Australian police crack down on BDS protest, arresting 19

Israel/Palestine
on 15 Comments

On July 1, the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) in Melbourne Australia held a non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) action in Melbourne’s CBD. The non-violent and peaceful demonstration of more than 120 people was violently attacked by the Victorian Police and 19 activists were arrested.  They are now facing fines of up to $30,000.  

The non-violent BDS action sought to highlight the complicity of two Israeli companies, Jericho and Max Brenner Chocolate, in Israel’s occupatoin and apartheid policies, as well as Israel’s ongoing war crimes and human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

Jericho produces cosmetics made from minerals exploited from the Dead Sea.  While Jericho profits from the Dead Sea, the Palestinian people who live on the land surrounding the Dead Sea are regularly denied access by Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands.  Restrictions are enforced on the Palestinian people via network of apartheid and occupation policies, including military checkpoints, exclusion zones and Israeli only roads.   Max Brenner Chocolate is owned the Strauss Group, one of Israel’s biggest food and beverage companies. On its website, the Strauss Group emphasises its support for the Israeli military.  The Strauss Grpups provides care packages, sports and recreational equipment, books and games for soliders.  Strauss boasts that it supports both the Golani and Givati Brigades of the Israeli military.  Both of these brigades were heavily involved in Israel’s 2008/2009 military assault on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in more than 1300 Palestinians being killed, the majority civilian, including approximately 350 children.

The non-violent BDS action called on the public to boycott the two Israeli companies and to join the Palestinian initiated BDS campaign against Israel.

  

In the wake of the police attack on Palestine solidarity activists, a defence campaign has been set up in support of the 19 pro-Palestine/BDS activists and to oppose the criminalisation of pro-Palestine activism and the attack on civil liberties by the Victorian police.    The campaign has issued a statement and is calling on all supporters of Palestinian rights and civil rights to endorse the statement and support the campaign in defence of the “Boycott-Israel19″ (please email the campaign email address [email protected]).

The attack on the July 1 action marked a clear escalation in Victorian police violence against pro-Palestinian demonstrators.  CAIA had held a similar action to the July 1 a month earlier on May 20 which also focused on Max Brenner Chocolate and Jericho  While there was a strong police presence, the BDS action was not attacked by the police, as it was a month later. You can see the May 20 BDS action footage here:

You can find out more about the campaign by visiting the campaign website at: www.boycottisrael19.wordpress.com.

Kim Bullimore is a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine (www.iwps.info).  Kim writes regularly on the Israel-Palestine conflict for the Australian newspaper, Direct Action (www.directaction.org.au) and has a blog atwww.livefromoccupiedpalestine.blogspot.com

15 Responses

  1. Shmuel
    July 28, 2011, 12:45 pm

    That’s why malls are so insidious. They replace public space (even at the level of urban planning) and give the illusion of public space, but are in fact private space, where democratic principles such as freedom of speech and assembly don’t apply.

    link to tikkun.org

    • Djinn
      July 28, 2011, 4:31 pm

      I’ve often wondered if that’s exactly why Brenners & Jericho et al choose them rather than high street shop fronts. They get much more protected from protests that way.

  2. iamuglow
    July 28, 2011, 1:03 pm

    ” They are now facing fines of up to $30,000. ”

    Learning about I/P and the activism around it also teaches you that the rights you’re taught you have in Western countries are imaginary.

  3. justicewillprevail
    July 28, 2011, 2:40 pm

    So Israel’s delegitimisation of peaceful protest and free speech is exported to Australia and no doubt other countries. What hold does Israel have on Australian politics?

    • James
      July 28, 2011, 6:55 pm

      i think it is about private property and what folks can do on private property – a mall being owned by some corporation that has control over what goes on in the mall… i think this is no different in any other country… need to protest in a public place, as opposed to a private place….

    • Shingo
      July 28, 2011, 9:21 pm

      What hold does Israel have on Australian politics?

      It’s not as bad as the US, but strong nonetheless.

      Gilard is pretty much in their pocket. Her partner is vlosely affiliate with pro Israeli groups.

  4. Djinn
    July 28, 2011, 3:40 pm

    The hold they have is pretty simple, we are a client state of the US, if they stopped supporting Israel ‘our’ support would dry up overnight.

    Shortly after this action our FM felt the need to have a jolly photo op at this Brenners store sipping hot chocolate and likening the protestors to Nazis.

    • Shingo
      July 28, 2011, 9:11 pm

      This is consistent with the thuggery of the Victorian police during the G20 convention. Still, it’s great to see these dmonstrations taking place. I am hooping they will really ramp up during and after the September UN vote.

      Shortly after this action our FM felt the need to have a jolly photo op at this Brenners store sipping hot chocolate and likening the protestors to Nazis.

      That gutless Rudd obviously learned his lesson after he got tossed out fo office for daring to criticise Israel’s murder of the flotilla.

      I tend to think that such an endorsement from Rudd is a kiss of death anyway.

  5. Shingo
    July 28, 2011, 9:16 pm

    They are now facing fines of up to $30,000.

    Fines for what exactly? This is just BS to try an intimidate similar demos in future.. As if they have a hope in hell of recovering that kind of money from any of these activits.

  6. Sumud
    July 29, 2011, 7:27 am

    Well I’m just back now from a repeat BDS demo tonight in support of the 19 people arrested at the Max Brenner protest last month. I wasn’t at that demo but a friend of mine who was says there were at least four times as many people at this demo, about 4-500 people this time.

    We started at the State Library and march through the city streets, then into one of the malls (!) which has a Max Brenner, there are two in Melbourne CBD. The police were waiting three deep and shoulder-to-shoulder and prevented us from accessing the narrow passage running in front of the Brenner store, but from the amount of noise we made nobody in there could have failed to hear us.

    After about half hour of sit-down, speeches and chanting we marched to the QV Centre, a quasi-mall built on the site of an old hospital with a big open courtyard in the middle which the second Max Brenner faces, the site of the arrests at the protest last month. This area was swarming with cops, incredibly a dozen or so on horseback, another 50 or so again in between us and the Max Brenner store, and several dozen more on the various balconies overlooking the courtyard. A really over the top display of police power, which didn’t intimidate anybody in the slightest. We stayed there for less than half hour and then moved out in unison and back to the State Libray where the rally continued to the Trades Hall, I broke off at this point b/c I work early tomorrow.

    The police didn’t arrest anybody this time. The ABC (national TV/radio network) had television cameras on site, as did one of the commercial channels. I did see cops walking around with pages of printed digital photos early on, I couldn’t see what the images were though. I suspect they planned to make arrests but there were too many people and they would’ve looked pretty bad on the nightly news arresting non-violent protestors. I almost wish they had though, the TV news coverage would have begun to break the issue wide open…

    Anyway, Free Free Palestine! :-)

    • Shingo
      July 29, 2011, 7:36 am

      That’s brilliant to hear Sumud,

      What an amazing turnout!!

      I hope we have one here in Sydney. You know, I’d love to see a massive demo with everyone carrying a pair of handcuffs so that when the copes tries to pull individuals out of the groups, they could in turns be pulled aa side and cuffed – I know, bad and illegal, but it would be fun.

      • Sumud
        July 30, 2011, 1:49 am

        Well Shingo ~ you know what to do, as Djinn says: organise!

        I recall the rallies in Sydney were larger than those in Melbourne after Israel’s attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla last year, so there’s definitely a local awareness of Israel/Palestine. There’s 7 Max Brenners in Melbourne, and 11 in Sydney, get to it!

        Some footage from last night’s rally for your viewing pleasure:

    • Djinn
      July 29, 2011, 3:39 pm

      Surprised at the ‘low’ numbers of cops, the actions we had at Brenners prior to the ones where the arrests occurred had a similar number, also with mounted offics with far less protestors. Can’t wait to be back in Oz – have missed too much already!

  7. Djinn
    July 29, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Don’t hope Shingo, organize!

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