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Human Rights in Ireland >>
Civil liberties were suspended for "security operation"
summit mobilisations |
Monday May 10, 2004 13:13 by Dublin Grassroots Network
May Day organisers challenge criminalisation of dissent
Dublin Grassroots Network, the organisers of many of the May Day protest events, today condemned the effective suspension of civil liberties for the weekend.
Spokesperson Dr Laurence Cox commented: "Basic democratic rights such as the freedom of assembly and opinion were seriously curtailed in order to protect an unpopular Government from being embarrassed in front of mass killers such as Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi. It seems that the threat of 10 minutes of noise on Saturday evening was so serious that it justified baton-charging a crowd of 5,000 people."
DGN observed that the responsibility for this heavy-handed approach belonged with the Dept. of Justice and ultimately with the Cabinet. "No doubt some broken heads and arrests were needed to justify the Government's multi-million euro security operation, a month of disinformation and scare stories, and the militarisation of Dublin city," Dr Cox commented.
Spokesperson Dr Aileen O'Carroll said, "The violence, intimidation and denial of basic rights we have been experiencing is part of a global trend in policing protest. Our friends opposing the WEF in Poland have been experiencing very similar repression. Water cannon on the streets of Dublin and torture of prisoners in Iraq show the reality of the 'new world order' the Government is so keen to buy into.
"The reality is that neo-liberalism and privatisation are massively unpopular and can only be imposed by brute force," O'Carroll stated. "The EU's participation in the 'war on terror' contributes to the criminalisation of protest. At the end of the day, within Fortress Europe all serious dissent is becoming a criminal act. When faced with the terrible danger of ten minutes of whistle-blowing, the Government was prepared to militarise Dublin, seal off the Phoenix Park and turn citizens into prisoners in their own homes."
Dublin Grassroots Network today released a dossier of "Fortress Dublin" (see email sent several minutes before this one) highlighting a number of issues in relation to the policing of protest during the May Day events and in the run-up to the weekend. These include:
- the attempt to ban Saturday night's march with the deployment of the riot squad at the meeting point; - police violence on Saturday night and a number of serious injuries to protestors;
- the contrast between protestors' attempts to lower tensions and the riot squad's attempts to start a panic in a crowd of 5,000; - effective denial of the right to phone calls and the right to bail to many of those arrested;
- plus issues preceding the weekend such as harassment of leafletters, attempts to spread panic among business owners and a general militarisation of policing.
"Despite massive intimidation, the weekend's events clearly touched a nerve in many people's hearts," Dr Cox commented. "This was a weekend of large-scale, colourful and cheerful protest. The only sour notes were struck by police truncheons. We believe that the courage, creativity and solidarity we have learnt this weekend will bear fruit in initiatives over the next few months and years that go far beyond any single group. People have learned that it is possible and necessary to stand up to bullying, to make their voice heard and to use their rights if they want to keep them."
Dublin Grassroots Network today launched an appeal for funds to support those facing court cases arising out of the weekend's protests. Monies can be sent c/o Chekov Feeney, 46 Upper Gardiner Street, Dublin 1. Cheques etc. should be payable to "DU Anarchist Society" and marked "May Day prisoner support".