News from Wales that Jamie Bevan, a Welsh rights activist with Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society), is to be imprisoned by the British authorities for seven days. According to Wales Online:
‘A WELSH language campaigner has been sent to jail for refusing to comply with his sentence for breaking into an MP’s office to protest against S4C cuts.
He told supporters gathered outside the Cardiff Magistrates Court this morning: “I’m ready willing and happy to face the possibility of prison and hopeful this will spark some kind of sensible talk on the position the government in London is taking.”
…Bevan’s actions were part of a campaign against government plans to cut their grant to S4C by 94% and merge the channel with the BBC.
On March 6 Bevan and another activist smashed windows to get into the Conservative MP’s office, before damaging a door, pushing computers off desks and spraying Welsh slogans on walls and cabinets. They then called police and waited at the scene so they could be arrested.
He told the court: “The politicians in London continue to ignore all the organisations and voices in Wales over S4C, they continue to insult our small nation.”
Bevan was also sentenced to five days in prison to run concurrently for an earlier offence of criminal damage for painting Welsh slogans at the Welsh Government buildings in Cathays Park.’
It is clear from the court case that the damage caused to the office of the Conservative MP Jonathan Evans was entirely minor, and Jamie’s only offence was to paint a slogan in Welsh on a wall supporting calls for a proper television service for Wales. He had not ‘trashed a Conservative MP’s office in protest over funding cuts to a Welsh language TV station’ as the English-based Huffington Post UK inaccurately described it nor was he guilty of ‘vandalising a Welsh Assembly building’ either.
‘Jamie Bevan, 35 years old from Merthyr Tudful, is the first language activist to be imprisoned over the future of Welsh language broadcasting for almost 30 years. He was convicted of breaking into the office of Cardiff North MP Jonathan Evans, and painted a slogan on the wall of the building. The non-violent action was part of the campaign against government plans to cut their grant to S4C by 94% and merge the channel with the BBC.
In a previous hearing, Jamie Bevan was ordered to be tagged and pay compensation of £1,020. He has refused to be tagged in an effort to draw further attention to the threat to S4C, the only Welsh language TV channel in the world.
In a further sign of the peaceful nature of the protest, a Church Minister read a message to a crowd of supporters as they gathered to hear the verdict. Addressing Cardiff Magistrates Court, Jamie Bevan said:
“The politicians in London continue to ignore all the organisations and voices in Wales over S4C, they continue to insult our small nation.”
“I didn’t act for my own benefit. I didn’t ignore the curfew for my own benefit. And neither do I refuse to pay fines or costs for my own benefit. I protested, and continue to protest, out of principle, without self-righteousness, completely confident that I am doing the only thing I can under the undemocratic circumstances we face.”
“In their first application to refuse bail, the police said that I was someone without any respect for law and order. May I say that I live the vast majority of my life legally and orderly, working full time, and more, a responsible and loving father. But I don’t respect a system of law and order which picks and chooses who they defend and when they act democratically or undemocratically.”
“No social injustice has ever changes through cowardly accepting rules imposed by the few who protect only their own selfish interests. We must push against the system if we are to see real change which is for the benefit of our communities.”
Bethan Williams Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) appealed to people to refuse to pay their TV licence in support of Jamie Bevan’s sacrifice for the future of the language:
“We’re asking people to refuse to pay their TV licence as a sign of support for Jamie. If the Government doesn’t listen to the united voice of people in Wales – who oppose the savage cuts which put S4C’s future in doubt – more and more of our young people will face prison. That’s the result of the ill-considered decision of the Westminster Government to make a 94% cut in their grant to the channel.”
“It’s terrible that after the struggle of the seventies and eighties, we are in a situation where we have to campaign again for something that was won decades ago. I hope the Government will take note of Jamie’s sacrifice for Wales’s unique language; a treasure for everyone who chooses to make Wales their home.”
People are refusing to pay the TV licence until the Government ensures independence for the channel and sufficient finance to run the service.’
For more information please contact Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01970 624501.
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