What right to peaceful protest?

peaceful protest pic2The non existent “right” to peaceful protest is a risky delusion.

30 Greenpeace activists have been detained by the Russians, and 2 look like being charged with piracy, a charge which has a maximum penalty of 15 years. The details are still disputed but it seems like there has been an attempted “boarding” of an off shore oil rig within the arctic circle. With Russian officials later boarding, in international waters, the Greenpeace vessel (guns and military) and taken the vessel and crew into detention.

It puts the Japanese scientific whalers with hoses into context. Let me now side step any and all discussion of the merits or otherwise of Greenpeace and Russian actions – there just isn’t yet enough detail.

However Senator Christine Milne has weighed in with, “The Australian Government must stand up not only for Australian citizens but for all the activists and the right to non-violent protest”.

Cute, but totally false. There is not any “right to peaceful protest”, certainly not in the way that Senator Milne is attempting to imply. Activists are subject to the same laws as the rest of us, when they are at home, when they are “on the job” – trespass, and piracy included. “Peaceful protest” doesn’t provide a get out of jail card in law anywhere, and I suspect also not in practice in Russia.

Australia should provide the same consular support in this instance as in any other. Milne will be outraged…


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