More than a year after the fact, a demonstrator who took part in a peaceful protest at the Ministry of Justice is now facing charges of disobeying a police order, Fréttablaðið reports. The accused has responded in an open letter, published in the same medium, wherein he stands by the contention that he broke no laws and was exercising his democratic right to protest.
Last year, protests organised by No Borders Iceland and Refugees in Iceland frequently took place at the Ministry of Justice. These peaceful protests were typically sit-ins, which had the express purpose of seeking an audience with the Minister in order to discuss improving the conditions of refugees in Iceland.
Despite the peaceful nature of these protests, police did sometimes use force. In the wake of one such protest, on April 4th 2019, the demonstrators were charged with breaking and entering, but those charges were later dropped.
However, two of the demonstrators—Kári Orrason and Borys Ejryszew—have now been charged in connection with the protest of disobeying police orders to leave the area. The charges recommend prosecution. If convicted, the accused could face fines and paying legal fees of their accusers.
Kári told reporters that the demonstration was “peaceful and perfectly legal”. Kári expands upon his thoughts in the aforementioned open letter, written for Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir, the chief of the capital area police.
In the letter, Kári states that he believes he saw her at last June’s Black Lives Matter demonstration. In light of this, Kári states:
“I have to say that [being charged] came as a surprise to me, because I thought I saw you at Austurvöllur showing support for a movement that centres on listening to the voices of those who have been oppressed for far too long, a movement that centers on changing the system so that those who have been systemically oppressed will finally get justice, and get to live in peace. Because this was what I was trying to do when I was arrested at the Ministry of Justice during a peaceful protest last year. I was trying to use my right to protest, and to help those people in a more difficult and precarious position advance their case. I was trying to change society for the better. Is that not the civic duty of us all?”
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