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Defend the right to protest in Parliament Square

Monday 7 February, 2 - 8pm, Parliament Square

The government wants to END THE RIGHT TO PROTEST in Parliament Square by rushing through the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill which will be debated in the House of Commons on 7 February.

Anti-war protest is their first target: Brian Haw's extraordinary and visually impressive three-and-a-half-year, 24-hour-a-day peace campaign. Also under threat is the two-year old Community Speakout of the Global Women's Strike. "Some Members do not like to be reminded of what they have done, voting for war and death." John McDonnell MP.

They want to deny Mr Haw's High court victory under the Human Rights Act, a precedent establishing all of our right to protest. Under the Bill:

- Even a police constable would have the power to say, how many, how loud, if and when we can protest. If the demonstration is judged "illegal" we can be jailed for a year.

We may all face arrest for "spoiling the view" if we protest within a kilometre of Parliament Square - that's as far as Trafalgar Square, Waterloo Station or Buckingham Palace.

The government's dismantling of fundamental rights - detaining people indefinitely without charge, the power to hold suspects incommunicado and proposing house arrest for any one of us - makes it urgent to act now, before we wake up in a police State, compliments of Parliament.

Parliamentary opposition

"The majority of people in Wales oppose both the war in Iraq and the continued occupation. Plaid Cymru MPs.give praise to Brian Haw and the weekly Community Speakout for giving a voice to this opposition. For those of us inside the House who voted against the war, their visible presence is vital, making clear to those in power that it is only inside Westminster that they are the majority." Elfyn Llwyd MP (Plaid Cymru).

"There should be additional rights to demonstrate around Parliament, not less. We should want people to demonstrate around here; the time to worry is when no body can be bothered to do so." Alex Salmond MP (SNP).

"Introducing legislation to outlaw [protest] is in itself a crime". Lembit Opik MP (Lib Dem).

"This legislation - criminalizing protesters against everything from animal cruelty to genocide - is designed to stifle the real change we so desperately need under New Labour's increasingly authoritarian regime." Caroline Lucas MEP (Green Party)

They "want to create an antiseptic tourist attraction that has nothing to do with democracy or participation." Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour).

For over 350 years, people have exercised their right to speak out in Parliament Square: Chartists, Suffragettes, trade unionists, pensioners, lesbian and gay rights activists, asylum seekers & refugees, anti-racist campaigners, nurses, anti-poll tax campaigners, people with disabilities, single mothers, as well as the long-running picket for the extradition of Chilean dictator Pinochet (shamefully freed by then Home Secretary Jack Straw).

For more information: 020 7482 2496

Jointly called by: Action Against War, African Liberation Support Campaign, Barnet Green Party, Camden Green Party, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, the Global Women's Strike, Greater London Pensioners Association, the Green Party, Legal Action for Women, Military Families Against War, Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, Network for Economic and Political Democracy, Orpington CND, Parliament Square Church, Payday, Peace and Human Rights Trust, Peace & Progress, South Somerset Peace Group, SOS - Save Our Speech: Parliament Square supporters of Brain Haw, Voices in the Wilderness, Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition/CND, Michael Culver, John McDonnell MP, Tricia Goddard, Brian Haw, Corin Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Tahrir Swift, Amanda Ward.


February 2005


For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism