Thursday, July 14, 2011

Governments protecting Israel - Australians on trial over peaceful BDS protest

PressTV - Students on trial over anti-Israel protest:

Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:6AM
Rihab Charida, Press TV, Sydney

"The trial of two Australian students opened in a Sydney court on Wednesday over charges of hindering police during a boycott Israel protest on June 9.

As part of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or BDS, a pro-Palestinian student group staged a protest outside of a Max Brenner café.

The franchise has been the target of BDS protests across the country. Although publicly protesting is a right in Australia, the June 9 student demonstration was forcefully stopped by the police who used batons to disperse the protesters. Ben Peterson and Patrick Langosch were arrested for allegedly hindering police.

In Melbourne on July 1 police attacked a similar demonstration at a Max Brenner café, making 19 arrests. The arrestees known as the Boycott Israel 19 state that:

“The peaceful picket was 'kettled' by police before leading activists were individually targeted in an unprovoked attack by the police riot squad.”

The majority of those arrested have been charged with 'trespass' and 'besetting', while a small number were also charged with “behaving in a riotous manner”. The Boycott Israel 19 maintains that their protest was peaceful.

Only two weeks after the arrests of the 21 activists in Australia another three Australian citizens were arrested abroad by Greek and Israeli authorities.

There are currently 24 Australian citizens that are facing charges both in Australia and abroad for their participation in pro-Palestine activities. Many of them feel that their arrests are part of a global effort to deter pro-Palestine activists, efforts they say will only strengthen the movements resolve to challenge Israel's illegal of Gaza.

Michael Coleman was arrested and charged in Greece for attempting to sail to Gaza earlier this month. Although found guilty, he received a suspended sentence and arrived in Sydney on Tuesday.

Meanwhile another two Australians were detained at Tel Aviv airport for stating that they intended to visit Palestine. Vivienne Porzsolt from Jews Against the Occupation and Sylvia Hale, former member of state parliament, joined the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative, also known as the “flytilla”, after failed attempts to sail to Gaza from Greece as part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, aimed at delivering humanitarian goods to the besieged people of Gaza. More than 120 participants of the flytilla were also detained in Tel Aviv.

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