A call for a national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions conference

Building Solidarity, Combating Occupation & Apartheid

Melbourne, 29 – 31 October 2010
– activism in support of Palestine –

As supporters of the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination, we have come together to initiate a call for a two and half day national Australian BDS conference to be held in Melbourne on October 29- 31, 2010.

Over the two and half days of the conference, we hope to bring together people from all over Australia, who are already active in the Palestine solidarity movement, as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about BDS and the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and justice.

Plenaries will address the history of civil resistance and boycotts, including an analysis of apartheid in South Africa and Palestine; colonialism in Australia and Palestine; and lessons from Palestine solidarity work internationally. In addition, there will be workshops and strategy sessions focused on the development of a national BDS network and campaign in Australia, including strategy sessions focused on developing the involvement of the Union and Labour movement, Student and Campus groups, Community and Faith based groups and art and cultural groups in the campaign; as well as also developing research and media groups to support the campaign.

Background information:

In 2005, Palestinian civil society, including more than 171 Palestinian organisations, political parties, trade unions, associations, coalitions, initiated a Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign against Israel. Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, the Palestinian-initiated 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 recognize the Palestinian people”s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law.

Over the past five years, the Palestinian BDS campaign against Israel has gone from strength to strength internationally, with trade unions, student groups and other sectors of the community announcing support for the campaign. However, in Australia, the campaign is still in its infancy.

In 2009, millions of ordinary people in Australia, and around the world, protested in condemnation of Israel”s brutal all-out bombing of 1.5 million Palestinian civilians residing in the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip. In the past few weeks, we have again seen hundreds of thousands of people around the world take to the streets to protest Israel”s murderous attacks on the international humanitarian flotilla on May 31st, which was carrying 700 human rights activists who were attempting to break Israel”s illegal siege of Gaza, and deliver more than 10,000 tonnes of much needed humanitarian aid. Israel”s pre-mediated violent attack on the flotilla left 9 international human rights activists dead and dozens more wounded.

Israel continues to carry out its siege and occupation of Gaza and illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As the BDS campaign continues to grow in leaps in bounds internationally, it is time for supporters of human rights and justice in Australia to come together as part of a national campaign in support of BDS and the Palestinian people.

We hope that you will join us in October for Australia”s first national BDS conference in support of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and justice.

To endorse this call or to help with the organising of the conference, please contact us at: ausbds@gmail.com

Or visit our blog at: http://australianbdscampaign.wordpress.com/

Signatories: (organisations for identification purposes only)

Julia Terreu (Adelaide)

Action for Palestine and Independent radio broadcaster

Phil Monsour (Brisbane)

Musician and Activist.

Union Aid Abroad APHEDA Middle East Study Tour 2010 delegate for the Queensland Teachers Union

Kim Bullimore (Melbourne)

Volunteer, International Women”s Peace Service in Palestine and

Independent journalist and writer on the Israel-Palestine conflict

Sarah Haynes (Perth)

Treasurer, Friends of Palestine (Western Australia)

Rachel Johnson (Sydney)

Volunteer, International Solidarity Movement, Palestine.

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