Monthly Archives: May 2012

Crackdown in Ukraine: block the gay gag rule! (petition)

www.allout.org/en/actions/ukraine

Crackdown in Ukraine: block the gay gag rule

Ukraine’s legislature is about to vote a brand new bill into law that will make it illegal to be gay or lesbian in public. President Viktor Yanukovych has the power to stop the law, but has chosen to stay silent on the growing anti-gay sentiment.

The President says a new alliance with the European Union is his #1 Priority. As officials from Ukraine prepare to meet with an EU delegation on human rights this Friday, it’s time to finally bring this issue to light and force the President Yanukovych to speak out against these laws.

Will you take one moment to call on President Yanukovych to condemn the laws before his meeting on Friday? Every single voice of opposition makes a real difference.

Sign the petition here.

_____

www.pinknews.co.uk

Ukraine: President petitioned on draft anti-gay law
by Stephen Gray
May 29, 2012

43,000 people have so far signed a petition to the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, over a draft amendment to the country’s morality laws.

In a resolution adopted last week, the European Parliament condemned Ukraine’s draft law along with other laws considered or passed already in the EU and neighbouring states, saying member states, of which Ukraine is not yet one, should be “exemplary” on issues of fundamental rights.

Kiev’s first-ever pride march was called off half an hour before it was due to begin on Sunday 20 May, with two organisers left physically injured. An image of Svyatoslav Sheremet being assaulted by youths accompanies the petition.

Amnesty International Ukraine campaigner Max Tucker said it had been “clear from the start that the Kiev police department did not want this march to go ahead.

“Their reluctance to commit to the event and to put adequate security measures in place to protect demonstrators left organisers fearing for their safety.”

The event’s cancellation coincided with a parliamentary committee decision to recommend a draft amendment to the morality laws which would make it illegal to ‘promote homosexuality’ by ‘holding meetings, parades, actions, demonstrations and mass events aiming at intentional distribution of any positive information about homosexuality’.

Amnesty International said the law would “fly in the face of Ukraine’s international obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and prohibit discrimination”.

AllOut.org used the upcoming visit of an EU delegation on human rights to Ukraine this week as an opportunity to highlight the draft law’s progress through the legislature.

The petition, addressed to President Yanukovych, reads: “We citizens from across the European Union and the world urge you to denounce Law 8711. The arrival of the delegation on Justice and Security from the EU is the time to show that Ukraine takes human rights seriously.

“Ukraine must take a stand against shocking displays of violence such as that perpetuated against Svyatoslav Sheremet.”

Björn van Roozendaal, ILGA-Europe Programmes Director, said: “Not only this law is in clear contradiction with non-discrimination principles and the right to freedom of expression and information. The reasoning of such laws is sadly based on myths rather than facts.

“Drafters of such laws falsely assume that the work of human rights defenders is threatening religions and children. In addition the position that human rights defenders and media would ‘promote homosexuality’ is wrong and holds no truth. It just stigmatises the community and undermines human rights standards.”

The petition is hosted by AllOut.org.

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Filed under feminism, gay rights, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression

Kazakh Massacre Cover-Up

Kazakh Massacre Cover-Up
By Robert Jones
The Moscow Times
27 May 2012

Six people were convicted last week for instigating riots on Dec. 16 in the Kazakh city of Zhanaozen. Kazakh leaders and prosecutors claimed all along that the massacre was organized by “a group of former oil workers aided by a number of young people,” but this is patently untrue. Even the European Parliament in early March “strongly condemned the violent crackdown by the police forces.”

The workers of Ozenmunaigaz and a neighboring oil company had been on a peaceful seven-month strike over wages and trade union recognition. Even before Dec. 16 they were attacked by riot police. In August, one of their leaders, Zhaksylyk Turbayev, was killed on his way to a union meeting, and a few weeks later the daughter of another activist was killed. Natalya Sokolova, their lawyer, was sentenced to six years in prison.

In the absence of meaningful negotiations either by the employer or the government, the oil workers called for a peaceful demonstration on Dec. 16. They appealed for the resignation of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his government.

The authority’s response was decided in advance. According to his court testimony, a senior police officer was dispatched with police troops to Zhanaozen on Dec. 14. Instead of tear gas, rubber bullets or water cannons, weapons and live rounds were issued. Video footage from the conflict shows police firing into unarmed and peaceful protesters, often shooting people in the back. The government admits that 15 people were killed, while eyewitnesses say the number of victims is much higher — about 70. Nonetheless, no charges have been lodged against the interior minister, who said he had given the order to open fire.

Notably, not one policeman was seriously wounded in the conflict. This undermines the outrageous government claim that “oil workers attacked police officers and innocent bystanders.” It is clear that no attempt was made to use ordinary crowd-control methods, such as tear gas and water cannons. Instead, riot police using automatic weapons opened fire without warning on the unarmed crowd.

Sentences of three to seven years are now being handed down for the 49 oil workers on trial, several of whom had friends and family members killed in the massacre. Yet an incredible picture has emerged during the trials, during which defendants testified about how security forces imposed a curfew and reign of terror, arresting all they thought were linked to the strike.

One defendant, Kairat Edilov, testified that he was offered protection by the police if he agreed to give evidence against 15 others. After refusing, he said the police beat him, covering his head with a bag and nearly suffocating him. He claimed his investigator, Bakyt Mendybayev, put a pistol to his head several times. Other prisoners testified how they had been stripped naked, thrown outside and periodically doused with cold water when temperatures were minus 15 degrees Celsius.

One prosecution witness testified that he had helped one defendant to loot an ATM. But a day later, he returned to testify under his real name and retracted his earlier statement. Explaining his false testimony, he said he was beaten by the police after his arrest on Dec. 27. “I shook all night from fear and cold,” he said. “I couldn’t get hold of myself. I asked the investigator where I should go because the city was under curfew. On my way home, I was again arrested by soldiers. They were in masks and started beating me again.” The police, he said, had threatened to suffocate him with a plastic bag if he did not follow their instructions.

In April, Human Rights Watch issued the following statement: “Kazakhstan needs to show that it has a zero-tolerance policy toward torture by suspending the trial and conducting an immediate, impartial and effective investigation.” Yet on May 11, the Prosecutor General’s Office demanded long prison sentences for those currently on trial.

The Kazakh prosecutor general recently said it is important that “our international partners are able to see that justice is being done.” Yet the government recently refused visas to a delegation led by Paul Murphy, member of the European Parliament, to visit Aktau.

The attempt to blame the Zhanaozen massacre on the strikers without bringing the law enforcement officials who were responsible for the killings and subsequent beatings and torture to justice shows how far Kazakhstan’s authoritarian regime is willing to brutalize its citizens.

Robert Jones is the coordinator in Russia for CampaignKazakhstan.org.

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IKEA Cuts Down Old Growth Forests

www.protecttheforest.se

Make your voice heard, send a letter to IKEA – Swedwood!

Background

Northern Europe had, until recently, large intact areas of old-growth forest. Remnants of these forests are located in a horseshoe shape running along the Scandes mountains in Norway and Sweden, up to the Lapp regions of northern Finland, and then to northwestern Russia.

But today only a small part of Fennoscandia’s old-growth forests remain. In Karelia, for example, only about 10% of the ancient old-growth forests remain* according to a survey by Russian conservation experts. Companies from other countries, such as the Swedish IKEA/Swedwood, have come to the region in search of cheap resources and are continually logging old-growth forest, in violation of the promises IKEA has made to their customers. Large clear-cuts are made in intact forest areas with centuries-old trees, and the invaluable forest ecosystems are rapidly shrinking. So-called silver firs which first sprouted many hundreds of years ago are being cut down. This kind of forestry can be compared to mining.

IKEA claims in its advertising that the wood they use has been obtained in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable way, and that customers do not need to worry that the furniture they buy might contain wood from old-growth forests.

This is a blatant lie – IKEA’s furniture does contain such wood. IKEA is deliberately misleading its customers, not least by hiding behind the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an environmental certification which has often been criticized and which has serious flaws.

Protect the Forest Sweden and Friends of the Earth Sweden have examined IKEA’s actions in Karelia during the last few years, and we have proof of our claims. We demand that IKEA stop lying, and that they abandon their plans to cut down further thousands of hectares of ancient old-growth forest in Russian Karelia and the rest of Russia.

If any company in the world has the capital and power to change their ways and do better, it is IKEA. If they wanted to, IKEA could influence policy makers and rival companies to stop logging old-growth forest, and instead adopt an environmentally sustainable forestry on lands which have already been logged in the past.

You, the reader, can protest IKEA’s actions by signing the following letter and sending it to the management of IKEA and Swedwood.

To the management of Swedwood and IKEA

I am writing to you because your logging in Russian Karelia worries me deeply. Since you are one of the world’s largest furniture companies and your timber consumption is very large, your actions affect not only humans and nature locally, but you affect forest ecosystems on a global level.

Because of your size, you need to take responsibility for both the environmental and social consequences of your actions. At the same time, you have the economic resources to actually take that responsibility.

I therefore appeal to you to:

1. Speak the truth!

2. Immediately cease the logging of forests with high conservation value

3. Ensure protection for the remaining old-growth forests on the Swedwood lands in Russian Karelia

4. Be a positive political force for environmental sustainability, instead of repeating old colonial patterns

5. Take steps towards a more trustworthy IKEA.

Regards,

[Editor’s note. Go here to sign the letter.]

Read a more detailed version of the demands below:

Continue reading

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Social Housing—Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice (book release)

Social Housing—Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice
Editors: Andrea Phillips and Fulya Erdemci

Published by SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain and Sternberg Press
June 2012, English
23.4 x 15.6 cm, 544 pages, b/w ill., softcover
ISBN 978-3-943365-17-7

www.skor.nl
www.sternberg-press.com

Social Housing—Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice examines ongoing transformations in social housing and asks how these transformations are reflected in the aspirations and practices of artists. Housing provides essential shelter, but also gives form to the social. It represents and embodies the materiality of civic politics and thus demonstrates the uneven nature of spatial justice at local and global scale. For many years artists have contributed to the design and organization of structures of living together, often with ambivalent effect. Whilst many have imagined—and attempted to implement—radical new forms of social housing, as alternatives to both privatization and state provision, they have also ushered in waves of gentrification, thus contributing significantly to a story of capitalization now dominant within urban infrastructures. Social HousingHousing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice questions the politics of urban practice from a variety of geopolitical and disciplinary viewpoints, from liberal private initiatives to the Occupy movement, from Almere to Ramallah, mixing artistic and architectural contributions with those of sociologists, urban historians, philosophers, and activists.

Social Housing—Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice is the second volume in the Actors, Agents and Attendants series of publications and symposia initiated by SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain to investigate the role of cultural practice in the organization of the public domain.

Contributors: AIOA (Artists in Occupy Amsterdam), Yazid Anani, Nils van Beek, Casco/Our Autonomous Life?, Amalia Cardenas, Manuel Castells, Chto Delat, Joana Conill, Teddy Cruz, Adri Duivesteijn, Fulya Erdemci, Zoran Erić, Fallen Fruit, Edesio Fernandes, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Ernst van den Hemel, Jiang Jun, Sabrina Lindemann, Doreen Massey, Markus Miessen, Don Mitchell, Partizan Publik, Andrea Phillips, Marjetica Potrč, Arnold Reijndorp, Martin Reiter, Miguel Robles-Durán, Martha Rosler, Christoph Schäfer, Neil Smith, Pelin Tan, Floor Tinga, Ultra-red, Roman Vasseur, The Yes Men.

Special bundle offer for both volumes from the Actors, Agents and Attendants series: Caring Culture: Art, Architecture and the Politics of Public Health and Social Housing – Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial JusticeClick here for more information.

For more information: SKOR | Foundation for Art and Public Domain and Sternberg Press
Sales inquiries: publications@skor.nl or mail@sternberg-press.com

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Filed under contemporary art, critical thought, urban movements (right to the city)

Jeremie Battaglia: Casseroles – Montréal, 24 Mai 2012

(Via Jews sans frontieres)

jeremiebattaglia.com

Manifestation à Montréal contre la hausse des frais de scolarité et la loi 78. Les gens se retrouvent à des coins de rues pour faire le plus de bruit possible à l’aide de casseroles. Un grand merci à Avec pas d’casque et Grosse Boîte pour la musique!

Protest in Montreal against the rise of tuition fees in Quebec and the new Law 78. Every evening at 8pm people meet in the street with their pots and pans and make all the noise they can. A big thank you to the band Avec pas d’casque and their record label Grosse Boîte.

Musique/music: INTUITION #1 – Avec pas d’casque © Grosse Boîte
Bandcamp: avecpasdcasque.bandcamp.com/album/astronomie

NB: la date dans la vidéo n’est pas la bonne! Il s’agit bien du 24 mai au soir et non pas le 26!

Télécharger une version iphone/download an iPhone version of the video : bit.ly/KKYbeV

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Filed under activism, film and video, political repression, protests, student movements, trade unions, urban movements (right to the city)

Red Square Revolt: Quebec Students on Strike (documentary film)

Red Square Revolt: Quebec Students on Strike

montreal.openfile.ca
Lessons from Montreal: Documenting the tuition crisis for Americans
Sarah Leavitt • Thursday, May 24, 2012

A group of New Yorkers have taken an interest in Quebec’s student strikes and have created a documentary in the hopes of bringing the news of the tuition conflict to Americans.

“After Victoriaville, we could see things were going to get more intense and so we scheduled a trip,” Nate Lavey, one of the filmmaker’s, told OpenFile Montreal via email today. “We knew that the demo on Monday was going to be big, but we hadn’t planned on the government passing Loi 78, which has made the whole situation incredibly tense and dangerous for activists, students and professors.”

Lavey was inspired to make this documentary because of the dearth of coverage in the U.S.

“We had been disappointed by the lack of U.S., English-language coverage,” he said. “We knew radicals had been involved, but since many of them come from francophone backgrounds, their perspective on the strike wasn’t getting out, especially beyond Canada.”

Lavey and his team began shooting the documentary this past Saturday and worked hours on end to get it completed and online by Wednesday morning. After being unsuccessful in receiving funding from independent media outlets, they put their own money into the project. So why was it so important for them?

“We think it’s important that this story — and especially the perspective of radicals — make it out of Quebec. The strike is part of burgeoning anti-austerity movement that is sparking worldwide, so the lessons from Montreal are going to be relevant to people everywhere.”

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Filed under activism, film and video, international affairs, political repression, protests, student movements, trade unions

Putinism Comes to Quebec?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/opinion/our-not-so-friendly-northern-neighbor.html

WHEN Vladimir V. Putin first came to power in Russia, Quebecers could not help but laugh. Poutine, as he is called in French, is also the name of a Québécois fast-food dish made of French fries, gravy and cheese. But these days the laughter is over, as Quebec gets a taste of Mr. Putin’s medicine.

For a change, Americans should take note of what is happening across the quiet northern border. Canada used to seem a progressive and just neighbor, but the picture today looks less rosy. One of its provinces has gone rogue, trampling basic democratic rights in an effort to end student protests against the Quebec provincial government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75 percent.

On May 18, Quebec’s legislative assembly, under the authority of the provincial premier, Jean Charest, passed a draconian law in a move to break the 15-week-long student strike. Bill 78, adopted last week, is an attack on Quebecers’ freedom of speech, association and assembly. Mr. Charest has refused to use the traditional means of mediation in a representative democracy, leading to even more polarization. His administration, one of the most right-wing governments Quebec has had in 40 years, now wants to shut down opposition.

The bill threatens to impose steep fines of 25,000 to 125,000 Canadian dollars against student associations and unions — which derive their financing from tuition fees — in a direct move to break the movement. For example, student associations will be found guilty if they do not stop their members from protesting within university and college grounds.

During a street demonstration, the organization that plans the protest will be penalized if individual protesters stray from the police-approved route or exceed the time limit imposed by authorities. Student associations and unions are also liable for any damage caused by a third party during a demonstration.

These absurd regulations mean that student organizations and unions will be held responsible for behavior they cannot possibly control. They do not bear civil responsibility for their members as parents do for their children.

Freedom of speech is also under attack because of an ambiguous — and Orwellian — article in Bill 78 that says, “Anyone who helps or induces a person to commit an offense under this Act is guilty of the same offense.” Is a student leader, or an ordinary citizen, who sends a Twitter message about civil disobedience therefore guilty? Quebec’s education minister says it depends on the context. The legislation is purposefully vague and leaves the door open to arbitrary decisions.

Since the beginning of the student strike, leaders have told protesters to avoid violence. Protesters even condemned the small minority of troublemakers who had infiltrated the demonstrations. During the past four months of protests, there has never been the kind of rioting the city has seen when the local National Hockey League team, the Canadiens, wins or loses during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The biggest demonstration, which organizers estimate drew 250,000 people on May 22, was remarkably peaceful. Mr. Charest’s objective is not so much to restore security and order as to weaken student and union organizations. This law also creates a climate of fear and insecurity, as ordinary citizens can also face heavy fines.

Bill 78 has been fiercely denounced by three of four opposition parties in Quebec’s Legislature, the Quebec Bar Association, labor unions and Amnesty International. James L. Turk, the executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, called Bill 78 “a terrible act of mass repression” and “a weapon to suppress dissent.”

The law will remain in force only until July 1, 2013. The short duration says it all. It amounts to a temporary suspension of certain liberties and allows the government to avoid serious negotiations with student leaders. And it grants the authorities carte blanche for the abuse of power; just hours after it passed, police officers in Montreal began to increase the use of force against protesters.

Some critics have tried to portray the strike as a minority group’s wanting a free lunch. This is offensive to most Quebec students. Not only are they already in debt, despite paying low tuition fees, but 63 percent of them work in order to pay their university fees. The province has a very high rate of youth employment: about 57 percent of Quebecers between the ages of 15 and 24 work, compared with about 49 percent between the ages of 16 and 24 in the United States.

Both Quebec and Canada as a whole are pro-market. They also share a sense of solidarity embodied by their public health care systems and strong unions. Such institutions are a way to maintain cohesion in a vast, sparsely populated land. Now those values are under threat.

Americans traveling to Quebec this summer should know they are entering a province that rides roughshod over its citizens’ fundamental freedoms.

Laurence Bherer and Pascale Dufour are associate professors of political science at the University of Montreal.

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http://montreal.openfile.ca/blog/montreal/2012/explainer-first-24-hours-bill-78

Explainer: The first 24 hours of Bill 78

Posted by Justin Giovannetti on Saturday, May 19, 2012

After a rare nighttime debate at the National Assembly, Bill 78 was approved by a vote of 68-48 on Friday afternoon with the nearly full support of the Liberal caucus and the right-wing Coalition Avenir Quebec.

Given the tongue-twisting name of, “An act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend,” the bill imposes severe limitations on a Quebecers’ right to hold a spontaneous assembly:

  • Semesters at campuses impacted by the student strike are immediately suspended, due to start again in August.
  • Demonstrations with more than 50 people must provide the police with a time, location and duration at least eight hours in advance. The police may modify any of these parameters at any time.
  • All gatherings are banned within 50 metres of a campus.
  • Student associations not “employing appropriate means to induce” their members to comply with the law are guilty of violating the law. Individuals also fall under this and can be guilty by omission or for providing advice.
  • Fines range from $1,000 for individuals to $125,000 for student associations. Fines double for repeat offences.

Opposition from legal scholars
Many of Quebec’s organizations and professional associations showed some concern about the law. Typically a quiet and conservative organization, the Quebec Bar came out swinging against the bill.

“This bill infringes many of the fundamental rights of our citizens. The basis of a democracy is the rule of law. We must respect the law. We must also respect fundamental freedoms, like the freedom to protest peacefully, the freedom of speech and the freedom of association,” Bar President Louis Masson told The Globe and Mail.

Speaking to CBC’s The House, former judge John Gomery was critical of the law. While some believe that the law would not stand up to a court hearing, a sunset clause of July 1, 2013 will probably keep it out of the Supreme Court.

“My view is that this legislation is part of the extreme reaction that this debate has provoked. Violent demonstrations provoke violent reactions,” Gomery told CBC host Evan Solomon. “I think it is surely going to be contested before the courts.”

Quebec favours the law
According to a CROP poll commissioned by La Presse, 66 per cent of Quebecers are in favour of the law. Some are discounting the poll because of its small sample of 800 responses. The poll also showed a record low level of Quebecers supporting a tuition freeze: 32 per cent.

CLASSE takes down calendar
So that it is not found guilty of aiding protest that might not be properly planned or executed, the student coalition CLASSE removed a calendar from its website where students added planned activities. A central point for organizing protests, CLASSE was facing a fine of $125,000 for the first offence.

Montreal police lines jammed by people filing “protest reports”
In a bid to undermine Bill 78, hundreds of people called their local Montreal police precincts on Friday, attempting to file plans for “protests” composed of 50 friends going out for an evening. Under the law filing these plans of a dubious value is required.

According to the Montreal police, most of the plans filed were bogus.

It’s all Greek to Margaret
In a column for The Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente compared Quebec’s tuition protesters to debt-riddled Greece. While criticizing the province’s “cradle-to-grave” social system, Wente claimed that rioting students are “overwhelmingly middle- to upper-middle class.” Calling herself appalled, Wente concluded by stating that Quebec students would “shut down Alberta” if given the chance. Greek Quebecers were not happy with the comparison.

Following the Russian example?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed that he is looking to bring forward a new law to crush Russia’s protest movement: $32,000 fines for people engaged in unauthorized protests. The Putin-Charest photomontages are imminent.

____

http://montreal.mediacoop.ca/blog/bernans/10947
Charest’s Draconian Law Sets Stage for Québec Pussy Riot!
Posted on May 18, 2012 by David Bernans

Pussy Riot already likes red
Pussy Riot already likes red

Unable to break the will of students who have been on strike for a record 14 weeks protesting an 82% tuition increase, Charest’s Liberal government has taken a page from Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin. Education Minister Michelle Courchesne has tabled Bill 78, the Act to enable students to receive instruction from the postsecondary institutions they attend.

Are you planning on a Barbeque or a soccer game in a public park in the province of Québec? Make sure to invite no more than eight people. Once Bill 78 becomes law, the organizer of a gathering of 10 or more people* in a public place will be required to notify the police in writing eight hours in advance of said gathering with a full itinerary of the group’s movements.

Obviously, police are not going to arrest some kids at a soccer game, but what if the kids on one team all have red squares on their uniforms and the other team has the Liberal Party of Québec (PLQ) logo? And what if the PLQ players can pick up the ball with their hands and have referees remove the red square goal keeper whenever she gets in the way? Has this innocent game now become an illegal political gathering, protesting the draconian Bill 78 without a permit?

These are the kind of tactics being used by protestors in Putin’s Russia to avoid similar government restrictions on freedom of assembly. Such tactics illustrate the problem of enforcing bans on unpermitted demonstrations without looking like authoritarian thugs. By targeting the impromptu concert-demos of the anti-authoritarian feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot, Russian authorities have given the phenomenon international notoriety.

Premier Jean Charest has put forward this legislation ostensibly to calm the fires of revolution that have caught the attention of international media. He wants to rehabilitate Québec as a tranquil tourist destination. But perhaps, instead of legislating an end to a social movement, Charest has just given birth to Québec’s own Pussy Riot!

David Bernans is a Québec-based writer and translator. Follow him on twitter @dbernans.

* Bill 78 was amended after this article was written. The relevant section of the legislation now applies to gatherings of 50 or more people.

_____

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/quebec-bill-78-echoes-russia-anti-protest-idea-202141533.html

Quebec Bill 78 echoes Russia’s anti-protest idea: is it Jean or Vladimir Charest?
By Andy Radia | Canada Politics – Sun, 20 May, 2012

It is a little ironic that the Quebec government’s Bill 78 came down on the same day a Russian anti-protest bill was to be introduced.

Friday was supposed to be the first reading of a draconian draft law in Russia that would raise the maximum fines for organizers of unsanctioned protests to $48,000 from $1,600. Participants’ fines would increase to $32,000 from $160.

Quebec’s legislation, which passed Friday, also sets multiple requirements on public demonstrations and threatens stiff penalties to people who disrupt college and university classes.

The bill has been met with a chorus of criticism.

Louis Masson, the head of the Quebec Bar Association, says the Bill “clearly limits” the right to freedom of assembly. Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey told CBC News that Bill 78 is a “terrible law” that suspends the freedom to association, express and protest, without sufficient reason. Pauline Marois, leader of the opposition Parti Québécois, said it was “one of the darkest days of Quebec democracy” and demanded Premier Jean Charest hold elections because of the unpopularity of the law.

And, according to the Associated Press, the U.S. consulate in Montreal has warned visitors and U.S. expatriates to be careful because of the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, Russian President Vladimir  Putin will have to wait for his legislation “to cope with an increasingly assertive opposition.” The anti-protest bill in that country was abruptly delayed until next week because of disagreements within the government.

What’s contained in Quebec’s Bill 78? Openfile.ca has published this list explaining the new rules:
-Semesters at campuses impacted by the student strike are immediately suspended, due to start again in August.
– Demonstrations with more than 50 people must provide the police with a time, location and duration at least eight hours in advance. The police may modify any of these parameters at any time.
– All gatherings are banned within 50 metres of a campus.
– Student associations not “employing appropriate means to induce” their members to comply with the law are guilty of
violating the law. Individuals also fall under this and can be guilty by omission or for providing advice.
– Fines range from $1,000 for individuals to $125,000 for student associations. Fines double for repeat offences.

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Filed under international affairs, political repression, protests, student movements, trade unions