Peter Greste and the Silencing of Protest #100daysofblogging #Day22

Write What You're Told!In Egypt a yesterday, 3 al-Jazeera journalists including Australian Peter Greste received jail sentences of 7-10yrs on trumped up charges of ‘aiding terrorists’ and ‘endangering national security’.

So ironic as to be humorous, coming from a government which seized power in a military coup.

Their recent ‘Presidential Election‘ failed to get 50% of eligible voters even turn out, a major failure for any democratic system. Despite non-voters being threatened with large fines. Despite voting being open for a full 3 days.

For comparison, elections in Australia last year received a 93% turnout. As much as it pains me to say it, the Abbott Government is a legitimate government. shudder.

All is not OK for the democratic right to protest in Australia though. 

In the State of Victoria, the Liberal Party government passed extreme ‘anti protest’ laws allowing police to ban protesters from an area for up to 12 months. The Tasmanian Government have gone further, threatening activists and protesters with mandatory jail time. It’s not just government going on the attack against civilian movements.

Corporations are hiring ‘intelligence operatives’ to infiltrate activist networks and disrupt them, even here in Australia.

The banking industry was directly involved in the violent crackdown on the Occupy Movement in the USA. Police in the UK have recently been implicated in covering up the operations of ‘secret intelligence sources’ inside the anti-fracking campaign.

There is a global crackdown on progressive activism. If you are looking to actually change things in this system, you should expect to come up against well resourced intelligence units at some stage. That is just the way it is.

Over the years I’ve been called a lot of things, including paranoid, for pointing out this ongoing pattern. Is it really ‘paranoid’ to be aware that government intelligence are likely keeping an eye on you? Or is it just being realistic?

I don’t think there are ‘bugs’ in my house (though my wife and I do nervously joke about it on occasion), but I do imagine my email and web metadata is likely being harvested.

I also firmly believe I’ve seen new people suddenly appear, insert themselves into a local political movement and begin being subtly disruptive immediately. With Occupy Perth it was almost like they were reading from the COINTELPRO handbook.

It wasn’t half obvious either.

There were a few people I had various levels of suspicion about at the time, who I’m not going to identify here. A couple of them, in hindsight, I am now quite certain were some for of ‘disruptive’ agent. Some I’m still undecided about.

I was certainly the target of some ‘bad-jacketing‘ having certainly been labelled an “ASIO agent” and “the point at which Occupy Perth went wrong”. Earlier these same people had been trying to befriend me, engaging in direct conversations with me before and after meetings. Talking to me online. Inviting me to meet with them.

They even created a separate Facebook Page which was used to discredit people who actively partook in the General Assembly of Occupy Perth. It was also used to post extreme-to-the-point-of-crazy propaganda, in what seemed like an obvious attempt to damage Occupy Perth.

It is hard to know who to trust as an activist in these situations, especially when a wave of ‘new’ people arrives. Non-violent activists ARE being spied on in Australia, so there’s no harm in playing it safe.

But don’t be too scared, we’ve still got to get shit done.

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