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Activist may face serious legal repercussions

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Activist may face serious legal repercussions for lowering American flag

Union and social justice activist Simon Oosterman faces the potentially serious charge of escaping lawful arrest at the Auckland District Court at 10am today.

Mr Oosterman, who faces two other minor offenses relating to a protest against Israeli aggression last July, heads to court five days after the United Nation’s general assembly passed a resolution urging an immediate end to all acts of violence by Israel against Palestinians. [1]

Unlike other minor charges relating to protests, escaping lawful custody can lead to time in jail.

Mr Oosterman said that whilst jail time is possible, it is not probable.

Whilst he said that he was not guilty and that the charges were out of proportion to the action, Mr Oosterman said that he was willing to accept any legal ramifications for standing up for social justice and human rights.

On the 22nd of July, Mr Oosterman said that he climbed onto the awning of the American consulate to lower the American flag to half mast in remembrance of Israeli, Palestinian and Lebanese deaths during the International Day of Action Against Israeli Agression in Auckland on the 22nd of July.

He climbing down from the building and was arrested by Police, but the protest crowd who were upset at Police behaviour, separated Mr Oosterman from the arresting officer, he said.

Mr Oosterman returned voluntarily to the Police station at the end of the protest.

Mr Oosterman also lowered the flag back during an anti-Iraq war protest in November 2004 without arrest.

He said that he was unable to lower the flag again at other protests as the Consulate removed the flag during other anti-war protests following the first lowering.

Mr Oosterman is represented by Council of Civil Liberties lawyer Graeme Minchin.

ENDS

[1] 56 countries, including the 25-member European Union (EU) voted in favour of the resolution, while seven including the United States, Israel and Australia voted against it while another six including Canada, abstained.


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