Friday 12 February 2016

Sending the Heathrow13 to prison threatens everyone's right to protest

Shahrar Ali (far left) deputy leader of the Green Party at Willesden Magistrates demonstration January 18th
 Caroline Lucas the Green MP has joined with John McDonnell MP and Michael Calderbank of Brent Central CLP to warn of the threat to the right of protest posed by possible jail sentences for the Heathrow 13, in  a letter to the Guardian: LINK

Last month, 13 activists were tried in court for carrying out a peaceful protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport (Report, Opinion, 25 January, They were found guilty of aggravated trespass, and await sentencing on 24 February.

We believe it would be unjust for these people to receive prison sentences for their actions.

Sending peaceful demonstrators to jail would represent a massive threat to our right to protest in the UK.

Heathrow will cause 150 premature deaths a year by 2030 if it gets a third runway. Which is the criminal act?

Aggravated trespass would usually incur a fine. Prison is an utterly disproportionate punishment, and would mark yet another example of heavy-handed treatment leading to the suppression of political dissent in the UK today.

We also share the concerns of these activists. Our judicial system has judged the actions of the Heathrow 13 to be criminal. Meanwhile, the aviation sector threatens the aims of the Climate Change Act, while additional runways in London would worsen an already deadly air quality crisis. MIT estimates that Heathrow will cause 150 premature deaths a year by 2030 if it gets a third runway. Which of these is really the criminal act?

It’s ironic that this decision comes so soon after the UK government signed a global climate deal. We cannot take meaningful action on climate change while the aviation industry continues to expand. Efficiencies can be made, but they won’t outstrip expansion. There is no substitute for reducing the overall number of flights to keep global carbon emissions at safe levels.

The Heathrow 13 understand the dangers presented by a new runway in London. The judgment against them noted the “astronomical” costs incurred by a few delayed flights. We recognise that the costs of unchecked climate change and pollution will be far higher, and far graver. This is what our government and judicial system should be cracking down on, not peaceful protest. We stand in solidarity with the Heathrow 13.

John McDonnell MP Lab, Hayes and Harlington
Caroline Lucas MP Green, Brighton Pavilion
John Sauven Chief executive, Greenpeace UK
Piers Telemacque NUS Vice-president for society and citizenship
Tatiana Garavito Wretched of the Earth
Marc Stears Chief executive, New Economics Foundation
Dr Mark H Burton Steady State Manchester Collective
Richard Dixon Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland
Sally Davison and Ben Little Co-editors, Soundings Journal
Dr Richard Dixon Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland
Aaron Kiely People’s Assembly Against Austerity
Neil Kingsnorth Head of activism, Friends of the Earth
Sam Lund-HarketGlobal Justice Now
Dr Jo Ram and Joel Benjamin, Co-directors, Community Reinvest
Andrew Taylor People & Planet
Jenny Tonge Former Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park
Fionn Travers-Smith Campaign manager, Move Your Money
Hilary Wainwright and Michael Calderbank Editors, Red Pepper Magazine
Catherine West MP Lab, Hornsey and Wood Green
Nicolò Wojewoda Europe team leader,

There will be a demonstration in support of the Heathrow 13 outside the Willesden Magistrates Court on Wednesday February 24th from 9am. Details from #Heathrow13 Facebook below

The #Heathrow13 will return to court for final sentencing, having all been found guilty of aggravated trespass and entering the security restricted area of London Heathrow Airport’s (LHR) north runway in protest of plans to build a third runway. All 13 have been told by District Judge Deborah Wright that they "should all come expecting custodial sentences”,

Please come and join us OUTSIDE the court at 9am SHARP, together with Heathrow residents and others, to say that climate justice is the only appropriate form of justice here; that prison time for protecting the climate is a massive #Redline, and that we need to Stop Aviation Expansion & Stop Co2lonialism!
The full address for the court is:
Willesden Magistrates’ Court
448 High Road
NW10 2DZ
Nearest tube: Neasden OR Dollis Hill (Jubilee Line)
Come ready to express your solidarity, be it in song, spoken word, festival or dancing, as we co-create and animate our climate defence in support of the #Heathrow13. More details and itinerary to follow.

Note: the solidarity hashtags will be #Heathrow13 & #nonewrunways so please keep sending your support before and on the day!

Note: The sentencing hearing will start at 10am, but allow 30 mins for bag checks if you plan on coming inside the building.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Zac Goldsmith, London mayoral candidate, MP for Richmond Park (under the flight path) and well-known environmentalist, is a notable absence from the list of signatures. What's his position, I wonder.
Mike Hine