Earlier this year a couple of us in north Wales joined the IWW and made a bit of a push to look for any one else interested in starting a local branch. To date our best success in attracting membership has been a full time activist Osian Jones, who enthusiastically signed up as a Wob.
Osian was to day sentenced to 28 days in prison as a result of his part in direct action campaigning … see below for copy of press realease with full details
Osian is a great admirer of the original American Wobblies who were themselves no strangers to the inside of prison cells…
Anyone wishing to send him a message of solidarity: Osian Jones. Prison No.DX8265. HM Prison Altcourse, Fazakerley, Liverpool L97 LH.
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Prison for campaigner who refused to back down
Osian Jones, a full-time organiser with the radical pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith (Welsh Language Society), was today (25 Nov 09) imprisoned for 28 days having steadfastly refused to pay over £1000 of fines he picked up campaigning.
The charges against Osian follow a slogan painting and sticker campaign against a number of big-business who, despite much public pressure, make little or no use of the Welsh language on their signs and advertising.
Osian attended a hearing a fortnight ago in Pwllheli, expecting to start his sentence then, but proceedings were adjourned as magistrates feared uproar in the packed court. When the members of the bench left the room a sit-in and “peoples’ court” were held at which the government and crown were found guilty of ignoring the rights of the people of Wales. Today’s hearing was moved to a brand new high-security court building at Caernarfon where only a few members of the public were admitted to the public gallery.
Over the past 40 years non-violent law breaking protests – resulting in hundreds of language campaigners appearing in court and dozens imprisoned – have succeeded in winning several changes of legislation and the establishment of a Welsh language TV channel.
The status of Welsh has risen, from being a language with no legal status, to being prominent on road signs and with government departments and public bodies providing bi-lingual services. But many are unhappy that there are no rights to use Welsh with big businesses, mobile phone companies and privitised utilities.
Recently authorities have done their best to avoid imprisoning language protesters and to prevent them from using the courts as a platform. Fines are usually automatically deducted from wages but as an employee of the pressure group Osian Jones has successfully avoided all orders to make payments.
Cymdeithas members last week dressed as supermarket staff and distributed “Disadvantage Cards” to shoppers in one north Wales store.
Two years ago the Cymdeithas presented a 10,000 name petition calling for more rights and Welsh Government has promised a change in legislation but appears to be nervous to take further steps in the face of considerable opposition from bosses’ organisation the Confederation of British Industries.
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Cymdeithas yr Iaith: http://cymdeithas.org/english
Story in Morning Star: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/83582