More photographs here.
8 people have been arrested over the past week, two of them today, for protesting outside the ASB Tennis Centre due to the presence of Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer. The protests are part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, initiated in 2005 after an appeal from 170 Palestinian civil society organisations including trade unions, political and social organizations, and women’s and youth groups. The campaign calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.
According to Global Peace and Justice Auckland, the organisation behind this weeks protests, “A campaign around BDS of Israel has a power in NZ precisely because of its association with similar, successful campaigns against South African apartheid.” In the 1970s and 80’s New Zealand had a large anti-apartheid movement that targeted New Zealand’s sporting contacts with South Africa. John Minto, founder of Halt All Racist Tours (HART) one of the main organisations in that movement, was among those arrested at yesterdays protests.
The police have claimed the arrests were made due to excessive noise which annoyed those in attendance at the tennis match, however this is unlikely to hold up in court. According to the precedent set by Rees vs Police in 2006;
“It is not correct to say that in exercising the right to protest, a citizen has the duty not to annoy. It is permissible, within limits, for a citizen to annoy others while protesting. It is not enough that the conduct is irritating or ill mannered or in bad taste. Protestors often set out to cause irritation, to attract attention to their message. That is not in itself illegitimate, or a breach of the criminal law.”
Protester Joe Carolan told stuff.co.nz yesterday “all the leaders of the movement have been singled out today, if that’s not political policing I don’t know what is.” The news website reported that police had a greater presence, including a helicopter which was “making much more noise than the protesters.”
by Byron Clark. For the Workers Party campaign of solidarity with Palestine, click here.