.. Political Change starts with Protest- Jeremy Corbyn, fmr LP Leader
On Wednesday, 6th October, three protesters were tried at City of London Magistrates’ Court for climbing the Houses of Parliament with a banner asking for debt cancellation and reparations payments for Africa.
The three, Rob Callender, Ben Wheeler and Daisy Pearson, face a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison for the peaceful protest.
The three activists climbed into the Houses of Parliament grounds from Westminster Bridge early in the morning on November 12th last year, before scaling Speaker’s Tower to display an enormous 70m2 banner.
The letter stated that “Britain was the largest coloniser in Africa and across the globe. It benefitted from and perpetuated the slave trade and thus owns a particular responsibility to redress the injustices of the past.”
Now the three activists appeared at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on 6th October, charged under Section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime Act for their banner-hanging action.
A summary of yesterday’s hearing of the Westminster 3:
The judge listened to everything they wanted to say without interruption. They were arguing a joint defense of necessity as well as article 10 & 11 which is right to free speech and right to freedom of assembly.
They spoke a lot about circumstances of the debt crisis that led them to take action, injustice that requires a campaign about reparations under injustices of slavery and colonialism and demonstrated why they have to act as allies of the African people to bring as much public attention in the UK as possibly as they could.
Case was adjourned to next month for the judge to take her time to read all the materials carefully and make the right decision.
Meanwhile, Former Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, on hearing the news that the activists were on trial said, “In a democratic society, you have to defend the right to protest. It is a fundamental right, and it’s actually there in the universal declaration in the European Convention and in many other global statutes.
” But you’ve also got to recognize what people were protesting about and what arguments they are making. Colonialism and Imperialism has left most of the world very poor, and made other parts of the world very rich. The debates and the issue about reparations needs to continue. My great friend, the late Bernie Grant MP, first introduced the concept into parliament of reparations. That has moved on a bit since, sadly, Bernie passed away. And so I want to say thank you to all those that actually raise these issues and raise those kinds of protests, because social change, political change, actually starts with protesting.”
Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice commented, “It should be a crime in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a climate emergency, for the richest banks and richest countries on earth to drain so many developing countries of desperately needed resources. But this is considered normal and lawful in our global economy.
“If there’s any hope for a better world, we must protest this. In fact, the act of peaceful protest to highlight this moral bankruptcy, far from being a crime, should be seen as one of the most responsible acts of global citizenship. I believe that’s how history will judge the actions of those accused today, and I very much hope the judge in this case will take that long view and acquit these protestors.”
The group behind it is Africans Rising, a pan-African network of activists, thinkers and organisers.
Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity is a pan-African social movement, launched in 2017, that seeks to foster an Africa-wide solidarity and unity of purpose of the peoples of Africa to ensure a right to peace, social inclusion and shared prosperity.
With more than 30,000 members, the movement amplifies broad demands connecting struggles, building cooperation within and amongst campaigns for social, economic, environmental and gender justice. For more information about the movement, visit africansrising.org.
The three protesters, Ben Wheeler, Daisy Pearson and Rob Callender are based in London. All three work for environmental causes alongside their careers.