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Thursday, 27 March 2014

Maya (Anne) Evans

Maya (Anne) Evans (born 18 December 1979) is a British peace campaigner who was arrested in October 2005 opposite the Cenotaph war memorial in London, for refusing to stop reading aloud the names of British soldiers who had been killed in Iraq following the 2003 Iraq war.
Evans, an anti-war activist from Hastings, became the first person in the UK to be convicted under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 for taking part in an unauthorised demonstration within 1 km of Parliament Square. She received a conditional discharge and a fine.[2][3][4]
In December 2006 Evans lost an appeal against their convictions.[5] Evans was also arrested at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth in 2007 for obstruction of the highway.
Evans is one of the main campaigners in the group 'Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK' focusing on the on-going conflict in Afghanistan. Evans has been on speaking tours in the UK in 2006, 2007 and 2012, her letters appear regularly in The Guardian and The Independent and until 2011 had a regular column in the monthly Peace News. On 10 December 2007, Human Rights Day, Evans was awarded the Peter Duffy Award by the pressure group Liberty "for her campaigning work and commitment to the cause of liberty" and "courage in standing up for our fundamental rights to peaceful protest and freedom of speech".[6][7]

Afghanistan and legal challenges

In June 2009, Evans sought a judicial review of the detainee transfer policy applying to Afghans captured by British soldiers, following claims they were subject to torture, including by beating and electrocution, after being handed to Afghan authorities such as the National Directorate of Security (NDS).[9] The hearing, in April 2010, included evidence from the Royal Military Police,[10] and was partly held in secret, with much of the evidence not available to Evans's lawyers.[11] The judges described their ruling, on 25 June 2010, as a "partial victory" for Evans, concluding that there was "a real risk that detainees transferred to NDS Kabul will be subjected to torture or serious mistreatment" and transfers would "therefore be in breach of the Secretary of State's policy and unlawful", but transfers to other NDS facilities (Kandahar and Lashkar Gah) could continue provided specified conditions were met, such as the right of British monitors to get access to the detainees regularly.[12][13][14][15] After the ruling, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan "found compelling evidence that NDS officials at five facilities systematically tortured detainees", including at least one facility, at Kandahar, that had been pronounced safe for detainee transfers by the High Court.[16]
In 2010, Evans also mounted a call for a judicial review over alleged civilian killings by British forces in Afghanistan.[17] On 12 May 2011, Evans won a separate action against cuts to legal aid for judicial review cases that were brought in the general public interest, submitting that the motive behind the cuts was to avoid government accountability rather than to save money. Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Stadlen found that the government had not properly revealed the "true reasons" behind their proposed amendments to legal aid, and that the consultation process had been "legally defective". The ruling against the cuts was hailed as "a significant victory for the rule of law."[18]
In December 2011, Evans joined Voices for Creative Nonviolence on the first British peace delegation to Afghanistan, visiting a refugee camp to deliver aid raised by other British peace activists. [19][20] She visited Kabul again at Christmas 2012 as a guest of Afghan peace makers. [21]

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