Saturday, 15 August 2009
Niall Harnett, an Irish supporter of the campaign to stop Shell from building a refinery on land in Mayo, has been jailed for his non-violent civil disobedience.
In a disgracefully harsh sentence he received two consecutive periods of four months, making a total of eight months, in the squalid and remote Castlerea prison, where he has already spent 16 days.
In Ireland, even for violent offenders, sentences for two or more alleged offences, are almost invariably concurrent, meaning that innumerable sentences are all rolled up in one. Not so for this brave non-violent young man who has challenged the status quo, Shell and the State that sold out its natural resources in Mayo waters to Shell for nothing!
Niall's non-violent stand is too principled for the State to countenance. A Government minister had given away the people's ownership of our natural resources off the Mayo Coast and the people got nothing back in return. Then the Shell consortium proceeded to do what they wished in Mayo until the"Shell to Sea" campaign was set up to oppose them.
Five locals were jailed for contempt and spent 94 days in jail.
Another local, Maura Harrington, has been jailed three times, (see previous post) but this last time received bail. Niall's bail was too severe for him to accept on principle as it would keep him away from the scene of the action.
The Garda Síochána, the police force of the Irish State, often work hand in hand with Shell security police and have sometimes assaulted the protestors. No prosecutions have been made because of these assaults although some were shown on RTE News.
Niall comes to Dublin to appeal against the severity of his bail conditions on Monday, August 17th.
On Sunday August 16th, Ezra Nawi will stand trial for his beliefs in Israel. This is not the first time that Ezra Nawi stands trial for his beliefs. But it is the first time that they will probably be able to stop him.
He has been harassed and targeted throughout the years, because, he believes, he embodies three elements which provoke bigotry in the Israeli society: He is a homosexual, he is a Mizrahi Jew, and he devotes all of his time to fighting for the human rights of Arab Palestinians.
In his own words:
I always knew that many people silently supported me, and that if I ever got into trouble they would stand behind me. This moment has come.
Ezra adds: I am a simple person. I did what my heart told me to do. Looking back, I know that what my friends and I have done is changing the harsh reality of the occupation in the whole area of south Hebron. I feel that now the Israeli authorities are punishing me on a personal level.
I would like to believe that my personal adversity will inspire and motivate individuals to actively oppose the occupation.