Almost 60 people attended a Melbourne public meeting in solidarity with those arrested following the protest against the G20 summit in 2006. The meeting was part of an ongoing campaign to defend those arrested and oppose the attack on the right to protest.

Arrestee John Finlayson outlined their situation. Of the 24 adults and four juveniles charged, 11 have pled guilty and received court orders and suspended sentences. Four also have to pay compensation to the Victoria Police. Akin Sari received 28 months imprisonment and is appealing.

John is one of 13 pleading not guilty in the face of a possible 20 years imprisonment. He explained the need to challenge the charges and stressed that the key issue was that their alleged actions don’t in any way fit the serious charges.

Tony Robbins, the father of an arrestee and long term trade unionist, spoke, as well as Rob Starry the defence lawyer for some arrestees and Marisa from the Anarchist Black Cross, a group that supports political prisoners. The meeting was inspiring with the determination to defend the right to organise and protest.

While the G20 meeting of finance ministers from rich nations were discussing further neoliberal attacks, protesters were trying to raise concerns about climate change, the war in Iraq and WorkChoices.

The subsequent scare campaign against protesters has been used to lower the political threshold for charges like riot and affray. All of the charges against G20 arrestees should be dropped. Everyone should get behind these activists in defence of all our rights to protest.

Marcela and Daniella Olea

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