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  MAYA EVANS JAILED FOR AFGHAN WAR PROTEST: FREED 6 MARCH 2012

On 29 February 2012, Maya Evans of Justice Not Vengeance (JNV) was sentenced to 13 days in prison for refusing to pay a fine imposed after an anti-war protest in 2009. She spoke up firmly and clearly in court, condemning British war crimes in Afghanistan and remembering the people she recently met in Afghanistan, victims of NATO's war. Early on Tuesday 6 March 2012, Maya was released from HMP Bronzefield near Ashford, Surrey, to be greeted by a small group of supporters.

Many thanks to all those who wrote letters and cards to Maya while she was inside.

Maya (third from left) outside Hastings Magistrates Court on 29 February 2012. Photo: Gabriel Carlyle.

Below is the press release we sent out on Maya's imprisonment.

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PRESS RELEASE

29 February, Hastings Magistrates Court:

A peace activist who won a "partial victory" in the High Court regarding British complicity in torture in Afghanistan was jailed this morning for her part in an anti-war protest.

Maya Anne Evans (32) from St Leonards was jailed for 13 days for non-payment of over £300 in fines and costs, stemming from a court case in November 2009.

Ms Evans was arrested in May 2009 for taking part in a nonviolent "Die-in for NATO’s Victims in Afghanistan" outside Britain’s military nerve centre at Northwood, and later convicted of “obstructing the highway”. The demonstration – held to mark the second anniversary of a NATO bombing attack that killed 47 Afghan civilians – was held to demand an end to the bombing of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of British troops from the country [1]. NATO bombing has continued since then. Indeed, NATO recently confirmed the death of eight civilians in an airstrike earlier this month.

Refusing to pay the fine on grounds of conscience, Ms Evans explained that she had just returned from a trip to Afghanistan where victims of the decade-long war had pleaded with her to return to the UK and highlight their plight. "I don't feel what I did on 27 May 2009 was a crime", she told the Court. "We were trying to highlight the war crimes that had been committed."

Ms Evans recently returned from a month-long visit to Afghanistan where she worked with Afghan peace activists, and met with refugees, human rights workers and the relative of a civilian killed in an unmanned “drone” strike.

In 2005, she was convicted for reading the names of the Iraq war dead opposite the Cenotaph without police permission, and in 2010 she won "a partial victory" in the High Court, regarding British complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees.

Ms Evans said: “In Afghanistan I met a young man whose sister had been left widowed, with an infant son, by a NATO airstrike that killed five civilians. Meeting the victims of US and British policies has only strengthened my conviction that we need to terminate Britain’s role in this senseless and bloody war.”

She added: "Afghan peace campaigners urged me to do all I can to stop British involvement in their country. It is all of our responsibility to campaign against the death of innocent Afghan civilians, to pressurise our government which currently has blood in its hands."

BOOK

JNV published Maya's book Naming the Dead in 2006. It is available for £7 inc p&p from JNV, 29 Gensing Road, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex TN38 0HE.