Charities and campaign groups including Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and the animal rights charity Peta have criticised their “divisive” and “dangerous” inclusion on a police counter-terrorism watch list.
Over the weekend, The Guardian newspaper reported that a poster for the Prevent anti-terrorism programme had been circulated by police, showing the symbols of several environmental, animal rights, anti-war and left-wing groups alongside those for far-right and white-supremacist groups.
The latest revelation comes after the news that Extinction Rebellion had been included on a separate watch list issued by counter-terrorism police in south-east England, which has subsequently been recalled.
In its latest statement about its inclusion on the national counter-terrorism poster, Extinction Rebellion said it was “crude, divisive, dangerous” and “totally bonkers” to include the group on posters warning about terrorism.
“This is nothing short of pointing a finger at anyone that thinks differently to ‘business as usual’ – which is taking humanity to its grave – and lumping them all together,” the statement said.
“The chilling effect is to leave people feeling under scrutiny, watched and pressurised, feeling othered, ashamed or afraid to be open about the things they care about such as the environment and the world around us.”
Extinction Rebellion said that people campaigning for the group had recently been “banned from political conferences, asked to keep quiet at work and investigated by employers for speaking out against company policy and taking days off to go on strike”.
John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism. It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers.
“There is nothing extremist about people from all walks of life taking peaceful, non-violent action to stop climate chaos and ecological collapse.
“The absurd irony is that this programme is aimed at the first-ever generation of school kids who have understood the existential threat we face and have taken to the streets asking for more action. How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?"
Elisa Allen, director of Peta, said: “This appears to be a sinister attempt to quash legitimate campaigning organisations, something that is as dangerous as it is undemocratic.
“The animal protection movement is a mainstream movement made up of thousands of organisations and millions of people from around the world who stand up against the exploitation and mistreatment of animals.”
The pacifist campaign group the Stop the War Coalition said there was “no justification whatsoever” for its inclusion on the watch list.
“Stop the War's totally groundless inclusion alongside violent neo-Nazi organisations, for example, reinforces the concern we have long expressed about the Prevent initiative: that it would be used more widely against groups critical of government policy,” the statement from the Stop the War Coalition said.
“We will be taking urgent steps to ensure the removal of all references to Stop the War and other progressive organisations from this and other Prevent and anti-terrorism documents.”