Copenhagen activist trial: ‘I can’t see what evidence there is for the charges’ | TAKE ACTION

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” These powerful words were penned in a prison cell in 1963, by one of the best-known advocates of equal rights – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Copenhagen activist trial: ‘I can’t see what evidence there is for the charges’

Australian honours student ‘indignant’ over charges of organising violence and disorder at climate summit as trial opens.

Two environmental activists appeared in court today accused of terrorism-related offences during the Copenhagen climate summit in December.

Natasha Verco, an Australian honours student, and Noah Weiss, an American citizen who lives in Denmark, will face similar charges in a trial which is due to last all week.

Verco, who has organised non-violent direct action in her native country and who has been part of the Climate Justice Action (CJA) network in the lead-up to the summit in Copenhagen, has been charged with organising violence, organising public disorder, significant damage to property, and organising disorder during the international talks on climate change which took place in Copenhagen last year. If found guilty, Verco faces a maximum of twelve and a half years in prison.

Speaking a day ahead of the start of the trial, Verco recalled her arrest: “On December 13 I was riding my bike down by the Copenhagen lakes,and a plainclothes police woman jumped out at me and pushed me off the bike. She took me to an unmarked police van with six or seven plainclothes policemen. I asked them ‘Are you randomly picking me up?’ and they said ‘No, we hunted you’. They held me by myself in an underground carpark for about 16 hours, I think. Then I was taken to Vester prison and held there for three weeks and two days. I was charged the day after I got to prison, but bail was refused because, they said, the investigation was ongoing and I would influence it if I was released.”

Verco and Weiss say they both had their phones tapped, along with 17 other activists, which is legal under recently introduced terror legislation in Denmark. Verco said: “I feel nervous and indignant at the same time, I wonder what the hell they’re going to argue because I can’t see what evidence they’ve got for these charges. And looking back at the calls that they’ve taped, it feels very invasive. Under the new terror laws they can do this, but it seems to me that applying terror laws to activists is steadily eroding the base of our democracy.”

Verco was heavily involved in organising the day of action on December 14, but was arrested before it happened. When it took place, she was still being held by police. “The police say that they prevented anything happening by taking me in. There was no violence, and no disruption of the public infrastructure, because they’d arrested me.”

During the fortnight of talks, dozens of protests from the small to mass rallies of 40,000 people, took place; the Danish police arrested nearly 2,000 people. The police are now processing nearly 200 legal complaints about the treatment of the arrestees. Verco and Weiss were both involved with CJA, the network which helped to organise some of the protests during the talks, most notably the Reclaim Power demonstration outside the conference centre for the negotiations.

Apart from Weiss and Verconone of the other activists charged during the protests, including the Greenpeace Four who were arrested and held for three weeks after unfurling a banner during a black tie event, have yet had their court dates set.

Take Action:

Copy & Paste the following letter into an email. Sign your name and send to the following:

The Danish Ministry of Justice:  jm@jm.dk

The Minister of Justice, Lars Barfoed: jm@jm.dk

Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: um@um.dk

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lene Espersen: udenrigsministeren@um.dk

March 2010

To whom it may concern,

As a concerned citizen, I am writing to express my concern at the decision of the Danish government to bring charges against individuals arrested during the peaceful protests in Copenhagen during the COP 15 last December.

The international movement for Climate Justice which organized the mobilizations in Copenhagen is composed of many hundreds and thousands of groups and individuals worldwide who represent the interests of the majority of the people of this world. As a person who feels represented by them, I strongly condemn the repression of the Danish state which aims to stifle dissent, a right which is the basis of any functioning democracy.

I add my voice to those who demand that the charges against Natasha Verco and Noah Weiss and the other climate prisoners, like Stine Gry, Tannie Nyboe, Malthe Ege, Mads Kissow and Tadzio Muller, are immediately dropped. Freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate are basic human rights, and the citizens of the world are astonished by the fact that charges are brought against people for the organization of legal protests in Denmark.

The actions of the Danish state not only threaten Danish democracy, but threaten to set a worrying precedent globally that dissenting voices must not be heard – repressing and criminalizing those who struggle for social justice, real democracy and human rights worldwide.

I urge the Danish government to take all these voices into consideration and to make sure that the climate prisonners are immediately released– the world is watching.

The current climate crisis is a global emergency. In Copenhagen thousands of people protested against the UNFCCC that was imposing false business solutions instead of solving the problem.

Today the struggle for climate justice is a duty, not a crime.

Sincerely,

~ by Cory Morningstar on March 17, 2010.

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