London Mayor Boris Johnson has removed fencing on Parliamentary Square that had been erected to block Occupy Democracy’s access after a successful appeal by Liberty and Occupy Democracy.
The Mayor has backed down after a judicial review was launched against Johnson and the Greater London Authority arguing the fence is an illegal interference with their right to protest based on the 2012 UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly which states that ‘the exercise of fundamental freedoms should never be subject to previous authorization, but at most to a regime of notification.'”
Occupy London legal advisor Matthew Varnham said:
“Requiring permission to be sought for protest is only part of the regime which restricts activity on Parliament Square – BBC journalists were threatened on Saturday with arrest for filming on the square without first gaining permission. The absurdity of such a threat highlights the dangers of empowering the GLA with the authority to determine what conduct is appropriate, particularly at Parliament Square and when in response to time-limited peaceful protest.”
Several hundred people have since gathered on Parliament Square to continue the campaign for Real Democracy Now, highlighting the corporate takeover of our democratic system and the need for urgent radical reform. The protest also saw workshops being held to highlight the undemocratic influence of arms companies on government policy regarding the arms trade, with speakers from Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Stop the Arms Fair and SmashEDO.
Commenting on the issues, Occupy Democracy supporter Phil England said:
“Like other powerful interests, arms companies have an undemocratic and corrupting hold over government policy. It’s not in our interests to be selling £12 billion worth of arms to countries on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s own list of countries with serious human rights concerns. It’s an outrage that we are spending £700 million of taxpayers money every year subsidising this trade and licencing the sale of tear gas used to repress pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and weapons likely to have been used by the Israeli Defense Forces during their raids on Gaza last summer.”
Occupy Democracy will be building the movement for democracy free from corporate influence by returning monthly to Parliament Square between now and the general election on 7th May. The next occupation will take place on February 14th-15th and is titled “Occupy Love: Conquering Divide and Rule” looking at issues of equality and representation in our democracy.