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-- Tony Blair










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Archive of past updates:
 
 
The coalition building LSE event organised by London Against Injustice, London Guantanamo, CAMPACC and People in Common on 10th December was a success. Likewise the Social Action event hosted by the 21st Century Network the following evening. There is undoubtedly a space for coalition building around the question of civil liberties and human rights which we’ll be exploring further with partners (see some of the links from this page) in the coming months. Thanks again to everyone who helped to make it happen. For info on follow up activities please check the calendar for new coalition meetings, email humanrights2012@gmail.com  or join the forum.

Here’s a report on the Right to the City from the 3pm seminar:

The Right to the City and Public Space
Teresa Hoskyns, London Social Forum  
 

'the universal mistake made by man… was the mistake that allowed power to be placed outside of life'
Henri Lefebvre   The Critique of Everyday Life

The Right to the City started as writings of Henri Lefebvre first published in 1967. It has been re-kindled in the social forum movement and emerging from this is the  World Charter for the Right to the City. It is now a growing movement, increasing throughout the world in different forms.

The Right to the City is fundamentally about democracy and citizenship and about whether human beings have the right to produce their own lives through the ability to develop and change the world around them. So the Right to the City is about having a direct power relationship with our environment and the things around us that affect our lives. If one imagines this right in practice what starts to develop is a creative- productive definition of citizenship rather than the passive-consumer definition that we experience today in neo-liberal society.

Therefore the right to the city is access to the democratic processes of the city and access to the processes of production of the city. It is through the right to the production of the city that this right starts to cross over with  architecture and planning because it is partly through public participation in architecture and planning that it is often imagined that this right is exercised. Participation has become commonplace with many practices but it is however token without a democratic and spatial framework. The Olympics is an example there are many local organizations and associations that have been completely excluded from the decision-making and design of the park. And since the legacy depends on the spatial participation of local people this could be proven to be a bad mistake.

Writers like David Harvey show how the city has been central  to the expansion of industrial capitalism and neo-liberalism, he argues that without the appropriation of space they would have ceased to function. [1] For Harvey one of the problems of these spaces is that 'a select few do the imagining and designing'. So for the mass of the population human creativity in the production of space is denied and this is a profoundly alienating situation. [2] He shows how private spaces of consumption and us as consumer citizens are central for the functioning of capitalism for the absorption of surplus value. [3]

So on the one hand the right to the city is about participation in the production of the city but on the other hand the right to the city is about democratic space and the direct practice of politics as part of every day life. The right to the city therefore starts to define political types of public space, space as somewhere of active citizenship, of political participation and of the public voice. Public space is  produced and re-produced through active participation rather than passively experienced.

In the World Charter for the Right to the City two such types of political public space are described the first is the space the first for direct participation in city decisions and the second is the space for civil society and associational practices of democracy. I would add a third type of public space a space for more autonomous and arts activities, rather like the social centres that are provided by the cities in Italy and emerging from the anarchist movement here in London.

ARTICLE III. PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT OF THE CITY
Cities should open institutionalized forms and spaces for broad, direct and democratic participation in the processes of planning….management …public policies and budgets.

ARTICLE IX. RIGHT TO ASSOCIATE, GATHER, MANIFEST, AND TO DEMOCRATIC USE OF URBAN PUBLIC SPACE
All persons have the right to associate, meet, and manifest themselves. Cities should provide and guarantee public spaces for this effect.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states: Article 21 (1). "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives."

The UDHR therefore describes a fourth type of public space that capital cities should provide for the direct participation national governance.

I would argue that particularly in London we need to become very clear about these types of democratic public space as democratic rights of citizenship because what we are experiencing is the erosion of our Right to the City through the diminishment and privatization of democratic space.

On the space for direct participation in national governance, The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 means that it is now illegal to demonstrate in the political centre of London, in an exclusion zone that covers anywhere within 1km of Parliament Square except Trafalgar Square, without applying 6 days in advance to the Comissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who can then impose any conditions he likes on the demonstration.  The act means that this historically political public square is no longer freely produced through direct acts of participation and that the public voice or free speech has to be pre-negotiated with the police who of course make conditions to minimize the impact on parliament. The exclusion zone not only restricts historic democratic rights of protest outside the House of Commons but the zone includes Downing Street, the Home Office and New Scotland Yard.

On the space for associational practices of democracy one of the campaigns we are involved with in the London Social Forum is around the markets. Among others Elephant and Castle market, Wards Corner market in Seven Sisters, Ridley Road market in Dalston and Queens Market in Upton Park are under threat of privatisation and many like Spitalfields Market have already been privatised. The stall holders of Wards Corner market in Seven Sisters have just lost in their planning attempt for a community plan that would mean that the space is both designed and run through the participation of the stall holders.

Instead the council have opted to knock the market down and build a shopping centre that includes chain stores like Marks and Spencer. Queens Market has been taken over by a private developer who pre re-development have immediately doubled the rents. Both a space for cheap quality food and an associational democratic public space is being lost. Queens market has at least 6 different associations that have emerged from and are active in the market. This take over is the transfer of a public space and citizenship into yet another space of privatised consumption.

On the space for the practice of politics: as soon as you try to organize politically you experience the absolute impoverishment of spaces for civil society and the practice of politics in London. In 2004 the European Social Forum came to London and the GLA didn't have any public space at all that they could offer the forum, even City Hall is not publically owned it is leased from the private corporation More London. The official forum rented Alexandra Palace and some other spaces became autonomous public spaces including LSE, The Bartlett, squatted Social Centre's. But it is only through sympathetic professors and self organized groups that these spaces were available.

So to sum up the right to the city includes both the democratic right to participate in the production of the city and the right to democratic space that takes on different forms.

[1]    David Harvey, Spaces of Hope, p. 23
[2]    David Harvey, Spaces of Capital: p.124
[3]    David Harvey, The Right to the City, New Left Review No.53 September-October 2008

To read the rest of the 10th Dec seminar report, Invisible Barriers click here

To see David Harvey Right to the City lectures, click here 

Tax Justice Petition

On Friday 31st October, a petition was delivered to Nos. 10 & 11 Downing Street.  The petition demanded an end to tax havens, the global enactment of CTT/Tobin Tax and wholescale reform of the Common Agricultural Policy CAP to redistribute wealth to democracy building initiatives for people and planet. Please sign the petition by clickinghere and write to Gordon Brown to ask him to support it personally.


Are Human Rights Political?

Essential Principles | Political, Democratic Republicanism

"In order to maximise our own liberty, we must cease to put our trust in princes, and instead take charge of the public arena for ourselves, [constructing a genuine democracy] in which government is for the people as result of being by the people".
Professor Quentin Skinner

  • Political locality boundaries redrawn to reflect real neighbourhoods (and not top-down gerry-mandered)
  • Regular Community Land Trust decision-making hubs in every neighbourhood
  • Fundamental right to organise in workplace and inhabited locality (Trade Unions and Local, Independent 'LA21' Unions)
  • Local community collective ownership of assets eg street markets, swimming pools, youth centres and more (ideally, the whole area)
  • The capacity to derive revenue, and constitutional requirement to share revenue and other forms of wealth with other communities who are less well located in terms of resources
  • Participatory budget/decision making
  • Local provision of public services, including governance
  • Parliamentary sovereignty made accountable by these new, aforesaid independent structures of governance, everywhere built from below
  • An end to party political stranglehold on  governance
  • Corporate power reigned in
  • All voices included in new political economy
  • Wholescale reform of domestic tax system

  • In Solidarity with the Other Campaign
    Liberty and Justice for All



    SOUTHGATE PHOENIX NEWSLETTER


    Southgate Tube Station





    Horsefolk of the Apocalypso


    Where's our money


    Banky's Appropriate Comment


    An Open Rights Group image


     
    Open Rights Group Parliament Square Collage

     Watching the Underground





    Mask on Freedom Not Fear day at the Yard © Peter Marshall


    A Familiar Face...


    ...at the Climate Rush


    US Symbol of Gas


    Flag of Eco-Warrior


    Ismet speaks about CAMPACC, the  calm before...


    the storm followed by...


    more storm


    Anti/Alter

     
    .. capitalists of the world..


    unite

     
    no need to burn Parliament


    ...just make your own instead



    Power to the people and...


    Picnic for the Planet in Derbyshire


    ER, so why not everywhere?
    Postcard Design by Leeds Postcards


    T-Shirts coming soon

    Apocalypso Now?

    Ladies and gentlemen; as the recession bites, and we face the four horsemen of the apocalypse (climate chaos, economic breakdown, war and the rise of the security state) what are we to do?

    On International Human Rights Day 2008, After 60 Years..
    Public Meeting

    Wednesday 10th December, 6pm
    New Theatre, Building E, LSE Houghton St WC2 (nearest tube Holborn/Temple)

    On the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) creating a global framework for the protection of the rights of everyone, and in this climate of multiple crises, we invite you to consider: do we really have human rights? Can 'rights' help us respond to the challenge of reconstructing society; so that justice, mutual respect and equality prevail? And if so, what concrete actions must we now take?

    The 10th December event at the LSE looks to mark the 60th anniversary by finding ways to make human rights relevant to all, and not just activists, lawyers and academics. Asking the question: how can a broad civil rights platform encompass the full range of relevant social movements in Britain today? We will explore beyond civil liberties and individual rights to consider: what are humanity's essential, and collective economic, social, political and environmental rights, for which we must fight?

    "Men are not capable of doing nothing, of saying nothing, of not reacting to injustice, of not protesting against oppression, of not striving for the good of society and the good life in the ways they see it" Nelson Mandela (First Court Statement, 1962)

    Event Themes

    Speakers, panellists and questioners may wish to consider the history of the UDHR - successes, failures, shortcomings, opportunities  - under six broad themes: Culture, Development, Dignity and Justice, Environment, Gender and Participation. They may also wish to refer to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act (HRA) as well as the EU Charter of Fundamental Freedoms and recent UK Cabinet proposal for a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. And in respect of any or all of these, and the various crises we find ourselves in: what concrete actions must we now take?

    Format, Topics & Speakers

    1. Afternoon Seminar - Prison and Society


    3-5pm Room H102, Connaught House Building (on Aldwych)

    A. Hicham Yezza, Nicki FRFI, Massah Barnett and others on the politics of Prison;

    B. Professor Michael Edwards, Teresa Hoskyns, Dave Wetzel [Labour Land Campaign] and others on the Politics of Society in the context of Land, LVT, Housing and Lebfevre's Right to the City; and

    C. Action proposals, discussion and preparing questions for Evening Conference.

    2. Evening Conference - Building a Movement

    6-9.30pm New Theatre, Building E,  Houghton St

    6pm Intros and Initial Presentations

    Intro to Project (MC Ismet Rawat)
    Head of State Immunity (Peter Tatchell)
    Brazilian Rainforest (Vivienne Westwood)
    Reports from 3pm Seminar on Prison and Society
    Personal Story (Massah Barnett)

    7pm Speaker Sessions

    Public Services (Hugh Lanning)
    The Environment (Asad Rehman)
    War on Terror (Andy Worthington)
    Civil Liberties (AC Grayling)

    8-9.30pm Audience Q&A Discussion and Action Proposals

    Brief Note About Q&A

    We want to come out of the day with concrete, shared ideas about how to move forward the human rights movement after our 60-year experience with the UDHR, and more recently the ECHR and HRA. We have chosen the topics, speakers and panellists to provide the potential foundation for a movement based on liberty, dignity and justice for all in the UK and beyond. Furthermore, both the timetable and Q&A format are designed to leave sufficient space to discuss and plan future actions together. We would therefore ask speakers to plan their presentations accordingly: what collective actions we must now undertake? And we would ask participants to do the same in relation to any questions, comments or concrete proposals they put forward.

    For Organisers' Questions click here.

    Event organised by CAMPACC, the London
    Guantánamo Campaign
    , London Against
    Injustice
    .

    For more details on event email humanrights2012@gmail.com

    For A5 fliers, click here.


    NB this event is part of a wider project to secure human rights, liberty and justice for all in the UK. In other words, to deal with those pesky horsemen, or crises also known as political, economic, ecological and moral. More on this to follow.


    News & Reviews 4th November

    Freedom to Protest in the UK for All Groups Struggling for Self-Determination

    A demonstration last Sunday by Kurdish activists took place in support of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is presently languishing much abused in a Turkish prison. Sadly the London demonstration was intimidated and harassed by British police, including control of slogans, intrusive filming and other intimidatory tactics. Did the police justify these actions because the PKK is a banned organisation under UK terror legislation?

    If so, they are wrong to do so. The PKK is not a terror group like Al Qaeda, and the government is prima facie wrong to put them in the same bracket. PKK fights against Turkish and other imperial powers for national liberation. They are essentially struggling for the democratic right to self-determination. Therefore they should not be branded terrorists, nor should peaceful protestors who support them be treated in this way. See report of London demo at Mark Hevallo's  blog.

    Domestic policing of 'banned groups' in this vein is an extension of Britain's questionable foreign policy (in this case, in support of the Turkish regime and against the Kurdish movement for national independence). Another example is the Tamil Tigers (LTT). LTT are fighting for Tamil Eelam self-determination against a Sri-Lankan government intent on committing Tamil genocide. Outrageously, two UK based Tamil activists were recently charged under UK anti-terror legislation for organising a demo in support of a banned organisation. This in spite of the fact they had informed and agreed with the London Met details of their demo beforehand.

    People such as these living in Britain, acting as peaceful activists campaigning to raise awareness of an occupied people's plight back home are now finding themselves being tarred with the sinister brush of terrorism. Can you imagine what this must feel like? 

    Political abuse of foreign policy power, and its extension through unjust domestic enforcement is not a new UK phenomenon, but its use is exacerbated further by this spurious war on terror.

    The ongoing, sensitive case of Balochistan's liberation movement and British state collusion with the Pakistani state and its ongoing occupation of Balochistan is another case in point.


    In the UK one should be free to demonstrate peacefully for whatever cause. The use of terror legislation to criminalise democratic movements for self-determination is unacceptable and must not be allowed to continue. Terrorism should be treated as a crime, and its perpetrator's treated with the same considerations of law and due process. By contrast, wars of independence by oppressed peoples against occupy states are a part of a noble history of struggle. See for example the present British Library exhibit on the history of civil liberties in the UK. Such struggles should be honoured as sacred, and peaceful protestors campaigning on to support them peacefully in the UK protected and supported by our laws, not vilified.

    FYI a list of banned organisations with comments has helpfully been published by Ceasefire Magazine, here.


    Other News ..

    A Civil Liberties

    The first in a planned series of '11th Hour Sandwich Power' communiques, on September 11th 2008, a picnic was convened at the Ministry of Justice a message calling on the UK government to adopt a new approach to civil liberties was delivered to MOJ and Home Office employees.

    On 9th October 2008, 'Human Rights and Human Wrongs' the first in a series of Project 2012 events and workshops took place at St Johns Waterloo. This moving and informative event centred on the appalling state of British prisons, prisoners rights, inappropriate imprisonment, societal attitudes to prisoners and youth crime. A report will follow, but in the meantime our thanks to everyone who made this possible - speakers and participants alike.

    Here is the Second 11th Hour Communique this event helped to inspire, and which was distributed on 11th October 2008 at the Freedom Not Fear International Day of Action against Surveillance held at New Scotland Yard:

    Saturday 11th October Communique

    In the light of climate change, economic collapse, abuse of civil liberties and war, many people believe a new approach to law and law-making is now required. So, let us fight together for democracy, government by the people.

    In an authentic democracy, everyone gets to take part in decision-making. But establishment party politics and voting are insufficient for this development, so that democracy now requires us to develop a different political economy together.

    This new political economy we must fight for can be summed up by the proverb: it takes a village to bring up a child. We don't need surveillance cameras, ASBOs and DNA databases to raise a good society. We don't want to live in an open prison. Instead, free humanity will flower in the form of village-sized communities with their own political economic self-determination, everywhere.

    In a sane, free society, each street will meet regularly to share human warmth, decide what work needs doing, make political and economic decisions and generally keep an eye on things. Surveillance will be by the people on the government, not the other way around. Black, white, straight, gay, young and old, guest or resident: human beings will be in the driving seat together. Vulnerable minority people will no longer be excluded; an inclusive, working village is the best welfare system there is. Article 29(1) of the UDHR: "Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible."

    In other words, individual freedom is bound up in the need to work  for the community. Not for the company, or the state or global capital, but the local community. No more being herded around by market forces and naughty people. Government by the people.

    Sadly, thanks to government policy the Freedom Not Fear event at the Yard was technically an illegal gathering, it being in the SOCPA zone. It was however lightly policed.
    By way of contrast, police further north were heavyhanded at the linked event in Liverpool. Thankfully, reports are that the police got a rich booing from members of the public witnessing the harassment of political stallholders and demonstrators. Liverpool protestors are planning to go back for more to make the principle clear.

    Back in London, a big thanks to Food not Bombs for veggie tucker at the Yard, which more than made up for musical no-shows on the day. Other stuff going on for FNF 2008 included the excellent Gordon Brown collage (featured to the right) put together by the Open Rights Group constructed in the day in Parliament Square and made up of zillions of pictures taken by UK people as examples of the scary weirdness of our new world order surveillance society in action.

    B Ecology


    The following Monday saw further parly-square drama with the Climate Rush's 'Words not Deeds' event.
    This consisting of neo-Edwardian ladies and gents leading a very civilised people's rush on Parliament. This to commemorate 100 years since the original Suffragette parliament rush. But also to put pressure on creaking Parliament to vote for strict climate targets. Solutions to the climate crisis lie in far more radical action than a mere vote, but in the meantime we certainly need those in power to make good decisions and this  evening managed to express both these facts. 500 or so people surging right up to the door of Parliament was quite a spectacle. Pre-Rush speeches were made from a number of notables, including CAMPACC's very own Ismet Rawat. In summary: although we really don't see the need for seeking authorisation under SOCPA - which is, after all, dead  - nevertheless 'Roll on the Revolution!'.

    While on the subject of ecology, a picnic of note should be mentioned:
    'Leave it in the Ground' Coal Action Network recently used picnicking tactics to highlight a planned destruction of pristine land and consequent pollution in Derbyshire. Find photos and report from 'Picnic in the Park' at Shipley Open Cast Site at
    https://www.indymedia.org.uk/ en/2008/10/411671.html

    C Economic Collapse

    On Friday 31st October, courtesy of Peace Strike Maria a 'Trick or Treat' Petition was delivered to Nos. 10 & 11 Downing Street (see picture outside No.11) and to the Treasury. The petition demanded an end to tax havens, the global enactment of CTT/Tobin Tax and wholescale reform of the Common Agricultural Policy CAP to redistribute wealth to people and planet. A copy of the petition can be read here. This has now been converted into a Downing Street e-petition. Please find time to put your name to it. Thanks!


    Remember Remember

    In memory of Guy Fawkes there are plans of a 5.11 Communique to the BBC calling on them to honour the terms of the Public Service broadcasting requirements in their Royal Charter by opening up the airwaves to grassroots activists in this time of crisis, to be delivered. Basically: make the BBC into a parliamentary channel for all voices and then there will be no need to burn the real one.

    Are Human Rights Political?

    Essential Principles | Political, Democratic Republicanism

    "In order to maximise our own liberty, we must cease to put our trust in princes, and instead take charge of the public arena for ourselves, [constructing a genuine democracy] in which government is for the people as result of being by the people".
    Professor Quentin Skinner
  • Political locality boundaries redrawn to reflect real neighbourhoods (and not top-down gerry-mandered)
  • Regular decision-making hubs in every neighbourhood
  • Fundamental right to organise in workplace and inhabited locality (Trade Unions and Local, Independent 'LA21' Unions)
  • Local community collective ownership of assets eg street markets, swimming pools, youth centres. The capacity to derive revenue
  • Participatory budget/decision making
  • Local provision of public services, including governance
  • Parliamentary sovereignty made accountable by these new, independent structures of governance, built from below
  • An end to party political stranglehold on UK governance
  • Corporate power reigned in
  • All voices included in new political economy
  • Wholescale reform of domestic tax system.

  • In Solidarity with the Other Campaign
    Liberty and Justice for All












    Horsefolk of the Apocalypso










    Where's our money
















    Banky's Appropriate Comment






    An Open Rights Group image








     
    Open Rights Group Parliament Square Collage







     Watching the Underground















    Mask on Freedom Not Fear day at the Yard © Peter Marshall






    A Familiar Face...







    ...at the Climate Rush






    US Symbol of Gas






    Flag of Eco-Warrior






    Ismet speaks about CAMPACC, the  calm before...








    the storm followed by...







    more storm






    Anti/Alter




     
    .. capitalists of the world..






    unite






     
    no need to burn Parliament






    ...just make your own instead








    Power to the people and...







    Picnic for the Planet in Derbyshire







    ER, so why not everywhere?
    Postcard Design by Leeds Postcards







    T-Shirts coming soon


    News update 31st August 2008

    Call for Civil Liberties Union


    How do we make the awful state of Civil Liberties in the UK relevant to ordinary people, as a spur to responsible action? Can we make the link in people's minds between our collective exclusion from local and wider decision-making and the overall civil rights situation?

    Although there are a number of institutions and organisations now working on the question (of Human Rights and Civil Liberties) there does not appear to be much in the way of concerted action or commonly held strategy. Recent months however have seen an increasing desire by different organisations and individuals to work together in the interests of creating a UK wide civil liberties union. There is already a European Civil Liberties Network, founded by Statewatch but is it not time to organise ourselves a little more locally? With this in mind you'll find to the left a calendar of &London based events. Please email us with any other Civil Rights events you think we should feature, whether in London or elsewhere.

    Introducing Project 2012 and the 21st Century Network

    10 December 2008 (10.12) will mark 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the basis for modern international and national human rights law, including within the UK. From 2008, once the Beijing Olympics are over, international focus will shift to the UK (2012). Project 2012 in connection with the 21st Century Network aims to reclaim Civil Rights for all, from the grassroots, and to actively secure them within every community. Basically, we want everyone to be more involved in decision-making, and we aim to develop a programme to ensure the implementation of all key rights in the UK by 2012..

    On December 10th 2008, at the LSE our Humanity in the UK event will aim to:

    * Commemorate the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, reflecting on the history of human rights
    Connect individuals and groups involved in rights-based work
    * Encourage the development of a workable model of civil society and new forms of constructive resistance
    * Consider the practical application of Article 1 of the ICCPR, the right to self determination
    * Consider the EU project's overall emphasis in the context of rights and democracy
    * Encourage mobilisation for 2012 in the UK and further afield
    * Launch an effective civil liberties manifesto

    How to Get Involved

    We're looking to involve any groups and individuals who wish to promote key human rights and social rights. This is a wide project, so a long list is inevitable, but those interested in rights relating to constitution, planning, land, housing, healthcare, education, public services, right to protest, freedom of association, women's rights, workers' rights, migrants' rights, disability rights, prisoners rights, children's right, homeless rights, mental health, animals, nature and/or others, are all very welcome.

    Also, we would like to hear from people skilled at networking, workshop facilitation, conference organisation, leafleting, performance art, funding, venue provision and anyone else with time, skill or resources to offer.

    Basically any/all of the above - please get in touch. Or, alternatively join our sister organisation the 21st Century Network (on-line) and look for a way to take part. You can join 21CN by clicking here or, alternatively email Christina and Francis at cw@tmdnet.net

    For more info, or to register a place at the event on the 10th please email: southgatephoenix@gmail.com, text/call 0785 439 0408, or 0208 211 4681 or check this site for more updates.

    Best wishes
    Project 2012

    "In order to maximise our own liberty, we must cease to put our trust in princes, and instead take charge of the public arena for ourselves, [constructing a genuine democracy] in which government is for the people as result of being by the people".
    Professor Quentin Skinner

    "It is with despair that I conclude that we have to start all over again with the demos and resistance, the campaigns and arguments, to roll back this huge and ultimately destructive assault on our civil liberties... we need to stop this assault on civil liberties going further, we need to roll back the attritions they have already suffered, and we need a rock solid written constitution to protect us from those who aim to make us all suspects in the gaze of the unblinking universal eye."

    AC Grayling, Safe in our Cages

    Capital Apologies
    Ladies and Gentlemen, with the sole exception of Celtic Heritage who are from Cornwall we apologise for the London-centric nature of the calendar. Also, for the omission of migrants rights events and other key issues. We hope to expand the calendar to include much more on Civil Liberties at a later date, but for now if you wish to leave London please do visit Hicham Yezza's campaign website and also Ceasefire Magazine , which he edits. Hicham who was recently detained for 33 days without trial by the HO, was recently published in the Guardian. Hich and his supporters are based in Nottingham.


    Encouraging Decentralised Mobilisation and A New Sovereignty
    Built from Below...

     




    Lovely Artwork

     
    ..but where's our soiled banner, we miss it!


    ER, Extraordinary Rendition  - how many more tears?


    About the evils of empire, both far away..


    .. and closer to home


    Year of Intercultural Dialogue - Hopefully Coming Soon to a Community Near You


    New, Surreal Placard


    CFA New United Nations Governmental Organisation Banner


    In solidarity with the EZLN


    Towards Another EU

    News Update 10th May 2008

    We are no longer regularly picnicking in Parliament Square. There are however plans to recreate the picnic in a more  decentralised fashion, maybe. Or perhaps - next stop Buckingham Palace..? For those interested in the group please use the email list/forum link on the left, to which all are cordially invited.


    Other news:

    1) There is yet another government consultation (on the issues of freedom to protest and free assembly). You can find out more about this via the Campaign For Free Assembly.

    And 2) we are now in a new campaigning phase, Project 2012. This, in concert with CAMPACC, Guantanamo London and others is about how to to build a grassroots Civil Liberties Coalition to make the UK Human Rights Compliant by 2012..

    What is Project 2012..?

    10 December 2008 (10.12) will mark 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the basis for modern international and national human rights law, including within the UK. From 2008, once the Beijing Olympics are over, international focus will shift to the UK (2012). 'Project 10.12 - 2012' aims to reclaim Human Rights for all, from the grassroots, and to actively secure them within every community. Basically, we want everyone to be more involved in decision-making, and we aim to develop a programme to ensure the implementation of all key rights in the UK by 2012.

    Our plan is to facilitate a series of rights (or, if you prefer, rights and resistance) workshops, each on a different theme, from May to November leading to a larger event on 10 December 2008 ('Humanity in the UK'). Each themed workshop will begin the important process of teasing out areas of concern to grassroots people working in the field in question. This process will help us to develop a cogent programme, while also educating others about the concrete work needed to make 'inalienable Human Rights' a reality for all.

    First Project 2012 Workshop & Video Session Saturday 31st May 2-5pm
    Conservatory Café, Methodist Central Hall, Near Parliament Square, Westminster
    To develop the Project 2012 campaign, get closer to a workable model and share facilitation skills for the coming months our first workshop on May 31st will be on the topic of 'how to hold workshops'. Individuals or group reps may wish to attend to learn facilitation skills from our expert trainers aswell as find out more about the overall project. After the workshop session there will be an opportunity to go on camera in Westminster with Rikki Blue (film maker behind Socpa The Movie). This will allow participants to raise the profile of their issue on-line and engage with members of the public about Human Rights in the UK at the same time.

    Wider Aims

    The overall aims of the 10.12 -2012 Human Rights in the UK project and the workshops associated with it are to develop a programme or living manifesto for change:

    * Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, reflecting on the history of human rights
    * Connecting individuals and groups involved in rights-based work
    * Encouraging the development of a workable model of civil society and new forms of constructive resistance
    * Considering the practical application of Article 1 of the ICCPR, the right to self determination
    * Considering the EU project's overall emphasis in the context of rights and democracy
    * Encouraging mobilisation for 2012 in the UK and further afield

    Volunteers - How to Get Involved..

    We're looking to involve any groups and individuals who wish to promote key human rights for workshop facilitation. This is a wide project, so a long list is inevitable, but those interested in rights relating to constitution, planning, land, housing, healthcare, education, public services, right to protest, freedom of association, women's rights, workers' rights, migrants' rights, disability rights, prisoners rights, children's right, homeless rights, mental health, animals, nature and/or others are all very welcome.

    Also, we would like to hear from people skilled at networking, workshop facilitation, conference organisation, leafleting, performance art, funding, venue provision and anyone else with time, skill or resources to offer! Basically any/all of the above - please get in touch.

    For more info, or to offer a skill, suggest a workshop or register a place on the 31st please email: greenpeaproject@gmail.com, text / call0785 439 0408 or check for updates on www.peopleincommon.org

    Best wishes
    The Project 2012 Team

    Self Determination

    "In order to maximise our own liberty, we must cease to put our trust in princes, and instead take charge of the public arena for ourselves, [constructing a genuine democracy] in which government is for the people as result of being by the people".

    This is the Zapatistan call to think of every locality: where we live, work or study - and by extension the whole UK, Europe and wider world  - as one people, a multicultural sovereign in the making. Zapatistans look for novel, inspiring ways to bring people together, interculturally to get to know one another better, but also to start the necessary reorganisation of society, independent and from the ground up - ie along genuinely democratic lines. For 'we the people' yearn to be truly free, for justice to prevail. And for this to happen, we must collectively build our own government, from the ground up..
     
    Towards a New Social Covenant:

    (1) The reordering of society from the ground up so that executive power vests with the people on the street and in each locality, in accordance with the UN right to self-determination, EU subsidiarity and democracy as 'government by the people', and by way of the concept of Free Assembly.

    (2) People's (Community Land Trust, CLT) buildings, with garden on every street: each to be run by the people who live around it as they see fit (and each Locality to be recognised in *meta-law* as a new social covenant Free Assembly).

    (3) New communities enclosures: the ring fencing of parcels of land for the facilitation of low-impact, intentional, human-scale communities (kibbutz/commune style CLTs), each standing independently as a Free Assembly, with security of tenure and the same constitutional status as enjoyed by each locality outlined in (2) and (4).

    (4) Free Assemblies to enjoy full executive and judicial powers of first instance, to be constitutionally recognised and include, alongside electoral processes delegate-system voting rights in Parliament, local taxation powers, the right to petition for and challenge new legislation, and constitutionality on all matters.

    (5) Widespread expansion of affordable, low impact self-governing CLT,
    self-build, 4th Option and SPAN style housing projects.

    (6) A new regime of Currency Transaction CTT and other Corporate Taxation on bank speculation and other multinational profits, monies to be ring fenced for grassroots development projects, to pay for basic sanitation, emergency relief, education and housing in the poorest sections of the world.

    (7) EU Common Agricultural Policy CAP funds (currently 30 billion pounds of EU taxpayers budget per annum, and of enormous adverse effect on fair trade for developing agricultural economies) to be diverted for new CLT purchases outlined in (2) (3) and (5).

    (8) A written constitution with built-in sunset clause (constitution to lapse every 15 years) to incorporate these and other policy demands and allow for judicial appeal procedures.

    (9) To reign in on the absolute and unaccountable doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, and guarantee the rights set out above, terms of written constitution (subject to sunset clause) to be recognised as new covenant *meta-law*, judicially enforceable against the state, as in the US.

    (10) Terms of 'meta-law' (new social covenant/constitution) to include fundamental democratic rights of freedom of conscience, expression, protest and assembly, plus other rights set out in the UDHR and other aspirational texts.

    Encouraging Decentralised Mobilisation and A New Sovereignty
    Built from Below..

     



     


    Civil Liberties Campaigner at Downing Street May12t


     





    Lovely Artwork




    ..but where's our soiled banner, we miss it!





    ER, Extraordinary Rendition  - how many more tears?





    About the evils of empire, both far away..
     




    .. and closer to home





    Year of Intercultural Dialogue - Hopefully Coming Soon to a Community Near You





    New, Surreal Placard


     



    CFA New United Nations Governmental Organisation Banner





    Southgate Tube Station





    In solidarity with the EZLN





    Towards Another EU




     

    Update 28th February 2008

    Last month saw honourable picnickers holding a tea party at the Home Office, lying down in the road outside Downing Street, aswell as attempting to post a blank placard (complete with address, and stamp) as a giant postcard to the state, all in response to the Government's 'Managing Protest' Consultation.

    This was part of the new Campaign for Free Assembly's nationwide Day of Action, held on 12th January and to be repeated on 1st March 2008. You can see reports and pictures from the various actions that took place around the country on that day, here. In the Campaign's words: 'the government's consultation regarding the Governance of Britain needs a response not on paper but on the streets.'

    Other SOCPA news includes:

    1.Sequani Six

    In Birmingham crown court 6 non-violent anti-vivisection campaigners are presently being charged with "contravening sec 145 SOCPA so as to cause harm to an animal research organisation and its suppliers" (re Sequani Limited vivisection labs Ledbury Herefordshire). If found guilty activists could face up to 5 years in prison. More info at Indymedia.

    2. Smash EDO
    On Saturday 19th January 150 demonstrators and a samba band gathered at Churchill Square in Brighton to protest at heavy handed tactics increasingly being used by Brighton police against legitimate protest groups and to promote the Smash EDO cause. See pictures and report here and more info here.

    3. Another Government Success
    It has been reported, to little fanfair (this month's Prospect Magazine) that since October 2006, the Serious Organised Crime Agency's Public Information Hotline (manned 5 days a week) has received just 16 calls.

    4. Marc Valee
    A photographer who was badly injured following police action during the Sack Parliament demonstration in Parliament Square in October 2006 has agreed an out of court-settlement from the Metropolitan Police Service. Full story, here.

    5. Stop Press
    Three Recent Arrests
    Report on Recent Arrests of Barbara, Steve and Ant outside of Parliament, here.

    6. Changes to Legal Advice at the Police Station
    Find new rules and Bustcard, courtesy of AM (Camp FA's fine inhouse legal expert) here. Please note, these rules only apply until Hitler's 119th  birthday. From  21st April 2008 new and worse conditions will apply.

    7. New Surreal Placard
    Long term picnickers will be more than happy to note that our blank placard has been outdone, both in terms of surreality and overall artistic integrity.

    A Call to Establish Democracy!

    As the correct way to democratic renaissance and a commonsense way of organising society is now being called into question, how are we best to respond?

    The short answer is, as Quentin Skinner once put it: "In order to maximise our own liberty, we must cease to put our trust in princes, and instead take charge of the public arena for ourselves, [constructing a genuine democracy] in which government is for the people as a result of being by the people".

    International Law, likewise states in Article 1 of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UNCPR that: "All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."

    But in multicultural UK, how are we to define a people, and where are we to begin? The key, as new People in Common campaign manager (codename 'Hippy in a Suit') agrees, is to think of one's own *locality* as a potential new people, or multicultural sovereign in the making. And then, from there to find novel ways to work together *interculturally* to reorganise society, *independently* and from the ground up..

    C421/Free Assembly 

    Our 'creative response' to s.132 SOCPA included the 2006 C421 Project, (see statement here), at which, in partnership with other groups it was decided we should now begin the campaign for a new, democratic constitution, to be built from the ground up by people in common cause. So, along with the statement, here are some other broad principles upon which we might be able successfully build an effective coalition:

    Principles of Democracy - Towards A New Social Covenant

    In order for people to be free, and for justice to prevail *everywhere*, we must collectively build our own government, from the ground up.

    ie. Regular decentralised mobilisation
    for a new, libertarian politics..

    A New Social Covenant | Suggested Policy Demands:

    (1) The reordering of society from the ground up so that executive power vests with the people on the street and in each locality, in accordance with the UN right to self-determination, EU subsidiarity and democracy as 'government by the people', and by way of the concept of 'Free Assembly'.

    (2) People's (Community Land Trust, CLT) buildings, with garden on every street: each to be run by the people who live around it as they see fit (and each Locality to be recognised in *meta-law* as a new social covenant 'Free Assembly').

    (3) New communities enclosures: the ring fencing of parcels of land for the facilitation of low-impact, intentional, human-scale communities (kibbutz/commune style CLTs), each standing independently as a Free Assembly, with security of tenure and the same constitutional status as enjoyed by each locality outlined in (2) and (4).

    (4) Free Assemblies to enjoy full executive and judicial powers of first instance, to be constitutionally recognised and include, alongside electoral processes delegate-system voting rights in Parliament, local taxation powers, the right to petition for and challenge new legislation, and constitutionality on all matters.

    (5) Widespread expansion of affordable, low impact self-governing CLT, self-build, 4th Option and SPAN style housing projects.

    (6) A new regime of Currency Transaction CTT and other Corporate Taxation on bank speculation and other multinational profits, monies to be ring fenced for grassroots development projects, to pay for basic sanitation, emergency relief, education and housing in the poorest sections of the world.

    (7) EU Common Agricultural Policy CAP funds (currently 30 billion pounds of EU taxpayers budget per annum, and of enormous adverse effect on fair trade for developing agricultural economies) to be diverted for new CLT purchases outlined in (2) (3) and (5).

    (8) A written constitution with built-in sunset clause (constitution to lapse every 15 years) to incorporate these and other policy demands and allow for judicial appeal procedures.

    (9) To reign in on the absolute and unaccountable doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, and guarantee the rights set out above, terms of written constitution (subject to sunset clause) to be recognised as new covenant *meta-law*, judicially enforceable against the state, as in the US.

    (10) Terms of *meta-law* (new constitution) to include fundamental democratic rights of freedom of conscience, expression, protest and assembly, plus other rights set out in the UN Charter.

    Encouraging Decentralised Mobilisation and A New Sovereignty, Built from Below

    Let us use these ideas as a starting point around which to organise, according to the principles we stand for and to reflect the self-governing society we want to build. These principles are DIY, self-organising, indie, decentralized and democratic: non-hierarchical and from below. Let's convene regular public meetings in every locality.

    "..set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings!...We do not want either Greek or Roman Models if we are but just & true to our own Imaginations.."
    William Blake


    To comment on these principles, please visit New Sovereignty or join the Forum.

    Also, here are some links to other campaign groups that some of our members are involved in:


     





    Giant SAE in Whitehall, holding up traffic for Free Assembly




     
    A Picnicker Positively Obstructing the Highway





    Another Kind of Obstruction of the Highway, by the State





    Boudicca, upon whose spirit we may need to call
     





    Last Month's LGB Tea Picnic, with SSAW Students from Liverpool and London






    Year of Intercultural Dialogue - Hopefully Coming Soon to a Community Near You





    New, Surreal Placard





    An original picnic photo









    How it all started!









    In solidarity with the EZLN









    Towards Another EU!






    Update 07/01//2008 - TAKE ACTION - by 17th JANUARY

     

    1. RESPOND TO THE CONSULTATION

     

    In case you missed it, Gordon Brown once promised to repeal s.132-138 of SOCPA, which bans unauthorised demos and assemblies within 1km of Parliament, yet still it remains on the statute books. In October the government published a consultation document, "Managing protest around Parliament" which raised the question of whether or not to repeal s.132-8 (in spite of all the negative publicity, no-brainer). Worse, a spectre haunts the consultation, as it appears from the wording the police wish to increase their already formidable powers so they can, as at Parliament under SOCPA, control assemblies everywhere else in the country.

     

    So, believe it or not, there is now a real and present danger the state will use the consultation as a fig-leaf with which to remove our hard won right to freely protest anywhere, anytime - by embarking on what is being called a "harmonisation upwards". It is therefore vital anyone who cares about the right to protest in this country responds to the Government consultation by the 17th January deadline. For more info on the details of this possible 'harmonisation', see below. But if you just want to know what to do, the consensus on how to respond to the consultation for the good of democracy is as follows:

     

    (a) Call for sections 132 - 138 of SOCPA to be repealed

    (b) Call for no increase in police powers to control marches and assemblies around Parliament or elsewhere (and so, in particular, no "harmonisation upwards" - see below for more on this).

    (c) Call for no new "special provisions" for static demonstrations and marches around Parliament (again, see below).

     

    Please take this important opportunity to show the strength of opposition to SOCPA, but also that restrictions on our democratic right to freely protest and assembly around Parliament, or anywhere else in the UK, are completely unacceptable. Please please respond to this consultation, and ask all of your friends to do the same. Responses should be emailed to protestaroundParliament@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or can be sent by post.

     

    You can find out more about these three points by reading the Repeal SOCPA Briefing document here. Also, a PDF file of the Home Office consultation document is available here.

    2. NATIONWIDE DAY OF ACTION 12th January

     

    To respond adequately to the consultation, Saturday 12th January has been called as a nationwide day of action to defend freedom of assembly (see http://tinyurl.com/yrk2kn). Quite right too, as with s.132 freedom to assemble worldwide is not something that is given to us by consultation or consent, it is our democratic birthright won through the painful struggle of our ancestors and it should be defended with action alongside boring old paperwork.

     

    A London event is already being organised: assemble 1pm, Saturday 12th January at the top of Trafalgar Square, National Gallery. Bring blank placards, action on day itself will leave it up to attenders to decide whether or not to go into the SOCPA zone and defy s.132, or not  (by respectively either writing on, or leaving blank, their placards) (for more info).

    3. JOIN MARIA

     

    And last, but definitely not least, if you would like to join Maria on her daily petition to the doors of Number 10, now focusing on the repeal of s.132-138, or if you wish to know how to do for any other campaing, please go here: Daily Doors of 10 Petition.

    4. AR activists set to challenge SOCPA in the courts

    In the first trial of its kind in the UK 7 animal rights activists are set to challenge section 145 of the serious organised crime and police act 2005 which made it an "offence" to "interfere with an animal research organisation". The 7 are accused of "conspiracy to contravene section 145 socpa" namely by means of peaceful protest outside Sequani Ltd, who test agro-chemicals, pharmaceutical compounds and medical devices on animals. The 7 accused who have been on unconditional police bail since May 9th 2006 have all made not guilty pleas despite a plea bargain previously offered by the trial judge, who apparently is a game shooter himself. If found guilty by the jury the activists could face up to 5 years in prison. Read more about story here. 

    NEW CAMPAIGN LINKS

     

    As a result of the anger at s.132 and the linked C421 Project meetings in 2006-7 it was collectively decided to campaign for a new constitution, built from the ground up, starting with independent People's Assemblies in every locality. Watch this space for more info on this, and in particular the new People in Common campaign for a Local, north London Town/Parliament Square.

     

    Also, here are some links to other campaign groups that some of our members are involved in. To suggest others, or debate these please join us at a picnic, or our lively forum.

     
     
     
    (1). 12th January - another view of the top of Trafalgar Square
      
      
     
     
     
     
    (2). Some of last month's Picnickers with leaning tower of Big Ben
     
     
      
     
     
     
     (3) Evidence of said picnic
     
     
     
      
     
     
     (4) Evidence of said picnic
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    (5) Banner from religious protest in square that day
     
     
     
     
    Update 17/10/2007 - The Empire Strikes Back- by taking the fences down!

     

    In the last few days we are sad to report that Brian Haw's re-extended display was removed, but happy to report that the GLA fences around Parliament Square are now down, and that Brian's tents are up again, despite having been thrown on the pavement for a period of time by the authorities.  

    The timing of the September picnic couldn't have been more poignant: a large, noisy, spontaneous and SOCPA-unauthorised Burmese solidarity demo on the morning. The demo, which included a broad mixture of people from Burma and elsewhere was a Facebook organised affair, set up in quick response to the awful  military-state repression in Burma taking place that same week. The lively march went from Trafalgar Square to the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park via Parliament Square. 

    A week later, the opening of Parliament on 8th October saw a well attended, controversial march put on by the Stop the War Coalition, a march that may (or may not) actually have been banned. Shame on STWC for continuing to co-opt the peace coalition, and a deeper shame still for recently preventing the anti-imperial war group HOPI, or Hands Off the People of Iran from being able to affiliate with them - but what-the-hell, after some great speeches (Mark Thomas, Brian Haw and others) the demo came to Parliament Square and in sweet symblism those ugly GLA Fences fences came a' tumblin down, wrecked by the people for a second time since they'd gone up for Mr Mandela (only to be predicably put up again in the night by the powers that be. Assymetric warfare ain't easy, is it: anyone know the Islamic version of the story of Gog & Magog? Worth a spot of research.)    
     
    Anyway at the last picnic, aside from Burma, Total Oil & China there was also discussion about EDM1763, the Bill for a Citizen's Convention, info about you will find here and a copy of which you will find here.
     
    Opinion in the group is divided on the merits of this project, with opinions on likelihood of success ranging from the 'not likely' to the 'yeah, this is really interesting, how is it being moved forward' to the 'yowza, let's go for it'  - or as one member told me: 'might work, might not, so it's worth a try', and, from another: 'yeah let's hijack it' - watch this space for more on how you might want to go about this. 
     
     
     
     
    Last and definitely not least Rikki's Socpa the Movie shows again soon, 8pm on the 29th October at the Roxy Bar and Screen ( Borough High St) a free screening in plush new arts cinema with Q&A. It's being shown as part of a Roxy series of films on political violence. If you haven't seen it yet, don't miss this chance to see Rikki's film on the big screen. See also, the calendar of events.
     

    Next picnic, Sunday 28th October in Parliament Square! Dress warm, cuddly and Indymedia friendly. Please note that we are planning to bring blank banners, so there will be no risk of arrest. You are of course free to bring non-blank ones if you wish to get arrested.

    Pictures from top to bottom:

     

    (1)  banner at camp burma, now 24/7 in parliament square with weekly youth meetings, friday 6pm (all welcome)

     

    (2) hassan, king of 'direct democracy!' on the Sunday Burma march, shouting: 'power to the people!!' 

     

    (3) the sunday facebook march
     
     
     
     
     
     

     

    Update 03/08/2006

    It’s been a big fat 12 months since the infinitely wise New Labour Government restricted the democratic right to peaceful protest outside the Mother of Parliaments. If that’s not a revolutionary situation, we don’t know what is. To commemorate the fact that ‘Democracy is Sleeping’ we thought it would be a jolly good wheeze to have a pyjama party – and so we did. Picture of Sam and Alex and their immortal banner featured here and a brief report from rikki. Readers will be glad to know that we are now well on our way to inventing a new game, involving a large balloon, called SOCPA!

    On a slightly more serious note, last week saw the Euston launch of an alternative People In Common “Campaign for a 21st Century Constitution’, This took place at a well attended event, co-hosted by A World To Win and the Creative Forum. More on this to follow.

    Back to Parliament Square, and it is worth noting that there are some interesting SOCPA cases currently going through the courts, read the reports on Pete Doraisamy, and Chris Coverdale. Meanwhile Steve Jago and Barbara Tucker continue to receive regular beatings from the cops.

    Also, it has been noted that the Sunday political picnic has now become a global phenomenon, with so-called ‘Pointless’ (anti-consumerist) Picnics taking place at 12 Noon all over the place. This may or may not be coincidental, but for more on this you can join the Yahoo Pointless Picnic list, here. Talking of lists, can someone please tell us what the point of our mailing list is?

    Other pictures featured here include a recent psychedelic picnicker with an ostrich egg and the new revolutionary Westminster protest camper, Mark Kemp with his Police Farce blank placard. Send your caption suggestions for these two to the mailing list. A fresh ostrich egg to the winner!





    Update 19/06/2006

    Since our last update, so much has happened! Brian Haws, now authorised, 5 year anti-war demonstration was raided - nazi-lite style - in the middle of the night by 78 Met Officers - at a cost of over £28,000. Meanwhile, in an equally disturbing raid, long time protester Alex Tsiorulin was abducted by immigration officers and all traces of his protest erased.

    Other authorised action included a "defend surrealism" day, courtesy of the comedian and writer Mark Thomas.

    June has seen a catalogue of autonomous, creative and spontaneous actions and arrests in Westminster, with Downing St seeming to be the new hot spot.

    These include Mark Barrett, Mark Kemp and Dan Kieran walking a heroic 30 miles in their Magna Carta march from Runnymede to Downing St on 14 and 15 June, and the arrest of Picnicker Steve X outside Downing St yesterday.

    The Magna Carta action included a French school trip, a handcuffing to the railings of Downing St and a hilarious case of mistaken identity, the police attempting to arrest someone for the wrong demo, having been bamboozled when the pilgrims autonomously started up two separate actions at the same time. All three were marching for a new constitutional settlement, but also for their own individual causes, which included the idea that Tony Blair, rather than being impeached, should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, full report here .

    Steve X, was violently arrested and cuffed yesterday when he refused to give his full name after holding a placard with a pro-freedom slogan outside the Downing St gates. Witnesses will have noted, to their horror, that during the course of this rough arrest, Steve was kneed, possibly in the balls, by one of the three arresting officers, film and full report here .

    And to cap it all, the picnic is featured in the latest edition of Vanity Fair, of all places !








    Update 17/05/2006

    May 1st saw the Parliament Square Police Farce patrolling the TUC march and defying the SOCPA protest ban on the irregular Beating the Bounds. See the Pink Panther show here courtesy of rikki productions. Another film from Doug here.

    On the 8th May the government won its appeal against Bran Haw’s continued presence in Parliament Square. The master of the rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, Lord Justice Laws and Lady Justice Hallett had a chin wag and decided that facing the consequences of their warmongering was too distressing for the MPs over the road. Brian has been granted "authorisation" if he agrees to no more than 3m of display. As we go to press Brian’s demonstration appears to be increasing in size and he is receiving plenty of support. If you have Brian’s dinger please return it. For regular updates on the situation in the square click here.

    …for top-secret, stop the law coalition stuff click here.





    Update 03/05/2006

    On Saturday 22nd April twenty people camped by an open fire in the forest at Runnymede, birthplace of the Magna Carta tlovely evening, we enjoyed guitar, trumpet and singing together, and the Heathrow flightpath couldn't dampen our enthusiasm!

    The next morning various stalwart individuals braved the rain and cycled to London, stopping for a well deserved outdoor breakfast at St Georges Hill, Weybridge where the Diggers set up their revolutionary commune in April of 1649.

    Anyway, after the stop at St George Hill, the next rendezvous point was at the Tibetan Peace Gardens at the Imperial War Museum, where 30 or so people gathered in the rain to enjoy delicious Hare Krisna food, music form Curly Tony and Ian's wonderful bike sound system and also a talk from Deepak Gupta of the excellent Campaign Against Criminalising Communities.

    After that we made our merry way to Parliament Square, where we found ourselves being coldly welcomed by coppers - who refused to let us unfurl our blank banner or walk on temporarily pedestrianised Westminster Bridge - but thankfully warmly welcomed by the lovely Picnickers, assorted media people and other Marathon watchers in the Square.

    Finally it was left to burn the Magna Carta on Bliar's behalf and play cricket for its Ashes. Anyway, thanks to all who helped organise and/or took part in what was a really good weekend. You can read other reports on the weekend here, here, here and here .





    Update 15/04/2006

    Despite two more SOCPA convictions in the last few weeks, as a campaign group we have been going from strength to strength. On the 1st April we joined forces with CIRCA to stage a colourful anti-SOCPA Reclaim Fools Day Parade and we held our first Benefit Party. Thanks to all who took part. And as part of our continuing campaign against the Exclusion Zone, on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd April there will be A Reclaim St George's Day Parade.

    Please dress up in your Sunday Best and come join us on Sunday April 23rd for a party and a picnic starting at the Peace Gardens of the Imperial War Museum, from 1pm. The theme is George in Drag - medieval, cross dress - anything goes. Bring music, colour and be prepared to make some noise! It's the London Marathon that day so expect all sorts. At 3pm we will march into Parliament Square, where we will be enacting a burning of the Magna Carta on Blair's behalf and playing cricket for the Ashes around 5 o'clock. Also, on the 22nd April there are plans for an overnight camp at Runnymede [where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215] and so our party will also be a welcome celebration for the individuals who will walk, cycle and/or train, for freedom, 35 miles along the river.

    It's especially important that we have a good turn out as the last two weeks have seen the conviction of two more campaigners under s132: JNV's Milan Rai becoming the first person to be convicted under SOCPA for the serious offence 'organiser' of an unauthorised demonstration and our very own picnic revolutionary Mark Barrett, with media in hot pursuit at Bow Street Magistrates. Both got positive media coverage on BBC, Sky News and in the Independent.





    Update 28/03/2006

    Milan Rai has become the first person to be charged with organising an unauthorised demonstration. He was in court on the 17th of March (read a comprehensive report here), and he will hear the verdict on April 12th.

    On Sunday 26th March Barbara Tucker and Brian Haw were both arrested but subsequently released without charge; the Picnickers visited Charing X Police Station to show their support.

    The Picnic has recently seen the addition of some new banners, which can be seen in action on the right ("Honk for Freedom of Assembly"). Sadly the police refused to honk, though the picnickers asked ever so nicely.

    You will now be able to find all the old news items (with the interesting links they contain) collected together on the new archive page. Additionally the gallery has recently been updated with some lovely photos submitted by various people.

    Please come to our benefit gig this Saturday April 1st! 7PM - 2AM @ 21 Russell Square.





    Update 23/02/2006

    Despite the appalling weather, 20 or so people turned out for Sunday's celebration of Ann Clancy's life: poems and prayers were said, guitars played, songs sung in the rain accompanied by champagne and delicious waffles. There were some new faces, and a nice time was had by all.

    This week is Beating the Bounds, when the picnickers intend to mark the boundaries of the green in Parliament Square. Meet in Trafalgar Square at 1pm for a walk down Whitehall, and later to picnic.

    On January 19th Neil Goodwin was arrested in the Square under S132 of SOCPA (photos right), and you can now find his report on our forums.




    Update 13/02/2006

    Sadly Ann Clancy, one of the first demonstrators to be arrested under SOCPA, has died recently after illness. Her friends will be celebrating her memory in Parliament Square on Sunday 19th February.

    Despite yesterday's miserable weather, the picnic was still much enjoyed as the participants took cover under an awning. Plans are bring made for an Alternative St George's celebration and a tour to promote awareness of SOCPA and for the picnickers to make links with similar groups in other parts of the country.

    Round-up of recent press coverage: the planned human chain around Westminster in May has been featured in Schnews (please follow the link in the sidebar to sign the pledge!) while the Observer has done a timeline of free speech: from Socrates to SOCPA. Maya Evans is in the Telegraph.




    Update 02/02/2006

    The picnickers were very happy to see some more newcomers last Sunday; this was partly due to the picnic being named Demo of the Week in Time Out (with a photo and everything!). Additionally, the West End Extra reported on the SOCPA trials at Bow St Magistrates' Court and Mark Thomas writes about SOCPA in the New Statesman. Please check out our reports page to see an archive of material about the picnic & SOCPA.

    Unfortunately Milan Rai has also become the first person to be charged with organising an unauthorised demonstration.

    Sunday 29th of January proved to be a gorgeous (if chilly) day for a picnic, with a small but lively Beating the Bounds procession (pictured right) coming to Parliament Square joining the core picnickers later in the afternoon. The police displayed a certain amount of interest in proceedings (if unenthusiastically; apparently driving 45 minutes in traffic to half-heartedly distribute a few leaflets to a bunch of clowns is not a police officer's idea of a good time) but spirits were not dampened.

    Coming up: another 7/7 memorial is being organised within the exclusion zone.






    Update 24/01/2006

    Picnicker Mark's trial did not go ahead on the 18th and has been postponed until March, however the 5 7th of August arrestees were all convicted on the 23rd, each fined £50. Photos of the occasion are to the right, thanks to Woody.

    Nevertheless, last Sunday a very successful Demonstrate Anything picnic was carried out. Participants demonstrated how to flower arrange, ice a cake, peel a banana, lie down, and carry out forward rolls. An excellent video has been made of the event. Funnily enough the police decided not to take any interest in Sunday's demonstrations. Perhaps they are becoming a bit lax in their duties? After all, they were most certainly unauthorised demonstrations.

    Next Sunday will see the second Beating the Bounds event, which will depart from Trafalgar Square at 1pm and stop for tea and soup on Lambeth Bridge at 3pm. There will most likely also be a regular picnic presence in Parliament Square from 1pm for the lazier ones among us.




    Update 16/01/2006

    On the 12th of January four of the arrestees from the first unauthorised protest in the exclusion zone, which took place on the 1st of August 2005, were convicted. See a full report of the trial here.

    Later this week picnicker Mark will be on trial at Bow St Magistrates Court as well -- his court case will be at 2pm on Wednesday 18th of January. Picnickers will be there to support him and will be staging a possibly amusing reconstruction of his arrest in the summer, so be outside the court at 1pm!

    This Sunday 22nd it would also be nice to see people come and Demonstrate Things in the Square -- come along and you might learn something!


    Update 08/01/2006

    Despite the distractions of festivities, the holiday period saw continued action against SOCPA. A carol service was held in Parliament Square on December 22nd, and picnickers were in the Square on Christmas Day as well as having a successful sleepover on New Year's Eve to make sure they were in the Square bright and early for catching the New Year's Day Parade.

    As can be read in the minutes, at the picnic meeting of Sunday 18th Dec it was decided that the picnic will now start at 1pm every Sunday, as opposed to 12 noon.

    In addition, SOCPA Section 110 came into effect on Sunday 1st Jan, which will change SOCPA designated area arrests.

    On Saturday 7th Jan a 7/7 memorial service was held at the Cenotaph. No arrests were made, though there was a significant amount of media interest. The Maya Evans case has been spotted in St Albion Parish News of Private Eye No. 1148.

    Some picnickers have plans for a possible newsletter; anybody interested in contributing to a publication on freedom to protest issues should email Mark.



    Update 20/12/2005

    The campaign against SOCPA continues apace, with dedicated picnickers planning to keep the picnic going on Christmas Day and the 1st of January. Parliament Square has now seen 20 consecutive Sundays of action against SOCPA!

    The conviction of Maya Evans saw a flurry of media attention, making the front pages of both the Daily Mail (!) and the Independent. The People's Picnic was featured both on Radio London and on Resonance FM's Indymedia slot, and its Freedom to Protest banner made an appearance on BBC London evening news.

    On Sunday 11th of December Cindy Sheehan came to visit Brian Haw in the Square; the picnickers joined their protest up to Downing St, and although the police issued people with notices, no arrests were made (due to insufficient police numbers, according to one officer).






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