Three homes of Republican Sinn Féin members were raided by armed RUC/ PSNI and CID police units this week in Craigavon in County Armagh. In each home computers, media storage devices and mobile phones were seized.
Up to 20 land rovers and 40 police personnel carried out the raids “very aggressively”, according to the party. One member of Republican Sinn Féin was told he would be arrested if he continued to speak Irish — they didn’t understand his “foreign” language.
“Children were told to ‘f… off”, and indeed chased, at gunpoint, when they gathered on the street to see what was happening; everyone’s name was taken regardless of age,” the group said.
Another member of Republican Sinn Féin who was driving in the area was also stopped and surrounded by a total of eight police vehicles.
Local residents said that for almost two weeks, a police helicopter has hovered over the area and no one can leave the area without the risk of being stopped, searched and verbally abused by the RUC/PSNI.
“Residents are effectively under community arrest”, said one man, “any time someone attempts to leave the area they are pounced on, questioned and searched.”
He continued: “Another man has his home watched every night from 7.30pm onwards, so he is effectively under house arrest. The harassment is dreadful here in Craigavon and Lurgan.
“People living five miles down the road don’t realise what is happening here. The concentration of police in and around the area, with their aggressive and heavy-handed tactics, don’t make for good community relations.
“It’s no wonder the youth as so alienated when they see their homes being torn apart and family members abused.”
The men, who did not want to be named, said that the “deliberate attempts by the RUC to keep nationalists in subjugation” would not work and that “the British were playing a very dangerous game” with a marginalised community.
The group said recent incidents included the targeting of adults, children and also charity workers.
Speaking about the incidents, éirígí’s Stephen Murney said that on St Patricks Day he had been contacted by a number of residents of Parkhead Crescent who said that the PSNI had entered the area in two armoured cars and an armoured landrover.
“One of the residents told me that they had stopped and searched her mother, she had two small children with her at the time. When the thugs were finished tormenting them they started to goad a group of youths nearby, the end result was a teenager being forcefully arrested. When residents tried to intervene they too were threatened by RUC/PSNI gunmen.”
He said a few days later, on Tuesday, another person contacted eirigi after he was stopped and searched in Hill Street.
“The victim was doing charity work at the time, raising money for a local suicide prevention support group. Whilst collecting sponsors the PSNI/RUC decided to stop and search him under section 21 and 24 of the British Justice and Security Act. He was searched for ammunition, wireless apparatus and transmitters.
“Not only was he subjected to a humiliating search in the centre of Newry, they also took his sponsor card off him. Thankfully due to strong protestations from himself and members of the public he was given the sponsor card back and was allowed to continue on his way.”
Murney concluded, “These latest incidents prove what we have been saying all along. The PSNI/RUC are unaccountable to no one, they can do what they want, when they want. A wide range of individuals are being relentlessly targeted by this militia; Adults, children, political activists and now we can add charity workers to the list of harassment victims”
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