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Activists’ manual launched in Alexandria

A new manual explaining the rights of political activists was launched by Labor Councillor Meredith Burgmann on Human Rights Day, December 10 reports Shaun Walsh in the South Sydney Herald of February 2009.

Ms Burgmann recounted tales of her own political career as a protester, before becoming a member (and then President) of the NSW Legislative Council. She said that one of the most difficult things at the time was to find out legal information and lawyers to represent protesters.

She identified the new manual as being part of a long tradition of human rights documents, “from the French Rights of Man, the American Bill of Rights and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights”. Ms Burgmann pointed out that the manual was obviously of less world significance and intended as a guide for lay people as well as lawyers.

The manual’s author, Dale Mills of Waterloo, completed the manual for Redfern Legal Centre. Policing has become more authoritarian since at least 2000, said Mr Mills, and it has become more difficult to be a political activist.

That is why the manual was needed. It is intended as a guide for lay people as well as lawyers and will be updated with changes in the law and changes in police practice.

In concluding, Ms Burgmann said: “I hope that it becomes the first port of call for activists as well as lawyers representing activists. As the manual is updated in the months and years to come, it will become one of the best examples of its type in the world.”

The new resource has already received written contributions from activists, law students, lawyers and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

Source: South Sydney Herald February 2009