THE Ulster People’s Forum have accused the PSNI of ‘political policing’ at recent Union flag protests.
The PSNI has taken a tougher line in some areas to the protests, forcing people off the roads for “health and safety reasons”.
And those who refuse have been arrested for disorderly behaviour, throwing snowballs at police and obstructing a public highway.
In a statement on Tuesday night, the UPF said they believe protestors are being interned and interrogated and added that they are “priosners of conscience”.
The PSNI declined to comment on claims they have used a tougher stance against protestors in recent times.
The UPF statement said:
“Ever since the irresponsible and provocative removal of the Union flag from Belfast City Hall in December, thousands of people from across Northern Ireland and mainland Britain have participated in daily peaceful protests to show their genuine hurt and outrage for the decision taken by the collaborative working of Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance, now known as Ulster’s political ‘axis of evil’!
“People from all walks of society have come onto the streets to express their shame and disgust at what these irresponsible antagonists have achieved.
“The removal of the Union flag was not just another British symbol being decommissioned, but rather it was an unwarranted, deliberate assault by the nationalist socialists to undermine our legitimate right to be British and our freedom to express our British nationality. The decision promoted as democracy smacks more of cultural fascism against this countries legally recognized national symbols and icons .
“Over recent days the Ulster People’s Forum has been made aware of a number of protestors being forcibly interned by the PSNI and questioned on trumped up offences such as “suspicion of blockading a public highway” or “waving a Union flag in a controversial fashion.”
“The internees who are subjected to hours of interrogation are considered prisoners of conscience, ordinary people who, as a matter of conscience attended peaceful protests to exercise their democratic right to express their frustration and hurt they have felt by the removal of the internationally recognized legal flag of this country.
“It now appears that the price of their right to protest, (under the European Convention on Human Rights: Article 11.1) is to be treated as enemies of the state and to be deprived of the most basic human right, the right of peaceful political expression without fear of state persecution.
“These normal, hard working, decent unionist protesters of Northern Ireland are being victimized because they took a peaceful/lawful stand against the removal of their British heritage by those, who for years bombed and maimed their way to high positions of power within the failing government of this country.
“The Ulster People’s Forum once again calls upon the Chief Constable Matt Baggott to bring an immediate end to the political policing presently taking place and stop the internment of law abiding citizens.
“Today in Northern Ireland murderers and bombers enjoy high office while peaceful protesters are persecuted for merely expressing their democratic rights. This message now being imparted to a new generation is a dangerous one and one that has the seeds of great resentment and strife built into its DNA.
“The Ulster People’s Forum supports the protestors’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, but above all their right to be treated respectfully as British citizens simply asking for their nationality and lawful flag to be upheld and protected and to be placed above political manipulation from any side in our dysfunctional society.”