Saturday, June 11, 2011

British student protestors face trial

Source: Press TV

The justice system in Britain, known to boast of backing freedom of speech and human rights, is to put pro-democracy students on trial for shouting their anger at government's invasion of their education.

After the massive anti-tuition fee demonstrations in London back in December, the British police launched what a participant described as a “media witch-hunt”, releasing pictures of the students they called “violent thugs” and calling on the public to collaborate with the security forces on their identification.

Now, the 'identified' students will face the court to pay the price for voicing their viewpoints on the embattled policies the government has been pursuing.

One of the 'offenders' to face trial is Alfie Meadows, the student who was beaten by the police, lost consciousness and ended up in the intensive care unit for trying to escape a police 'kettle' in London.

The police have charged the 21-year-old with engaging in violent disorder during the tuition fee protests. Meadows faces five years in prison over the charges.

“Alfie needed emergency brain surgery to save his life after suffering serious injuries at the demonstration of December 9th, the same demonstration at which I was twice dragged out of my wheelchair by police officers,” says jody McIntyre, who recently saw his complaint of officers' assault and brutality rejected by the Metropolitan Police.

Scotland Yard's directorate of professional standards (DPS) claimed officers had pulled McIntyre from his wheelchair to protect him in a “volatile, dangerous situation during violent clashes ” at the student demonstrations.

Violent disorder is defined as “where three or more people (including the accused) use or threaten unlawful violence and, the conduct of them taken together is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their personal safety,” McIntyre wrote in an article for the Independent.

“In fact, there was a group of three or more people who put me in fear of my personal safety on December 9th. They were wearing hi-vis jackets, with the words 'Metropolitan Police' emblazoned on the front. The police have since investigated themselves, and find the actions to be 'lawful and justifiable',” he added.

Hundreds of demonstrators are to hold a rally outside Westminster City magistrates court where Meadows and 43 others will be put on trial over the student protests last year.

Meadows has “strongly” denied his charges saying “I exercised my right to protest against something I feel strongly about”.

The Scotland Yard has claimed those facing trial have broken the law accusing them of endangering “those who wish to protest peacefully by committing criminal offences”.

One of Mr Meadows' solicitors, Sarah McSherry, said she had seen the use of "tactics which infringe the right to peaceful protest, privacy and freedom of expression, assembly and movement" over the last few months.

"These include the photographing of protesters, the use of kettling to detain them and obtain their personal details, aggressive policing, particularly to enforce kettles, which places protesters, like Alfie Meadows, at risk of significant harm and the criminalization of, particularly young, protesters," she added.

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