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Three Welsh Rights Activists Arrested

The three civil rights activists belonging to Cymdeithas yr Iaith arrested in Aberystwyth this morning
The three civil rights activists belonging to Cymdeithas yr Iaith arrested in Aberystwyth this morning (Íomhá: Walesonline)

Three activists fighting for Welsh language rights, two women and a man in their twenties, were arrested today by police in Wales after they painted slogans on a local government building demanding greater equality for Welsh-speaking citizens from the devolved government in Cardiff. From the Daily Post newspaper:

“Three campaigners have spray painted the Welsh Government offices in Aberystwyth this morning in a language protest about an alleged lack of support for the Welsh language.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith is blaming the First Minister’s “lack of action in response to the Census results”.

The activists’ organisation said that they painted slogans including pleas for “Addysg Gymraeg i Bawb” (Welsh-medium education for all) on the wall of the Welsh Government building in the town at 7:45am.

The society says that the protest is part of a general Cymdeithas campaign to put pressure on the Labour Government to act urgently in light of crisis facing the Welsh language.

Dyfed Powys Police said: “Police confirm that three people were arrested following an incident in the Welsh Assembly buildings in Aberystwyth this morning.”

On March 7, a dozen Welsh language campaigners chained themselves to a fence outside the same government offices in protest against an alleged lack of support for the Welsh language.

They struck in Aberystwyth in a four hour protest. Police were at the scene but said the event was peaceful.

It follows a similar protest in February at the Welsh Government’s offices in Llandudno Junction.”

5 comments on “Three Welsh Rights Activists Arrested

  1. Athbhlagáladh é seo ar seachranaidhe1.

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  2. Don’t think that vandalism will help their cause.
    How about creating something interesting in Welsh language instead?
    Something that people would want to consume and share.
    That’s the proper way to promote a language.

    The same applies to Irish too.

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    • One certainly doesn’t want to see people getting criminal convictions as may well happen in this case. However direct action in general is more effective than passive, if combined with services like you mention. The “occupy” protests of recent months seem to have been less “risky” but just as effective. Wales has a large Welsh-speaking minority and while it is loosing older speakers it is gaining younger ones at much the same rate so it still survives with intergenerational continuity as a living and communal language. The problem is not a lack of speakers it is a lack of services. Demand outstrips provision. That is especially true of Welsh-medium education where most schools are oversubscribed with long waiting lists while some English-medium schools are under-subscribed. In Wales you have many Welsh-speaking children being forced to attend English-speaking schools due to lack of options. The opposite of that does not occur. Discrimination against Welsh-speakers is also quite widespread, as reflected in mainstream British popular media.

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    • Thinking about your comment Jānis, but can’t quite see what you have in mind. What could be created in Welsh, Irish (or any other minor language) that could be consumed or shared with non-speakers? Especially when you’re up against English speakers who on the whole have little perception of what other languages could mean, since foreigners will always speak to them in English. I’m sure there are deep and valuable things in Welsh/Irish language culture, but to even begin to understand them you’d have to have a considerable knowledge of the language/culture and have been accepted into their community. No access really for ‘day trippers’ then. I don’t really want to sound negative, if you’ve got some brilliant ideas please share them 🙂

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  3. First you have to understand the cultural history to Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg. It all began, decades ago with protests to get the use of Welsh allowed in law courts, so the demonstrators actually set out to get themselves arrested so they would appear in court where they’d refuse to speak English. From that beginning there arose a sort of tradition of getting yourself arrested, being seen as some sort of heroic act. Also early on they took to the idea of painting out English language signs. So that’s where the spray-can culture began I suppose. What’s going on now is that the Welsh devolved Government claims to be pro-Welsh language and held an extended series of public consultations last year, which resulted in six main action points. The government went off to think about them, and just dragged their feet. So eventually Cymdeithas gave them a deadline to act (gweithredwch! in the pic means “act!”) “or else”. Since the deadline passed, a couple of months back, there have been three or four minor demos, but to my mind they’ve been pretty pathetic and easily misinterpreted. Judging by the old film clips you see now and again, in the early days their demos attracted hundreds, sheer weight of numbers made their point. Maybe the the numbers of people who habitually speak Welsh and so care about its survival (as opposed to the many people who could use Welsh but for all sorts of reasons don’t very much) have just eroded over the years. It would certainly be useful to get a response from someone closer to the action.

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