On Tuesday evening, Glasgow University had a visit from one of it’s more controversial alumni: criminal defense lawyer Aamer Anwar. He gave a talk only 5 minutes from the very location he was violently battered by police for being “a black boy with a big mouth” while putting up posters in Ashton Lane in 1993 – whilst still a student at the university.
Frequently branded a “terrorist sympathizer” by the tabloids (for his work defending those accused of terrorist action with paltry evidence) and currently featured in the news for his work on the live Tommy Sheridan case (which for obvious reasons he could not comment on) , Anwar spoke to students about his work as a human rights activist and lawyer, reminding us throughout that: “law is not about lawyers.” He shared his experiences and views in the field, particularly focusing on the cases of institutionalized racism,which have sprung from the climate of fear in the UK since Blair joined Bush in a “war against terror.” Students were informed about the regular unfounded deportation of asylum seekers, harassment at airports, and lack of public enquiries which lead to the “tragedy and mispeech” in the law courts which were forcing normal people to campaign in defense of their innocent family members. Anwar wasn’t hesitant either to draw comparisons to the treatment of “terror suspects” to the now considered shocking treatment of IRA suspects all of twenty years ago. It wasn’t all bleak though – Anwar was eager to encourage students to get involved with campaigns – pointing out the decline in radical lawyers – and tried to dispel the myth that injustice in the system couldn’t be fought – pointing out that it was in meeting like this that some of the strongest campaigns were launched.