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film of SOCA arrest at whitehall protest this morning

rikki | 25.10.2005 15:18 | SOCPA | Free Spaces | Repression | London

two activists from 'justice not vengeance' were arrested opposite downing street this morning under the recent 'serious organised crime act' legislation which outlaws protest near government buildings around parliament square and whitehall

This morning at 9.40am, Milan Rai, and his colleague Maya Evans were arrested in Whitehall for organising and taking part in an illegal protest not authorised in advance by police. Their protest was part of a JNV-co-sponsored international project entitled '100,000 Rings for the people of Iraq'. A year ago, a study in the medical journal 'The Lancet' estimated that 98000 Iraqis had died of war-related causes since the invasion of Iraq. This international ceremony of remembrance and resistance marks each life lost with the ringing of a handbell.

So far they have rung a hand bell 250 times in the middle of Brighton, and on Monday they rang the bell another 250 times outside Northwood in North London, the military base commanding British forces in Iraq. The next bell-ringing is planned in Hastings this evening. Today's ceremony went ahead minus the handbells, because of police warnings of arrest, as the organisers didn't want the bells confiscated. Instead, they marked the moment by reading out the names of known dead in Iraq. More information about this international project is available on the website at

The SOCA legislation was originally brought in to remove Brian Haw's one-man protest from Parliament Square, but because of the way the Law was framed, and a High Court challenge, his is now the ONLY protest that doesn't require prior authorisation by police in the area near Parliament Square covered by the act, as his protest was ongoing and the act could not be applied retrospectively.

Since its introduction on the 1st August this year, 25 people (according to police who compile the figures) have been arrested as participants in illegal demonstrations. One of today's additional arrests was for 'organising' an illegal protest, a much more serious misdemeanour with up to a year in prison as penalty. None of the cases have come to court yet, and it remains to be seen whether this law can be challenged using human rights and common law arguments.

For further information about the continuing struggle against this repressive act, please see

The two protestors were released this afternoon and bailed to return to Charing X police station on 10th November to face charges.

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Hide the following 5 comments

vid format problems

25.10.2005 17:14

sorry folks, the small version of the vid seems to play audio only, but the larger mp4 version seems ok for you broadband blessed. i'll try and work on the small one and repost it later.


small vid mp4 repost

25.10.2005 23:12

small 1.1Mb mp4 repost with sound AND image is at


Charging Info

26.10.2005 09:59

Thanks to Rikki for showing up and doing all this.

Maya was actually charged with participating in the demo, I was bailed back for 10 Nov, as Rikki says. Maya back in court next Tuesday, and she's been in touch with the SOCA defendants' campaign (SOCA is the "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act": which introduced these new laws for demos in the vicinity of Parliament).

Some confusion amongst cops over the procedure on "organising" as it was the first time this particular section has had to be applied. They thought at first they would just charge me, then they found out they had to refer it to the Crown Prosecution Service - they thought that the decision to prosecute would be automatic.

I've been here before, twice, once in relation to breaking into Fairford and being bailed in relation to charges to do with the Official Secrets Act - they never went ahead - and then again being arrested for breaking the sanctions on Iraq, also deferred upstairs to the top of HM Customs - again they never went ahead.

This time I think they will actually prosecute. The maximum sentence is 51 weeks, and that is designed to keep it in magistrates court as the limit of sentence that a magistrate can impose was increased from six months to a year in the 2003 Criminal Justice Act.

I heard today that there is another person who may also be charged with "organising" for a previous event, though they weren't arrested for that in the first place.

Milan Rai
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good on yer Mil and Maya

07.11.2005 00:31

well done, seems to me this was about remembrance and resistance yes, though not a protest. This was an act of remembering the iraqi and military dead, it focussed on their naming and remembering lives lost and did not focus on honouring the killers by protesting about them.
Love you Mr Mil, well done Maya

Les (fallujah on my mind)

Channel 4 Programme

08.12.2005 15:37

Hi Rikki

I'm a researcher working with Mentorn TV in London. We're making a programme for Channel 4 with Walter Wolfgang about 'The Right To Protest'. We're taking Walter to see Maya Evans next week for an interview. We'd really like to discuss the possibility of using your footage in our programme. I'd be most grateful if you could give me a ring on 0207 258 6829 or 07793 557 630.

Best wishes, Eve Lucas.

Eve Lucas
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