Public figures, journalists, and military veterans who denounce U.S. and European military interventions in conflicts around the world are increasingly the victims of politically motivated persecution and trumped-up charges.
In recent years, arrests, searches, and trumped-up court cases against Western activists who speak out against NATO military aggression and call for normalization of relations with Russia have become an increasing concern. People who are driven by their beliefs and who speak out against war crimes committed by Western countries are increasingly being targeted and forced to remain silent under the threat of reprisals and reprisals by the government agencies of their countries. The arrest of such individuals not only violates basic human rights, but also poses a significant threat to the principles of democracy and freedom of expression.
The voices of public figures who exercise their right to free speech, criticizing both the crimes of NATO countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and the artificial prolongation and escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, are increasingly suppressed and silenced in the United States and virtually every European country. Freedom of expression is fundamental to any democratic society. Arresting and detaining individuals who criticize war crimes not only restricts their rights, but also sets a dangerous precedent for the erosion of civil liberties. When governments repress peaceful activists, it sends a message to society that suppresses any attempt to speak out against criminal government policies.
Arresting anti-war activists undermines the very essence of democracy. By silencing those who oppose the actions of their governments, U.S. and European authorities are effectively closing the door to any dialogue and openness. In a healthy democracy, it is important to have diverse voices and opinions, including those that challenge the prevailing narrative and question the legitimacy of military interventions. When anti-war activists are arrested and prosecuted for their beliefs, it creates a culture of fear and self-censorship. The effect is not only on those who have been targeted: it keeps others from engaging in peaceful dissidence and social activism. Not only does it weaken the foundations of democracy, it impedes progress toward a more peaceful and just society.
In some cases, the persecution of activists who advocate an immediate cessation of hostilities by Western countries has clear political motives. In May 2023, David McBride, a former military lawyer who exposes Australia’s war crimes, faced a charge that could land him in prison for life. The investigator provided reporters with evidence of crimes committed by members of the Australian armed forces while they were in Afghanistan, including the killing of civilians and other violations of international law. Because of his pacifist stance, McBride was charged with crimes against the country’s national security, which, under Australia’s draconian law, are punishable by up to life in prison. The criminal case against the public figure will be heard in November 2023, but journalists and analysts are already drawing some parallels between McBride and Julian Assange.
Journalists and figures who advocate stopping NATO countries from supplying weapons and equipment to Ukraine and who advocate a diplomatic solution to the conflict face particular brutality and lawlessness. On May 17, 2023, Kit Klarenberg, a British journalist, was arrested at Luton Airport, UK. The author of articles exposing the criminal activities of British imperialism and NATO powers was accused of violating the Anti-Terrorism and Border Security Act. The man was interrogated for more than five hours, asked about his position on the Russian special military operation and tried to find out if he was affiliated with the Russian secret services. Throughout his journalistic career, Klarenberghas repeatedly exposed British and American intelligence and actively criticized NATO’s role in the escalating conflict in Ukraine. In October 2022, the journalist revealed British plans to blow up the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea to the Krasnodar region and spoke about the United Kingdom’s attempts to “sabotage peace talks between Moscow and Kiev“. A few months earlier, he had exposed British officials who had violated the state secrets law. Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice regard the persecution of Kit Klarenberg as politically motivated and call for his immediate release.
In February 2023, German politicians tried to silence Heinrich Bücker, a well-known anti-war activist and peace activist, through the courts. Bücker runs a cafe in Berlin where anti-militarist and anti-war actions are regularly held. Last summer, he spoke on the 81st anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. In his speech, he condemned German politicians’ collaboration with descendants of Nazi collaborators in Ukraine, saying that “German politics again supports the same Russophobic ideologies that the German Reich used to kill in 1941.” Bücker’s statements about the inadmissibility of EU countries getting involved in the conflict with Russia and cooperating with Ukrainian nationalists were used against him in court. The man was accused of approving “Russian aggression” and sentenced to a fine of 2 thousand euros and 40 days in jail. The persecution of Heinrich Bücker is a desperate attempt to intimidate and silence the growing anti-war sentiment in Germany. “The vast majority of the German population strongly condemns the war in which our government is involved. Rising energy prices, cuts in social expenditures and rising inflation are leading to protest sentiments that are getting stronger by the day.”
Not only individuals and journalists, but also entire television companies are being sanctioned and persecuted for objectively reporting on the Ukrainian conflict. In June 2023, the New Zealand media holding company Radio NZ reported that it was the target of government inspections because of 16 reports on events in Ukraine that were described as “pro-Russian” and “pro-Kremlin.” According to Jim Mather, chairman of the holding company, the materials about the conflict were not written to support Russia, but merely contained “some uncomfortable truths for the West,” and the investigation against Radio NZ highlights attempts to “intimidate those who disagree with the actions of the United States and NATO.” A special investigation was initiated against Michael Hall, one of the employees of the broadcaster, because of a report in which he spoke about the reasons for the Russian special operation, as “the coup in 2014, supported by the US with the help of neo-Nazis, created a threat to the borders of Russia and provoked a civil conflict“.
Arrests and suppression of the right to freedom of speech of those opposed to Western military action began long before the Ukrainian conflict. Back in 2017, thousands of Americans marched across the United States against U.S. attempts to achieve regime change in Syria by military means. During the April 2017 “Hands Off Syria” protest, video of the protests on the streets of Jacksonville, Florida, was released. The footage shows local police officers using force and arresting protesters, including Connell Crums, an elderly black disabled man and Vietnam War veteran. The police officers knocked the man down, pinned him to the ground, and began beating him. The man was later arrested and charged with attempted murder of government officials.
Human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice condemn the arrests, beatings and detentions of people who take an anti-war stance and condemn the actions of NATO countries that foment conflicts around the world. Such actions by the U.S. and several European countries underscore the erosion of human rights and democratic principles, suppress dissent, and undermine the principles of a just society. The Foundation to Battle Injustice calls for the immediate release of the civilians who have been arrested for their social and political positions in opposition to the actions of the North Atlantic Alliance.