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McLibel Support Campaign
P R E S S . R E L E A S E . 10/05/05
FREEDOM TO PROTEST
Conference Central London - Autumn 2005
Sunday May 22nd, 1-5pm
at The Autonomy Centre - Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 (Aldgate East tube)
Around 100 or so people attended a McLibel Support Campaign event at Conway Hall, Central London on 15th April. The event, on the 50th birthday of the McDonald's Corporation, celebrated 20 years of growing protests against the global fast food chain. These protests have succeeded in defeating the corporation's efforts to use legal threats to try to silence their critics.
Following general discussion at the event those present decided to call a Freedom To Protest conference in the autumn. There are a whole range of repressive and outrageous measures increasingly being used by police and companies to try to intimidate and undermine all manner of protests - including anti-war, anti-capitalist, palestinian solidarity, environmental, workers, animal rights and other campaigns. These measures include protests being banned, ASBOs against protestors, injunctions, police encircling and detaining protestors for hours on end, police 'intelligence' teams, road blocks to stop protests, and new threats from the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. Its time to stand up for everyone's freedom to leaflet, picket, assemble and march against injustice and oppression. Such rights and freedoms have not been handed down by the powers-that-be, but won through struggles over the last 100 years or more.
We believe the McLibel campaign has shown that oppressive laws can be made unworkable by determination and solidarity among those affected, by mass defiance, and by turning the tables on those who would try to silence and suppress dissent. There are many other examples of campaigns and movements successfully refusing to be intimidated by legal threats.
Some ideas to consider for how people can resist repressive laws: organising active defence campaigns which spread the activity which is being threatened; encouraging people to be confident and assertive about protesting, not apologetic; holding protests outside firms using repressive tactics; handing out Freedom To Protest / Human Rights cards on protests (see text below, used on a recent McLibel protest); exercising the right to make citizens arrests if protests are being threatened; organisers of protest events ensuring there are legal observers present; promoting co-ordination between groups threatened by repressive laws / showing how all the specific laws being used are part of the overall strategy of repression; adding 'Freedom To Protest' slogan/logo on leaflets etc; distributing special leaflets to workers employed by any company targetted, calling on them to support / join in.
We hope that all campaigns and groups affected by the latest wave of repressive laws will support the autumn conference. Please send the organising group your message of support (we can pass it on), and send a rep to the planning meeting on May 22nd. If you can't make it, but have ideas you'd like to contribute, then please feel free to email us.
McLibel Campaign - London, May 2005
Contact: "Freedom To Protest"
The Freedom To Protest card is one positive way of asserting our rights and freedoms. The card, just like the 'bust cards' produced for participants of many protests, can be produced by any or every group engaged in political activity, and handed to workers, police, passers-by or anyone else relevant. The text can be amended as wished.
Please feel free to pass these details on to anyone who may be interested in this issue.
The text of the 'Freedom To Protest / Human Rights Card' [A6 size]:
Civil Rights - Human Rights
For your attention
Please be aware that people in this area are currently engaged in public political activity of a recognised and protected nature.
Your respect, co-operation and support would be appreciated.
For more information about the nature and intent of the activity, please talk to those involved.
CIVIL RIGHTS - HUMAN RIGHTS: For your information
Throughout history those with wealth or power have tried and failed to suppress opposition and protest against injustice or oppression. Society recognises, supports and protects such activity - e.g. leafleting, gatherings and meetings, protests, sit-ins, demonstrations & industrial action. There’s also recognition by:
- The UN Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 2 [Rights without Distinctions], Article 9 [Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest], Article 19 [Freedom of Expression].
- The European Convention on Human Rights:
Article 10 [Freedom of Expression], Article 11 [Freedom of Association].
Any interference with today’s protest or activity, including any threat of force by police or others, is unacceptable and may constitute harassment, breach of the peace or obstruction etc
Those involved today reserve the right to take action to protect their rights. This may include calling for public assistance, self-defence, arrest (including citizen’s arrest) of anyone interfering, further protest and publicity, legal action or any other effective action. Any oppressive laws can be rendered unworkable through protests, non-co-operation and defiance.
Wherever there is injustice or oppression, there is protest and resistance
McLibel Support Campaign
5 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DX, UK.
Tel/Fax: +44 (207) 713 1269
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