AUDIO: “Protest on Trial” Melbourne May 18, 2012

These are audio extracts from the public meeting that was held at the Victoria Trades Hall on 4 May 2012 to discuss the attempt to stifle legitimate dissent and how the legal system is being used against those who challenge the status quo.  These proceedings arose out of the protests against the Israeli-owned shop Max Brenner last year.

Inbal Sinai, an activist from Anarchists Against the Wall, highlighted military order 101, in force in the West Bank from 1967 until the present, which criminalizes civic activities including: organizing and participating in protests; taking part in assemblies or vigils; waving flags and other political symbols; printing and distributing political material. In addition, the order deems any acts of influencing public opinion as prohibited “political incitement”. She revealed the brutality of the Israeli state and made a compelling case for why the Palestinian political prisoners need to have our unconditional support.  Listen to audio HERE

Kevin Bracken, the State Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, pointing out the use of the “besetting” charge against picketers at an industrial dispute at Visy in 2010. He made a similar point to Jeff in suggesting that many infringements on our civil liberties are brought in slowly “If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump straight out. But if you put it in cold water and raise the temperature, it won’t notice it is boiling, and boil to death.” He urged us to maintain a vigilant attitudes to our civil liberties and the importance of ongoing mobilisation to defend them. Listen to audio HERE Kevin Bracken

Jeff Sparrow highlighted the increasingly  right wing trajectory of Zionism internationally and the pattern here in Australia. He spoke about the tightening of controls of the pro- Israel establishment and their attempts to crack down on any (even mild) critique of the state. Jeff was one of the Austudy 5, who were targeted for arrest following a militant student demonstration in 1992 opposing a move from the then Labor Government to abolish Austudy and replace it with a loan. He compared the crackdown then, and now and noted the increasing aggressiveness of the state police towards protesters.  Listen to audio HERE

Vashti Kenway, one of the defendants in the case, discussed the civil liberties implications of the Max Brenner trial. She pointed to the collusion between the political authorities and the corporations in backing apartheid Israel. She concluded with the old union slogan ‘Touch One, Touch All’ and made the point that the attacks on Occupy and pro-Palestine protesters today would be an attack on unions and other social movements tomorrow. Listen to audio HERE

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