Press release from Justice Not Vengeance
FIRST CHARGE FOR ‘ORGANISING’ UNAUTHORISED DEMONSTRATION OPPOSITE DOWNING ST
Today, Thursday 19 January 2006, Milan Rai, 40, became the first person to be charged with organising an unauthorised demonstration in the vicinity of Parliament under the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. The maximum penalty for this charge is 51 weeks imprisonment.
Rai, author and activist with the anti-war group ‘Justice Not Vengeance’ (JNV), was arrested on 25 October last year for organising the demonstration that led to the conviction of Maya Evans, also of JNV (2).
He was not charged then. The Crown Prosecution Service have delayed a
decision, citing problems with the CCTV footage of the incident. (Maya Evans was convicted without the benefit of such footage.)
Rai and Evans were arrested opposite Downing Street, while they held a two-person ceremony of remembrance, reading the names of Iraqi civilians and British soldiers who have died in the illegal occupation of Iraq (3).
Rai, who recently spent two weeks in Lewes prison for an anti-war
protest, said: ‘We should not have to ask permission to remember the
dead. I am prepared to go to court and I am prepared to go to prison to oppose war and the erosion of our rights.’
1. Milan Rai is the author of 7/7: The London Bombings, Islam and the
Iraq War (Pluto, due in April 2006)
2. Maya Evans was convicted on 7 December 2005 of taking part in an
unauthorised demonstration in the Designated Area
3. See www.j-n-v.org for further details.