Chris Breen, a member of RAC, a high school teacher and union activist (elected to AEU state council), was charged with “incitement” under the 1958 Crimes Act for helping to organise a safe car convoy protest calling to free refugees because of the risk of COVID-19.
Thirty refugee supporters have received fines of $1652 each for participating in this protest as well (making almost $50,000 in total).
The protest itself was fantastic – it created a strong connection of solidarity with the refugees in detention in the Mantra Bell City hotel in Preston, and it broke down the isolation and paralysis many of us have been feeling about fighting for health and human rights. The health risks to refugees in detention made every news channel.
But the charge of incitement sets a very worrying precedent for unions, climate activists and all social movements, including ours. Even after the health laws are long gone, if Chris is convicted, the same law could be used against unions or activist groups for organising picket lines or industrial action if deemed not to be legal.
Below are a number of initiatives as part of the defence campaign. Please help in as many ways as you can.
- Sign on statement (for organisations and individuals – we are aiming to publish the endorsements)
To endorse this statement, email firstname.lastname@example.org
A current list of signatories is available here
Read a motion of support from the Victorian State Council of the Australian Education Union
- Petition – please sign
- Fundraiser – please donate to the legal defence campaign
RAC meets by Zoom every Monday at 6.30pm. All welcome.
Call Chris on 0403 013 183 for more information about the defence campaign and how you can get involved.