On Monday 16th March, a young RNU activist was subjected to the macho-posturing British judicial system in Belfast as he was sentenced to 1 year in prison and a £3,000 fine after being found guilty of carrying out a direct action against Israeli goods in November 2012.
The direct action included dropping a number of red paint bombs from the balcony of Castle Court, onto a Kiosk that sells products which are stolen from occupied Palestinian territory – to symbolise the trauma created during Israeli air assaults on Palestinian citizens; its presence in the centre of Belfast is an affront to freedom loving people everywhere. A baby doll covered in red paint was also left at the Kiosk in reference to the murder of Palestinian children by Israeli airstrikes.
The sentence for this act, in a case where the prosecution admitted that the evidence was only circumstantial and the forensic report was weak in supporting their case of ‘criminal damage’ is undoubtedly politically motivated. This harsh sentencing for a 20 year old, with little evidence against him exposes the draconian nature of the British judiciary system where punishment is meted out to individuals based on their political belief instead of their guilt. The young, dedicated Republican Socialist was subject to a court case where he was presumed guilty and had to prove himself innocent, rather than vice versa.
Fortunately the activist has the right of appeal and decided to exercise this, so in the meantime he has been released on bail while his appeal is pending.
Those who delude themselves into thinking the nature of the British judiciary system and the spooks who control it have changed, should take one look at this case and ask themselves why the state continues to persecute people because of their political beliefs.
Compare this case to the thousands of cases that pass through the courts each week, which include some of the most abhorrent cases of anti-social behaviour, yet the punishment is a slap on the wrist and a frown. Yet here we have a young man being made an example of.
This blatant attempt to deter young activists from involving themselves in international struggle is utterly futile and it will certainly not deter RNU from supporting the oppressed people of Palestine.
Republican Network for Unity call on all Republicans, Internationalists and progressive groups to speak out against this overly harsh punishment in a very weak case and we vow to lend our support to all progressive activists who face the same repression at the hands of the British judicial system.
- The activist does not want to be named for security reasons