Tuesday 18 January 2011

Defend Bryan Simpson, defend the right to protest

http://defendbryansimpson.org/

The recent wave of student protests has shown the mass dissatisfaction over the Tory-Liberal Democrat plans to scrap the Education Maintenance Allowance for school pupils and increase tuition fees to up to £9,000 per year for university students.

The Guardian newspaper reported that 52,000 people joined the NUS/UCU organised protest on 10th November 2010 against the cuts. The anger and sense of sheer injustice that was felt by a broad layer of students, school pupils and staff was shown clearly on that day with the protest at Tory Party HQ, at Millbank Tower.

The proposed changes to university funding are grossly unfair and regressive. They will lead to an eventual marketization of the education system with only the rich being able to afford quality higher education and deter poorer students from even applying in the first place from fear of being saddled with massive and unaffordable debts.

The occupation of Tory HQ at Millbank Tower has unleashed waves of discontent around the country, with hundreds of thousands of students exercising their democratic right to protest in occupations and demonstrations around the country from Dundee to Plymouth.

However 100’s of arrests have been made following these demonstrations. 22-year-old Bryan Simpson from Strathclyde University was arrested at his home in Glasgow in a dawn raid by police officers at 6am on 24th November 2010. This was prior to a fresh set of planned demonstrations on the 24th November which saw 130,000 college, university and school students take to the streets throughout the UK, including in Glasgow. Bryan was questioned on suspicion of violent disorder, which could lead to a 5 year term of imprisonment. He did not harm or injure anyone. He did not threaten anyone. He denies any accusations of violent disorder.

We, the undersigned, consider the arrest of student protestors to be a disproportionate response which victimises individuals who are expressing their democratic right to protest in the name of defending education.

  • We call on any charges against Bryan Simpson and all those students denying charges to be dropped.
  • We pledge support for the Defend the Right to Protest Campaign.
  • We denounce the Coalition government’s education cuts as regressive and deeply unjust.

Signed,

Aamer Anwar, Human rights lawyer

Clare Solomon, University of London Union President

Gareth Pierce QC

George Galloway, Broadcaster & former Respect Party MP

Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Hanif Leylabi, National Union of Student LGBT Committee

Imran Khan QC

Jerry Hicks, UNITE General Secretary candidate

Joanna Gilmore, University of Manchester UCU Exec (pc)

John McDonnell MP

John Rees, National Officer, Stop the War Coalition

Liam Burns, National Union of Students President (Scotland)

Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition

Mark Bergfeld, National Union of Students NEC (pc)

Marion Hersh, University and College Union NEC  (pc)

Michael Mansfield QC

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor of linguistics, MIT

Paul Brandon, Chair, Right to Work Campaign

Update

The Bryan Simpson Defence Campaign has had huge success since our last
update! In the last few weeks the list of signatories to Bryan’s Statement
has grown to over 1,000 names, including signatures from John Pilger, Katy
Clark MP, Tony Benn, Len McCluskey the General-Secretary of Unite, Billy
Hayes the General-Secretary of the postal workers union CWU, Ian Hamilton
QC, Iain McWhirter*, *and a raft of student union presidents and trade
unionists. The Scottish section of the University and College Union, which
together with the National Union of Students, also officially backed a
motion of support for the campaign!

Bryan, a long standing anti-war and anti-cuts activist at his university,
was one of the students protesting in London when thousands of students
occupied Tory HQ at Millbank. Late last year he was dawn-raided at his home
in Glasgow and taken to Carlisle for questioning my Met Police and he is now
on bail awaiting possible charges of violent disorder – a potentially
serious charge that carries a mandatory custodial sentence with a maximum 5
years imprisonment. Despite not committing any criminal damage, harm or
endangerment to others, Bryan has been been singled out my the police as a
‘ring-leader’ of the student protests who have made it their duty to punish
him for expressing his democratic right to protest.

The Defend Bryan Simpson Campaign is also linking up with other students who
are facing victimization as a result of the recent wave of student protests,
and we are eager to hear from anyone who wants to join in a common defence
campaign, contact us on defendbryansimpson@gmail.com

Please visit the website and sign Bryan’s Statement of support!

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3 comments

  1. Amy Davies said:

    As a fellow strathclyde student I have appreciated Bryan’s passion, ethusiasm and dedication.

    26 January 2011 at 1:16pm
  2. Alan A Shields said:

    As lead Unite Union Representative at Capita Craigforth, Bryan you have my full support and backing.
    I’ll stand along side.
    Alan

    6 February 2011 at 7:34pm
  3. Karen Welsh said:

    Full Support

    4 May 2011 at 12:55pm

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