No Case to Answer

Blog by Natalia Grana

I haven't written for a month or two due to personal circumstances but now I'm back in the land of the living I'd like you all to hear about a Manchester peace protester and his court cases. Usman Hamid (affectionately known as Mani) has protested for a long time often as a single protester with hand-written placards as well as in groups, and always, always peacefully. The Manchester Evening News (M.E.N.) covered his story recently, on Thursday February 16th to be exact. They were correct in saying that Mr. Hamid had stood with fellow protesters in Piccadilly Gardens on Armed Forces day last June (2011) holding a placard, but wrong in saying it featured an expletive; the placard had read "Bombing for Peace is like F*****g for Virginity" (censoring stars included).

The article stated that Mr. Hamid grappled with the police which is untrue. He wasn't given a reason for his arrest so he did resist arrest and was pushed, pulled and violently dragged, sustaining multiple injuries. The M.E.N. also stated that Mani was protesting against the war in Afghanistan which he refutes, he was merely making a philosophical statement.

The case was cleared on appeal after Mr. Hamid had to represent himself in court having had three different solicitors let him down. The judge stated that there was no case to answer, so his fines were dropped, and asked why the CCTV footage only showed the point when the police came onto the scene and not the peaceful protest prior to the arrest, with Mani also noting that there was no footage of the brutal arrest itself and his violent treatment. Mani is now also putting in a complaint about not being seen by a nurse while in custody to have his injuries looked at.

Mani now faces a second court case due on the 16th March about a UK Uncut action which took place last summer - 14th May 2011 in which he and some others were attacked outside Vodafone. I find this reprehensible as Mani is not a tall man and wiry of build. He is very smiley and is a holistic therapist by trade so as you can imagine was not aggressive or confrontational in any real sense. He has made a small leaflet to garner support for the upcoming trial. Hopefully there will be a solidarity demostration outside the court on the day.

Manchester against Militarism had a meeting last month in which the Manchester and Salford CND group members attended and in so doing boosted numbers and joined forces. I personally would like to see more of this on the left. People perhaps putting aside their negligible differences to unite and work together to effect change. I feel as a parent that what I can do and which demonstrations and actions I can attend are limited but I do what I can. Tomorrow I will be attending the Quaker Manchester and Warrington local Area Peace group, where we will be discussing our plans for the year and our mission statement as such. We seem to be breaking the mould a bit with certain discussions and our general approach but it's a wonderful outlet and expression of the Quaker Peace testimony.