- Title: UNITED KINGDOM: Peace activists pitch tents in Parliament Square
- Date: 20th May 2010
- Summary: GROUP STANDING UP IN CIRCLE HOLDING HANDS AT END OF FORUM PEOPLE IN GROUP HUG EACH OTHER FORUM MEETING ENDING MORE OF GROUP HUGGING EACH OTHER WIDE OF DEMOCRACY VILLAGE PAN FROM STATUE OF FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER WINSTON CHURCHILL TO DEMOCRACY VILLAGE IN PARLIAMENT SQUARE
- Embargoed: 4th June 2010 13:00
- Location: United Kingdom
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA7NZ20VUG25L4OB0QH20VPVXCB
- Story Text: A growing group of peace activists pitch tents in Westminster's Parliament Square to protest the war in Afghanistan and climate change. The police have been asked to dismantle the "Democracy Village" ahead of the Queen's speech to parliament next Tuesday, but the activists say ancient British lore allows them to be there.
Around 30 small tents and one large marquee have sprung up in the heart of London's Westminster.
Peace activists have taken over Parliament Square, opposite the Houses of Parliament.
They've pitched up tents, planted a tree, flowers and vegetables and festooned the grassy square with colourful peace banners and protest placards.
Unofficial spokesman for the so-called Democracy Village is a man who goes by the name of Phoenix.
"Democracy Village is an ongoing, evolving discussion forum about the future. It's a place where everyone is welcome to come and talk and discuss what they want to see in politics, the environment," he told Reuters.
Each day the group sits in a circle to discuss their concerns. Their primary point of protest is the war in Afghanistan and they're demanding the new British government bring troops home.
23-year-old Dan Boughton has never taken part in any activist movement before, but found himself drawn to the Democracy Village. He and his brother decided to pitch up their own tent with the growing band of other activists.
"This war has been going on about seven years now. It's an absolute disgrace, you have got innocent people dying on both sides. More people need to come together to show they are not happy about it," he said.
Charlotte Turner, a social worker student, takes care of the impromptu vegetable garden in the middle of the square. She said she's lost faith in parliament.
"After all, 77 percent of people want the troops out of Afghanistan and the main three parties are sending more troops to Afghanistan so I think we need to separate ourselves off from that democracy and start realising that maybe we need to do it ourselves," she said.
Authorities would like to see the Democracy Village residents evicted before the Queen visits parliament next Tuesday (May 25) to deliver her speech.
The Metropolitan police say it is a civil matter and that the activists are breaking no criminal laws.
Parliament Square comes under the jurisdiction of the Greater London Authority, who are looking at ways to move the protesters on.
The activists say they have a right to be there under ancient British lore and have employed a top London legal firm, which specialises in human rights, to advise them on how to peacefully maintain their presence in Parliament Square.
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