Saturday, 29 June 2013

JENGbA & Trenton Oldfield

It is very odd being part of a campaign like JENGbA’s; we are moving fast and our message is spreading quickly, though, as a grassroots campaign, we never know from one week to the next what to expect.  So on Thursday when I was asked to do an interview with the Sunday Times about the Government’s decision to extradite Trenton Oldfield, I accepted without hesitation.

Trenton Oldfield & Deepa Naik (source: UK Guardian)

When I first met Trenton, it was at a Right to Protest meeting when he was on remand waiting to know if he was going to prison; he was pretty sure he was going to be incarcerated. He was with his wife Deepa and I remember my first words to him, “Aren’t you the guy the media made out to be nuts?”  But he wasn’t and I met a couple who talked and listened.  Trenton and Deepa are deeply committed to community, human rights, poverty and injustice. 

When Trenton interrupted the boat race, (not just peacefully – he was like a seal appearing out of nowhere, remember the commentators saying ‘there is a man in the water’ like they couldn’t fathom a man could be in the water?)  the public also were not clear what he was actually doing.

On Newsnight, he said he had deliberately kept his ‘plan’ to protest in the Thames from his friends and family because he had learnt from JENGbA campaigners about the common law that is Joint Enterprise.  He was concerned that even if he told   Deepa his wife, what he intended, she too could be prosecuted under joint enterprise.  He was right; joint enterprise can reach that far and be that punitive.

So it is refreshing that the Sunday Times and other media also agree that the reaction against Trenton’s protests seems pathetically extreme. 

Our Government want to extradite Trenton to Australia because he is “an undesirable, that has unacceptable associations and he could be considered a threat to national security…(presence in the UK is) not conducive for public good.”  

What I truly believe Trenton did on that day was take an act of bravery for others.  He wanted to highlight the disparity between rich and poor and this single issue is being ignored by politicians and the media because it does not suit their interests.   People like Trenton are unusual, because we have not seen that bravery in a while.  That is why they want to extradite him, so his voice is quashed. He is not a threat to security, he deliberately took on the establishment via the boat race.  Even I didn’t get it then, but I am getting it now.