London court quashes UK peace protesters appeal against eviction /PHOTO

Peace protesters living in a ramshackle camp next to London's Big Ben must pack up their tents and placards and go home, a court ruled.

London court quashes UK peace protesters appeal against eviction /PHOTO

 

Peace protesters living in a ramshackle camp next to London's Big Ben must pack up their tents and placards and go home, a court ruled on Friday, quashing the activists' appeal against eviction.

The self-styled "Democracy Village", which champions a range of causes from ending war in Afghanistan to anti-capitalism, has expanded from a lone tent to a sprawling campsite since Britain's parliamentary election on May 6.

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"Criminalising peace protesters like this proves that there's no human rights in this country," said activist Dawn Evans, 42, just after the Appeal Court ruling was delivered. One protester blew coloured soap bubbles in the courtroom.

"Free Speech"

The campers say they are upholding their right to free speech and peaceful protest, but London Mayor Boris Johnson went to the courts to have them evicted, saying the camp was an eyesore in one of the city's most popular tourist hubs.

"The mayor respects the right to demonstrate. However, the scale and impact of the protest has caused damage to the square and has prevented its peaceful use by other Londoners," a spokesman said.

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The camp is located on a grassy area in the centre of Parliament Square, a spot where hundreds of tourists congregate daily to take photographs of Big Ben and visit Westminster Abbey before heading to nearby Buckingham Palace.

Protesters and activists have long been drawn to the square to get their messages across to legislators working across the road, in the neo-Gothic Houses of Parliament.

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As part of what they call an "experiment in peaceful protest", they have erected more than 30 tents on the World Heritage site, planted a vegetable garden and strung banners with anti-war slogans between the trees.

Legislators have expressed concern about reports of poor sanitation, vandalism and drunken behaviour after a number of homeless people joined the camp.

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At one point, homeless people outnumbered the core group of activists by five to one, said Dean Packett, a 28-year-old documentary film-maker and peace camp resident.

He conceded there had been incidents of excessive drinking, drug abuse and violence due to a few "difficult characters", but said the camp took these issues seriously and dealt with them as a community.

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Johnson won the legal right to evict the protesters last month, but a Court of Appeal judge granted a temporary stay to the campaigners, allowing them a full court appeal.
 

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Temmuz 2010, 13:07
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