Friday, 22 March 2013

Defend The Right To Peaceful Protest.

     Under the state apparatus the right to freedom of speech is always liable to attack, the state would rather we were subservient and obedient. When people start to object to how they are being treated, that's when the state takes off the gloves and it becomes bare-knuckle capitalism with repression and intimidation the tools to get you back in line and obedient. One of Glasgow's past fights to defend the right to freedom of public assemble, was the fight for freedom of speech on Glasgow Green, a fight that lasted from 1922 to 1932, and here we are now in 2013 having once again to fight for the right to public assemble, to voice our concerns on the way our society is heading. It is by continual vigilance and struggle that we hold onto what little freedoms we have, under the present system, they are continually under threat, once gone, the fight to get them back is a much harder struggle than defending them.

Defend The Right To Peaceful Protest.

An open letter from Glasgow against Atos to all Political groups / parties
And Trade Unionists.
      If you are someone who has been involved in a protest or demonstration in the past few years you may have noticed an increase in the use of certain tactics by the Police.
The brutal tactic of “Kettling”, - the enforced containment of groups of people, is used by Police routinely despite widespread public and legal condemnation of the dangers of this tactic. The Police often use riot shields and employ mounted officers in these situations in which people are corralled and crushed together sometimes for hours on end.
     Forward Intelligence Teams collect information and photograph people attending demonstrations or protests. These photographs are compiled on “Spotter Cards” which are then used to identify individuals.
      At every protest you can be sure to see at least one mobile CCTV unit monitoring the crowd and possibly a helicopter hovering overhead.
      These are not tactics that are reserved for dealing with groups which promote racial hatred such as the Scottish Defence League, but tactics that the police are using increasingly against any group of ordinary people who are voicing their concerns about issues which matter to them and their families.
Ordinary citizens such as environmental campaigners, disabled rights groups, families affected by cuts in public services must have the right to articulate their grievances without interference from the Police. They must be allowed the right of free speech and peaceful protest without attempts by the police to criminalise these basic democratic rights.
      The journalist George Monbiot reported on the misuse of police power during the Kingsnorth Climate camp Campaign. Two female protestors were attacked, arrested and remanded in prison for four days. As George Monbiot commented; “Anyone who seeks political change is treated as if they were an enemy of the public interest”, and, “that the police are turning activism into a crime”. (Guardian 22nd June 2009).
     The human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield Q.C. remarked that; “Legitimate and peaceful mass demonstrations is being policed off the streets. Increasingly heavy –handed tactics are being employed along with the potentially dangerous practice of kettling or corralling. It is part of a general policy by successive authoritarian governments. They brook no opposition and contrive a compliant society upon which they can wreak havoc with their elitist economic policies”. (Guardian 10th March 2013).
      During a recent trade visit to Delhi, David Cameron said of the massacre of hundreds of Indians who were protesting against oppressive laws and were shot by British troops in 1919, “We must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right to peaceful protest anywhere in the world”, (The Telegraph 20 February 2013).
      When David Cameron said anywhere in the world – he meant of course anywhere except here! He doesn’t mind democracy and free speech as long as it’s somewhere else. And the politicians are quite happy to give the police a free hand to maintain their position of power and privilege.
We must stop this misuse of police power. It is a scandal that ordinary citizens are being deprived of their democratic right to protest against injustice.
We cannot stand by and watch this happen.
We are not posing a threat to democracy - the police are!
We are not breaking the law - the police are!
To this end we call on all individuals with a concern for free speech and who value the democratic right to protest, all political groups and parties, all trade unionists, all of our fellow citizens suffering repression to join us in condemnation of police harassment and intimidation.
      Although there are many divisions in society at the moment, this is something that affects all of us. We have to be united on this, - do not fall for the police’s divide and rule tactics.
The right to free speech and peaceful protest is the mark of a free society.
As Martin Luther King so eloquently said; “Freedom is never given voluntarily by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”.
      Let us remember this, and unite against those who oppose free speech!

     “Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”
Simone Weil

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