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[casi] mesaage from voices re the rice saga

Unexpectedly, we had to prematurely end the postal campaign advertised with
the last newsletter and on the casi list in January. You may recall we
suggested you send rice to the Foreign Office with a letter expressing your
concerns about the humanitarian crisis attacking Iraq is likely to cause.
The inclusion of rice, a staple foodstuff in Iraq was intended to represent
the hunger many Iraqis could face in the event of war.

Unfortunately the first such letter to the Foreign Office sparked a
bioterror alert, closing down Jack Straw's Office for 3 hours. The person
who sent the letter received a visit from his local police that evening
telling him what had happened and advising him that he was now on a list of
suspected terrorists. (They also told him that had it not been for his nice
postcode and "respectable background" he would have been raided by anti
terror police.)
This massive over reaction is obviously of great concern to Voices and we
have taken legal advice over this matter.
We think the threat re the suspected terrorist list was probably an empty
one intended to scare the person concerned rather than a definite statement
of fact, but we obviously feel it necessary to pursue this to try and
establish whether supporters who sent rice to Straw are now on such a list.

Our lawyers advised us that individuals approaching the Government regarding
this were in a "Catch 22 " situation. If any individual approaches the state
to ask if they are on a list of suspected terrorists then they may find
themselves entered on some kind of database they didn't want to be on just
because they approached the state to say they were worried they may be on a
database! With this in mind we are pursuing this matter ourselves and taking
legal advice, so as to avoid any individuals in Voices having to get any
more involved in this mess than they are already.

We felt we had to write informing you of this development, but we don't wish
to unduly worry anyone. At the same time as our rice campaign started we
received dozens of emails from other groups independently suggesting sending
rice to Tony Blair, so many hundreds, probably thousands of people have
probably engaged in this action. Even an order of Franciscan monks has taken

Please do call or write to us at the office if you would like any more
information. As this matter moves on we will keep people informed.

sign the pledge of resistance to the "war on terrorism"

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