Things are heating up in Australia. The turmoil over boycott arrests previously covered here has escalated. A group called Defend the boycott Israel 19 has issued a press release today announcing Pro-Palestine activists arrested in dawn raids calling this "the most severe crack-down on civil liberties in decades". Protesters were arrested on the pretense of "breaching bail conditions", and it is said that they will be held until September 5th.
This is just days after the Victoria government issued an unprecedented request by calling in the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to investigate citizens who have joined the BDS campaign.
ANTI-Israel activists face investigation for alleged secondary boycotts (ed note: section 45D of the Competition and Consumer Act) under landmark attempts by the Baillieu government to curb the global campaign to target companies and businesses linked to the Jewish nation. Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O'Brien said the protesters had deliberately pinpointed businesses with Israeli ownership and who they believed traded with the Israeli government.
Clearly the government is pulling out all the stops to end this boycott. Boycott Israel 19 Campaign organiser Omar Hassan:
“This crack-down on the right to protest should be of concern to all Victorians. The lengths to which the Baillieu government is going to eradicate criticism of Israeli Apartheid and criminalise dissent are unprecedented. We need to be clearly saying; demonstrating is not a crime. Taking action in support of Palestine is not a crime.”
“Actions taken against South African businesses by anti-Apartheid protests were important in generating opposition to that racist regime. To outlaw similar actions today can only be motivated by a desire to protect the reputation of Israel, and represent an unacceptable attack on our right to express dissent and show solidarity with oppressed people around the world.”
I predict restricting Australians' civil liberties so as to protect Israel will backfire against the Australian Government, while escalating attention and support for the BDS campaign leading into Palestinians seeking membership in the United Nations General Assembly next month.
Australian blogger and journalist Antony Loewenstein:
If any establishment figure wants to charge people for speaking up for Palestine and highlighting in a peaceful way that corporations with ties to the Zionist state should be boycotted for profiting on the back of repression, I’m happy to pronounce; I back BDS completely as a moral responsibility to defend the rights of Palestinians.