Melbourne palestine solidarity activists released the statement below on August 9.
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Pro-Palestine activists arrested in dawn raids
Police demand activists be held in custody for weeks
Raids carried out at dawn this morning by police have seen several pro-Palestine activists arrested, in the most severe crackdown on civil liberties in decades.
The activists are being targeted because of their involvement in protests against chocolate shop Max Brenner, a chain store with strong ties to the Israeli military. The protests are part of the worldwide Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which aims to draw attention to the ongoing genocide committed by the apartheid regime in Israel against Palestinians.
Campaign organiser Omar Hassan said: “This crackdown 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.”
The activists were arrested for breaching bail conditions imposed following arrests at a previous pro-Palestine protest at Max Brenner. The bail conditions, which prohibit arrestees going within 50 metres of a Max Brenner shop, are themselves a serious curtailment on the right to protest. The arrestees have been told they will be held until September 5.
Hassan said: “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.”
For more information about the arrests and on-going BDS campaign, contact:
Omar Hassan: 0421185037
Louise O’Shea: 0420819419