Jaggi Singh Arrested (Again)

Tony Tracy tony at tao.ca
Tue Jan 21 16:03:31 MST 2003


from rabble.ca
---

Jaggi Singh Arrested (Again)

by David Bernans
January 21, 2003

Just a few weeks ago Montreal-based activist Jaggi Singh was arrested and
deported from Israel. Yesterday, Singh was arrested and banned from campus
during an interview at Concordia University following a demonstration.

On January 20, 2003, about an hour after giving a speech in support of
Concordia Palestinian human rights activists who are facing disciplinary
hearings, Singh was arrested by Montreal police sergeant Donald Lemieux
and removed from the communications office of the Concordia Student Union.

According to Singhs lawyer, Singh is being charged with assault,
disturbing the peace and illegal assembly. All three charges stem from the
September 9, 2002, demonstration at Concordia University that forced the
cancellation of a speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin
Netanyahu.

The arrest interrupted an interview this writer was doing with Singh and
fellow activists Dexter X and Gabriel Babineau about their experiences
with police brutality during the April 2001 Summit of the Americas in
Quebec City. Singh gained notoriety during that mobilization for allegedly
possessing a teddy bear catapult that may have been used to assault
police. Those charges were later dropped, but he is still facing charges
of participating in a riot. His trial by jury begins May 20.

The arrest of Montreals most famous anarchist is just the latest in a
series of Middle-East-related events at the downtown campus of the
Montreal university now known as Gaza U.

"Why is Gaza U a derogatory term? Singh asked during yesterdays speech.
Concordia should be proud to be compared to Gaza. He praised the
resistance of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and other occupied
territories, and said that the struggle of Concordia students in the face
of repression is important, but it cannot be compared to the heroic
efforts of the Palestinian people.

The afternoon protest was held outside in bitter-cold temperatures because
organizers were threatened with disciplinary and legal action from the
university if the event were to occur on university property as originally
planned.

One of the ten students being brought to the universitys disciplinary
panel was conspicuous by his absence at the rally. Samer Elatrash is
banned from participating in Concordia-related political activities as
part of his conditions of release in relation to criminal charges stemming
from the anti-Netanyahu protests. Elatrash said he does not expect a fair
hearing at the university panel. We dont have access to video tapes that
would contextualize the video montage being presented by the complainant.
To get the security tapes we need for evidence, we have to ask the
security investigator Jaques Lechance. He is the one making the complaint
against us, so there is a conflict of interest."

Elatrash said that the security tapes would show the police brutality that
occurred before students took a more confrontational approach.

Its a not-so-strange coincidence that Singh was arrested on the day that
disciplinary hearings for students were to begin. Singh, who is not a
Concordia student, will not be allowed to set foot on Concordia property
for any reason whatsoever

Police had a chance to arrest Singh last week at another Concordia
protest. Although very few Concordia students attended the action against
Defence Minister John McCallum (reportedly for fear of tough new
disciplinary regulations), Singh, along with students from other Montreal
universities, made their presence felt. They chanted slogans like No blood
for oil. At the time, a Montreal police officer on the scene told Singh,
We will deal with you later.

Was Singhs arrest timed by police in consultation with the Concordia
administration for maximum political impact? University Public Relations
officer Chris Mota said that police came to arrest Singh because they saw
him on TV [at the protest earlier in the day]."

University legal counsel Bram Freedman said that security personnel helped
police locate Mr. Singh in the student union offices when they were told
that there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Freedman also
explained that the university had been trying without success to deliver a
letter to Mr. Singh banning him from campus. I understand that he will be
personally receiving the letter this afternoon, said Freedman. It is no
doubt easier to serve papers on someone who is in police custody.

Singh was released yesterday evening with a promise to appear in court.


David Bernans is the researcher/archivist of the Concordia Student Union
and a former faculty member in Concordias political science department. He
is also the author of Con U Inc.: Privatization, Marketization and
Globalization at Concordia University (and beyond).


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