Your right to protest!
Issues around freedom of expression and the right to protest have been in the news more and more recently, from the brutal clamp-down in Burma witnessed by the world to the erosion of civil liberties in the UK, with the right to demonstrate and express opinions publicly ever more curtailed and restricted.
The Guardian today reports on the sentencing of Italian police officers and doctors for their part in the abuse of protesters during the 2001 G8 summit which took place in Genoa, Italy. You may remember how news around the summit was dominated by riots and violent clashes between police and anti-globalisation protesters, and the police was accused of excessive force and heavy handed tactics after some protesters were beaten, insulted, sprayed with asphyxiating gas and even threatened with rape. The peak of the violence resulted in the death of a 23-year-old protester Carlo Guiliani who was shot dead.
Some of those rounded up by police were taken to holding camps outside Genoa where they were subjected to abuse which included being made to join in with fascist chants, praising fascist dictator Mussolini and Pinochet. Detainees included 40 demonstrators who were arrested following a raid on a nearby school being used as a dorm although there was no evidence to prove that they had been involved in the violence in Genoa. The case is one of three trials which have seen demonstrators charged with violent misconduct, as well as an ongoing case relating to the school dorm raid where 62 people were injured and three were left in a coma. Amnesty today welcomed this significant move by Italian magistrates and the fact that some have been held to account for the atrocities committed against those detained.
In another case relating to protest, the Times carries the story of anti pope activists in Australia who have converged on the week long World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney hosted by Pope Benedict XVI, in protest of the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality and birth control. The protesters were initially deterred from their action, which included handing out condoms, following new regulations introduced by the New South Wales Government to issue fines of up to $5500 for anyone causing ‘annoyance’ to the pilgrims. However this was challenged by a coalition of protest groups who argued that it was an infringement of their right to peaceful protest and the state law was eventually overturned by a federal court.
A good day for freedom of expression!
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.