[letter sent to The Guardian]

Against State Kidnapping

We protest the illegitimate detention of protesters who were enroute to Fairford Air Force Base on Saturday 22nd March. The 1994 Public Order and Criminal Justice Act was used for the supposed aim of searching for weapons. The police stopped three coaches, took away various items such as food and scarves (on the pretext they could be used to disguise faces), and then forced everyone back to London. Drivers were threatened with arrest if they stopped on the way.

The coaches became mobile prisons. The convoy was escorted by police vehicles and was cordoned off from other traffic. Apparently this tight control aimed to portray the passengers as dangerous and to prevent anyone else from seeing the makeshift signs in the coach windows, e.g. 'Help -- we are being kidnapped'.

This mass detention attacked the right to protest. The police bypassed any judicial procedure, since no one was even arrested for supposedly possessing a weapon. Their action illustrates an alarming tendency to use the law as a pretext to harass and detain people, in the name of preventing 'disorder' or 'terrorism'. We oppose such disregard for democratic rights.

Signed by
Catrin Lewis, Chair Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Bruce Kent, CND
Mark Thomas, comedian/broadcaster
Mike Marqueese, author
Milan Rai, author of War Plan Iraq
Jean Lambert MEP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Stewart Hemsley, Chair, Pax Christi
Liz Fekete, CARF

For information contact
Estella tel 020 7586 589
Fax 020 7483 2531
e-mail: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), www.cacc.org.uk

Note: CAMPACC seeks additional signatures for posting the above letter on its webpage. Signatories should send a message to the email address above.