Several hundred people marched through the streets of Derry this afternoon to demand the immediate release of Derry political prisoner Tony Taylor, interned without trail by the British State for 500 days. In marking this occasion of his 500 day of incarceration Anarchists in Derry joined with the relatives, friends of Tony Taylor including other a number of republican organisations, socialists, trade union and human rights activists, the largest seen in the city for a number of years.
At the Guildhall Square as the marchers rallied each speaker to the platform call for the continued support for the Taylor family and the end to selective internment without trial of political activists.
Leading up to todays rally a spokesperson for the Free Tony Taylor campaign said "Tony was arrested on March 10th, 2016, in full view of his family whilst on a shopping trip and taken to Maghaberry Prison where he continues to be held today on the signature of the British Secretary of State following the revocation of the release licence he received in 2014.
"The Northern Ireland Office alleged Tony was a risk to the public based on an MI5 assessment, an assessment which clearly does not warrant criminal charges or a trial. Three weeks after Tony was returned to prison it was ruled that the original order to detain him was in contravention of article 28 (2) (a) and (b) of the Criminal Justice Order (NI) 2008.
"Tony’s solicitor Aiden Carlin stated that the refusal of the Parole commission to follow recommendations and release Tony at this juncture was in contravention of section six of the Human Rights Act in conjunction with articles 5 (1) and 5 (4) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Tony’s legal team have recently served a High Court Writ on the Secretary of State in a claim for damages arising from his initial 3-week unlawful detention.
"On May 2nd, 2017, the Parole Commission for Northern Ireland began a four-day review process into Tony’s case which at that point represented an unreasonable delay in context of Article 5 and the Right to Liberty.
"The review process consisted of one open hearing during which Tony was questioned, two closed proceedings from which Tony and his legal team were excluded and a summary hearing which took place on May 30th. A judicial review to examine the lawfulness, necessity and proportionality of Tony’s recall is currently being pursued.
"Tony Taylor’s recall is regarded as internment under its latest guise. Internment was used in the 1970s as a repressive tool of the Stormont regime and whilst the name has changed the fundamental fact that people are being denied their liberty in the absence of due process cannot be disputed.
"The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 promised the people of the north a ‘new beginning’, an ‘era in which justice would be done and be seen to be done’ and measures ‘compatible with a normal and Peaceful society.’ The Free Tony Taylor Campaign would take this opportunity to stress that closed court proceedings, MI5 supremacy over policing in the North and internment have no place in any normal or peaceful society.
"We would again call on the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire to release Tony Taylor back to his family who continue suffer as a result of his arbitrary and unjust detention."
This afternoons march and rally was also used to highlight the current situation across the six countries in which activists can be selected by the state and removed from their loved ones and community simply because they hold an opposing political opinions to what the establishment would like us to have.
Amongst the many banners and placards from the various groups and organisations in support of the release of Tony Taylor, Anarchists in Derry carried a banner in solidarity which read ‘Stop Repression Free All Political Prisoners!’.
One local anarchist activist said “No matter what the political views of Tony Taylor are, as anarchists we will continue to support him and his family's ongoing fight for justice, which is why we continue to support and attend demonstrations such as todays. Its vital that we add our voice to demand his immediate release. We feel that this fight, above all else, is a human rights issue that everyone, anarchist, socialist or republican should be concerned about.
“We are totally opposed to prison system in all its forms and reject the disappearance and imprisonment of any political activists. For us we will continue take part in unified solidarity demonstrations such as todays as in the streets is where we will achieve our goals, not in the chambers of Stormont or Westminster. It’s important that anyone interested in human rights speaks out, no matter what political opinion they hold, to speak out against Tony Taylor's imprisonment and demand an end to similar practices carried out by the State.”
Video footage for todays march for Tony Taylor: