Stop the G20 witch-hunt!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Three more people, including a teenager, have been charged following the November 19 protests against the G20 financial ministers' summit in Melbourne, bringing the total number of participants charged to 11. The following is an abridged version of a statement Resistance issued in response to the arrests.

In the aftermath of the overwhelmingly peaceful protests against the G20 meeting in Melbourne, called to protest the policies of war and corporate globalisation, the Victorian police force has launched a crackdown on activists involved in the protest that amounts to a serious violation of civil liberties, including using surveillance and home raids.

Melbourne Resistance activist Tim Doughney said: "In the context of the attacks on civil liberties being carried out by federal and state governments in the name of the 'War on Terror', the witch-hunt represents an escalation of the attacks on our basic freedoms and the criminalisation of political protest. The task force Operation Salver has been set up to monitor and intimidate activists."

Doughney described the level of surveillance used in the operation as "extremely disturbing". He pointed out: "We have already seen police snatch off the streets and physically assault an individual who had nothing to do with the protest, and was not even in Melbourne on the day. The operation also completely ignores what was obvious to those who participated in the G20 protests: the most significant violence on the day came from the police themselves, who used the actions of a small minority at the protest as an excuse for a brutal baton charge against the overwhelmingly peaceful protest."

He claimed that if such behaviour by police is left unchecked, further horror stories are likely to emerge. Doughney said Resistance was looking to participate in solidarity protests to coincide with arrests and court dates. "We demand of the state government that Operation Salver be abolished, that the charges laid so far be dropped, and that an investigation be launched into police violence at the G20 protests and violation of the rights of those targeted in the aftermath."

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