Letter from Copenhagen activists accused of ‘organising violence’

March 24, 2010 at 5:50 am Leave a comment

Australian Natasha Verco and American Noah Weiss are currently on trial in Denmark for the “crime” of peacefully protesting for a safe climate. Both activists were involved in organising protests in Copenhagen during December’s UN sponsored climate summit.

According to Climate Justice Action, Verco 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 up to 12 and a half years in prison.

Below is a letter from Natasha and Noah published on the Climate Justice Action site. Follow the link to sign a letter to the Danish Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs to call for the charges to be dropped.

* * *

Dear all,

First of all, Noah and I wanted to say a massive thank you for all the solidarity, the actions, articles, petitions and messages of care that have been organized in solidarity with our trial. Although we know that political repression of this sort targets all activists, it does feel very isolating being the people picked out and charged. Every single action of solidarity has made this process easier for us and reminded us that we are not alone. So thank you!

We have had several victories, some beautiful court moments, and a very stressful week in court. Our case was extended for three more days- which will not happen until August. Noah and I are both sad that the trial is not over but relieved to have not been judged yesterday. I have included english versions of some of the danish press coverage on the case below to give you a better idea of what has been going on in our trial.

We were originally given two days in court for our trial (the tuesday and friday just passed). We had been charged with organizing violence against the police, gross public disorder, systematic destruction of property and gross disturbance of public infrastructure. Two of these are charges associated with danish terror laws. The police said that we did this from the period of october to december 2009 but that these things were mostly to be carried out in copenhagen during the period of the 11th to the 18th of December. They said that the alleged actions we are accused of mostly failed because the police managed to stop them- in part by arresting Noah on the 11th and me on the 13th of December and keeping us in prison for the rest of the COP (and three more weeks- just to be sure!).

On the morning of the first day in court our lawyers argued for the case to be dropped. They explained that charges in Denmark usually have to include some description of what people are accused of doing, including things like how they were doing it, where, when…anything really. They successfully removed one of the terror charges (gross disturbance of public infrastructure) and got the police prosecutor to admit that none of the things we were accused of had any relation to what happened on the streets in Copenhagen during the COP 15. So now we are just accused of attempting actions, not actually carrying anything out!

It was at this point that the police prosecutor introduced the crystal ball defense. No more details than “something bad was supposed to happen at some point somewhere in Copenhagen” could be supplied by the police because they couldn’t look into their crystal ball when they charged us! In a spectacular display of confidence in the charges she then asked the court to note that she had not actually written them herself!

The court decided to continue with the rest of the charges regardless, but after two days in court I am wondering if they regret that decision. The ‘evidence’ for the non-specific things we are accused of organizing is spurious at best and in the worst cases produced bursts of laughter from both judges and spectators in court. They have trucked out tiny bits of conversations from tapped phones between other people and asked us to interpret them, radically reinterpreted what we and others have said on the phone (from over three months of our private conversations that they recorded) to the point where even the judge objected. They used notes from brainstorms, scribbled notes from media report backs, and outlandish conjecture to try to demonize us.

My personal favorite is a note i made about big bolt cutters. Instead of asking to interview her during her three weeks in prison (although they said one of the reasons i was kept was for further investigation), they chose to leave until court to ask what was meant by this note in my confiscated personal note book. I explained that it was prop for a demonstration that was a huge two meter tall paper mache bolt cutter. It was to be used on the day of the climate no-borders day of action as both a humorous and serious way to say it is illegitimate to cage human beings. The prosecutor tried to throw doubt on the honesty of my reply until two of the audience in court went to pick them up from a local social center and brought them in for the court to see. Everyone but the prosecutor laughed.

The state of the evidence would really be hilarious if the case didn’t carry such serious consequences both for us personally and for Democracy in Denmark. We are the first of a series of cases against people accused of organizing. It seems that the Danish state is using us as a test case for new anti-activist laws they have passed, the extension of terror legislation to cover any form of political protest and to establish the ability to try people for things that never actually occurred.

Noah and I were both picked up and arrested on the side of the road while riding our bikes by ourselves, threatened, isolated and kept in prison for over three weeks of ‘preventative detention’. The personal impacts of this have been huge. Even scarier though is the potential effect this has on everyone’s ability to speak up about things they care about in Denmark. If they manage to criminalize protest to the extent that going to meetings, organizing speakers for a demonstration, or being a media spokes person can land you in jail, then what sort of world will we be living in? If they manage to say intense surveillance and monitoring of activists and their lovers and friends is legitimate, and arrests should be made on crystal ball suspicions of potential actions- then we have moved from even the sham of liberal democracy to a society more reminiscent of 1984 than any of us would like to admit.

It is clear also that this is not just happening in Denmark. Since our arrests we have heard of countless political prisoners facing the hard end of political repression. After our experience of injustice and repression in Denmark we feel very personally that it is so important that all of us speak out and not let this repression continue.

Free all political prisoners, drop the charges for the Cop 15 defendants and all people arrested during the COP15, and end political repression NOW!!!

Love, solidarity and actions for a better world
tash and noah xo

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Entry filed under: Copenhagen, Repression of climate activists, Uncategorized.

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