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Thread: London 'slavery' case: suspect was communist activist in 1970s

  1. Default London 'slavery' case: suspect was communist activist in 1970s

    Don't get me wrong everything here could very well be legit. But something smells. I'm getting a Jim Jones vibe from it all...


    The 73-year-old man arrested on suspicion of holding three women captive in a south London flat for 30 years is a one-time Communist party activist who was well known within far-left circles in London during the mid- and late 1970s as the leader of a separatist party-cum-commune.

    Aravindan Balakrishnan, known as Comrade Bala, had been a senior member of the Communist party of England (Marxist-Leninist) – a member of the party's central committee – but according to a history of the movement he split from the party in 1974.

    His new organisation, described as "characterised by the ultra-left posturing and Mao worship", was called the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. But the group is not thought to have been active since the 1970s – before one of the women, now aged 30, was born.

    Local sources said the woman arrested last week was his wife Chanda Balakrishnan, aged 67, a fellow activist.

    They were both arrested on suspicion of holding three woman captive in a cult-type arrangement at a series of addresses in south London, including most recently at Peckford Place.

    The women have been described by police as a 69-year-old Malaysian, a 57-year-old Irishwoman and a 30-year-old Briton, believed to be the daughter of the Irishwoman and Aravindan Balakrishnan.

    Based in a bookshop in Acre Lane, a road in the then hugely deprived south London area of Brixton, the organisation also ran as a commune, with women taking what was described as a leading role.

    While some reports say the organisation was based as a squat, reports from the time say Balakrishnan's group took out a long lease on the building. The handful of business owners on the road who remember the squat say it was always busy, with large numbers of young people coming in and out of the large, three-storey Victorian corner property at all hours.

    Balakrishnan's beliefs, niche even among the ultra-left groups of the time, styled his group as a direct component of Maoist China, calling on the Red army to come to south London to liberate working people. Members carried portraits of Mao.

    The Acre Lane building, which opened in 1976, was also run in part as a shrine and memorial to the Chinese communist leader, who died that year.

    A manifesto from the group, reproduced on the internet, described it as "a workers' centre, library and bookshop", adding: "Thousands of people, in particular the poorer working people in the area, began to visit and use the centre. Already two years before the centre was established our comrades had begun to boldly arouse the people of Brixton with the proletarian revolutionary line of beloved Chairman Mao."

    The group's beliefs were regularly mocked in the diary column of the Times newspaper, bringing speculation that it became the part-model for the Tooting Popular Front, the ludicrous political movement set up by Robert Lindsay in Citizen Smith, a BBC sitcom that began broadcasting in 1977.

    According to another history of far-left groups in the period, the Acre Lane community was broken up in March 1978 following a police raid. A total of 14 people were arrested, including six female commune members, according to reports from the time. Balakrishnan was among those held, along with his wife, referred to in reports only as Comrade Chanda.

    The owner of a DIY shop adjoining the former Maoist centre – now an Algerian restaurant – said his father used to own the building in question, but sold it shortly before Balakrishnan's commune opened in 1976.

    The shop owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was told Balakrishnan's group took out a long lease on the building, which would have cost a significant sum of money, and there was speculation as to how they raised the money.

    The man said: "There was always lots of young people going in and out of the building, but they were never any trouble."
    Rev Bob Nind, who was the vicar of St Matthews church in Brixton and a well-known community figure at the time, said he went to the Maoist group's centre once, and also knew of them by reputation.

    "The place itself didn't see that remarkable. It mainly looked like a bookshop," he told the Guardian. "There were a lot of young people around, including a lot of women. There was a lot of literature connected to Mao."

    Nind said that by reputation, Balkrishnan's group was known as the most far-left even among the many Marxist-linked groups in the area at the time.
    "There were a lot of leftwing groups active. I remember very well that at the 1978 byelection after Marcus Lipton died there were 10 candidates and five were to the left of Labour. But even among these, the people from Acre Lane were known as being particularly doctrinaire, and quite centralist."

    Nind said he never met Balakrishnan but knew of "Comrade Bala", and was told he was considered a "dominant force" within his organisation.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...t-balakrishnan

  2. Default

    London 'slavery' case women met 'in collective'

    Two of three women who were allegedly held as slaves in London for at least 30 years met a man who has been arrested via a collective, police say.

    Officers said they met "through a shared political ideology" before living together.

    Three women were rescued last month from a house in London after one of them called a charity asking for help.

    A couple, arrested on Thursday, migrated from India and Tanzania in the 1960s, said police.

    Police are making house-to-house inquiries in and around Peckford Place in Brixton, south London, which is near to where the suspects were arrested.

    'Gain trust'
    "We believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims' lives”

    Cdr Steve Rodhouse Metropolitan Police

    The alleged victims - a 30-year-old British woman, a 57-year-old Irish woman and a 69-year-old Malaysian woman - are now in the care of a specialist non-governmental organisation after they were rescued from what police said was a "residential address" last month.

    Police said the 30-year-old woman had a birth certificate but no other official papers.

    The case came to light after the Irish woman rang Freedom Charity to say she had been held against her will.

    The two people arrested are thought to be married. The man is 73 while the woman is 67. They had been held on suspicion of immigration offences and have been released on police bail until January.

    Police had previously said they had also been arrested in the 1970s but have not revealed what it was in connection with.

    In a statement, Cdr Steve Rodhouse of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a 'collective'.

    "Somehow that collective came to an end and the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects.

    "How this resulted in the women living in this way for over 30 years is what are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims' lives."

    He said when the women were removed from the house on 25 October it was agreed "that police would not at that stage take any action".

    "Since that date we have been working to gain their trust and evidence, that came to fruition on 21 November when we were in a position to make arrests," he said.

    "What needs to happen now is that the three victims... are able to go through their rehabilitation undisturbed, without being identified”

    Aneeta Prem Freedom Charity

    'Emotionally fragile'

    "Between 25 October and 21 November none of the three victims were reported missing to the police."

    Cdr Rodhouse said the women were "emotionally fragile and highly vulnerable".

    Aneeta Prem, founder of Freedom Charity, told BBC News the three women are "quite stressed about the amount of detail that is being revealed".

    She said they were "very concerned about the media attention" and they are worried that they will be found.

    Ms Prem said: "These women have had traumatic and disturbing experiences, which they have revealed to us.

    "What needs to happen now is that the three victims, who have begun a long process of recovery, are able to go through their rehabilitation undisturbed, without being identified."

    Neighbour Abdul Rogers said: "It's really shocking. It's a kind of quiet area. The problem with this place is people don't speak to each other."

    Earlier, Frank Field MP, chair of the Modern Slavery Bill evidence review, said the case was just the "tip of a rather large iceberg".

    "We've had this example of domestic slavery but people are being imported to work, almost for nothing, in industry," he told BBC Breakfast.

    "We've got begging gangs being developed, with people being imported. And of course we've got the whole question of how children are being imported to work."

    The Modern Slavery Bill, which is due to published in the coming weeks, is designed to increase the penalty of those convicted to life imprisonment and create an anti-slavery commissioner.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25068525

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Jarman View Post
    Don't get me wrong everything here could very well be legit. But something smells. I'm getting a Jim Jones vibe from it all...
    I understand why you posted it Danny. I kept looking at the story and wondering whether to post it, but in the end decided not to unless something obvious turned up.

    The fact that the police knew about this guy years ago is certainly smelly.
    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

  4. #4

    Default

    This gets stranger and stranger - with shades of Jim Jones and Jamestown cultism thrown into the mix perhaps?


    'Slave keepers' were members of cultlike political group

    London couple accused of enslaving three women for 30 years worshipped Mao Zedong and believed Red Army would invade



    Neighbours said the household was known locally as 'something to do with a cult'. Photograph: Velar Grant/Demotix/Corbis

    The couple accused of holding three women as domestic slaves in southLondon for 30 years had been leading lights in a cultlike far-left political group which worshipped the Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong and believed that their area of south London was on the verge of being liberated by China's Red Army.
    Aravindan Balakrishnan, 73, named for the first time on Monday, was a senior member of the tiny Communist party of England (Marxist-Leninist) in the early 1970s, before splitting away in 1974 to form an even more niche and hardline grouping, the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.
    His 67-year-old wife, Chanda, was part of the same grouping, which set itself up in 1976 in a library-cum-commune inside a large Victorian building in Brixton, south London, with about 25 members. Its leader, Balakrishnan, was known at the time as Comrade Bala.
    Steve Rayner, an academic who studied the group, noted its cultlike attributes, in which there was little debate and the few members with jobs donated all their income to the organisation. Rayner, a professor at Oxford University, who studied Balakrishnan's group for a 1979 PhD thesis on leftwing groups, described the leader's "superior ability to manipulate" other members, who were mainly from overseas and appeared vulnerable.
    Rayner's investigation found that members, who wore Mao badges at all times, believed that they and the rest of Brixton would soon be liberated by the Red Army. He said the group was the "clearest case of far-left millenarianism which I have encountered".
    The couple were both arrested on suspicion of holding three women captive at a series of addresses in south London including, most recently, a council-owned flat in Peckford Place, Brixton. Police inquiries have since tied the group to more than a dozen properties around south London over the decades.
    Police sources indicated that they were investigating claims that a woman fell to her death from a window at one of these addresses in 1997. A neighbour of the Victorian property in Herne Hill, south of Brixton, where the group are believed to have lived for about seven years from 1997, said the household was known locally as "something to do with a cult". Kate Roncoroni, 43, whose house backs on to the road, said: "I came here in 1996. It could have been within two years of moving in. All I remember was there was local gossip that this woman had fallen out of a window and that she had died."
    A Metropolitan police spokesman said: "We are aware of this and we are attempting to access archived paper records from the inquest."
    A cousin of the dead woman, who was named as Sian Davies, 44,on Monday night told ITV News that Davies had written to her family saying she was "looking after the mothers of the world". An inquest into her death heard that her fellow residents had delayed telling her family that she had fallen out of the window for seven months and that Davies had spent seven months in hospital after the Christmas Eve fall, eventually dying on 3 August 1998.
    The three women freed last month freed, who left the address before the arrests following a period of secretive discussions with police and a charity combating domestic slavery, have been identified as a 69-year-old Malaysian national, a 57-year-old Irishwoman and a 30-year-old Briton, called Rosie, who is believed to be the daughter of the Irishwoman and Balakrishnan.
    As the background of the suspects emerged, Lambeth council came under pressure to explain why it did not appear to have acted on concerns about the 30-year-old woman, who is believed to have been held by the couple since birth.
    The authority reportedly received a complaint from a member of the public in 1998 when the teenage captive, then aged 15, did not appear to be attending school. Detectives have found no official documentation for the woman other than a birth certificate.The flat where the five people lived in Peckford Place is a council property. But the council said it could not explain why it had housed the group there, or why it had not noticed that the 30-year-old woman had not been to school. A spokeswoman said the council could not go into detail about its contact with the Balakrishnan couple because officials were working with the ongoing police investigation.
    "This is an extremely complex case involving a number of individuals going back decades. It is too early at this stage to provide the detail of any contact we may have had with them," she said.
    The charity that was central to the release of the women, the Freedom Charity, has appealed to the media to respect the women's privacy as more detail about their life with the couple became public. "The women are under added pressure as the appetite increases to find out who they are," said Aneeta Prem, the charity's founder.
    The Balakrishnan group's beliefs were mocked in the diary column of the Times, prompting speculation that it may have been a partial model for the Tooting Popular Front, the ludicrous political movement in Citizen Smith, the BBC sitcom, which began in 1977.
    The Rev Bob Nind, who was the vicar of St Matthew's church in Brixton at the time, said he knew of the group by reputation as the most far-left among the many Marxist-linked groups at the time: "I remember very well that at the 1978 byelection after Marcus Lipton died, there were 10 candidates, and five were to the left of Labour. But even among these, the people from Acre Lane were known as being particularly doctrinaire, and quite centralist."
    According to another history of far-left groups in the period, the Balakrishnans' Acre Lane community was broken up in a police raid in 1978, in which the couple were among 14 people arrested.



    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

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