UK: Police must not bow to political pressure to ban weekend march

© Austin Crick

Responding to controversy about possible moves to ban a planned march this weekend, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“The police must not bow to political pressure to ban this weekend’s march.

“The police have a duty to facilitate peaceful demonstrations. We’re extremely concerned that considerable political pressure is being exerted on the police to ban this weekend’s march calling for a ceasefire by all parties in Gaza and Israel.

“Protest organisers have already confirmed they’ll march well away from the Cenotaph and at a time much later than the two-minute silence, and talk of the ‘offence’ that their demonstration will cause is a complete red herring.

“The Home Secretary's characterisation of overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations - widely attended by families, older people, and people from diverse communities - demanding an immediate ceasefire has been appalling, a dystopian distortion of the truth.

“At any time, any interference with freedom of expression must be strictly necessary, proportionate and in full accordance with the law. This includes not making statements that create a chilling effect by dissuading people from exercising their fundamental right to peaceful protest.

“We urge the police not to bow to illegitimate pressure from the Government and allow people to peacefully express their concerns at the rapidly escalating crisis in Gaza and Israel - this is the mark of a free and fair society.”

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