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In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Nearly there...

The Taking Liberties journey is almost at an end... Well for us anyway. The DVD comes out TODAY (Monday 15th October), and that will sadly be the final installment of Britain's first (and probably only) feature film about the loss of British Liberty. Either things will get better so that films like Taking Liberties aren't necessary, or things will get worse and making films like this will be made illegal. DVD pre-orders are doing reasonably well - as of today we are at sales rank 422 on Amazon. To give this some kind of context Black Gold (docuimentary about coffee that was released at the same time) is on 5,088.

If you haven't got a copy yet, you can order yours here.

For those of you who managed to miss the reviews screaming at you on the website, I've cut and pasted a few of the crits below:

**** "Exhilarating... A vitamin boost of scepticism... cheerful, polemical and tactless." Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

"Excellent... you shouldn't vote at the next general election until you've seen this film" Phillip French, Observer

**** "Pure Dynamite... An eloquent mugging" The Times

"Bold, fearless and blackly funny, this vital film should be compulsory viewing" Dazed and Confused

**** "One of the most important films of the year... Watch it and get angry!" Daily Mirror

Film of the Week - Mark Kermode BBC Radio 5

**** "A less hysterical, but still gripping, incendiary and amusing British answer to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11…An excellent piece of populist film making" The Scotsman

**** Time Out
**** Sunday Times
**** Sunday Telegraph
**** BBC Films
**** Daily Express

OK enough navel gazing! Even though I'm supposed to be weaning myself off the subject of liberty loss, two items in the news last week had me frothing at the mouth:

Sir Ian Blair announces he will hold his breath until the Government gives him 90 Days pre charge detention
This Blog's favourite policeman has announced that he wants to be able to lock people up for 3 months - without having to tell them why. Even though there has never been a single occasion when they have needed even the existing limit before someone has to be charged or released (28 days – the longest in the free world), Sir Ian has declared that we'll all die tomorrow unless we turn Britain into a Police state because, er, he says so that's why. Sir Ian puts in a request for this power about once every 2 months, but on this accoaision the timing could not have been more galling.

Sir Ian’s plea for us to trust him unconditionally with our liberty, comes alongside the first and only court case into the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes. (No-one’s actually standing trial for the murder of the innocent Brazilian electrician 2 years ago… instead the Metropolitan police is being sued for contravening health and safety guidelines for firing a gun repeatedly into his head at point blank range. It’s a bit like giving Harold Shipman a written warning for breaking the Hippocratic oath.)

During the hearing last week, CCTV pictures were been made public showing Menezes calmly walking through the ticket barrier at Stockwell Tube on the 22nd July 2005. Moments later he was shot dead by 2 armed officers. Seven hours later, when most of London’s police force knew that Menezes was as dangerous as a Police Community Support officer, Sir Ian went on Live TV and announced that the suspect had “jumped the barrier” and therefore deserved what he got. These images prove that Sir Ian is either a blatant liar or horrendously incompetent. So Sir Ian choses this very moment that the images are released, to make a request to extend pre-charge detention - again - based on the say so of none other than Sir Ian Blair.

The arguments are exactly the same ones that have been trooped out the last half dozen or so times, namley: "There are lots of bad people out there who want to blow us up and this is the only way to stop them"

Firstly this is not the greatest threat we have ever faced, and we seemed to muddle through the Second World War, The Cold War and the IRA bombing campaign without tearing up the oldest civil liberty we have. Secondly keeping people locked up for long periods before charge produces terribly unreliable evidence. Studies have shown that the longer someone is detained without charge, the more likely they are to confess to something they haven't done. Thirdly, introducing the same limit for pre-charge detention that was in force in South Aftrica during Apharteid, is not going to do wonders for relations with the Muslim Community, who are the very group of people you want to keep on side while trying to fight terrorism. Of the very few actual real terrorists that have been caught plotting attacks in the UK, the evidence that has been used to scure conviction has not come from CCTV cameras, ID Cards or from people who have been locked up for weeks without charge. It has come from tip off's and sources from within the Muslim Commnuity, but this intelligence is going to dry up if we continue to pass illiberal laws that inevitably are going to create a feeling of grievance and injsutice within the community itself. At it's very worst this feeling of injustice can act as a recruiting seargent for the terrorists themselves, so by passing a law designed to prevent terrorism, you can in effect set it off. Similar laws were passed to try to stop the IRA, which enabled the authorites to intern people suspected of terrorism, without charge. This backfired massively and ended up ercruiting hundreds of dissafected young men to the IRA's ranks. If only our political leaders and senior police spent more time looking at recent histroy and less time poncing about in front of the cameras, then we might escape repeating the mistakes of the past.

Exporting Democracy to Burma
Yes it's all well and good for Gordon Brown to read out carefully drafted spin sheets condemming the Burmese Junta for crushing peaceful protests, but there is one tactic that in use by the Burmese military that will be frighteningly familiar to anyone who's been to a prtoest in the UK recently. Once the Burmese protests started, the authorities stood back for several days. After about a week the soldiers brutally rounded up the ringleaders in the dead of night. How did they work out who was organising these peaceful actions with such calculating efficency?

Step frowards the Burmese FIT teams, who seem to have imported thei tactics from Britain. Anyone who has been on any protests in the UK recently will have seen the FIT teams in force. These are overt surviellance officers who film peacful protests in the UK in order to gather information about who goes on political marches these days, as well as to dampen dissent by letting you know you're being watched. In some cases activists are followed for days at a time, and the effect is extremely threatening. Clearly the FIT teams are they are so effective at restricting protests that the idea has been joyously picked up by the authorities in Burma. During the first week of protests - when the government appeared to be restrained - the Burmese FIT teams were out carefully filming the activists, so they could work out who the ringleaders were. Thanks to this British technique, the Burmese were able to draw up a hit list of the orgnaisers, and then knock on their door in the middle of the night. Isn't it nice to see Britain exporting democratic values around the world, and it makes you feel proud that when we set the standard for civil liberties, other countries are more than happy to copy our methods.


Anonymous said...
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Dariush Alavi said...

I wish you all the very best of luck with the DVD.

I'm buying my copy when I return from my holiday next week... and then I will round up all the people who refused to come with me to our local 'arthouse' cinema to watch the film on the big screen and make them watch it at my house. Lively debate will ensue, no doubt!

Taking Liberties said...

thanks! Yes this seems to be the most effective way to spread the word and amnesty, NO2ID etc are all pursuing a similar tactic.

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