Scrap the so-called Terrorist List!
Terrorist lists and labelling are an ideological and political weapon of imperialism used to attack groups that resist colonization and occupation, particularly those struggling for national liberation and revolution. There are some groups on the list that are truly reprehensible. Part of the strategy of the Canadian State is to link revolutionary and resistance organizations with groups that are reactionary, chauvinistic and oppressive in order to confuse and disorient people. But while the Canadian government might list a right wing, reactionary or Zionist paramilitary organization, it continues to support and sign agreements with the violently oppressive governments that back and protect these groups.
It is the revolutionary, resistance and liberation movements that pose a profound challenge to imperialism and the interests of Canadian corporations that are really the target of this legislation. Therefore rather than engaging in a false argument about which organizations are and are not terrorist, our call is for the terrorist list to be scrapped! Internationally, terrorist designations have been used to attack National Liberation movements, especially where those movements have secured significant base areas, popular support and favourable conditions for negotiations with the comprador or colonial states against whom they are struggling:
● The U.S. terrorist list has its origins in the 1990s when the U.S. government listed and attempted to isolate and undermine all organizations of the Palestinian resistance that rejected the false ‘peace’ of the Oslo Accord and its failure to address the basic issues of the Palestinian liberation struggle, not least the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
● In Colombia widespread violation of human and economic rights has targeted not only guerilla fighters but their peasant, small farmer and worker supporters. Backed by a multi-billion dollar military ‘aid’ package from the U.S. (Plan Colombia), the listing of the largest revolutionary organizations (FARC-EP and ELN) as terrorists gave the Colombian state free reign to cut off negotiations and wage a bloody ‘counter-insurgency’.
● After 2006, the Sri Lankan state used the cover of the listing of the Tamil Tigers to escalate it’s genocidal war against Tamil people struggling for freedom, including the massacre of 40,000 – 70,000 Tamil people (the official UN figure) in 2009.
● Although the Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People’s Army (who are not on the Canadian list, but have been listed by the U.S. and E.U.) have long been recognized as belligerent parties in a civil war, and there have been negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines intermittently since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, the Philippine state, since 2002 has used the list as cover to ramp up its bloody program of human rights violations, extrajudicial killings and disappearances targeting legal and mass movement organizations that are labeled as communist fronts.
Labelling of National Liberation groups as ‘terrorists’ gives already oppressive governments a free hand to break off negotiations and to engage in gross human rights violations, collective punishment, torture and extrajudicial killings, not only against those directly involved in these movements but against non-combatants in base areas, communities and legal mass movements supporting these organizations.
Within the borders of the Canadian state, Indigenous sovereignty and land-defender activists, while not specifically added to the terrorist list, have been labeled as ‘terrorist’ with the same objective: to justify violent state repression against organizations and communities struggling for their liberation, and to isolate these activists and organizations from their base of community and popular support.
Specific examples of this include the Ts’Peten Sundancers in the lead up to the violent RCMP assault at Gustafsen Lake, the criminalization and harassment of the West Coast Warriors Society using the post-9/11 terrorism legislation, and the justification for surveillance, harassment and violence against Indigenous land-defenders resisting pipelines and fracking. Individuals and communities with historical and political connections with these movements are also targeted by the list and labelling.
Individuals are refused entry to Canada and are denied immigration or refugee status, access to social programs, and family reunification. They face surveillance, harassment, criminalization and deportation for their support for liberation struggles. Whole communities are criminalized, marginalized and stigmatized because of their strong attachment to resistance and liberation movements that are listed. And oppressed people, organically linked to national liberation struggles against oppressive colonial and neo-colonial occupation, are barred from meaningful and democratic participation in their own national liberation project for fear of being criminalized and deported – even if they have already achieved Canadian ‘citizenship’!
Finally, the list isolates revolutionary-minded people in Canada from precisely the movements we should be taking leadership and inspiration from – workers, peasants and Indigenous communities who are developing a revolutionary and transformative practice in their resistance to imperialism, capitalism, colonialism and patriarchy. These movements are the most promising incubator for new social relationships, people’s institutions and relations of production based on solidarity, substantive equality and the end of exploitation.