Global Hour

Activist Arrested Ahead of Protest Against King Charles: Critics Claim Freedom of Speech is Under Threat

King Charles inherited the legacy after the death of Queen Elizabeth, even though he was not worthy of this much power, according to the protestors present at the coronation. Some people did not want Charles to be their king; they wanted a unified voting system to decide who would rule the government. They believed that King Charles did not deserve to head the government. Therefore, they protested against him at the coronation.

In June last year, many media outlets reported that Charles had previously accepted ($1.16 million) in cash for his foundation in a suitcase, part of ($3.48 million) in total, from a former Qatari prime minister. The charity was later found to have also accepted millions from Osama Bin Laden’s family. The protestors questioned the integrity of the newly crowned king.

Graham Smith, an activist who has been the chief executive of the UK’s leading republican movement since 2021, was arrested at Trafalgar Square even before the protest started. He was released from police custody later that day. After his release, He said, “There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK.” He added: “I have often been told the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”

Police justified their actions by saying they believed that protestants would seek to deface public monuments with paint and disrupt ‘official movements.’ And they also said that they had arrested three people earlier in the day based on intelligence that protesters were planning to throw rape alarms at the procession, which could have scared the horses involved and thereby caused a risk to public safety.

Local polls suggest support for the monarchy is declining and is weakest among young people. A similar survey by YouGov last month found that 64% of people in Britain said they had little or no interest in the coronation. However, among those aged 18 to 24, the number rose to 75%.

It is estimated that around 52 protestors were arrested by the police at the coronation. Saturday’s gatherings were the first test of the Public Order Act, prompting rights groups’ concerns about diminishing protections for free speech and the freedom to protest. The law severely restricts protest tactics deemed to be particularly disruptive. It is now a crime, punishable by up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine, for protesters to attach themselves to “others, objects or buildings to cause serious disruption.”

Britain’s human rights groups and politicians criticize the law enforcement response to King Charles III’s coronation. UK director of Human Rights Watch, Yasmine Ahmed, described the police’s actions as alarming and “something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London.” The action taken by the police against the Protestants at the coronation may lead to much havoc, which will further build a sense of disbelief in the mind of the residents. They wouldn’t believe the police and the government in the future to deal with any issue and might start protesting again.

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