Sunday, May 28, 2006

On Assassinating Bliar

This week's most hilarious and yet troubling (for the accusation of 'treason') story was that of Gorgeous George saying that Bliar's death by violence could be deemed morally justifiable. Here is the story as reported in The Times:

Killing Blair 'morally justified' says Galloway,,17129-2198530,00.html, May 26th

THE assassination of Tony Blair by a suicide bomber would be morally justified as revenge for the War in Iraq, according to George Galloway.

The Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow said that such an attack would be "morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq — as Mr Blair did". He was speaking during an interview for GQ magazine with Piers Morgan, the former Daily Mirror Editor. Morgan asked: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber, if there were no other casualties, be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?"

The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow said: "I am not calling for it but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7."

Mr Galloway is in Cuba and could not be contacted last night. A spokesman for Respect said: "What he’s saying is were something like that to happen it has to be viewed through the moral lens of occupation and resistance to occupation."

I just stumbled on a nice relevant quote in Ed Abbey's Down The River.

The context is the Reaganite MX missile shell-game plans, from the Eighties. After a passage on how MAD ensured global suicide ("I am happy to report that it will probably do its job, and if ours doesn’t theirs will"), and on how the American milit-industrial complex needs such programmes like a vampire needs blood, Abbey says this:

"William Faulkner once wrote a story called 'Turnabout'. The hero of the story is a World War I combat pilot in the Royal Air Force; he sees many good men die, and near the close of the tale his best friend, a gunboat commander, is also killed. Faulkner's character takes these deaths badly, becoming bitter. The story ends with the hero about to bomb and strafe a chateau in France where some German generals are billeted. As he dives his flying crate toward the building the pilot thinks, 'If only they all were there. all the generals, all the admirals, theirs, ours, all of them...' A turnabout. Good idea, I'm thinking. If we must have one more war let it be a simple and direct encounter between Kremlin and Pentagon, one deft surgical strike removing simultaneously two malignancies from the human body politic.

"Mankind will not be free until the last general is strangled with the entrails of the last systems-analyst. As my sainted grand-mother used to say."

Shame he leaves out the traditional 'last priest' I think, but we get the point of the modernised update. As a Cold War metaphor, it has dated again, but, widening the sentiment to include Bliarite UK politicians, as Galloway does, seems appropriate enough, and I can think of over 100,000 Iraqis, who, if able to speak from the grave, might agree (see, and my interview with Maya, here and on BlueGreenEarth).

Is it treason? Perhaps. If so, vivre la haute trahison...

As we shuffle Bliar off to join Thatch and Galtieri and ... in the good ol Fletcher Memorial Home (hey, cheers, Rog! - Final Cut)... let us all think the same as that pilot, and strafe the fuckers, one and all, with Galloway rear-gunner (jerk-off SWP scum though he may be)...



Friday, May 12, 2006

Book Review: Ecological Debt, by Andrew Simms

Ecological Debt:
The Health of the Planet and the Wealth of Nations
by Andrew Simms
review by Tim Barton

Ecological Debt is a simple enough concept - the growth of Western capitalist consumerism has been built on resource use that is beyond the means of the land upon which Western states are built. Resources have had to be used from elsewhere to perpetuate growth. And many of these resources are not renewable.

Thus three forms of debt have been created. A debt to those in the Third World from whom we in the West have wrenched resources for at best a fraction of their value to us, and at worst at the expense of the communities we have found there and enslaved to our resource depleting machine. A debt to future generations due to the waste of one-use-only resources for our frivolous acquisitiveness. And a debt to the biosphere as a whole and thus to all non-human denizens of our planet.

Simms is plainly aware of the depredations we have made on the latter, and that we are harming the prospects for our children, but his primary focus is the former - he highlights, and wishes to make amends for, our debt to the residents of those lands from which we have in effect, and often actually, stolen resources. He makes a clear point that "those with the least role in creating the problems bear the greatest burdens. And those most responsible for the crises appear to escape responsibility."

It is not solid material resources alone that we owe them for. He clearly acknowledges the interconnectedness of resource use and movement with complex ecological systems, especially in regard to global climate. In fact, obsessively in regard to global climate - he remakes the same point over and over and returns to weather change and it's disproportionate effect on the world's poor almost as if it were the only way in which larger systems are impacted on by capitalist-individualist and state-capitalist resource use. The sub-title includes the words "the Health of the Planet", and climate is a major element whose workings impact on the wider viability of ecosystems and thus upon the health of the planet as a whole. So, as far as that goes, it is fair to put some emphasis on global warming and the consequent rise of sea level, increase in drought, erosion of soils through flash floods, and movement of traditional storm zones towards high population areas and perhaps also growth of those zones in area, etc. It is nonetheless a narrow focus.

His inclination to emphasise the aspect of ecological debt that seeks redress for the current population of the Third World leads to an instrumentalist approach to how we should deal with this debt. He suggests we make economic amends, such that the cash value of our debt to Third Worlders be given to them to help them bolster their shores against the damage caused by floods, or to buy in food from other nations when drought occurs and harms their crops. This approach has obvious problems - it has a 'sins of the father' aspect, which is uncomfortable, as it thus has an underlying assumption that, should our reparations be deemed insufficient, those to whom we have the debt might be within their rights to make war with us, though we, as a generation, or as individuals, may have had little to do with the iniquities and inequalities that our colonialist past has caused (however, there is a clear sense in which those of us in the First World are still benefiting from these past events, which is the point of the book).

It has also an implication (one that Simms would seek to avoid, as not his intention), that perhaps those who live in the Third World, as nominally our equals, may be justified in seeking to attain our standard of living at our expense since it is us that have kept such riches from them - the problem here is not that we are arguably culpable, which we are, but that such aspiration is itself a disastrous eco-catastrophe waiting to happen, as evidenced by the third form of ecological debt; nor is the problem that Third Worlders might wish to have more per capita income, which, if achieved via the convergence Simms hopes for, may not be the same as their rising as far as have (we must reduce our wealth to a sustainable point, and there is no mileage for the future in todays poor simply overshooting us).

Quite simply, the environment requires we, as a species, pay our debt to it sooner rather than later, as that debt will cost us far more than a bit of cash if we continue to ignore it. Tacitly, if unintentionally, putting the argument that our wealth is really the wealth of people over there may well lead the people over there to not merely take our wealth but also the control of the sources of our wealth (fair enough so far) so that they may ramp up their life-styles towards western standards of living. Here it heads towards more problematic terrain - it may be fair to say that poorer nations, or at least the poorest nations, should be enabled to increase their relative wealth and that that should be at our expense (to some difficult to agree upon extent), but many inhabitants of such countries will likely want as much as we currently have, and will merely resent the environmentalist argument that they cannot, as it is not Green. In order to industrialise, many nations already have an attitude that the pollution we experienced in developing a capitalist-consumerist society is a cost they are willing to pay, just as we did, and that we have no right to tell them otherwise.

Simm's instrumentalist approach to managing the West's debt to Third World peoples can, of course, respond to such problems by, for example, transferring clean technologies to industrialising nations so that the expense of being 'green' is not absorbed by their own economy, and thus by our global environment; or the third world governments and their western advocates can seek economic retribution through the courts; or Third World and industrial economies could exchange carbon credits; or first world governments can instigate historically successful 'war economy' measures, such as that expressed in the WWII rail advert he quotes - "At this most important time, Needless travel is a 'crime'" (p159).

But this can only go so far, especially if we are to address the debt we have to the biosphere as a whole. For to do this, populations in the West must recalibrate their 'needs' to a sustainable level, far below our current 'standard of living'.

Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

"It frequently happens that an element of the standard of living
which set out being primarily wasteful, ends with becoming a necessity
of life."

Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899
quoted by Simms, p124

This 'standard of living' includes flights to the Caribbean; a TV in every room; air conditioning; an SUV per household, if not two; second homes out of town; copious packaging; etc, and all at a cost that fits the purse, even if that means hiving off environmental costs to another day, and undervaluing the workers who extract the raw materials on some other continent. That is to say, the 'standard of living' that we are so concerned to maintain, else we all starve and are poor, has nothing to do with actual levels of consumption that might require starvation and poverty as the only alternative. In other words, the Western lifestyle has a great deal of give.

But our consumerist populations (created by a combination of native greed and ad-exec brainwashing, the latter more powerful than many realise - Simms attributes these messages to car adverts alone: 'You Can Have Power'; 'You Can Have Sex'; "You Can Protect What Matters To You'; 'You Can Make People Jealous of You'; 'You Can Be Different') are in no hurry to accept restrictions on their consumption - such will only happen once resources are depleted to the point that they have no choice, at which time a considered and well calibrated transfer to sustainability will simply no longer be possible. Thus, our fear of starvation and poverty as the only alternative to our current way of living is exactly what guarantees that starvation and poverty is what we will get.

Third World populations cannot meet us even halfway to our current standard of living if the ecological debt we have created for ourselves in the west is not merely to be horrifically increased by our counterparts in other countries who have not, through accident of birth, been so lucky as us.

The instrumentalism of Simms solutions to ecological debt, and the emphasis on debt to other humans, leaves the book lacking in punch, and leaves his ideas as mere short-term panaceas to perhaps keep us from warring with our neighbours, who currently have copious reason to hate us.

Simms does acknowledge wider debt, in fact is motive by this wider debt, but has little, really, to say about it. Early chapters do make it clear that he is very aware that technical fixes cannot be enough, and that, once used up, many of the resources our economy requires to continue 'growth' cannot be replaced. So clearly he understands the obvious fact that we cannot have a globe of rich consumers. But little he says addresses the realities of actually convincing the majority that a recalibration of 'need' is not only required (we all guiltily sense that, even tabloid readers and the residents of the Big Brother house), but that it can offer a more mature conception of how to define a positive standard of living and thus can offer satisfaction, and not just hardship.

No More Waste

"There will be no more waste of imperial resources. The people
are suffering. Relieving people's poverty ought to be handled
as though one were rescuing them from fire, or saving them from
drowning. One cannot hesitate"

- The Years of Rice & Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson

This radical strand of thought is not completely missing from Simms work.

On page 160, for example, he writes "Experience shows that a shift to a low energy economy could create more convivial lifestyles".

This is a short but sweet sentence that nicely sums up one aspect, at least, of Simms guiding philosophy of Contraction and Convergence. This concept clearly recognises that we can't all live like the present day West, but that to thrive we must, on the one hand lower our expectations of luxury in the West, and, on the other, raise the standard of living in the poorest countries, seeking to 'meet in the middle' (though I believe, rather below the mid-point if true sustainability is our goal).

The consequences of such a method, ultimately, would perhaps be communistic anarchism or some other variety of community based egalitarianism. Simms in no way argues for such, though, seeking - so far as this book goes at any rate - to engender the required change from within the current system.

Despite the obvious requirement for more radicalism, should we truly seek to address our ecological debt to both other humans and the biosphere as a whole, it is not expressed sufficiently in this book. There is an implicit acceptance that the nation states as currently set up, with their economic elites, and their controlled medias, and their managed elections can achieve the required change. I do not believe that any approach that merely seeks to work with what we have got can succeed in the long run. Ultimately Simms doesn't either - right near the end, he says "But global warming probably means the death of capitalism as the dominant framework for the global economy" - but the overall tenor of the book is instrumental reformism within the system.

The Road To Hell

However, should we actually expect more from Simms than he does deliver? A radical tract of eco-philosophy would probably not gain the readership and influence that a lighter weight instrumentalist book may.

Simms takes an approach that has similarities with Bob Geldof's Live8 idea - it is spreading the blame, seeking consensus for viable short-term change, and liberal enough in tone to not alienate those in government, NGO's and possibly some in industry. Seen as a tool to aid an instrumentalist short-term solution, Simm's book, alongside other work instigated by the NEF (new economics foundation), for whom he is policy director, is positive, timely, and useful. On this playing field, the only real negatives are that he is repetitive and uses too many examples from climate change (i.e.; too few from other areas of ecological damage, such as resource depletion and biodiversity); that the whole is an over-extended essay that may have had greater impact in a national newspaper as a short serial than as a book from a publisher who are well known but nonetheless not mainstream; and that the section on 'what you can do', oddly buried between the Notes and the Index at the end, is pretty much laughable.

The fact remains, though, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Those that pursue piecemeal social change may succeed in changing the paving used on the road, but not necessarily it's direction; whereas those who choose deeper revolution may succeed in ripping up the road, but rarely have a firm alternative track onto which they can steer the society they have de-railed. Luckily, society and culture are not fixed roads - whilst there is great inertia resisting change, those that seek piecemeal reform can reasonably hope that, given time, they may redirect the road itself from the planned (whether by internal logic or by deliberate intent) route. This has three obvious flaws - they believe that a quantitative change may become a qualitative one (in philosophy the possibility of this is often denied, but the sciences allow such, as for example in the change of state exhibited by water heated or cooled beyond a certain parameter); they believe that those who favour the status quo cannot ultimately co-opt or circumvent them; and they believe that they have the time needed to slowly steer the ship of state. If the best way to avoid eco-collapse and mass population die-off is either piecemeal reform, or a revolt that causes short-term social collapse and a partial die-off, then I guess we must give what support we can to the reformists.

– Review: Tim Barton - first published 01.06.05 on

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Maya Evans, interview

Maya Evans
interviewed by Tim Barton

The new Serious Organised Crime & Police Act, 2005 (SOCPA) rules compromise freedom of speech as anyone who wants to demonstrate within one kilometre of Parliament must apply for permission at least six days in advance or, apparently, if not "reasonably practicable" (though I have no idea what may exceptions qualify), twenty-four hours in advance. Maya Evans, at that time 25, was arrested on Tuesday 25th October 2005 for taking part in a demonstration to mark the anniversary of a 2004 Lancet survey on the war in Iraq, which estimated 100,000 Iraqis had died in the war as a result of war. She became the first person to be tried and convicted under the act (on held Wednesday 7th December 2005), though hers had not been the first arrest.

Blue interviewed Maya in early April with a view to contectualising her current activism and arrest. The first part took place in the eat@ vegetarian cafe in Hastings and is transcribed from notes, the second on the Hastings Pier where I had a recorder.

After the interview, I have placed several extracts from the internet on this case, and on other related events.

Maya is now 26. She was brought up in Hackney, East London, a multicultural area of the capital. She did not have a religious religious background, having an agnostic position on such matters, and sharing, instead, non-doctrinaire cultural values from her mixed community. Many of her friends were and are Muslim, so she has developed a natural ability to appreciate human problems across divides.

She studied History in Liverpool, including Cultural Imperialism. Maya describes herself as having been anti-capitalist since university. She is pro-self-sufficiency through anti-exploitative channels and would describe herself as "anarchistic" but is not sure how realistic such a viewpoint really is, as today's social arrangements mitigate against small communities. She is anti-planes, anti-plastics, etc. and has a desire for equality, fair wages, fair trade and local production. Her desire to help the third world is not in tune with the Band Aid method, which she sees as a short-termist panacea, instead seeking methods that work through individual choice and engagement - life-style actions to help, not one-off charity donations. When discussing Fair Trade, Maya talked of her involvement in Trinity Wholefoods (a Hastings, East Sussex, UK co-operative at which see has worked since the summer of 2004), and whilst firmly supporting the principles clearly understands that there are negative issues within Fair Trade to be addressed, such as the over-incentivisation of cash crops. Her view of co-ops is positive. She says that can be hard work, but that she sees it as the best way to run a business.

She graduated around the time of the 9/11 attacks. Maya feels that 9/11 was a turning point for her in terms of politicisation. She was, like so many of us, left asking why the terrorist acts had taken place, and what repercussions should be expected. It was reasonable to conclude that invasion of mid-east countries by the might occur, and indeed that is exactly what she saw. In Liverpool she became involved in anti-war activities during the Afghan war.

Her motivation was overtly anti-war, and was not linked at that time to civil liberties issues here in the UK. Her studies had to some degree prepared her for the 'double-speak' of the Bush and Blair administrations. She formed links with Voices in the Wilderness. Milan Rai, whom she had met before, came to speak in Liverpool around this time. In 2003 she was involved in the anti-war demonstrations in London, before the Iraq War had begun. Although she came quickly to see the problems that the movement had to deal with, in terms of the controlling manner in which some organisations behaved, far from being disillusioned and dropping out she chose to find a smaller affinity group from which to continue her anti-war activities.

She went to Chicago, USA, with Voices in the Wilderness, an organisation that had many contacts in Iraq from the time of the sanctions. She found this a very good experience networking with Kathy Kelly and many other anti-war individuals. She found a large Catholic element to the anti-war movement there, with over 40% of the Voices in the Wilderness members having a catholic background.

She moved to Hastings in November 2003, as she has family there. When she arrived joined Hastings Against War and became more involved in Justice Not Vengeance, an organisation that began after 9/11, with Milan Rai.

Justice Not Vengeance, linked to Hastings Against War, has been involved in organising and promoting anti-war demonstrations and education since 9/11, and international groups like Voices in the Wilderness (established in the UK in 1995 to campaign against sanctions on Iraq) have worked with Justice Not Vengeance on these issues too.

Maya has been in attendance at several anti-war events co-organised by the US-based Voices in the Wilderness and UK-based Justice Not Vengeance organisations. The October 2005 events came under the campaign slogan 100,000 Rings, opposed to the US/UK war and occupation of Iraq, and using the anniversary of a reported 100,000 Iraqi civilian war dead (in the Lancet) as a milestone to which demonstrations be pegged. See the Iraq Mortality website for more information. The concept is described thus:

Maya: "As people opposed to the US/UK war and occupation of Iraq, we act to end the silence about the suffering and death in Iraq and to publicly unlock the grief that it has caused in our communities. On October 24th - 28th, to mark the anniversary of the release of the Lancet Study on 29 October 2004, each sponsoring group will act out our grief, our anger, and our solidarity by gathering in a public place for a simple and solemn "Bell Ringing" ceremony. We will ring a bell 1,000 times, each ring symbolizing the death of an Iraqi person as a result of the war and occupation."

[Maya & Mil outside Bow Street Magistrate's Court] Internationally, more than 100 events were planned. In the UK, four rounds of protest had been organised by JNV, from October 24 to October 28. Other groups also organized events. The itinery was Brighton; Northwood Army Barracks (new legislation means that from April 2006 this too would have been deemed illegal - see CAAB website for April 1st arrests under those provisions); opposite Downing Street, London and then Hastings, East Sussex (the latter being JNV's base in the UK where a thriving anti-war community exists). It was at one of a series of such events in the UK that Maya was arrested, along with Milan Rai, who was not charged for attendance but has since been charged for ‘organising' the event.

The venue for the day, October 25th, was in Whitehall, and thus fell within the new Parliament Square exclusion zone. In this zone no protests are allowed that have not been cleared first, via onerous forms. The exclusion zone was set up via the Serious Organised Crime & Police Act, 2005 (SOCPA). Essentially, this appears to have been put in place to stifle protest in general, and specifically to get Brian Haw (an anti-war protester who is effectively camped right outside Parliament) out of the Square, although the authorities claim that the reason for the legislation is to stop conflict between opposed demonstrations (such as BNP and Anti-Fascist League demos deliberately timed to coincide). Thus, when Maya was arrested for breaking the new law, she was told that it was for "her own protection", ie, implying that some other unauthorised pro-war people might turn up and attack her. Cynics might say that representatives of the State would fit the bill, and thus that Maya's health might be endangered by the Police, but in fact Maya found them reasonably friendly, even interested, if condescending.

JNV had made the police aware that they would be there, and had attained copies of the forms to request permission for a demo in the Exclusion Zone, but failed to return these forms. The reason given for this is that they were intrusive and restrictive. They certainly are detailed, imposing limits on, and asking for exact data on, the place and time of an event, how long it can be, how many may attend, and how many banners and placards are allowed. This appears to be a deliberate policy designed to make certain that some publicisable confrontation would take place. Milan Rai, who was with Maya on the day, also approached police and wardens on the day to let them know they were there. He was warned that they would be arrested if the protest went ahead as planned. This warning was relayed to Maya. The protest, of course, went ahead more or less as planned.

On the day, Indymedia had a reporter there, and an independent photographer was also in attendance. There was no other press presence. A friend of Maya's, from her school-days, was filming and a brief video of the arrest is available online.

The demonstration had been advertised through groups such as indymedia as well as via the Iraq Mortality, Voices in the Wilderness, and JNV. Indeed, one of the police involved in the arrests said that he had read about JNV through checking up in sites such as indymedia and urban75. This is both less sinister (ordinary bobbies keeping that close a check on us) and less of a good sign (ordinary bobbies showing a positive interest in "subversive" activities), as the policeman involved worked for the department that dealt with the permissions for demonstrations in the Square and apparently was indulging in normal research for his specific task.

Maya says that she was briefed beforehand and had read the relevant legislation. She says that she was aware of the previous arrests, in August, under the legislation in the Zone. JNV had estimated a 70% likelihood that demonstrators would be arrested. Thus it seems clear that Maya and Mil went in with the clear expectation that arrest was probable and in fact went out of their way to ensure that the chances of them being ignored were minimal.

The trial was the first under the new legislation, although her's was not the first arrest under the law. It took place on December 7th 2005.

The rest of the intervew took place over on the pier:

Blue: Has a date been set for the High Court Appeal?

Maya: "A date hasn't been set for a high court appeal yet. I believe it's some time in the summer, though. My solicitor, Bindman's, has informed me - she [thinks] it [may] be in the summer of this year."

Blue: What will you be saying in the High Court?

Maya: "Bindman's have put together this argument and they're basically saying that [the] SOCPA law is basically incompatible with the European Convention on human rights, articles 10 & 11, freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly with others. I'll probably just go along with that line."

Blue: Do you expect Justice?

Maya: [laughs] "...erm, I hope for justice! - I just think it could go either way, couldn't it?" (She later said "I don't consider my current criminal record as an example of justice, so who knows") "Brian [Haw] was in court yesterday as the Home Office had appealed the decision [...] Whereas before the court had decided that, because his demonstration predated the legislation, it couldn't be retrospective therefore he was exempt [...] But the Home office were appealing that yesterday [saying] that his demonstration is in fact illegal and within the legislation [and] that he shouldn't be there[...]. The decision is still yet to be made. But my feeling in the High Court yesterday was that it could go either way."

Blue: If the argument is that SOCPA is in contravention of the European rules, have you a view of how that might play in you case, because that's slightly different to Brian's defence isn't it?

Maya: "The argument which the Home Office was taking is that it is compatible because you still can demonstrate and all you have to do is fill out an application form. And technically they do have to say that yes, you can demonstrate, but there are a number of restrictions that they can put on your demonstration - and its this point of the legislation which makes it so draconian and anti-freedom - because they can put a cap on the number of people at your demonstration, and where you want to hold that demonstration and how long, and the size of your banners and the amount of noise that you can make - so that's not really a free demonstration, once you go through the requirements."

Blue: You were fined £200. You have said you will not pay the fine. Will this be an issue at the appeal?

Maya: "I was asked to pay court costs of £200."

Blue: So there wasn't an actual fine?

Maya: " I wasn't even fined, and I was given conditional discharge." (conditional on not illegally entering the exclusion zone to protest again, for the next year) "I haven't paid the £200 and I am not planning to pay the £200 either, they'll have to send the bailiffs in, or... I am willing to spend time in prison for the principle.

"My barrister at the time advised me not to say to the court that I won't pay the court costs, but I have not done so as an appeal is in the pipeline: if I lose the appeal, the crime of unpaid court costs will be returned to the Magistrates court in Hastings, where they will decide my punishment - it's not uncommon to receive a prison sentence."

Since then, Milan Rai has been charged for ‘organising' the demonstration at which Maya was arrested (again the first charge under the new law). This took place on January 19th 2005. The case was adjourned so that the judge could "consider the human rights legal arguments put forward by Barrister Maya Sikand" of Liberty (quote from indymedia). The case resumed on 12th April. If found guilty, under the new law, you would have faced a possible £5000 fine and up to 3 months in prison. This maximum incarceration penalty rose in April, so future offenders will face a possible 51 weeks imprisonment. Milan was, as I understand it, fined £350 plus £150 costs.

Maya has since continued to attend unauthorised events in the exclusion zone. Milan has been unable to, though the spirit is willing, as he has been busy writing and promoting his recent book 7/7: The London Bombing, Islam and the Iraq, from Pluto Press (which Blue will review in the near future).

On April 2nd 2006, another illegal Naming the Dead ceremony took place there. This one was organised by Mass Action Group, London Catholic Worker, Voices UK and JNV. The event had an estimated 200 people in attendance, including celebrity Joanna Lumley. There were readings from Iraqi's who had witnessed events during the war and were now in the UK; a name and shame exercise aimed at corporations that had been involved in the war; and a reading of the names of Iraqi dead. The protest was lobbying for reparations, a war crimes tribunal, and troop withdrawal.

On this occasion Maya was not arrested. So far as Maya was aware when our conversation took place (April 4th) there were no other arrests either, though police were present and she did observe them hassling a Charlie Chaplin mime who was protesting with them. Maya was also, at that time, unaware of any police statement about the illegal demonstration - though they were, of course, taking photographs.

Maya's presence at this and other events post-trial are explicitly intended to demonstrate defiance and push the boundaries of the legislation, that JNV and other groups see as intended to control activism in a way that impinges upon our freedom of speech and movement. She is clear about this - she will continue to put herself in harms way to make her point, and more power to her. As the interview wound down to a conclusion, Maya had a proud visage, a defiant spark in her eyes.

- Tim Barton