A blank piece of paper

Image thanks to inkl.com

You can never tell what is true on social media. Staged events can look real and deep fakes can be impossible to differentiate from reality. I take what I see with a pinch of salt therefore, though when I see various reports from different sources and articles that are repeated on recognised and reputable news sites then I can have a degree of confidence in the story.

I have been watching with interest the small but significant anti-war protests in Russia, following the invasion of Ukraine. The government has cracked down on such protests and arrested people for holding up placards. Any right to protest in that country, if there ever was one, has evaporated.

Newsweek reported back in March: ‘ As mass demonstrations against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continue to intensify, a woman in Nizhny Novgorod, in central Russia, was arrested on Sunday for protesting with a blank sign. A video of the incident shared on social media, which has gone viral, shows the moment two police officers approach the woman and escort her away from a crowd in Russia’s sixth-largest city. The woman appeared to be the only person holding up a sign.’

Of course things like that could never happen in a civilised country like the United Kingdom. But they are. Following the accession of the king to the throne there has been a number of anti-monarchy protests and the police have arrested a number of people for breaching the peace. It seems that shouting at the royal procession or holding up a sign saying ‘abolish monarchy’ are illegal.

Paul Powlesland, a UK barrister, has also been threatened with arrest under the Public Order Act when holding up a blank sheet of paper. A police officer claimed that the sign may offend people if he wrote ‘not my King’ on it.

I understand that for many, the death of the queen is a momentous event and they would want to show their respect. Many have a different position however and find the idea of monarchy abhorrent.

The right to protest is a fundamental part of democracy and these are worrying actions by the police. We may call out how the Russian government behaves but things are not much better back home. Let those without sin…

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