Last night, I marched with hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists taking to the streets of Melbourne and marching to Max Brenner as part of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign against the apartheid state of Israel. These demonstrations continue despite attempts to persecute and intimidate the demonstrations and leading activists.
It was important to march last night on the week of the Nakba, the day Palestinians were evicted from their land, and in light of the inspiring stand Palestinian prisoners have been taking by going on hunger strike to draw attention to their unjust detention.
With the demo taking place in the middle of the trial of 16 activists who were arrested last year at a similar protest, police spared no expense. Hundreds of police swarmed the city, with a crack team of riot police following the peaceful march as it made its way through the city to Max Brenner in QV. At times, the march was flanked by a tight line of police on either side. It was a clear sign of intimidation as if those opposing Israel’s war crimes were the threat, not Israel itself. Many who would have come up and joined us kept their distance because of the heavy police presence. It is revolting that they do anything they can to try and dissuade people from exercising their right to protest. But it was inspiring that hundreds came out despite this and defied the intimidation.
The trial continues in the Melbourne Magistrates Court and defendants say that the police are trying to drag the trial out for as much as possible, putting a ridiculous amount of resources into the case. Already it has been revealed in the case that police were briefed before last year’s protest with specific intent to make arrests to send a message. QV management met with Zionist groups and the Victorian police to coordinate efforts to stop any criticism of Israel, and especially companies or the Australian governments ties with the state.