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Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 15:53 GMT
Five arrested at language rally
Language protestors returned to Trefechan Bridge at Aberystwyth
Language protestors at Trefechan Bridge, Aberystwyth
Police have arrested five people during a protest march through Aberystwyth.

Members of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg - The Welsh Language Society - met at the town's Trefechan Bridge to unveil a plaque commemorating the group's first protest in 1963.

Aberystwyth sea front
Aberystwyth has played a key role in Cymdeithas campaigns
Eleven people who took part in the 1963 protest returned for Saturday's ceremony before a procession of 200 members called for a new Welsh Language Act.

Five people were arrested after paint was daubed on a building society office in Aberystwyth's main street.

Prominent academic

Saturday's protest is called 'The Struggle Continues" to mark's forty years since the establishment of Cymdeithas.

The campaigning group was formed after a lecture by the prominent academic and activist Saunders Lewis.

"Restoring the Welsh language in Wales is nothing less than a revolution. It is only through revolutionary means that we can succeed," was his defiant message in the BBC Annual Lecture delivered on 13 February 1962.

Saunders Lewis was a former President of Plaid Cymru but when he made this call he had not been involved in political campaigning for years, concentrating instead on his literary activities.

His lecture had a dramatic effect.

In it he called on the people of Wales to refuse to complete forms, pay taxes or licenses if it was not possible to do so through the medium of Welsh.

He said campaigners had to be willing to pay fines and to face prison sentences for their beliefs.

Cymdeithas language protest
Another Cymdeithas language protest

Although the number of Welsh speakers was falling, he proclaimed that the Welsh language could be saved.

Members have been campaigning for the rights of the Welsh language ever since through protests and direct action.

On Saturday society members called for various changes including a new Language Act and a new Property Act for Wales.

"We believe this to be the most effective way to celebrate the fortieth birthday of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg.

During those 40 years Aberystwyth has played a key role in the history of the movement," said a spokesman.

Campaigns mounted there by the society have covered the language, a Welsh television channel, a language education development body and a property act.

See also:

08 Aug 00 | Wales
Call for new language movement
04 Jun 00 | Wales
Elis-Thomas in language row
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