Police snatched four Palestine solidarity activists from their houses in the early hours of August 9. Arrested for allegedly breaching their bail conditions by attending a protest against Israeli apartheid outside a Max Brenner shop on July 29, the activists had to pay outrageously high bail sureties to be released.
Max Brenner has been targeted because of its 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.
The four activists were among 19 people arrested at a protest outside a Max Brenner outlet on July 1. Sixteen will face court on September 5 on charges that include besetting, trespass, riotous assembly and resisting arrest.
Thirteen of the “Boycott 19” are on bail conditions banning them from going within 50 metres of the Max Brenner outlets in Melbourne Central and QV shopping centres, except for the purposes of travel or visiting the doctor.
Each of the four activists arrested on August 9 had to pay $2000 bail surety. Even after paying the money, the police delayed their release for hours as a petty form of harassment.
But one of the activists, prominent Students for Palestine activist Vashti Kenway, needs to pay an extra $10,000 bail by August 16 or she will be jailed until the September 5 court hearing. This is an incredibly large sum to pay for merely speaking at and taking part in a non-violent protest.
This indicates the courts are following the lead of the police in deliberately targeting the leadership of the Palestine solidarity protests outside Max Brenner shops.
Kenway said: “This is a blatant attempt at intimidation, and I refuse to concede. It should be a right, in any free society, to speak out against the actions of corporations.
“I have been unfairly targeted because I gave a speech in support of the Palestinians in the vicinity of a Max Brenner shop. I will not stop my campaign against Israeli apartheid — even if it offends the owners of Max Brenner, the Israeli state, [Victorian Premier Ted] Ballieu or the Victorian police.”
The next protest against Israeli Apartheid and Max Brenner stores under the theme “You can’t sweeten Israeli apartheid” will take place on September 9 at 5.30pm at the State Library of Victoria, Swanston St, Melbourne.
[Sue Bolton was one of the 19 activists arrested on July 1. Donations to cover the legal costs for the Boycott 19 are much appreciated. Donations can be made to:
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, BSB: 063-262 Account: 1052 9148. Please tag your donation with the following identifier: DF19.]