Blog Archive

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Denmark's fascist government takes peaceful activists, Natasha Verco and Noah Weiss, to trial with no evidence

Copenhagen activist trial: 'I can't see what evidence there is for the charges'

Australian honours student 'indignant' over charges of organising violence and disorder at climate summit as trial opens
COP15 Protestors march towards Bella Center in Copenhagen
Protesters march towards Bella Centre where the UN climate change Conference takes place to disrupt proceedings. Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

Two environmental activists appeared in court today accused of terrorism-related offences during the Copenhagen climate summit in December.

Natasha Verco, an Australian honours student, and Noah Weiss, an American citizen who lives in Denmark, will face similar charges in a trial which is due to last all week.

Verco, who has organised non-violent direct action in her native country and who has been part of the Climate Justice Action (CJA) network in the lead-up to the summit in Copenhagen, has been charged with organising violence, organising public disorder, significant damage to property, and organising disorder during the international talks on climate change which took place in Copenhagen last year. If found guilty, Verco faces a maximum of twelve and a half years in prison.

Speaking a day ahead of the start of the trial, Verco recalled her arrest: "On December 13 I was riding my bike down by the Copenhagen lakes,and a plainclothes police woman jumped out at me and pushed me off the bike. She took me to an unmarked police van with six or seven plainclothes policemen. I asked them 'Are you randomly picking me up?' and they said 'No, we hunted you'. They held me by myself in an underground carpark for about 16 hours, I think. Then I was taken to Vester prison and held there for three weeks and two days. I was charged the day after I got to prison, but bail was refused because, they said, the investigation was ongoing and I would influence it if I was released."

Verco and Weiss say they both had their phones tapped, along with 17 other activists, which is legal under recently introduced terror legislation in Denmark. Verco said: "I feel nervous and indignant at the same time, I wonder what the hell they're going to argue because I can't see what evidence they've got for these charges. And looking back at the calls that they've taped, it feels very invasive. Under the new terror laws they can do this, but it seems to me that applying terror laws to activists is steadily eroding the base of our democracy."

Verco was heavily involved in organising the day of action on December 14, but was arrested before it happened. When it took place, she was still being held by police. "The police say that they prevented anything happening by taking me in. There was no violence, and no disruption of the public infrastructure, because they'd arrested me."

During the fortnight of talks, dozens of protests from the small to mass rallies of 40,000 people, took place; the Danish police arrested nearly 2,000 people. The police are now processing nearly 200 legal complaints about the treatment of the arrestees. Verco and Weiss were both involved with CJA, the network which helped to organise some of the protests during the talks, most notably the Reclaim Power demonstration outside the conference centre for the negotiations.

Apart from Weiss and Verconone of the other activists charged during the protests, including the Greenpeace Four who were arrested and held for three weeks after unfurling a banner during a black tie event, have yet had their court dates set.



marsanges said...

it might be an idea to not call the danish government fascist. that is a word which has a meaning, and it clearly doesnt apply to this government. The article actually is not so bad and I certainly dislike such "terror laws" (as I dislike and argue against similar laws in a host of other european countries). Unjustified hyperbole like the word fascist only detracts from the contents which has deserved to be read by more people, especially those that are turned off by such headline language.

Of course, as you know, I otherwise love your blog in every respect :)

Tenney Naumer said...

Dear Enno,

I hear what you are saying and I understand, too, what you are saying.

The thing is, during the Copenhagen conference, things were done with the tacit approval of the Danish government.

There are certain times when I personally feel it is necessary to use the strongest possible words to describe terrible wrongs.

I could also say that some of us were pretty traumatized by the fascist ideas of the Cheney/Bush regime.

I am not an anti-capitalist per se. I am certainly not an anarchist. I think that anarchy has absolutely nothing to offer anyone.

I guess that I grew up in the U.S. during a time when some of us naively believed that the sort of police actions that occurred in Denmark would always be impossible in the U.S.

So, I suppose this is me trying to say that to me the actions of the Danish government were most definitely fascist, at least from my naive perspective.

Thank you for the compliment, though.