I posted this Twitter thread this morning:
Like many, I was shocked by the arbitrary arrest of protestors suggesting that King Charles III was not their choice of head of state yesterday. Support the monarchy or not, the issue of free speech is fundamental to all our freedoms. A thread….
The UN Declaration of Human Rights, put in place in 1948 with support from the UK provides very clear indication that these arrests are a breach of human rights.
Article 19 says:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
That is unsurprising given Article 18, the core element of which says:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
These rights are reinforced by Article 9, which says:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Remember why it was thought so important to express these human rights. The world had just lived through the horror of fascism. It had seen what totalitarian regimes did to those who protested. It was determined that dissent should be allowed so that democracy might flourish.
What the Declaration made clear was the right to dissent was fundamental to our freedom. And what the Declaration also made clear was that we had the right to express that dissent, whoever we might be, and that we should be able to do so without fear.
Of course those preparing the Declaration knew when saying this that some who might dissent would express inconvenient views that might offend some. That's why it had to be said that they had the right to do so.
And then we come to yesterday. A monarch has been put on the throne without any form of consent by the people of the country being required, and without an alternative choice being made available contrary, I suggest, to Article 21 of the Declaration.
The first key part of Article 21 says:
Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
The second crucial element of Article 21 says:
The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
And yet in the UK we have a monarch who acts not just as Head of State but who also plays a fundamental constitutional role, with a right to hear and be heard before consenting to legislation, whose appointment involves no such process of popular consent.
The UK does not, as a result, provide the people of this country (who are subjects and not citizens as a result of this arcane system where the monarch is our feudal liege lord and we are their vassals) with the human rights we should enjoy.
Worse, it now seems that our human right to object to this abuse has been removed, and we might be subject to arbitrary arrest for doing so.
What is there to conclude? It is that in the UK not only do we have an unacceptable system of government in that what we have clearly contravenes international standards of acceptability, but that we may not say so for fear of arrest.
Now let me loop you back to 1948 and remind you why these human rights were declared inviolate. It was precisely to stop oppressive regimes from preventing those from within their borders the right to protest about the form of government they suffered.
That is now where we are. People are being denied the right to dissent by a UK government intent in removing our human rights, our equal right to participle in democracy, and our freedom to protest, whilst granting the power of arbitrary arrest to the police.
Today's royalists taking offence might be those arrested tomorrow. That's what happens when there is arbitrary power that does not respect human rights. They should be as worried as I am.
We have a regime of precisely the sort the visionaries who drafted the UN Declaration on Human Rights sought to protect us from, and politicians of exactly the type they knew might re-emerge when the lessons of history were forgotten.
Worry, a lot. Your freedom depends on dissenting from the oppression that our government is imposing, contrary to our internationally declared human rights.
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