Don’t Criminalize Peaceful Protest

forest protest australia

Target: West Australia Premier Colin Barnett

Goal: Stop the criminalization of legitimate protest activity like tree-sits and standing in the way of logging trucks.

Legitimate forms of protest could be criminalized if a bill that passed through the Legislative Council in Western Australia becomes law. The proposed laws would give police extraordinary powers, and could land protesters in jail for two years and levy fines of $24,000.

The West Australian government has expressly stated that the bill is inspired by the previous successes of protests against logging and other campaigns. It would make it a criminal offense to physically prevent a lawful activity and to possess an object for the purposes of preventing a lawful activity.

Under this loose definition, peaceful civil disobedience and non-violent direct action such as the use of arm-locks, tree-sits and chains would be criminal acts. This sets a dangerous precedent and seems to target people who conduct legitimate protest actions.

U.N. Special Rapporteurs have denounced the bill already, saying that it would punish people for expression that is protected by international human rights laws. Sign this petition and prevent this bill from passing in the Legislative Assembly.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Barnett,

The proposed bill that would make protests a criminal act must be prevented from becoming a law. The loose wording of the bill is an attack on the freedom of expression and the right to peacefully protest–rights which are protected under international human rights laws.

It seems to be a move that would support big business and corporations, while criminalizing people who wish to legitimately protest and make their voice heard. The harsh penalties–two years in prison and $24,000 in fines–are completely disproportionate with the actions of non-violent, peaceful civil disobedience. It’s clear that the bill has been inspired by the successes of previous protests, which should terrify any thinking person due to the draconian implications.

This bill is a veiled attack on democratic freedom to peacefully assemble and stand up for what you believe in. The U.N. Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and human rights defenders have lambasted this bill as targeting the democratic freedoms of people to protest. I urge you to rethink this bill and the implications it would have if passed.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: JJ Harrison

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353 Signatures

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