Police, Security and the State
As part of the Political Policing in Scotland project, this post relates to the investigation into the policing of the Kurdish community in Edinburgh. The findings of this research are summarised below; The Analysis can be found here http://erasmusresearch.com/police-security-and-the-state/
- The Kurdish community have, over the last three years (2016, 2017 and 2018 inclusive) been subjected to dawn raids by Police Scotland's Counter Terrorism Unit. Possessing warrants gained under the terms of the Terrorism Act 2000, the police search the homes, and confiscate anything they can find that relates to the Kurdish identity and the Kurdish struggle. This has thus far consisted of nothing more than key rings, flags, books and traditional items of clothing. Few items have related to the outlawed PKK and most relate to the YPG (People's Protection Unit) and the YPJ (Women's Protection Unit) which are not illegal.
- The Kurdish Community Centre was also raided in late 2017 and a number of items relating to the Kurdish identity were taken by the police. Rather than arranging a planned visit Police Scotland decided to Smash both the outside door and the door of the centre's office. The items confiscated have never been returned. This has had a devastating impact on the community as over half the members have stopped coming to the centre for fear of reprisals from the police. The biggest impact has been on children as their parents have stopped them attending the Kurdish language classes and other cultural activities.
- The two main issues that have emerged from an analysis of the policing of so called 'terror' groups in Scotland are 'maximisation' and 'conflation'. The triadic nexus of the political class who criminalise, the print media who sensationalise and the criminal justice system who are responsible for the policing and punishment of designated groups, seek always to maximise the threat of a terror attack in a country in which the last 'attack' was at Glasgow Airport in 2007. Maximisation is achieved through, among other methods, the conflation of political support for political groups, with the maiming and killing of people through actual acts of terror. The press releases and sensationalist newspaper headlines using the words 'terror', 'threat' and 'fear' gives the impression that the police are dealing with the serious issue of 'actual' terrorism. Our investigation has shown that the reality is very different to the way the problem is represented. Rather than smashing terrorist cells or intercepting and preventing the funding of terrorism, Police Scotland are merely confiscating objects relating to the Kurdish identity. By conflating political support for groups that are not illegal (in this case the YPG and the YPJ) with actual terrorism, Police Scotland have succeeded in misleading the public. This, we would argue is part of the strategy. The state wants its citizens to believe that a 'threat' exists, and that the police, acting on behalf of the state, are doing an effective job of protecting us from danger.
- The Kurdish community believe there to be a connection between the opening of the Turkish consulate in Edinburgh in 2016 and the sustained and regular programme of police raids on the Kurdish community in the capital. Given that the Glasgow Kurds who are mainly from Iraq as well as the Kurds from Syria have all so far escaped police attention, the Turkish connection seems to offer a convincing explanation. Turkey is, after all, a very close ally of the UK with billions of pounds in arms deals agreed between the two countries.
- The findings related to this investigation suggest that the British state and its institutions are not only acting in ways that are clearly designed to foster trade relations between the UK arms industry and the Turkish government, they are also simultaneously attempting to regain some of the state's lost legitimacy. The state does this through the expansion of criminalisation at the margins of society and at the bottom of the social structure. In this way, the British state can create a danger that the British people need it to keep them safe from. The process where the threat of low level political activities are maximised, and the possession of cultural materials are conflated with maiming and killing innocent civilians is both indicative of a state and a police force in crisis. 'Maximisation' and 'conflation' tell us more about the poor health of the state and its institutions than they do about the groups they target.
The article that appeared in Bella Caledonia can be accessed