services, and left millions world wide jobless, homeless and disenfranchised. But the financial services sector still trundles along seemingly oblivious.

As my co-defendant Adam Ramsay has pointed out, previously when banks have caused recessions, heads have rolled (metaphorically speaking) – but not on this occasion. The scale of the prosecution this time would be astronomical. By the same logic that informed the judgement that we received on Thursday morning, anyone at a bank who traded in the bundles of toxic loans known as collateralized debt obligations, is potentially guilty of causing the financial crisis through ‘joint enterprise’.

Next year PC Simon Harwood will face trial for manslaughter over assaulting Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in 2009. By the same logic that we were found guilty for the acts of others, any police officer present when Ian Tomlinson was assualted by PC Simon Harwood, by not disassociating themselves from the policing of the protest, is equally to blame for his death.

In the digital age, actions such as the Fortnum & Mason’s occupation, are increasingly organised over Facebook or Twitter. If you attend one of these events and someone does something illegal, the Fortnum ruling says that you can be arrested and convicted for not leaving the scene immediately.

The government and the police have, over the last 20 years or so, been ramping up a policy of criminalizing protest. They no longer see it as their role to facilitate protest in a democratic society. Instead they see their role as one of regulation, control and suppression.

This new interpretation of the law could see many hundreds more arrests and convictions of people whose only crime is to attend a protest and many thousands more intimidated into keeping their mouths shut. There is only one way to challenge this and it is not in the courtrooms, but on the streets.

G20 Leaders told: Stand Up for Tibet!

G20 banner drop for Tibet

Photo: Tibet Network copyright Students for a Free Tibet

Two activists from Students for a Free Tibet hung a banner and a Tibetan flag from Cannes Ville station as world leaders arrived earlier today for the start of the G20 summit. They called on them to take urgent action to address the situation in Tibet – where nine Tibetan monks and one nun have set themselves on fire this year.

The news came through last week that for the 10th time this year, a young Tibetan has set fire to themselves in protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the ongoing crackdown on human rights and religious freedom since the 2008 protests.

Three years ago there were widespread protests across Tibet, reported globally as rioting, though this was limited to the capital city, Lhasa. After a couple of weeks of unprecedented global attention on both the protests and the brutal nature of the military crackdown in Tibet, the fickle eye of the media moved elsewhere. The protests and oppression, however, continued.

What happened in 2008 following the protests was the de facto imposition of martial law enforced by the paramilitary People’s Armed Police. The situation has changed little since then; if anything, it has got worse.

One of the most heavily policed monasteries is Kirti of Ngaba town in the Amdo province (Chinese Qinghai province). This has been the site of some of the largest demonstrations and the most brutal crackdowns.

On 16 March this year 20-year-old monk Phuntsok Jaruntsang from Kirti monastery set himself alight. He called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Police beat him whilst he was on fire and he died at 3am the following morning. He set himself alight on the anniversary of the death of 13 monks who were shot dead in 2008 for protesting. This act triggered a series of similar acts by nine monks and one nun from Kirti and surrounding monasteries.

On 15 August, 29-year-old Tsewang Norbu from Nyitso monastery; on 26 September Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok, both 18 years old, of Kirti monastery; on 3 October 17-year-old Kalsang Wangchuk of Kirti monastery; on 7 October 19-year-old Choephel and 18-year-old Kayang, formerly of Kirti monastery; on 15 October 19-year-old former monk Norbu Dramdrul, and on 17 October 20-year-old Tenzin Wangmo, a nun of Dechen Chokorling, set themselves alight.

On 25 October, 38-year-old Dawa Tsering, a monk of Kardze monastery, set himself alight and called for the return of HH Dalai Lama and the reunification of the Tibetan people. He was dragged from the gates of Kardze monastery by security personnel and taken away. The People’s Armed Police surrounded the monastery and are still there.

Six of the self-immolators have died; the whereabouts and state of health of the others is unknown.

Campaign groups are calling for an international diplomatic intervention to apply pressure on the Chinese government to allow independent media and human rights observers into the area to investigate.

Pema Yoko, Director of Students for a Free Tibet UK, said: ‘Today the world is standing up for Tibet. We are calling on global leaders to take co-ordinated action now to pressure Chinese President Hu Jintao to withdraw Chinese troops and armed police from towns and monasteries in eastern Tibet.’

Tibet campaign groups
have called an international day of action today, 2 November, to demand global diplomatic intervention to bring human rights observers into Tibet.

In Britain, Tibetans and supporters will hold a vigil at the Chinese Embassy on Portland Place in London at 6pm. For events in other countries check out the Stand Up for Tibet website.

(Originally published by New Internationalist)

Taking on tar sands

The Canadian tar sands is often called the biggest and most destructive industrial project on the planet. If we want to prevent catastrophic climate change this is where the line must be drawn. The action currently being undertaken in the US to halt the Keystone XL pipeline is a crucial battle in the fight to end tar sands extraction.

Taking on Tarmageddon: Trailer from Taking on Tarmageddon on Vimeo.

Earlier this year I spent two weeks filming the documentary Taking on Tarmageddon following a group of students from the UK campaign network People & Planet investigating the tar sands. At the invitation of the former chief Al Lameman, we spent our time there staying with the Beaver Lake Cree Nation who are at the front lines fighting the oil companies to preserve their land, their hunting grounds, their health, even their way of life, both traditional and modern.

One of the first things to hit me was the contrast between where we were camping on the reservation and the utter destruction that we would see when we visited places like Shell’s Scotford Upgrader or Devon’s Jackfish in-situ projects. It made it all the more real what stands to be lost on a local level from the tar sands.

Taking on Tarmageddon: In-situ Extraction sites from Taking on Tarmageddon on Vimeo.

This was further compounded when we attended the Beaver Lake Cree Nation Pow Wow. As we watched the dancers in their amazing costumes the complexity of the issues around the Beaver Lake Cree’s fight against the tar sands began to sink in. Earlier that day we had been chased by security around various in-situ extraction sites near Conklin.

The first shot of the video from this trip shows the level of destruction caused by tar sands. So this might seem black and white, but the only reason we were able to get around the in-situ sites was that our driver from the Beaver Lake Cree reservation was a former oil-patch worker. And that’s the issue with the tar sands in Canada. Everything and everyone is linked to the tar sands. Every job in some way contributes to the oil industry. It was not an expected finding for us.

We were very lucky to be able to interview a First Nation man who is a former oil worker. He told us about how every day on his way in he had to drive past a native burial ground in the middle of an oil patch. He had to look at it, fenced off and surrounded by total devastation to the natural world. He told us that if he was to go to it and make an offering of tobacco, even just to throw a couple of cigarettes over the fence, he would lose his job. He got to the point where he just couldn’t do it anymore, he was faced with making a decision that involved not only quitting that job, but refraining from having anything further to do with the oil sands. However, he couldn’t say he’d never go back, he had to make the decision between living by his morals and providing for his family.

This is the same choice that faces every Albertan: do they provide for their families doing something so destructive or do they struggle to find work elsewhere?

While we were driving around Conklin we saw early construction and clearing work on the Harvest BlackGold project due to start producing bitumen in 2015 at an estimated 30,000 barrels per day. Due to this massive expansion in tar sand operations it is estimated greenhouse gas emissions from all tar sands projects will increase from 27 million tons per year in 2006 to 144 million tons per year in 2020. And it is only because of this expansion that projects like Keystone XL are even being considered.

The students in Taking on Tarmageddon are in the UK now planning their campaign. The film will be a crucial part of this campaign, allowing them to communicate their message further and wider than they would otherwise be able to. In November a group of young people from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation will come to the UK to continue building international solidarity to bring and end to tar sands extraction and a genuine transition to renewable energy.

Riot prosecutions raise questions over due process and human rights

Ben Scicluna on Flickr Creative Commons BY-NC-ND

The handling of legal cases from the UK riots that took place last week has caused a great deal of controversy. Lawyers in the UK have posed some serious questions about the way that judges and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have dealt with defendants, with major concerns around due process.

The vast majority of the defendants will be on legal aid, given that the Legal Services Commission has been underfunded for the last decade this massive influx of cases will put even more pressure on a system already on the brink of collapse. With such large numbers of defendants, the duty solicitor system has been overrun. Many defendants have received only a phonecall from a duty solicitor. Lawyers have expressed concern over the waiting time to see a duty solicitor potentially leading to detainees opting not to be represented in order to go home sooner.

Another area of concern is around the pressure on the CPS to deal with these defendants as quickly as possible leading to rushed decisions to charge, rather than bail pending investigation. This leads on to questions around evidence gathering and disclosure. Given that these cases are being dealt with so quickly, and the thousands of hours of CCTV footage, hundreds of witness reports and other evidence sources the police need to go through the reliability of the evidence has come into question. Much of the evidence will have come from police who were on the scene, however given the situation the police will not have been able to make proper detailed notes of the incidents until much later. As has been seen in the past with the Ian Tomlinson case, this can lead to discrepancies in police accounts. With courts operating around the clock to process defendants and the pressure on the CPS to charge as quickly as possible, the ability of solicitors to properly advise defendants could be hampered. Due to the speed at which cases are being sent to court, evidential disclosure from the CPS prior to court appearance may not have been sufficient in some cases to allow defence solicitors to properly advise their clients.

The disregarding of sentencing guidelines by magistrates, as reported by The Guardian, raises concern that solicitors will bring cases to appeal, further prolonging these cases and potentially leading to cases being overturned or sentences reduced. This also raises questions of human rights. Courts are charged with delivering justice, proportionate sentences for crimes. If they are allowed to throw this out of the window based on public perception of a crime this is dangerously close to “mob justice”. That councils are evicting entire families because of the acts of a single member amounts to collective punishment, historically the preserve of an occupying army. During armed conflict, collective punishment is considered a war crime and is a direct breech of the Fourth Geneva Convention governing the protection of civilians in times of war.

“No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

– Article 33, Fourth Geneva Convention.

Whilst we aren’t living in a military occupation in the UK one would hope that the same applies to citizens in times of peace. Precedent argues that it could also amount to a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

– Article 8, ECHR

I have never really bought the “we’re living in a police-state” line touted by many radical leftists but with international conventions and domestic law so readily thrown aside to placate Daily Mail readers and new and potentially more dangerous powers for police on the horizon, I find myself wondering what lies ahead for the UK.