After court victory in Australia, Palestine solidarity activists return to protesting 28Jul12 July 28, 2012

by Annie Robbins   -   MONDOWEISS    -   27 July 2012

Directly after Australian pro-Palestine activists’ stunning victory in their year long court battle with the Victorian state government, it’s fantastic to see they’re right back holding ground in front of the Max Brenner shop in QV Square!

Go Australia!

Sipping on “apartheid-free hot chocolate”, more than 150 protesters tonight moved in to reclaim QV Square.c

More than 60 police and private security guards attended the peaceful protest where guest speakers campaigned for Palestinian independence.

Organiser Omar Hussan said the group was not anti-Semitic and sought only to stand up for free speech. “It’s very exciting to be continuing this campaign with the 16 activists who were arrested,” Mr Hassan said. “The point of today is to ratify the decision of the court and to make our presence felt here at QV.”

The background from Vashti Kenway’s report in Mondoweiss:

Australian pro-Palestine activists have had a major victory in their year long court battle with the Victorian state government. A Melbourne magistrate has dismissed the substantive charges against the protesters known as the Max Brenner 16.

The activists were arrested last July 2011 at a demonstration against the Max Brenner chocolate shop; a company owned by the Strauss group which is renowned for its financial and moral backing of two of the most murderous brigades in the Israeli military, the Golani and Givati. These units are notorious for their malicious attacks on Gaza in the assault in 2008/ 2009 and more recently as the shock troops for the Israeli colonies in Hebron.

The charges, ‘trespass in a public place’ and ‘besetting’, were pursued by the Victorian police in a 17 day case, which saw 26 police witnesses, 4 civilian witnesses called to the stand and mounted an estimated 1 million dollars in court costs. The time, money and effort devoted to the case reveals the determination of the Victorian police and the Australian Zionist movement to criminalise dissent and to crack down on pro-Palestine voices.

This judgement is a slap in the face to all those who want to silence the Palestinians and their supporters. Renowned civil liberties lawyer Rob Starry, who acted for some of the accused, said the decision had wide-ranging ramifications. “This case is really a landmark case in the annals of the criminal justice system because what it represents is people have a right to express themselves politically,” he said. Indeed this decision is a part of the mounting roar of defiance against Israeli apartheid across the world.

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