Thursday, 15 December 2016

Statement from Aberdeen Trades Union Council regarding the Motion debated by Aberdeen City Council on 14th December 2016


Aberdeen Trades Union Council has written to all Aberdeen City Councillors regarding a motion that was debated on 14th December at the council meeting. See text of the motion below.

We are delighted to report that an amendment was tabled and approved, removing points 3 and 4 of the motion following this statement from the ATUC and representations by other interested parties. ATUC of course fully supports the remainder of the motion and is proud to condemn and work to oppose racism, xenophobia and hate crimes.

However we defend the rights of individuals and organisations like our own to take part in legitimate, lawful protest - including the support of boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions campaigns against states that breach human rights. We are proud that Aberdeen City Council has supported this right.

Statement from Aberdeen Trades Union Council regarding the Motion to be debated by Aberdeen City Council on 14th December 2016


The councillors putting forward the motion have been clever with their words, but if passed, we are concerned that this motion will put the City Council and councillors in direct opposition to legitimate human rights campaign groups that are supported by many local individuals and organisations - and we presume many councillors too.

Given the recent press comments from Cllr Greig, the motion is clearly directed at opposing such human rights groups and the ATUC as well.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/1102786/hate-speech-motion-to-be-discussed-at-aberdeen-city-council/

The ATUC, as you know, has a proud record of anti-racist and anti-fascist activity reflected in its annual march and rally on St Andrew’s Day and its active support in helping establish #We Are Aberdeen, the campaign leading up to this year’s march on 26 November.

Neither the ATUC, nor any humans rights or international solidarity organisations we are associated with, have ever actively campaigned to drive individuals, families and legitimate businesses away from Aberdeen on the grounds of race, religion or country of origin. We would condemn any such actions.

The ATUC along with the City Council has a proud record of opposing apartheid and oppressive states. The ATUC is continuing that proud tradition by supporting international boycott campaigns against states that have been committing human rights abuses and criminal acts against their own citizens and those of other countries and/or occupied territories.

This motion, if passed, will prevent the Council from boycotting goods and services that come directly or indirectly from any country that is internationally condemned for human rights abuses and criminal acts.

This is a question of democracy. Individuals and organisations have a right to take part in legitimate, lawful protest - including the support of boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions campaigns against states that breach human rights. Those individuals and organisations also have a right to ask their elected councillors to support their campaigns.

This motion is against democracy. It distorts the aims and purposes of legitimate, lawful campaigners in order to curtail their rights to free speech and political activism. And it seeks to handcuff the conscience of councillors and make it impossible for them to support legitimate international campaigns.

The City Council has a proud record of supporting international boycott campaigns against oppressive and apartheid regimes and we ask that councillors refuse to allow their freedom to support such campaigns in the future to be taken away from them, and refuse to allow legitimate campaigning by Aberdeen citizens to be curtailed in any way.

We hope that you will take account of these concerns when debating the motion.

Motion:

“That this Council:

1. Condemns unequivocally racism, xenophobia and hate crimes and believes these have no place in this, or any other, country.

2. Takes pride that Aberdeen is a vibrant, diverse, tolerant and multicultural city in which everyone can contribute to the local community and economy, irrespective of race, religion or social background.

3. Believes that the best way to promote peace and harmony in the world is to build cultural, academic and economic bridges.

4. Rejects any attempts to drive individuals, families and legitimate businesses away from Aberdeen on grounds of race, religion or country of origin and condemns any organisation that pursues such a policy.

5. Commits itself to:
(i) continue to work with others to tackle and prevent racism, xenophobia and hate crimes.
(ii) maintain Aberdeen as a welcoming and friendly international destination.”

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