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A message to Gordie

In light of the recent invocation of anti-terrorist laws against Landsbanki, a group of Icelanders who have lived and/or studied in the UK have set up an online petition to highlight the fact that Icelanders are [most emphatically!] not terrorists.

It’s a great site, particularly the page with postcards sent in by normal Icelanders who reject the terrorist label.

The final part of the statement reads:

We, the people of Iceland, ask you, our British friends, to join us in the common cause of ending diplomatic hostilities between our governments. It is our hope that this will stop the unnecessary economic damage on both sides, so that we can start to rebuild and make amends.

You can sign the petition here.

[Thanks Jessica!]



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dankoozy October 23, 2008, 1:22 am

    Everyone knew no good would come of these new terror laws. A week hardly passes that you don’t hear about Gordie’s effort to make England into more of a surveillance state (just look on slashdot.org). I have been there long enough to realise what a shithole most of that country actually is, the first thing you see upon leaving the airport is an array of oversized CCTV cameras to make double plus sure they see every car that passes it.

    They say this is for safety, etc. but you have to be a victim of a crime before you appreciate how worthless these things actually are. The police station of Croydon (a huge town) is staffed by one tired looking, over worked guy who can’t seem to help anyone with anything except update the crime statistics.

    I wouldn’t worry about it to be honest – the recession should change a few things, maybe even get rid of the clowns running that country now. Especially the guy with the dyed eyebrows who wants to put a tracking device in everyone’s car. England will be in big trouble by the EU if they ever tried to start shit with Iceland and the fact that they abused the new anti-terror powers they gave themselves over a bit of money (0 lives at risk) just shows how greedy they are.

  • garpur October 23, 2008, 7:38 am

    The British government must have been a little embarassed by the abuse of the anti-terrorist because they have taken the name Landsbanki off the website list of nations under terrorist sanctions. The law freezing Icelandic bank assets, however, is still in effect.
    As of now, it seems that the British government will loan Iceland 400 million or whatever it needs to pay off the Icesave depositors, who probably will be paid back their 3-4 billion in the coming weeks. Britain will try to collect on that loan eventually. Just like the mafia.
    It looks like now Norway is taking a more prominent role in saving poor pathetic Iceland from their death throes. The IMF is only paying $1 billion of the $6 billion package so presumably a large piece of the rest is coming from Norway. Also, Norway delivered a tankerful of oil in the past few years. Perhaps they are helping out of pity, but maybe out of a little self-interest. By keeping Iceland alive, barely, they get to put a finger in the eyes of the English and stop the Russians from expanding into the Norwegian sphere of interest. In the past Norway has suggested a smelting plant in the northwest peninsula and also a Norsk Hydro dam. They would also have an interest in any exploration of gas and oil reserves in the artic area above Iceland, or denying Russia those rights. More importantly, I think, is the need to keep the Icelandic economy going so that those annoying Icelanders don’t all emigrate to Norway.
    As I said before, I think the situation is in stalemate and will continue that way for several years. There will be bankruptcy litigation in both Iceland and Britain. Most likely, the British courts will decide that Iceland will owe creditors (not just depositors) a huge amount of money, while the Iceland court will decide, not surprisingly, that Iceland as a nation is not responsible for the debts of the banks. The european creditors will sue in every European court to seize Icelandic assets, as a result of which no one will want to do business with Iceland (since the creditors would try to seize all the money first). It’s possible that Norway could help out (or help themselves) in another way. Norway could decide that it is following the Icelandic courts and rejecting the English courts, with the result that Icelanders could do business with the outside world — but only by going through Norway.
    As for the next few years, it looks like a lot of Icelanders will vote with their feet and move to other countries, Scandinavia, US or Canada, anywhere where they can get jobs and won’t be insulted and pelted with garbage. If 100,000 left that would take a big burden off the Icelandic government, 150,000 would be even better. That’s how Mexico solves its economic problems — it sends a big portion of its citizens to the US and they send money back to Mexico.

  • Gray, Germany October 23, 2008, 8:56 am

    Well, it’s not simply “anti terrorist” law, it’s the “Anti Terrorism, Crime and Security ACt 2001”, an omnibus bill dealing with a multitude of issues. It’s preamle shows that this isn’t only about terrorists:

    “An Act to amend the Terrorism Act 2000; to make further provision about terrorism and security; to provide for the freezing of assets; to make provision about immigration and asylum; to amend or extend the criminal law and powers for preventing crime and enforcing that law; to make provision about the control of pathogens and toxins; to provide for the retention of communications data; to provide for implementation of Title VI of the Treaty on European Union; and for connected purposes.”

    And section 4, which is the base for the freezzing order against Icelandic companies, says:
    “4 Power to make order
    (1) The Treasury may make a freezing order if the following two conditions are satisfied.
    (2) The first condition is that the Treasury reasonably believe that—
    (a) action to the detriment of the United Kingdom’s economy (or part of it) has been or is likely to be taken by a person or persons, or
    (b) action constituting a threat to the life or property of one or more nationals of the United Kingdom or residents of the United Kingdom has been or is likely to be taken by a person or persons.
    (3) If one person is believed to have taken or to be likely to take the action the second condition is that the person is—
    (a) the government of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, or
    (b) a resident of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom. ”

    Well, at least to me it looks like this applies in the case at hand. A threat to the property of UK citzien, by a foreign government? Sure! Don’t forget, the evidence isn’t only Oddsson’s TV interview, there’s also the official statement by the Icelandic FME, clearly saying that “Domestic deposits are fully guaranteed, as declared by the Government”. See? DOMESTIC deposits FULLY guaranteed, and not a word about foreign deposits, not even about the minimum guarantee of 20000 Euro! And that at a time when it was increasingly questionable if a sale of the assets would cover all deposits. I you are aware of this, you can’t seriously state that “Icelandic authorities have always maintained their intention to honour their obligations”. Always? It’s simply not true!

    Imho the message by Oddsson and the FME was clear: ‘We don’t want Icelanders to lose a single Kronor, and we’ll simply use all assets of the bank to accomplish that. Foreigners be damned.’ Well, I am not a lawyer, but I’m reasonably sure that such blatant discrimination, based on nationality, in a case of a bankruptcy of an international bank is illegal under international laws that Iceland signed. The normal, globally accepted procedure is that all creditors of the bank are in the same boat, regardless of nationality, and get the same fair share out of a liquidation. But that’s not what was proposed for Landsbanki. And it’s totally understandable that in this dire situation the British government pulled out all stops to prevent its citizen from becoming defrauded! The “Anti Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001” certainly wasn’t created with such a specific issue in mind, but it applies here, and nobody should be surprised that Brown used it to secure a collateral for his countrymen’s savings. Nothing illegal about this, and the responsible Icelandic officials should have been competent enough to know that this could happen. Their protests now not only are hypocrittical, it seems they are designed to divert attention from their own failure.

    Sry about this lengthy rant, but I think you all should at least be aware of more facts, presented from a different view, before you sign the petition. And while I understand and applaud the desire to end diplomatic hostilities between governments, and to remove any stain on the dignity of Iceland’s people that resulted from the incident, I hold the opinion that this can’t succeed without serious changes at the responsible positions of Icelandic government. So, to create and sign another petition that calls for new elections would be a very good idea, imho.

  • hildigunnur October 23, 2008, 9:09 am

    yes, yes, get new government and CB heads! But that would have to be an Icelandic petition, and not only on Facebook or such.

  • trev london October 23, 2008, 9:14 am

    What a shame. Just as things seemed to be getting friendly and cordial again.

    This is about the most offensive, manipulative, cyncial excercise imaginable. Photos of young children with “Icelandic Terrorist” photo-shopped onto them indeed. When NOBODY, not even the loathsome Brown has called Icelanders “terrorists”. This is deliberate misunderstanding for propaganda purposes.

    Protest and petition about the asset freezing by all means – there are issues there for sure, although most folk here see them from a different angle – but the photo of an innocent boy holding a puppy with the caption “do you see a terrorist?” is just pathetic, as everyone involved knows the answer is “NO”. Apart from Haarde and Oddsson of course, who were probably holding the camera.

    How very sad. I had enormous sympathy for Icelanders in their predicament, but that has completely evaporated.

  • alda October 23, 2008, 9:45 am

    Oh dear. Another example of warped Icelandic humour that doesn’t translate. Oops.

    Trev, when I put myself in your position, I do see your point. But I also know the Icelanders and how they deal with traumatic events – which is often to put a dry, cynical spin on things. I think that’s what’s happening here – as opposed to them being deliberately provocative.

  • trev london October 23, 2008, 10:01 am

    Hmm. It looks more like a political petition to me than a dry joke, but a Brit is the last person to judge another nation’s sense of humour haha! We tend to believe we’re the only people to have one.

    Anyhow, give it 12 months and you’ll be freezing our assets (if we have any left). The BBC this morning reported on the list of countries currently suffering a run on their currency and joining the queue at the IMF – Hungary, Ukraine, South Korea, All the Baltic States…the list goes on. “Countries that have been seen to have lived beyond their means, become to dependent of foreign debt and imports” they said.

    Well guess where fits that bill perfectly? The £ has lost 23% against the $ in 12 months.

    Maybe those BBC correspondents will be asking to be paid in greenbacks before long.

  • Gray, Germany October 23, 2008, 10:13 am

    Trev, imho it’s understandable that the emotions in Iceland are boiling right now. And the petition offers people a way to vent their anger. As I understand it, those “postcards” were sent in by petitioners, and, honestly, I think most of those are cute. OK, the photoshopped ones are over the top, and it would have been good if the website administrators wold have shown the decency to reject those.

    However, you’re right, of course this whole thing is somewhat baseless as nobody claimed Icelanders are terrorists. Instead, Brown said the actions of the Icelandic government were “illegal” and “unacceptable”, and indeed there are facts supporting his view. Sadly, his communication management wasn’t that much better than that of the Icelandic officials, and he should have reacted publicly to any innocent or intentional misunderstandings.

    As I see it, this petition won’t do much harm, but may result in the British government finally adressing the anger and the sorrows of Icelandic people. But I think the same should be demanded from the Geir Haarde and his cronies who seem to spend much more time fingerpointing at other governements instead of providing informations and assurances for the creditors of Iceland banks about the state of the proceedings. Really, it is no surprise that frustration and rage grow in this vacuum of information. On both sides.

  • Gray, Germany October 23, 2008, 10:16 am

    Btw, Alda, is this you in the picture at the upper left side of the petition? Difficult to see without the red nose!

  • alda October 23, 2008, 10:22 am

    Gray – nope, that’s not me. Not even close. 🙂

    I absolutely agree with you that GH is providing inadequate information about the state of proceedings/negotiations and “we the Icelandic people” are extremely frustrated by that, as well. He was grilled about it on Kastljós last night and his reply was that these matters were so delicate right now that the less that was said, the better. However, there is a British delegation here now, and they spent all day yesterday locked up in negotiations.

  • trev london October 23, 2008, 10:25 am

    Frankly, Gray, other thank tucked away in corners of the Guardian and FT, there has been no mention of Icelandic anger at the UK here in the media. 99% of people are completely unaware, so there’s no pressure on Brown domestically from this issue. What anger there is, is aimed in the other direction, for obvious reasons.

    I suspect some uninformed Brits will hop over to RKV for a (relatively) cheap city break and a bit of supportive spending and wonder what hit them when they get a plate of putrid shark in the mush!

  • alda October 23, 2008, 11:23 am

    Trev – not likely to happen. We NEED all those foreigners spending their cash – irrespective of nationality! 🙂

  • trev london October 23, 2008, 11:59 am

    Not taking any chances – we’ve had 2nd thoughts and are off to Budapest for a few days where the forint is low and we haven’t pissed anybody off. Not recently, anyhow!

  • icegrl October 23, 2008, 12:35 pm

    Even though I somewhat like the idea behind the petition, I don’t want to put my name on it.

    I’m extremely tired of how everyone seems to be focusing most of their anger towards the UK and thereby bringing most of the attention onto that aspect of this whole mess. Sure, Gordon Brown definitely on my “People who suck” list but I think it’s time we back away from England “bashing” and onto other issues.

    I think we like that we can deflect some of the anger away from our darling little island and onto some big bad Other Nation, instead of having to take a good hard look at our own society and find where the blame lies here.

    That’s my two cents at least.

  • James, London October 23, 2008, 2:27 pm

    When you apply for jobs with large companies in the UK and US, one of the HR checks will probably include an Internet name search. By signing this online petition, you risk your profile containing an entry along the lines of “Signed petition in 2008 against UK government’s Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001”. That could potentially impact career prospects in areas such as banking which, by law, must perform such detailed background checks. This isn’t political opinion, just a practical warning if you think you may have an international financial career in future…

  • dankoozy October 23, 2008, 4:22 pm

    that is sad but true. Before people wouldnt use their real name on the internet and then facebook came along and people didnt mind anymore. Signing with your real name makes this employment vetting far too easy. And there are still people out there who really dig the whole anti terrorism thing.

  • Don in Seattle October 23, 2008, 6:58 pm

    I don’t mean to take this off-topic, but there was a very nice bit about Alda in today’s “Daily Life” column:


    Alda, you are getting famous!


  • alda October 23, 2008, 7:35 pm

    Thanks, Don! I don’t know about the ‘getting famous’ bit – Jonas who wrote the piece is a good friend, as is everyone up at Iceland Review. 🙂

  • Zoe October 23, 2008, 11:32 pm

    Yeah… I don’t know what I think about the petition. As much as I think it’s great to organise and do something, I think that a) we should focus on problems within Iceland first and b) the whole terrorist thing… so white Icelanders don’t look like terrorists? Then what do terrorists look like? I’m pretty sure the UK government has never used the terrorist label for Icelanders, that’s something that we took and ran with. And for understandable reasons, it’s very shocking.
    So… I agree with icegrl. I won’t be putting my name on this petition, although I’m not vehemently opposed to it either.

  • Gray, Germany October 24, 2008, 12:24 am

    They posted the (in)famous telephone call between UK’s Darling and Iceland’s Mathiesen at Icelandreview! And it confirms the illegal discrimination of foreign creditors that I alread pointed out here:

    Darling: Do I understand that you guarantee the deposits of Icelandic depositors?
    Mathiesen: Yes, we guarantee the deposits in the banks and branches here in Iceland.
    Darling: But not the branches outside Iceland?
    Mathiesen: No, not outside of what was already in the letter that we sent.
    Darling: But is that not in breach of the EEA-treaty?
    Mathiesen: No, we don’t think so and think this is actually in line with what other countries have been doing over recent days.
    Darling: Well, we didn’t when we had the problem with Northern Rock. It didn’t matter where you saved money, we guaranteed your savings.

    Well, I think this is indeed in breach with the treaty covering Icelands EFTA participation, and I also would like to see the precendent that Mathiesen talks about. No nation behaved in that way recently.

    Apart from this, there’s also the ethical side: Can you Icelanders tell me any good reason why your savers should get all their money back, while at the same time the savings at foreign banks wouldn’t even be guaranteed to the legal limit of 20000 €? Essentialy, this means to take money away from foreign customers in order to keep Icelandic savers (and voters!) happy. Many people will call this theft. Especially those who see their money vanishing to Iceland, of course.

  • Gray, Germany October 24, 2008, 12:26 am

    oops, “the savings at foreign banks”?
    foreign branches, of course

  • Doesn't matter October 24, 2008, 2:16 am

    Alistair Darling: “What about the depositors you’ve got who’ve got deposits in London branches?

    Árni Mathiesen: “We have the [deposit] insurance fund according to the Directive and how that works is explained in this letter (to the UK) and the pledge of support from the government to the fund.”

    AD: “So the entitlements the people have which I think is about £16,000, they will be paid that?”

    ÁM: “Well, I hope that will be the case. I cannot state that or guarantee that now but we are certainly working to solve this issue. This is something we really don’t want to have hanging over us.”

    The transcript actually confirms that (in) famous Darling’s words “The Icelandic government, believe it or not, have told me yesterday they have no intention of honouring their obligations here” were pure lies. Those lies were “instrumental in convincing the British government to use anti-terror legislation to freeze Icelandic banking assets” – http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/42c0e23c-a153-11dd-82fd-000077b07658.html

  • trev london October 24, 2008, 8:53 am

    Yes, but in all other respects, it shows that Darling’s enterpretation of the Icelandic position was spot on.

    You’re playing with semantics here.

  • Doesn't matter October 24, 2008, 9:20 am

    What exactly are “all other respects”? The message is quite straightforward “they have no intention”. Actually they do.

    I call this a lie. How do you call it?

  • trev london October 24, 2008, 10:29 am

    I just said he was wrong. I neither voted for them, nor support them, but it doesn’t change the substance.

    The plain fact is that it looked very likely they would not have the means to fulfil their obligation to UK depositors, and what cash there was would be used for domestic depositors. I keep saying – you can’t pay people with intentions. As there were assets in the UK, it would have been negligent for the government to do anything else but freeze them. They would never have been forgiven if they hadn’t.

    I think whoever was in power would have done the same.

  • Doesn't matter October 24, 2008, 11:20 am

    It looked very likely that they did have the means to fulfil their obligations, if, not out of courtesy, at least for the sake of Iceland reputation. This was explicitly said .

    Netherlands have the same problem with Icecave, but did not freeze assets, nor used big fat lies to defend their actions. Diplomacy… offering a loan… and the problem was solved. So, yes, I am sure their is another way.

  • Vikinsson October 24, 2008, 1:05 pm

    “We NEED all those foreigners spending their cash – irrespective of nationality! ”

    Well I’m coming over in a few weeks to do just that. But I’m as poor as a church mouse so my little contribution only helps a wee bit. But looking at how fast the tickets are going I’d say there will be a lot of other folks especially considering November.

    But I’m wondering about exactly what kind of money to bring and how much it is worth. Right now I assume $U.S. is what I need to bring. For some reason the $ has gone back up making my conversion to $ from $CA suddenly much more expensive. I’m afraid I’ll never be sure what anything is worth. Many things are much cheaper but global chains are clinging to the high prices, so I won’t be renting a car….

    Sorry to be off topic but the tone has been getting a bit testy so I’m being a bit selfish right now preparing for my trip to Niceland.

  • Gray, Germany October 24, 2008, 1:57 pm

    German weekly “Der Spiegel” has an English language story upabout Iceland’s new tourist boom. Maybe you’ll find some tips in it, Vikinsson!

    “FORGET THAILAND – Near Bankruptcy Draws Bargain-Hunting Tourists to Iceland”

  • Gray, Germany October 24, 2008, 1:58 pm

    German weekly “Der Spiegel” has an English language story up about Iceland’s new tourist boom, Vikinsson. Maybe you’ll find some tips in it!

    “FORGET THAILAND – Near Bankruptcy Draws Bargain-Hunting Tourists to Iceland”