Back in August of last year I reported on the show trial of the Welsh rights activist Jamie Bevan who was sentenced to seven days imprisonment for breaking into the office of the Conservative MP Jonathan Evans and painting a slogan on a wall calling for a genuine television service for the Welsh-speaking communities and citizens of Wales. He was the first Welsh rights activist to be threatened with imprisonment over the issue of Welsh language broadcasting in almost thirty years and his court case stirred up considerable publicity and support for the organisation Bevan belongs to, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society).
Now further news on Jamie and those who are carrying the fight for a Welsh Wales to the British courts, from WalesOnline:
“A language activist has been jailed for refusing to pay court-ordered compensation because the demand was not written in Welsh.
Welsh teacher Jamie Bevan, 36, of Union Street, Merthyr Tydfil, was sentenced to 35 days behind bars for failing to pay £1,021 in damages after breaking into a Conservative Party office in protest over S4C spending cuts.
He said he had complained to the Court Service three times but still received an English-only order after breaking into Tory MP Jonathan Evans’ office in North Cardiff in March last year.
He told Merthyr magistrates he had “no intention” of paying the fine despite having the finances to do so and that it was a “privilege” to accept his punishment.
Rapturous applause from fellow campaigners swiftly turned to heckles as Bevan was jailed.
Presiding magistrate Owen Jenkins said he had no choice but to send Bevan to jail and was then confronted by screams of injustice from the public gallery.
In a dramatic finish, Bevan, who had been previously jailed for seven days for breaking a curfew, raised a fist high above him as he was escorted away.
Bethan Williams, chairwoman for Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg – the Welsh Language Society – then shouted “The system is oppressive – this court is oppressive” before being dragged from the court room.
Support was also received from Labour MP Susan Jones and Plaid Cymru president Jill Evans.
In a joint statement, they said: “The fact that Jamie has twice received an English language summons and an English language hearing is completely unacceptable.
“It’s very important that the Welsh Language Commissioner shows she is able to secure rights for the people of Wales to use the Welsh language and the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 makes a positive difference to people’s everyday lives.”
“Over the last year and a half I have followed completely constitutional means in complaining about the patchy and fragmented Welsh language service from the courts and justice system. I have received apology after apology with assurances that the systems are being put in place to make sure that these so-called mistakes don’t happen again. But the monolingual letters continue, the phone service with a Welsh language option which leads nowhere, and the sneering and disrespect from the courts staff, the police and the security staff.
According to your language scheme, there is no right for a Welsh person to get a hearing in front of a Welsh language court. It says that you will try to provide a Welsh language court, but if you can’t do that you will provide a translator.
Welsh speakers are under an enormous disadvantage when receiving a court hearing through the medium of a translator as a translator cannot enable the individual to communicate directly with the judge or magistrate. Actually, many lawyers advise their clients not to choose a Welsh language court case because they recognise that disadvantage. It’s a disgraceful situation in the Wales of today.
Your language schemes also set out an employment strategy based on the area’s language profile. So, employing Welsh language speakers to enable a court to provide a Welsh language service depends on the percentage of local speakers and the whim of the court manager. How can you justify the fact that a Welsh person from Merthyr gets a deficient service while someone else in another part of the country receives a better service? Welsh people in every part of Wales have a moral right to use Welsh to its fullest extent.
I have no intention of conforming. I have no intention of paying a single penny of the fine although I can do so easily financially. Do as you please with me. I accept any result gladly.”
More over on Golwg 360.