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'Britain Tramples on Rights'

November 23, 1988

The editorial ("Britain Tramples on Rights," Nov. 9) condemning Britain's new media censorship laws and the end of the right to silence was superb yet saddening. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's obsession with destroying the Irish Republican Army, though her generals have publicly conceded it isn't possible, has exacted over 50 million new victims, the British people.

Thatcher's legislating against the free media is dismantling the very freedoms most cherished by the English people. The lunacy of it all is that it won't work. The publicity that the Iron Lady seeks to choke from the IRA will actually increase revolutionary support in alienated areas of Ulster instead of diminishing it. Anyone cognizant of the situation in the north can tell you; the IRA was around for decades before the advent of modern media. They simply won't go away just because they can't talk on television or radio. What do they care, anyway? They're too busy killing soldiers and blowing up buildings.

But the worst part of it is the litany of repression before and since the media ban: the suspended right to silence, the whitewashing of an obvious case of a "shoot-to-kill" murder in Gibraltar, stepped up harassment of Irish people in Britain and Northern Ireland, and a failed Anglo-Irish accord. Cloaking themselves in hollow anti-terrorism rhetoric, anything goes; especially rights.

This has all happened despite increased U.S. pressure and the recent condemnation of Britain in Amnesty International's 1987 report.

As soldiers continue to discharge their plastic bullets at women and children in Ulster, and as Thatcher discharges essential press freedoms and civil liberties, the British and Irish peoples can expect more of the same: the iron fist.

MICHAEL COLLINS

Santa Monica

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