Monday, August 22, 2011

Sydney protest against attempts to silence the Australian BDS movement

PressTV - Anti-Israeli campaigners protest in Sydney:

A protest took place for activists arrested for their involvement in boycott Israel activities. A number of groups have been formed in Australia dedicated the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, from a broad cross-section of Palestinian organisations in 2005.

On July 1st the Victorian police launched what protesters described as an unprovoked attack on a peaceful demonstration outside the Max Brenner cafe in Melbourne. 19 people were arrested in what protesters believe is an attempt to intimidate the BDS, which has been growing in Australia. Two Sydney activists were arrested on July 9 at a similar protest. The activists face up to $32,000 in fines. On Tuesday 9th August, 4 of the arrested activists in Melbourne were re-arrested in dawn raids for allegedly breaching their bail conditions by attending another BDS protest. $18,000 in surety had to be paid before the police would release them.
On August 8, the Victorian government asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or ACCC, to investigate calls for a consumer boycott of the Israeli-owned Max Brenner chocolate shop to determine whether the boycott campaign is in breach of Commonwealth law.

The Victorian government has named the five Palestine solidarity groups involved in the BDS protests as potentially being in breach of section 45d of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 in the belief the groups had either organised, supported the BDS campaign or taken part in the July 1 action. Those claims are yet to be tested.
Max Brenner has been the target of BDS protests globally for its support for the Israeli military. Max Brenner is owned by the Strauss group, one of Israel's largest confectionary companies. Strauss Group, which recently highlighted its "adoption" of the Golani Reconnaissance platoon and other Israeli soldiers on its website, has taken down its support for the Israeli military.

During the July 9 BDS protest in Sydney, the police officers present continuously pressured the Press TV crew to stop filming. They eventually removed the crew by force. Similar pressure was exerted during the protest on Saturday.
A number of public figures and politicians, including foreign minster Kevin Rudd and Michael Danby, a Melbourne based Labor MP, have visited the café to express their support for the Israeli company. The mainstream press in Australia has largely framed the boycott as targeting “Jewish companies”. Kevin Rudd was quoted as saying ''I went there deliberately to make a point and that is I don't think in 21st century Australia there is a place for the attempted boycott of a Jewish business,'' he said. An article by Michael Danby likened the boycott protests to “anti-Jewish commercial boycotts in Germany in the mid-1930's”. He also wrote: “Let's call a spade a spade. These people are violent extremists and bigots. These anti-Israel protestors advocate for a BDS boycott of Jewish commerce”. ­­­
A similar action is being planned against a Max Brenner store in Brisbane on August 27 and September 10.

In a Unified Statement by BDS groups in Australia, states that: “It is very disappointing that elected politicians choose to launch investigations into human-rights and solidarity organisations, rather than explain to the public why Israel is not held to account for its violation of Fourth Geneva Convention and Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice against Israel's wall and colonial settlements. The active attempt to repress Australian organisations that work to promote Israel's accountability before international law is beyond reproach”.

Anti-Israeli campaigners protest in Sydney:

PressTVGlobalNews on Aug 22, 2011

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