Geelong Trades Hall condemns arrest of pro-Palestine activists

Protest calling for a boycott of Max Brenner stores, Melbourne, July 30. Photo: socialistalternative/Flickr

The Geelong and Region Trades and Labour Council released the statement below on August 10.

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“Supporters of free speech and our right to protest must condemn today’s early morning arrests of Palestine solidarity activists,” said Tim Gooden, secretary of Geelong Trades Hall.

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“Since being elected last November, the Baillieu government has begun cracking down on our right to protest.

“By arresting 19 protesters at a Palestine solidarity protest on July 1 and then re-arresting four of them for allegedly going within 50 metres of the chocolate shop Max Brenner to protest its strong ties with the Israeli military is a hysterical reaction to protests in support of the human rights of Palestinians.

“The government is trying to make it a criminal offence to protest in support of the human rights of Palestinians by arresting so many protesters and threatening to use secondary boycott legislation against organisations supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against the genocidal actions of the Israeli government.

“The right to protest is a fundamental human right and needs to be defended.

“It’s particularly obnoxious that the government is trying to smear the BDS campaign with the accusation that Jewish businesses are being targeted. The BDS campaign is targeting the Israeli state for its oppression of the Palestinians.

“The BDS campaign is part of a long tradition of using consumer boycotts to pursue justice. Boycotts and sanctions were critical to ending the apartheid regime in South Africa, which has inspired people around the world to seek to use similar measures to end Israel’s apartheid-like policies towards Palestinians.

“The ACCC should reject the Victorian government’s request to conduct a political vendetta against organisations supporting the BDS campaign and the Baillieu government should drop all charges against the Palestine Solidarity protesters."