Written by Baron Bodissey
Below is the intervention read by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, representing Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 8 “Freedom of Assembly and Association”, Warsaw, September 27, 2013. Elisabeth’s speech on behalf of the EDL, “Losing the Right to Walk the Streets of London”, is followed by the official British response.
Many thanks to Henrik Ræder Clausen for recording these videos, and to Vlad Tepes for uploading them.
The text of the British response was not registered with OSCE. Below is the prepared text of Elisabeth’s intervention (official OSCE pdf version):
Losing The Right to Walk The Streets of London
BPE welcomes the statement from the EU as delivered by the United Kingdom.
Freedom of Assembly is a fundamental right enjoyed and exercised by individuals and groups, among others. This freedom is guaranteed in order to protest, again, among other reasons.
In June of this year, Tommy Robison and Kevin Carroll, both of the English Defence League, were arrested for attempting to walk to Woolwich, where Drummer Lee Rigby was hacked to death by a Muslim shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
Both Robinson and Carroll wanted to march to Woolwich to lay a wreath in commemoration of Rigby’s death and raise money for a cancer-stricken girl. The police put severe restrictions on the march, banning the two men from walking past a large mosque in East London and the borough of Tower Hamlets. In addition, a man was allowed to step forward and assault both Robinson and Carroll despite police presence. Later, they were arrested by a senior police officer on the pretext of obstructing the police.
Let me remind you that all the two men did was march while wearing t-shirts bearing the words “Support our troops”.
Ladies and gentlemen, this was a charity walk. By denying access to Tower Hamlets, the British government has effectively ceased sovereignty to that area by banning Robinson and Carroll from walking from point A to point B.
What is certain is that citizens are banned from exercising their right to walk the streets of their capital city; thus this constitutes a restriction on their freedom of movement.
BPE reminds the United Kingdom of its commitments to facilitate public assemblies.
BPE calls upon the United Kingdom to effectively prosecute those who attack public rallies.
Finally, BPE calls upon ODIHR to send observers to assess the situation on the ground in the United Kingdom.
For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.