USACBI: Support Boycott-Israel 19 in Melbourne!

USACBI supports the Boycott-Israel 19 Defense Campaign in Australia, following upon the police harassment, brutality and arrests against a mass peaceful BDS demonstration in Melbourne. You can sign on at the Defense Campaign”s website, or email

Video of the police attack:


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″³ Defence campaign today!

Current Signatories


Refugee Action Collective (Victoria)

Byron People for Peace and Justice

US Palestinian Community Network

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

The National Lawyers Guild – Free Palestine Subcommittee (USA)

Friends of Palestine (WA)

Al-Awda NY – the Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Conscious Hip Hop Group – The Brothahood

Boycott from Within, Israeli BDS group

Leeds Palestine Solidarity Group

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Action Palestine, Scotland

Action for Palestine, Adelaide

Australian Friends of Palestine Australia, Adelaide

Justice for Palestine, Brisbane


Norman Finkelstein, author and academic

Independent journalist and author – Antony Loewenstein

Joe Carolan, Organiser Unite Union, New Zealand

Gerry Conlon

Dr Jeff Sparrow, editor, Overland

Jacinda Woodhead, Associate editor, Overland magazine

Tony Harris, longtime member of the Australian Greens

Jake Lynch, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

Sameh A. Habeeb – The Palestine Telegraph

Joe Catron – International Solidarity Movement – Gaza Strip

Clare Solomon – 2010 President of Goldsmiths Students” Union, University of London

James Haywood, President, Goldsmiths Students” Union, University of London

Patrick Wolfe,  Historian and writer

Hela Rahman, Auckland University Students for Justice in Palestine

Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne

Assiye Aydin, Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth

Tess Beckett

Stephen Garvey

Heba Ibrahim

Scott Verschuren

Leyal Aksu

Dr Dougal McNeill, Wellington, New Zealand

Dawoods David, South Africa

Professor Jane Kenway

Bonnie Newman

Dr Robert Austin

Viviana Ramí­rez

Helen Patterson

Sefa Varsan

Luke Weylan

Colin Cook

Bill Fox

Shirley Fox

Lindsay Fitzclarence

Olivia Ball

Dr Kathryn Hegarty

Dr. Ron Witton

Fay Waddington

Simon Gibson

Jill Toulantas

Henry di Suvero

Blayne Nelson, Manchester, UK

Monique Nash, Newcastle, NSW

Emma Fullerton, Glasgow, Scotland

Claire Akhbari

Alex Bainbridge

Raul Bassi, Gaza Defence Committee, Sydney

Janice Taylor

Emanuel Stoakes

Pietra Robins

Ryan Laws

Denis Rogatyuk

Rory Dufficy

Dr Nick Shimmin

Jane Novak

Kate Ausburn

Rebecca Wickham

Simon Aplin

Liz Ross, author of Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win: Builders Labourers Fight Deregistration, Socialist Alternative

Adam Ford

Kendall Lovett

Jack Howard, Australian Labor Party

Ray Bergmann, Justice for Palestine, Brisbane

Carol Christie


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