The right to protest not doing well in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya….and Britain

30.04.2011 - London - Silvia Swinden

Not everybody was happy about the Royal show and its over the top spending at a time when spending cuts are biting into health, education and welfare in Britain. Not everybody supports the monarchy, an anachronistic institution that represents the privilege to be born different, with different rights and opportunities from the rest of us ordinary mortals.

Everybody likes a nice fairy tale, to be able to live vicariously like a prince and princess, identifying themselves with the lucky ones, in the same way we all identify with the characters in a movie or a soap opera. But fairy tales in Britain have a habit of becoming horror stories over time, so most people hoping against hope went to wish the “happy couple” that for once something actually works out in the dysfunctional royal family.

So where were the Republicans, the critics of the monarchy, the students that had seen their tuition fees raised to £9000, three times the previous rate and those who suspect a collusion between the monarchy and the right wing government to provide a nice distraction, a cathartic day of cheering and boozing preceded and followed by weeks on end of empty chitchat about wedding dresses, romance and the miracle of a commoner who one day will be the Queen of England and its Empire — not completely gone, replaced by the Commonwealth and the neo-colonialism of its financial institutions.

The protesters were not there because: A London council decided not to allow a republican-themed (anti-monarchy, that is) party in a street in the West End on the day of the royal wedding, (see [BBC](http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-13047771)), and many other would-be protesters had been arrested in a preventative way — like the preventative war in Iraq — to make sure there were no ugly scenes and statements, to make sure everything looked like all is alright. Activist Charlie Veitch was arrested on “suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance”. “At least 20 people in London were detained by the police on suspicion of planning to protest at the Royal Wedding”, (see [Indymedia](http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/04/478393.html)), and “Police criticised for pre-emptive strikes against protesters: Officers use blanket stop and search powers and arrest 52 people across London” (see [The Guardian](http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/29/royal-wedding-police-criticised-protesters)). Furthermore Facebook pages used by UK Uncut and other protest groups mysteriously disappeared just before the Royal wedding, preventing also the organisation of protests around May Day, the traditional workers’ day, which with the Royal wedding taking all the space in the Media had completely disappeared from people’s awareness.

Can we compare these limitations to the right to protest with people being shot at with live rounds in the Middle East protests? Perhaps what this shows is that when the State develops more sophisticated ways to stifle dissent, surreptitiously using legal powers developed to deal with terrorism in order to prevent even the most non-violent of protests, the sense of outrage is more muted but it should nevertheless make us think long and hard about the type of system we are living in.

Categories: Europe, Human Rights, Opinions

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