Montreal, June 21, 2011 -- Today, Montrealer Jaggi Singh, a member of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC), was sentenced for "inciting" people to tear down the G20 security fence in Toronto. Last April 28th, he pleaded guilty to "counselling" to tear down the illegitimate fence that shielded the heads of state of the G20 from popular rage on June 26th and 27th, 2010 in Toronto. The Crown has asked the judge to impose an exemplary sentence of six months' imprisonment, while admitting that no sentence, even the harshest, could make Jaggi change his political views. The stated purpose of this extremely severe sentence, in the words of Crown counsel, is "to send a clear message" to other activists. Jaggi's lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, asked the Court to impose a token fine of $10.
On Tuesday, Jaggi Singh was served a 60 to 90-day prison sentence, but the sentence was suspended. Jaggi was condemned to 75 hours of community service, 12 months of probation, and continues to have non-association with his former co-defendants. The no-demonstration ban, under which he has been subjected for almost a year, was upheld, but modified so that he must leave a demonstration if it is declared illegal or not peaceful.
Seventeen others, including another Montrealer and member of the CLAC, still face conspiracy charges and are held hostage by completely undemocratic bail conditions, such as not being able to participate in "public events". The preliminary hearing in the conspiracy case will begin on Sept. 12 and will go for 11 weeks. The trial itself will likely not take place until autumn 2012.
Let's not forget that $664 million was spent on security, as well as the organization and hosting of the G8 and G20, while one in 10 Canadians live below the poverty line! Sheila Fraser, in the Auditor General's report, found that $50 million was diverted to the constituency of Minister of Industry Tony Clement for projects having little or nothing to do with the summit. Yet, no member of the Harper government is being brought to court or risks imprisonment for having robbed public funds. In contrast, dozens of demonstrators, including five in Quebec, still face draconian bail conditions and in most cases, risk long prison sentences for simple mischief charges.
Similarly, impunity prevails as the police who participated in the political repression are totally protected while numerous reports expose the systematic human rights violations that took place during the G20 Summit in Toronto. Civil rights organizations continue to call on the Harper government to be accountable for the near 1,100 arbitrary and unjustified arrests made by the police.
A year later, the judicial circus targeting political opponents continues while police crimes go unpunished. In light of the rising tide of conservatism, cutbacks in social programs and services will increase in the coming years at the same rate as the repression of social movements. But as long as injustice prevails, we continue to take to the streets to confront the capitalist profiteers and governments that are on their payroll!
CLAC-Montréal // Convergence des luttes anti-capitalistes
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