NSW Police Attempt to Ban Palestinian Human Rights Rally

Organisers of a Sydney Palestine solidarity protest — Commemorate Al-Nakba: Protest Against Israeli Apartheid! — released the statement below on May 12.

NSW police initiated a Supreme Court action against the pro-Palestine Al-Nakba commemoration march to be held in Sydney on May 15. The police are seeking a court order prohibiting the public assembly and procession. Protest organisers state that they will not be intimidated and will defend the right to protest in court.

Independent journalist and author of My Israel Question, Antony Loewenstein, says: “The right to peacefully protest is a cornerstone of a democratic society. Supporting Palestinian rights is even more essential today in an age where our political and media elites choose to ignore Israeli apartheid right in front of their eyes.”

Sylvia Hale, Former Greens MLC, said: “It is critical, at a time when Israel has gaoled hundreds of Palestinians without charge or trial for protesting at Israel’s illegal occupation of their land, that we show our support for them and the thousands of other political prisoners in Israeli gaols. Australia must cut all military ties with Israel until the Israeli government abides by international law and ends its racist policies of ethnic cleansing.”

By attempting to ban the commemoration, the NSW police have shown they care more about assisting Israel in hiding from its past then upholding the democratic rights of Australian citizens.

May 15th marks the day of “The Catastrophe” (‘Al-Nakba’ in Arabic) where the state of Israel was created on the murder and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Within Israel, the state has attempted to silence protesters from speaking out against the oppression of the Palestinians and remembering this historic event. This has included intimidation and arrests of protestors and cutting funding of NGO’s involved in Al-Nakba events.

The march is planned for May 15 at Sydney Town Hall, beginning at 6pm. The rally will include speakers from the General Union of Palestinian Workers, Jews against the Occupation and many other pro-Palestinian activists.

A representative of the protest organisers has been summoned to a hearing at the Supreme Court at 10am on May 14 to contest the police actions.

SOURCE

The Palestinian Solidarity Organisation is calling for a Rally on the 14th May to defend the right to protest:

DEFEND THE RIGHT TO PROTEST!

RALLY Supreme Court, on Macquarie Street, Monday 14 May, 10.00 am
(MEET AT THE SAME PLACE AT 9.00}

SUPPORT THE PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKERS!
REMEMBER AL-NAKBA!

RALLY & MARCH 6 pm Tuesday 15 May Sydney Town Hall

The NSW Police have taken the organizers of the Nakba commemoration march in Sydney to the Supreme Court demanding that the rally should be moved to a different location and the march to be cancelled. The protesters have decided to assert their rights, saying that they will contest any attempt to prohibit the march.

“In the same way that 3 Israeli activists were arrested for trying to commemorate Al-Nakba, the Victorian police charged 19 BDS protesters in Melbourne, (they are now in court), now the NSW Police are showing their true colours by trying to silence free speech and political protest in support of the Palestinians.

Al-Nakba (“the catastrophe” in Arabic) marks the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel on May 15th 1948. The date is normally marked by commemorations and protests against the apartheid policies of the Israeli government and their continued oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel has taken measures to disrupt the commemoration of Al-Nakba including intimidation and arrest of activists and cutting of funding to NGOs involved in commemorations.

The rally and march are going to be held on Tuesday May 15th at 6pm at Sydney Town Hall and includes speakers from the Australian Unions, General Union of Palestinian Workers, Jews Against the Occupation, and young Palestinian activists. So, to defend the right to protest, we have to be at the Supreme Court, on Macquarie Street, on Monday the 14th, at 10.00, to show, outside and inside court, our decision to fights for our rights. Remember, the more people present, stronger our case will be.

Send this message wide, talk to your friends and be at the court. Ask for declarations of support from other organizations and peoples defenders of civil rights.

Also, this is a great opportunity to promote the Nakba rally because, even if the court find for the police, the rally is legal and we have the right to do it and WE WILL DO IT.

The following are the initial expression of solidarity:

The freedom to protest free from police interference is an essential right in any country that calls itself democratic. It is critical, at a time when Israel has gaoled hundreds of Palestinians without charge or trial for protesting at Israel’s illegal occupation of their land, that we show our support for them and the thousands of other political prisoners in Israeli gaols. Australia must cut all military ties with Israel until the Israeli government abides by international law and ends its racist policies of ethnic cleansing.” Sylvia Hale, former Greens MLC

The NSW government and police need to be reminded that freedom of expression is a fundamental right that cannot be either given or taken away by them. Their attempts to ban the Al-Nakba march this Tuesday can only be seen as political.

Nakba protests and commemorations marking Israel’s dispossessed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are being organized all over the globe. Sixty four years on, it is particularly important to affirm that majorities do not condone dispossession and the apartheid-like laws Israel deploys to keep Palestinians dispossessed.
Pip Hinman, Stop the War Coalition

Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist and author of My Israel Question, says, ‘the right to peacefully protest is a cornerstone of a democratic society. Supporting Palestinian rights is even more essential today in an age where our political and media elites chose to ignore Israeli apartheid right in front of their eyes.

For more information contact PALESTINE SOLIDARITY ORGANIZATION Patrick 0422028113 Raul 0403037376

UPDATE 13/5/12

Jwire is reporting that “the police simply want the protest diverted from the city centre at peak time.

NSW Police say that the organiser of the protest, Patrick Langosch, has not responded to their request to relocate the protest.”

NSW Police have issued the following statement….

A schedule 1 form under the Summary Offences Act was received from Patrick LANGOSCH on behalf of the AL-NAKBA PLANNING COMMITTEE on the 8 May 2012. This notice informed of the intention to hold the above public assembly followed by a procession through the CBD commencing 19:00hrs and following the following route:

From Sydney Town Hall enter George Street and travel north to Market Street; proceed east on Market Street to Pitt Street; proceed North on Pitt Street to King St; proceed west on King Street to George Street; proceed South on George St back to Town Hall.

Police contacted the organiser LANGOSCH and requested that an alternative, static assembly be conducted due to the safety issues and traffic congestion that would arise for the intended activity and its timing. Police attempted to negotiate with the group providing alternatives to a procession during the traffic peak on Tuesday evening. The group have declined to negotiate or alter their proposal in any way.

As a result of the refusal of the group to negotiate police have caused the issuing of a summons by the NSW Supreme Court seeking an order to prohibit the intended procession. The matter is listed before the NSW Supreme Court at 10:00 hrs on Monday 14 May 2012.

Basis of the objection

That the proposed procession will cause an unacceptable risk to pedestrian and vehicle safety during the peak traffic period in which it is proposed. That the impact of the procession to traffic in the inner city and corresponding impact on connecting road systems is unreasonable.

The objection has nothing to do with the issue that is the subject of the protest. Police facilitate hundreds of protests in the city each year. The nature of these protests are often the subject of negotiation to achieve a safe event that does not create an unreasonable impact on the amenity of the city. Police oppose all proposals that impact on the traffic and pedestrian flow in the city during the morning and evening peak periods.

Why is this group not allowed to protest

They are allowed to protest however the nature of this proposal is unacceptable as it would be for any other group that proposed this type of event. Alternative locations and times were suggested to the group who declined to consider any amendments to their proposal.

Is this a political matter

No. Political or other interests are not the issue, the unreasonable impact of the proposed procession is the only issue.

Where are they allowed to hold a Rally

Static rally locations including Belmore Park and Hyde Park were suggested, however the group declined to consider any alternatives to their proposal. As the group declined to negotiate the potential to facilitate a procession at alternate times and locations could not be progressed.

Is it illegal for them to hold a rally

No it is not illegal for the group to hold a rally. In accordance with the summary offences act, the Supreme court will now determine if a breach of the traffic regulations can be enforced by police if the group proceed with the procession they have outlined.

Al-Nakba commemorates the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel.

UPDATE 13/5/12
Patrick Langosch
Organiser Patrick Langosch tells me : “On 11 May 2012, the Crown Solicitor received instructions from the Commissioner of Police to commence proceedings to seek an order prohibiting the holding of a public assembly in respect to which the Notice has been served, pursuant to s. 25(1) of the Summary Offences Act 1988″ – from the papers served to me on Friday.”

and further when I asked him whether there was a mention on the writ of alternate routes and times:

“The police offered ‘alternatives’ in the form of an ultimatum. They said we could not have any kind of march and that the protest could not assemble at Town Hall (where it has been advertised as starting for a month). This was unacceptable to the planning committee. The funny thing is they claim it’s because of disruption to traffic while they have facilitated other marches along similar routes at similar times.”

UPDATE 14/5/12

The case has been deferred to 2.30pm

UPDATE 14/5/12

Patrick Langosch, organiser of the Palestinian rally to be held in Sydney tomorrow reports that “We won!” in the court hearing today against the police. Waiting for details.

DETAILS:

Court upholds pro-palestine protesters right to march

At approximately 5.30pm today the application to prohibit the Al-Nakba demonstration by the NSW police was dismisssed by Supreme Court.

This means that the planned protest for tomorrow night (6pm Tuesday 15th May) will be larger than originally anticipated due to the publicity surrounding the case.

Protest organisers still question why, despite facilitating hundreds of protests every year, the pro-Palestine Al-Nakba protest was singled out to be taken to the Supreme Court.

Police argued that the protest would cause unacceptable disruption to traffic. Patrick Langosch, who defended the protest in court, “Palestinians can expect delays of up to 8 hours due to Israeli roadblocks. The disruption to Sydney traffic is nothing to the disruption to Palestinians lives caused by the Israeli occupation”.

“Todays ruling as a victory for civil liberties and the right to protest against the intimidation tactics of the NSW police” said Gaza Freedom Flotilla participant Michael Coleman, “had the court ruled otherwise we would be one step closer to the Apartheid state of Israel where groups are actively penalised and criminalised for commemorating Al-Nakba”

The march is planned for Tuesday the 15 th of May at Sydney Town Hall beginning at 6pm. The rally will include speakers from the General Union of Palestinian Workers, Jews against the Occupation and many other pro-Palestinian activists

Patrick – 0422028113 Michael – 0417638859

UPDATE 15/5/12

Police have issued confusing press releases saying the rally has been delayed – but it is definitely on at 6pm at Sydney Town Hall.

Jwire reports on the court hearing yesterday:

The judge failed to find any significant reason as to why this understood to be the first al-Nakba demonstration was being held in 2012. Langosch told the court that “it is not an option to have it on any other day than May 15? adding “the demonstration will go on regardless of the decision of the Court.” The judge agreed it that nbot holding on May 15 would be akin to holding Anzac Day on any other day other than April 25.

Justice Adamson said she would announce her reasons for the decision tomorrow morning.

During the hearing, Justice Christine Adamson referred to “the continuing grievances of the Palestinian people” in understanding the reasons for the protest.

Patrick Langosch comments at the bottom of the Jwire story:

This was a great victory for civil liberties and Palestine solidarity. One can only still wonder why, given that by their own admission the police facilitate hundreds of protests every year, they chose to take this one to the Supreme Court.

I also wanted to point out that the statement by the NSW police about the time of the rally and disruption to traffic is factually incorrect and the police have been made aware of this fact but have yet to issue a correction (in fact, in that time they have re-issued the same factually in correct statement).

The rally will be starting at 6pm at Town Hall and marching at 7pm. Why, given the whole day in court talking about it, did the NSW police tell motorists to avoid driving in the CBD from 5pm-7pm, which would only result in more disruption? Why have they not corrected this glaring factual inaccuracy and instead re-affirmed it? Incompetence? Malicious intent to cause more disruption then there would otherwise be as payback for the victor in the Supreme Court?

On the ABC : Sydney court rejects call to stop Palestine rally

In the SMH, the police info is also presented confusingly:

Freedom of speech trumps commuter chaos in eyes of the law

A Supreme Court judge has dismissed an application by police to prevent a pro-Palestine protest going ahead this evening, saying Nakba Day should be regarded like Anzac Day or Christmas Day.

The Al-Nakba Planning Committee plans to hold a rally from 5.30pm starting at Sydney Town Hall, with a following procession along George, Market, Pitt and King streets.

The procession was originally planned to start shortly after 5.30pm, but police advised this morning that the group planned to delay the start until 7pm to minimise disruption to commuters.

The Commissioner of the NSW Police had suggested that the procession be moved out of the CBD or to a weekend, citing concerns about disruption to commuter traffic at peak hour.

The Al-Nakba Planning Committee says the public assembly is to commemorate the day on which Palestinians were dispossessed from areas which now form part of the State of Israel, being May 15.

Justice Christine Adamson dismissed the summons last night at 6.30pm and published her reasons this morning.

“I do not regard it as reasonable to expect persons commemorating a particular date to defer or bring forward its commemoration so that it can be commemorated on a weekend,” she said.

“Nakba Day ought be regarded as a day which, like Anzac Day, Christmas Day or Australia Day, is referable to a particular date which is not movable.

“This is of significance since objection is taken by reason of the fact that the public assembly is to occur on a weekday, rather than on a weekend.”

Justice Adamson said the procession would go through the vicinity of busy Town Hall station and along George Street, “which has perhaps more bus routes than any other road”.

“If one’s purpose were to disrupt commuter traffic, one could hardly choose a better time or place. But this is not the defendant’s purpose. His purpose is to conduct a public assembly to commemorate Nakba Day. The date is the product of history,” she said.

UPDATE 15/5/12

Report on the Rally and March held from 6pm

Press release
Pro-Palestinian Al-Nakba commemoration a great success

Tonight over 500 people marched through Sydneys CBD to commemorate Al-Nakba. Al-Nakba is a significant date for the Palestinians and their supporters as it represents both the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 and their ongoing oppression today.

Yesterday the NSW Supreme Court dismissed the case brought by the Commissioner of Police attempting to prohibit the event.

“I don’t believe concern for traffic was the real reason the police took us to court” stated Patrick Langosch, who contested the polices case in court yesterday, “there are still 19 pro-Palestine activists in Melbourne who are in the third week of their trial after being arrested for attending a peaceful protest against the Max Brenner chocolate shop which supports the Israeli military.”

“This was part of the broader attempt around the world to criminalise solidarity with the Palestinians”, said Michael Coleman, participant of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, ” except this time it backfired for the police and has only made our movement stronger”

Event organisers have vowed to continue raising awareness and publicly campaigning in support of Palestine.

Patrick 0422028113 Michael 0417638859

On Yahoo 7 news, the numbers are deflated, and again the police furphy about the rally being delayed is repeated. Zombie cannibalist “journalism” at its most lurid.

Photos from the Sydney Al Nakba rally

Video of the March

Walid Khalidi on Nakba Day 15 May 2012 describes the zionists’ expansionist hegemonical intent in 1948:

‘As for nascent Israel’s “Davidian” status vis-a vis the Goliath of the “invading” Arab states, Ben Gurion provides eloquent testimony on it in his War Diary. Thus, on 24 May 1948, less than ten days after the Arab armies had entered those parts of Palestine allocated to the Arab state under the partition plan to preempt the advancing Jewish forces, David Ben-Gurion wrote (4):

“Maklef [Carmeli brigade] should receive reinforcements. His job is to occupy South Lebanon after bombing Tyre, Sidon and Beirut from the air. We will also shell Beirut from the sea. Yigal [Alon] should hit Syria [Syrian army] at [Mishmar Haemek] from the East and the North. Our airforce must bomb and destroy Amman. The weak link in the Arab coalition is Lebanon because Muslim authority there is artificial, and easy to undermine. We must establish a Christian state with the Litani River as its southern border (5). We will form an alliance with it.

Once we destroy the power of the Arab Legion [the army of Trans-Jordan] we will destroy Tran-Jordan and Syria will then fall. If Egypt dares to continue fighting, we will bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This is how we shall end this war and wind up our ancestors’ accounts with Egypt, Ashur and Aram….”‘

UPDATE 17/5/12

Vivienne Porzsolt applauds the great steadfastness of the Palestinian people at the rally.

Ziolobby attempts to smear the march.

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