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Posts Tagged ‘apartheid’

June 2011

May 2011

Max Brenner is a 100% Israeli own company.  It is owned by the Strauss Group — one of Israel’s largest food and beverage companies. On its website, the Strauss Group emphasizes its support for the Israeli military, providing care packages, sports and recreational equipment, books and games for soldiers.

Strauss boasts support for the Golani and Givati Brigades, which were heavily involved in Operation Cast Lead,  Israel’s brutal military assault on the Gaza Strip in December 2008/January 2009.   Operation Cast Lead  resulted in approximately 1,400 Palestinians being killed, the majority civilians, including approximately 350 children. While Strauss has removed information about their support for the Golani and Givati brigades from their English language website, information about the company’s support for both brigades remains on their Hebrew language site.


 

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On Tuesday, 9 August, 4 pro-Palestine activists were arrested in the early hours of the morning.   The activists were arrested for breaking un-democratic bail conditions imposed on them after Victorian Police violently attacked a non-violent peaceful BDS protest and arrested 19 non-violent peaceful demonstrators on July 1.  Initially, the anti-democratic bail conditions imposed on 11 of the 19 peaceful, non-violent activists prevent them from entering  two major shopping centres, including one which has a major train station and medical centres.  On July 27 their bail was varied to prohibited them from going within 50 meters of the two Max Brenner stores in the two city centres.

On July 29, more than 350 people attended the biggest pro-BDS action in Australia to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and to impose the anti-democratic attack and arrests of Palestine solidarity activists.  After hearing a range of speakers from the trade unions and community groups, the peaceful protestors marched through the streets of Melbourne.  Two peaceful non-violent sit-ins were held outside of two Max Brenner stores – one in Melbourne Central and one in the QV Centre.   The four activists  were arrested more than 10 days after the peaceful demonstration for allegedly participating in the non-violent peaceful sit-ins in violation of their bail conditions.

Police persecute Palestine solidarity activists to defend Israeli Apartheid

The Victorian Police and courts went to outrageous lengths to criminalise solidarity activism with Palestine today. For the crime of attending a peaceful demonstration against Max Brenner chocolate store and their support for Apartheid, four activists were snatched from their homes in the early hours of the day, locked in a holding cell, and made to pay a combined total of $16,000 in surety to be allowed to leave.

 
The four activists were part of the Max Brenner 19, peaceful demonstrators who were savagely attacked by police at a demonstration on the 1st of July. Some weeks after the protest the magistrates court imposed anti-democratic bail conditions on 11 of this 19. Which explicitly denied their right to assembly by prohibiting them on the threat of months of imprisonment from protesting against Max Brenner. This attempt to intimidate the Palestine solidarity campaign in Melbourne, has taken place in the context of a hysterical campaign by Zionist organisations, the Victorian Premier Ted Bailieu, and the Victorian Police, to silence protest calling for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel.

 
Today the courts and the police went out of their way to try to punish these four activists by any means possible, when none have been convicted of any crime. Indeed, no crime has been committed except to attend pro-Palestine demonstrations. The four activists were denied their right to phone calls when placed in remand, in an attempt to isolate and demoralise them. It was over 7 hours after their arrest that they were allowed to speak to their lawyers.

 
Once they were brought before a magistrate for a bail hearing, excessively punitive conditions were placed on their liberty for their alleged offenses. The magistrate chose the harshest possible conditions for bail. For the explicit purpose of preventing them from protesting at or even near Max Brenner. Three were made to pay $2,000 in surety each to be granted bail. One was singled out for far harsher conditions on the basis that she has been a public spokesperson at these demonstrations. For the crime of speaking their mind, they were made to pay $2,000 in surety plus another $8,000 the following week. A sum of money that is many times the maximum sentence for her alleged offense.

 
Once all four were granted bail on these conditions, they were further punished by deliberately delaying their release. Friends of the detainees have been made to wait over 5 hours to pay the surety for their release. Despite people being present at 5pm to pay for their release, it was 9:30pm before a single detainee was let out. At the time of writing this report only 2 had been released.
It appears that in the eyes of the courts, protesting in solidarity with the Palestinians struggle for freedom is a heinous crime, while Max Brenner’s support for genocide and occupation is not.

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MEDIA RELEASE      Tuesday 9 August
 
BAILLIEU GOVERNMENT ESCALATES ATTACKS ON CIVIL LIBERTIES
 
Dawn raids see pro-Palestine activists arrested
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 crack-down 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:
 
“This crack-down 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 the 5th.

 
As Hassan points out:
 
“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.”
 
http://boycottisrael19.wordpress.com/

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Biggest BDS action in Australian history! Over 300 rally against Max Brenner in Melbourne.

On July 1 the Victorian police, in cahoots with the Victorian Liberal Government and Zionist groups, arrested 19 peaceful pro-Palestine demonstrators. It was a calculated attempt to intimidate BDS activists from continuing the campaign against Israeli apartheid. They thought that by attacking the BDS demonstration they would put an end to our movement. They were wrong.
In solidarity with the Max Brenner 19 and in defiance of a police intimidation, over 300 people came out tonight to demand Max Brenner be removed from QV and Melbourne Central. The largest BDS action in Australian history was determined to send a message to those who want to protect Israel from criticism, that we would not be silenced. The rally heard from Trade Union and community representatives before marching through the city. The demonstration confidently marched to the Max Brenner store in Melbourne Central chanting what became the trademark of the rally “Max Brenner, come off it! There’s blood in your hot chocolate!”
In spite of repeated threats of mass arrests by Victoria Police – and their deployment of horses within the shopping centre – the protest marched into QV and staged a sit-in in front of Max Brenner. The greatest victory of the demonstration was that it not only returned to QV and defied bans by the Police and the courts, but did so without a single arrest!
We have resolved to use this success to push towards larger actions in the future. The next protest has been called for Friday 9 September

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Stand up for Palestinian human rights!

Stand up for civil rights in Victoria!

Oppose the criminalisation of protests in support of Palestine!

On 1 July 2011, the Victorian police viciously attacked a peaceful pro-Palestine demonstration in Melbourne’s CBD. In one of the largest political arrests in a decade, 19 non-violent protesters were arrested during a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) action against Israeli-owned Max Brenner store. The chocolateria in the Queen Victoria Centre is owned by the Israeli conglomerate ‘Strauss group’; a company that provides “care rations” for the Israeli military, including the Golani and the Givati brigades – two of the key Israeli military brigades involved in Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009, which killed more than 1300 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilian, including over 300 children.

The peaceful picket was ‘kettled’ by police before leading activists were individually targeted in an unprovoked attack by the police riot squad. The tactic of completely surrounding a group of protesters is called “kettling”.

The majority of those arrested have been charged with “trespass” and “besetting”, while a small number of the demonstrators were also charged with “behaving in a riotous manner”. Video taken of the demonstrations shows that the pro-Palestinian activists were completely peaceful and they were attacked in a violent and unprovoked manner by the Victorian police.

The protest against Max Brenner occurred as part of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the apartheid Israeli state.  Inspired by the South African struggle against apartheid, the BDSanctions campaign was launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005.  Endorsed by more than 171 Palestinian civil society organisations, including political parties, women’s groups, trade unions, associations, the BDS campaign is conducted in the framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression and calls for non-violent punitive measures to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law.

The attack on the peaceful BDS action in Melbourne highlights increasing attempts to criminalise BDS and pro-Palestine solidarity activism internationally. Currently in the US, France and Greece, hundreds of pro-Palestine activists are facing criminal charges for non-violently standing up for Palestinian human rights. The attack also highlights the attacks on civil liberties, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in Victoria by the Baillieu government. In June 2011, Bailleu’s Coalition government introduced new laws extending police powers, allowing the Victorian police to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $240 for using “offensive” language. The new laws do not define clearly what “offensive” language is, allowing individual police officers to arbitrarily decide what is offensive or not.

The government has also established a new 42 member “Public Order Response Team”. According to the Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, one of the primary functions of Baillieu’s new riot squad will be “breaking up public protests”.   

Civil liberties lawyer Rob Stary in a media release issued by the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in the wake of the violent police attack on the peaceful BDS protest outside Max Brenner said the attack and arrests showed that “the new Victorian [Baillieu] government is prepared to criminalise legitimate dissent.”

We call on all supporters of human rights, freedom of speech and civil liberties to stand in solidarity with the 19 BDS/pro-Palestine activists who were beaten and arrested by the Victorian police on July 1.  Support and/or join the “Boycott-Israel19″ Defence campaign today!

For more information and to sign on to the solidarity statement visit: Boycott-Israel19


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