In the office, daily media alerts send us news of conscientious objectors, child soldiers, peace activists and nonviolent direct action around the world. One day, it was the news that in Birmingham - England's second largest city – soldiers from the 'Royal Military Police' (aka the 'red caps') were 'keeping clubbers safe' in the city centre. That is, arresting soldiers on nights out, or giving 'citizens arrests' to civilians who they thought were breaking the law.
Sri Lanka has a long history of armed violence and slaughter since its independence from Britain in 1948. There were ethnic riots in 1953, ‘58, ‘77, ‘83 and ‘87; two insurrections in 1971 and 1986-90; and a 30-year civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) of the North and East and Sinhalese nationalists of the South. The war ended on 19th May 2009 with the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. By then more than 300,000 people had become internally displaced (IDPs).
The notes here concern the 10 years from the coming to power of former human rights lawyer, Mahinda Rajapakse, in November 2005 to the downfall of his regime on 9th January 2015. A mix of political parties - Sinhala Buddhist ultra-nationalists, Socialists, Marxists and the Buddhist Monks’ party - had supported Rajapakse’s candidacy. From the moment he became president, virtually over night, we entered the period of what would become a totally militarised police state. We woke up one morning to find Army checkpoints, military vehicles, police and soldiers everywhere. Cynthia Enloe has described it well, ‘Militarization is the step-by-step process by which something becomes controlled by, dependent on, or derives its value from the military as an institution or militaristic criteria.’ (Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2000.)
A new domestic security bill giving draconian powers to the police has recently been put into force in Turkey. Expanding police power enormously and granting the police some extrajudicial authority, the bill does not allow citizens appropriate measures with which to protect themselves from abuse of this power. Widely criticised by the opposition both within and outside Parliament, the new bill grants wider search powers to the police, gives them extrajudicial authority to detain, and expands their control over the use of firearms, while defining new crimes for protestors such as covering the face or using slingshots - with prison sentences up to 4 years.1 While –unsurprisingly- the government defended the bill as a guarantee for maintaining public order, the opposition declared it a manifestation of the ruling party's ‘police state’. I will argue here that whereas the content of the bill may be new, the ethos behind it is long-established in Turkish politics; that is the ‘military ethos’. Furthermore, I will contend that each and every piece of legislation increasing police powers should be understood as part of another form of the militarisation that characterises AKP rule, police militarisation. To clarify this point, I will start with a brief description of the relationship between these terms.
The recent wave of opposition to police violence in the US under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter has alerted the world to the disturbing use of lethal force by several US police forces against Black communities. Yet looking closely at some trends in UK policing indicate the British public should not be complacent about its own situation.
Cesar Padilla, Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America, OCMAL
It is not news to say that extractivism in Latin America has been imposing an increasingly deeper model of extraction and export. The competition to be a destination of mining, oil-reserves, forestry or fishing investment is a characteristic of the majority of the countries in the region.
However, extractavism is receiving increasing criticism from broad sections of society including academia and social movements.
As national organizers of War Resisters League, and as people committing our lives to challenging militarism globally, we do not often experience moments when our work comes together; where people power is stronger than people in power.
In a globalized world, any analysis of militarization and repressive ideologies, methodologies and technologies has to take into account the dynamics of import and export of these concepts and tools across borders. One of the world’s most prominent exporters of ideology and technology of repression is undoubtedly Israel. With over sixty years of experience in repressing the Palestinian people and expelling them from their lands, Israel markets proudly its weapons for war and ‘riot control’ as ‘field tested’ - either during the repeated full-scale military aggressions against Palestinian territory or Arab countries or in the day-to-day subjugation of a people under occupation.
During the years of apartheid, discussions were ongoing both inside and outside the country, about how state security institutions would function in a post-apartheid democratic state. These discussions intensified in the dying years of apartheid.