UK: Father Christmas 'Internment' Protest at Harsh 'Anti-Terrorist' Measures

After delivering the presents and cards - intended for 11 detainees held under the draconian Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA) - the traditionally-costumed Santa in red clothing and white beard will suffer 'internment' in a giant cage outside the Home Office.

The seasonal protest comes on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the first ATCSA arrests on 19 December 2001. Detainees are held under the direction of the Home Secretary. Secret intelligence material can be used as part of this process and detainees are held for an unspecified and potentially unlimited period of time.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'It is nothing short of a disgrace that this government has seen fit to trample over years of hard-won human rights by locking people up without charge or trial.

If the Home Secretary saw fit to classify Father Christmas as a suspected 'international terrorist' he could theoretically do so.

All Mr Blunkett need do is point to secret intelligence material and, in the absence of a country to which Father Christmas could safely be deported, he could be imprisoned in a top-security jail.

It is time for internment measures under this legislation to be repealed.'

Of the ATCSA 11, six detainees are held at HMP Belmarsh, in south-east London, and four in HMP Woodhill, in Buckinghamshire.

An eleventh prisoner, Mahmoud Abu Rideh, a Palestinian refugee and torture victim, is held at Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital, a high-security mental hospital in Berkshire, having been transferred from Belmarsh on 24 July. Amnesty International has called for Abu Rideh to be transferred to a low-level secure mental hospital near his family in London.

In a statement to Amnesty International on 17 December, some of the detainees said:

'Our wives have been widowed and our Children's rights have been without a father for a year now. Our lives and our families' lives have been destroyed and we see no hope in sight.'

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