STATEMENT AND OPEN LETTER FROM PEACESTRIKE
THREAT OF EVICTION * HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 and HIGH COURT INJUNCTION *
Yesterday afternoon we received a letter from Westminster City Council stating that we are an unlawful obstruction on the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament. Also to make certain they achieve their objective, they are applying to the High Court for an injunction. They want a written reply by 12pm this Friday 21st, that all articles will be removed by 5pm.We have no information regarding when they would act at the moment, but presumably, any-time after that.....
Peacestrike has occupied this area for the past 2 years with tents and display structures. To date, we have received no official complaints regarding obstruction, hygiene issues, or complaints regarding abusive or disruptive behaviour. We take pride in the management of our on-going 24hr demonstration and accept we have a social responsibility in keeping our area in good order.
Peacestrike also has two large box / plinth structures. One has been there since November 2009. We standby their legality, in keeping with the police dimensions stipulated in SOCPA ACT 2005.
Peacestrike has four SOCPA ACT 2005 authorisations at Parliament Square and one in Whitehall. The threat to these rights should be through new legislation. The repeal of SOCPA ACT 2005 is in proposed legislation contained in the 'Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill'. This is now reached committee stage in the House of Commons. They ask people to submit objections, recommendations and concerns, to the committee by Feb....... If passed by both Houses, it will not come into law until after the Royal wedding. This is due process and proper procedure, and allows time for people to organise a counter argument and open the discussion to all parties who may be affected by such legislation. We feel that the SOCPA ACT 2005 and the European Convention of Human Rights cannot be overturned by Highway legislation. besides,very few people venture onto Parliament Square since it has been fenced off since July 2010.
It seems that Westminster City Council and the Government wish to Pre-empt this law in order to rid themselves of demonstrations in Parliament Square right now. The problem is that in their haste, yet again, they are in great danger of 'Throwing the baby out with the bath water!'
We feel it necessary, due to the change in circumstances, to make this statement on behalf of the good people of this country who are unaware of the serious threat to our great history of protest. If we do not act now, 24hr overnight protest will be outlawed. The reasons the demonstrations at Parliament Square have gone on for so long is directly connected to our on-going wars and illegal occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Remember, people, children, and soldiers are killed and seriously wounded every day!
We have a heavy burden of responsibility to get this right, as time is short. As yet, there has been no real opportunity for public opposition or debate. All the media has centred on the concerns of the Home Office, politicians, council, GLA, and the police. Do we really want our Government to send a message out to the world that protest is stifled and now timetabled and controlled. In emergencies people will naturally not want to go home, such as the Tamils in 2009. Emotions cannot, and never will be controlled by legislation, especially if the Government of the day is responsible for the atrocities. The people of the country always have a duty to express their concerns. We should always have the right to be angry and outraged. The Public Order Act 1980 has always been available to the police, if things get out of hand. Other countries do not share this great privilege,therefore because we can we must be the voice for the voiceless.
The Royal Family should be proud and protective of our heritage. We need to have a very frank and open discussion concerning this very important and historic right.
There are many examples of on-going demonstrations of similar standing throughout the world.
The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, Australia, which has been there for over 39 years, since 1972 . It will continue, until the full rights of the Aboriginal People are restored.
White House Peace Camp. A lady called Concepcion Picciotto has been outside the White House for 30 years, since 1981
Faslane Peace Camp, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Established in 1984...... some 28 years ago!
Located by Faslane Nuclear Submarine Base.
Vancouver, Canada on-going protest, 4 years plus.
Recently won British Columbia Court of Appeal regarding Falun Gong on-going protest outside Chinese Consulate. Court over ruled Vancouver City Bylaws as unconstitutional, Oct 21st 2010.
Chinese Embassy......over 8 years....Portland Place London, 24hr, on-going....Falun Gong Practitioners. Started 5th June 2002.
Winnie the pig resided in a pen in Parliament Square, by the Churchill Statue, for 3 months between Feb – May 2000. There did not seem to be any objection at the time, indeed it would have been considered very British. Also, spent a day opposite Downing Street March 2008, and was visited by celebrities and MP's and Lord Tebbit. Maybe she was tolerated, as the pig could not talk back!
Democracy Village. Established in run up to election May1st, 2010 in Parliament Square, London. lasted 3 months. SOCPA ACT 2005 was never used.
Royalty and Politicians have to live in the real world where protest is essential to the Democratic process. We do not live in a sanitised country or world,nor would we want to. As long as protest is reasonable and peaceful, we feel we have every right to keep going....
We therefore invite Royalty, Politicians,Police, Council Officials, GLA, Journalists, Lawyers and Campaigners to a meeting in the House of Commons. We are trying to get a committee room made available as soon as possible. We are confident we can come to an amicable agreement to suit all parties concerned.
Without discussion there is no way forward.
If dialogue fails ,or is just ignored, then Peacestrike intends to stand firm at Parliament, regardless of the consequences.
Peacestrike Campaign http://www.peacestrike.org/
Parliament Square 0741 3036 769 firstname.lastname@example.org
Emails will be sent to parties concerned.
Peacestrike acknowledges that the Parliament Square Peace Campaign is a separate campaign, and may not share the same views as expressed by Peacestrike.
Westminster City Council switchboard: +44 20 7641 6000www.westminster.gov.uk