Demonstrators challenge anonymous smear campaign against right to protest

One of the main groups organising protests against Dublin's EU summit in May has criticised an anonymous smear campaign aimed at undermining the right to protest.

Demonstrators challenge anonymous smear campaign against right to protest 

 


27 March 2004

DEMONSTRATORS CHALLENGE ANONYMOUS SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST RIGHT TO PROTEST

One of the main groups organising protests against Dublin's EU summit in May has criticised an anonymous smear campaign aimed at undermining the right to protest. In a statement issued today, Dublin Grassroots said "For the past few weeks the national media has been drip-fed with anonymous allegations claiming that protestors are only interested in violence and destruction."

"These allegations are particularly bizarre given that the record of the last five years shows that violence at European protests has mostly come from the police, with one demonstrator shot dead and hundreds hospitalised, often due to injuries received after arrest. This is also true in Ireland, where the last major 'riot' was carried out by police on Dame Street at a Reclaim the Streets party."

The statement notes that media reports consistently include the same mistakes, such as false allegations of links with the Kurdish PKK. This suggests a single source aiming to raise fears and tensions and undermine the right to protest.

"The right to protest is a fundamental part of democracy, with roots deep in European history. It is particularly strange that the defenders of the EU consistently attack 'foreign protestors', as though other EU citizens and residents had no right to protest against EU meetings in Ireland."

A Dublin Grassroots spokesperson said, "We are disturbed by the anonymous nature of these allegations and wonder why their authors are afraid to stand up in public to defend their points of view. All of our meetings are held in public and announced on the Internet, and we have a range of spokespeople available to talk to the media and other interested bodies. We challenge those making these allegations either to put their name to them in public debate or to retract."