Danish Court Sentences Nonviolent Activists Arrested During Protests Against UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009: Free Speech Criminalized
Today, the Copenhagen District Court found Stine Gry Jonassen and Tannie Nyboe guilty in charges of being organisers and instigators of violence and vandalism. The incident took place on 16th of December at Bella Center last year during the climate summit in Copenhagen. The two women were sentenced to four months of probation. One of the judges disagreed with the verdict and thought the accused should be freed of all charges.
Stine Gry and Tannie Nyboe both acted as spokespersons for the Global
Network “Climate Justice Action” (CJA) and Stine was accredited as an official UN Observer through Global Justice Ecology Project. Both Stine and Tannie are members of Global Justice Ecology Project’s New Voices on Climate Change program. Find their bios by clicking here
During the Cop15 last year, CJA organised several non-violent civil
disobedience protests, including the “Reclaim Power – Push for Climate
Justice” rally on 16th of December. The two women were both the public
facesof the movement and they are now found guilty in charges of being organisers and instigators of violence and riots. They are both deeply shocked by the outcome of the trial and are now considering an appeal.
Stine Gry considers the whole trial absurd:
*“There has been a clear political rationale with these trials. It is
obvious that Tannie and I were accused because we acted as public faces of the movement. This trial sends a significant message: if you have the nerve to stand up and express a critical point of view of society, the authorities will do whatever they can to silence you. It is absurd that a large public movement as CJA is criminalised because they – as one of the few – dared to criticise the ongoing climate negotiations during the summit; especially in the light of how poorly things turned out with the negotiations and how criticisable Denmark’s role was. The verdict is a defeat for democracy because it hinders politically engaged people in using their democratic right to demonstrate and express themselves critically.” *
Tannie explains: *“It** is an evident political attempt to limit the opportunity to criticise the negotiations during the summit and the whole bedrock of the climate process. The right to demonstrate is an
essentialpart of democracy, despite it is the existing political
system that is being criticised. I really hope that people will still use their democratic right to express themselves critically, though one might risk being accused personally by the court. However, I fear that this case will scare people from protesting and organising themselves politically in the
future. Consequently it is just as big a defeat for the political work and democracy in Denmark,as it is for us personally.”
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Climate Justice Action (CJA) is a global network of social movements and groups, which mobilised and called out for protests during the climate summit in Copenhagen in December last year, in order to challenge the insubstantial political negotiations at the Bella Centre and demanding just solutions to the climate problems. On 16th of December, CJA organised the demonstration “Reclaim Power – Push for Climate Justice” to give voice to the people mostly affected by climate changes – the same people who were not heard inside the Bella Centre.
At the time, Stine Gry and Tannie were spokespersons for the movement and argued for the right to protest and for the freedom of speech. They are now found guilty in planning the “Reclaim Power” demonstration and of plotting violence against an official in function, of severe vandalism, of serious disturbance of public peace and order, and of illegal trespassing. Several hundred people were arrested in relation to the action, but none of these have since been accused anything illegal.
The trial of the two spokespersons took place in Copenhagen City Court on 6th, 27th, and 28th of October 2010 at 9.30 AM.