(en) Declaration of solidarity with Montreal anti-hunger activists.

Bernard Cooper (bernard@infobahnos.com)
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 00:20:28 -0500

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Below is a request for your political endorsement for the 108 activists arrested in Montreal in last Wednesday's anti-hunger action. Two of our comrades remain in prison. -------------------------

Declaration of Solidarity with the anti-hunger activists

On December 3rd, over a hundred persons participated in an action of the Committee of the Unemployed, Central-Montreal (Comit=E9 des sans-emploi Montr=E9al-Centre). Their goals were to denounce hunger, and to voice their anger vis a vis elected officials who prefer to bow to the pressure of financiers. The demonstration took place in front of the Queen Elizabeth hotel after a group of persons went in to get food from the hotel=92s restaurant, which was then symbolically redistributed.

Even though this was a peaceful demonstration, neither blocking the street nor the doors of the hotel, the police intervened rapidly and with massive force. They arrested 108 persons who then spent between 13 to 20 hours in prison. For a political action, the police crack-down is one of the largest, and most spectacular, in Quebec history.

Among those arrested were activists from a dozen community groups, students from Saint-Laurent, Maisonneuve and Vieux-Montreal post-secondary colleges, from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), Concordia University, the University of Montreal, unemployed persons, working people, those on welfare, and others.=20

At least forty persons are charged with a variety of offences: theft, mischief, conspiracy, inciting others to commit a crime and assault. Four of the accused had severe bail conditions imposed on them. Among other things, they are forbidden from organizing or participating in any demonstration, and they are forbidden from communicating among themselves, from now until the end of their trials. As of December 10, two of the accused are still in prison; one for having refused his release conditions, the other because Judge Ren=E9 D=E9ry refused to let him plead his own= hearing.

For us, these arrests and charges are totally unjustified. Their aim is to break the growing movement of social oppositon to ever-increasing poverty and exclusion.

The right to freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly are fundemental liberties, and must be respected. The problem is that the police and the judicial system are increasingly turning to this sort of repression. Since the huge demonstration against the visit of an extreme right-wing group, Human Life International, in April 1995, hundreds of persons have been forbidden from demonstrating after they participated in various events. This denial of democratic rights is unjustified and is leading us down a slippery slope. The right to demonstrate is being openly attacked. We believe this state of affairs must come to an end.=20

We have had enough of the =93war against the poor and the rebellious=94 that= is being carried out by the police, state prosecutors, and those who govern us and hold our political and economic rights in contempt. There needs to be immediate measures taken to bridge the widening gulf that separates the rich from the poor; not only in terms of the right to a decent income, but also access to justice, to healthcare and to education.

We demand: =B7 the immediate, unconditional release from custody of the two individuals mentioned above, and that charges against anti-hunger demonstrators be dropped; =B7 that the police stop resorting to repressive practices that are more and more systematically used against the poor and activists; =B7 that prosecutors and judges stop the practice of criminalizing the poor and activists; =B7 the complete respect of the Charter of Rights and Liberties by all representatives of the political order; =B7 that the right to protest and to organize ourselves against poverty and exclusion be respected.

Name of supporting organization: Address: Phone:

Please return to: =09 Comit=E9 des sans-emploi Montreal-Centre 1710 Beaudry, local 3.9 =09 Montreal (Quebec) H2L 3E7

tel: 514-596-7094 fax: 514-524-0222

Donations to the Defence Fund should be made out to the =93Comite des sans-emploi=94

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