dissent is not terrorism

Environmental Protest
At the 2007 “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act Protest” in NYC. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluecinema/2098986319/

Yesterday, my colleague circulated a Guardian article entitled Canada’s environmental activists seen as ‘threat to national security’ by Stephen Leahy (thank god for journalists like him):

Security and police agencies have been increasingly conflating terrorism and extremism with peaceful citizens exercising their democratic rights to organise petitions, protest and question government policies […] The RCMP, Canada’s national police force, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) view activist activities such as blocking access to roads or buildings as “forms of attack” and depict those involved as national security threats

Folks, this is hardly news – though I’m glad to see this frightening absurdity covered by international media. Because that’s exactly what it is: both absurd and horrifically frightening.

In 2011 a Montreal, Quebec man who wrote letters opposing shale gas fracking was charged under Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act. Documents released in January show the RCMP has been monitoring Quebec residents who oppose fracking.

That’s fucked up.

I can’t help but be reminded of Terrorist? by Lowkey.

Terrorism: the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. But what is terror? Terror is violent or destructive acts, such as bombing, committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands.

If that doesn’t make the Canadian government guilty of terrorism, I don’t know what does. Not only is the Conservative government’s means of silencing all and any dissent eligible for classification as terror, its own activities like, oh I don’t know, the irreparable and irreversible destruction of Canadian soil and land (and water and air and…) is a threat to national interests – namely, an interest in not nixing the land we need to be alive.

There was something in the media last year on the Anti-Terrorism Act last year that alerted me to the government’s/CSIS’s/RCMP’s likening of environmental activism to terrorism, listing environmental activist groups along with neo-nazis and the like. The reason given was that green groups receive foreign funding and are hence susceptible to foreign interests, which may run counter to national interests. Shall we use the same logic to make an argument against foreign trade and business deals?

These developments are entirely in line with Harper and the Conservative government’s obsession with control and power (cf. their sick muzzling of climate scientists). They clearly don’t understand that dissent is essential to a healthy society.

Further reading:

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