Montreal activist Jaggi Singh's bail hearing today; supporters denounce criminalization of protest

Anonyme, Lunes, Julio 12, 2010 - 15:07

Montreal activist Jaggi Singh's bail hearing today; supporters denounce criminalization of protest

Montreal/Toronto, July 12 – Montreal-based activist and community organizer Jaggi Singh will appear in court in Toronto for a bail hearing today. He is facing exaggerated charges for his participation in the mobilization against the G8/G20. Jaggi turned himself in on Tuesday, July 6 after a police warrant was issued, and has been behind bars since.

The charges against Jaggi illustrate the increasing criminalization of those who work for social change. Political organizing is not against the law, nor is dissent a criminal act. However, the hundreds of recent arrests in Toronto, including the targeted arrests of many well-known and respected community members, highlight the state's efforts to intimidate organizers, curtail their work and portray them as “dangerous” individuals.

“In the years that I have known Jaggi, I have been a witness to his tireless community efforts from organizing dinners, demonstrations, soccer tournaments and outings for non-status families to break their isolation, to hosting a monthly radio show and doing popular education on a variety of social justice issues” says Leila Pourtavaf, a long-time friend and a graduate student at the University of Toronto.

Jaggi is also a prolific writer and a full-time employee of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG), where he works with community and campus members to strengthen social justice networks and promote community-based research (see statement released by QPIRG below). He is a member of numerous groups including No One Is Illegal and Solidarity Across Borders.

“I have known Jaggi Singh for more than 10 years and in that time not a day has gone by that Jaggi hasn’t poured his bottomless energy into the struggle for social justice. For me, Jaggi Singh is what a responsible and active member of our society should be, with regard to respect for values such as liberty, equality and solidarity”, states Francis Dupuis-Déri, professor of political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Jaggi has been involved in public and open mass mobilizations for over a decade. Though he has faced many legal obstacles due to continuous attempts to silence his voice and deny his right to organize and participate in protest, numerous court decisions have vindicated him. Examples of this are the charges he faced in the wake of the APEC Summit in 1997 (charges were dropped before the case even went to trial) and after the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 (most charges were dropped and he was acquitted of the others). Similarly, he was acquitted of the charges that he faced during Montreal's G20 in 2000.

“That Jaggi is regularly the target of the police forces of this country and is perennially criminalized for seeking justice is shameful; on the contrary, in a society seeking to improve our collective rights and freedoms such an individual should be emulated,” added Francis Dupuis-Déri.

"We have no doubt that Jaggi will defend himself against these exaggerated charges. However, the amount of time and energy that this will require from him and his supporters is troubling as it will affect his ability to continue his community work. What is even more troubling is the amount of resources that the Canadian government is putting into criminalizing the legitimate organizing work of Jaggi Singh and others involved in social justice movements, including the over 1000 people who were detained during resistance against the G20 Summit in Toronto." said Jaggi Singh's Support Committee.

"We will not be intimidated or divided by these tactics which aim to silence voices of dissent. We remain in solidarity with all those who were arrested, harassed and brutalized during the G8/G20 resistance. We will continue to organize for a world without borders, without fences and without state controls ; a world where freedom comes with responsibility and justice is not divorced from dignity," said Jaggi Singh's Support Committee.

Jaggi Singh's Support Committee

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