Did the leadership of Palestine Solidarity Campaign Aid the Police in Harrasment of Palestine Activists?

Did the leadership of Palestine Solidarity Campaign Aid the Police in Harrasment of Palestine Activists?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Police Arrest and Impose Draconian Bail Conditions on Activists for Flying the Hezbollah Flag

I was sent this letter, signed by Ilan Pappe, the Israeli
historian of the Nakba and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of the Palestinians,
relating to a demonstration organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign
on Saturday 17 October. 
Hezbollah Flag
Police moving in to prevent flag being flown and to arrest two solidarity activists

It relates to the arrest of two Palestinians for
flying the flag of Hezbollah at the demonstration.  PSC asked that only Palestinian flags should
be flown but those around a group called ‘Inminds’ also wanted to fly Hezbollah’s
yellow flag.  Hezbollah is
the only Arab resistance group which has been able to defeat Israel militarily.  In
2000 it forced Israel to withdraw from South Lebanon and bring to an end its
quisling entity in South Lebanon, allied to the so-called South Lebanese Army under a Lebanese General Lahad.  In 2006 it repulsed an Israeli invasion of
Lebanon with heavy Israeli casualties and Israel has been seeking revenge ever
since.

one of those arrested
I
have therefore signed the letter and Brighton PSC has asked national PSC
for clarification as to what actually happened. 
In particular Brighton PSC is concerned about the arrest of Abbas, who runs the Inminds web site and his subsequent mistreatment by the Metropolitan Police.  We have therefore asked the officers and
executive of national PSC to answer several questions about their actions on
the day, and about possible links between their actions and the arrests. There
have been conflicting accounts of what happened, so Brighton PSC is not prejudging what
actually occurred. We also believe that national PSC should also be briefing local PSC branches on
what they think happened and why they acted as they did.
Inminds stall outside Labour Party conference
As I see it, the main issues are:
1.  The co-operation by PSC, which
seems to me to be very clear, with the Police in getting a Hezbollah flag
lowered.  Sarah Colborne, in her statement to Inminds, refers to opposition to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.  I am not aware that Hezbollah is an anti-Semitic
organisation though it is an Islamic organisation.  Hamas too, since the question of their flag has arisen, has made anti-Semitic statements, not least in its charter but I don’t consider
it, contrary to Israeli and Zionist propaganda as an anti-Semitic organisation
so much as a backward organisation politically.  That is almost certainly true of Hezbollah.
2.  The key issue, indeed the only issue, is
whether we should co-operate with the Police in enforcing a rule that only Palestinian
flags should be flown.
  It is reasonable to ask that only
Palestinian flags should be flown on our demonstrations but it is unacceptable
that Police should be asked to enforce this especially since the question of
enforcing anti-terrorist legislation becomes an issue.
Inminds G4S protest outside Labour Party Conference – PSC nationally withdrew support
3.  The anti-terrorist legislation is an affront
to any notion of civil liberties.  It criminalises a person’s
thought.  It can mean and would have meant, at a time when some of us were
involved in supporting Republican activities in Ireland in the 1970’s and
1980’s having our activities criminalised on the grounds that it was
effectively in support of banned organisations.  This is
unacceptable.  PSC should never ever be seen to be in support of
legislation which defines certain forms of speech as ‘terrorist’ whilst at the
same time refusing to arrest fascist demonstrators and EDL supporters when they
engage in anti-Islamic race hatred (or anti-Jewish race hatred).
Inminds stall in support of Palestinian prisoners outside Labour Party conference
4.  The question that has been brought up by a
spokesperson for Scottish PSC, Mick Napier, of Hezbollah’s support for the
Assad regime is irrelevant.  We each have our own view of Russia’s
intervention and bombing campaign and Hezbollah’s tactical alliance with the
Assad regime because they deem it in their interests to maintain a regime in
Syria that allows Iran to supply it with weaponry. 
PSC demonstration in London
I take the view of Robert Fisk, viz. that
there are no easy choices in a situation where the most reactionary Arab states
– the Saudis and Quataris and Gulf States support the Jihadists and seek to
overthrow Assad.  The United States has got itself into a position where
it is on both sides of the civil war – opposing ISIS and Assad.  My
support would be for the Kurds and their liberation struggle.  The Assad
regime is a detestable police state but the question is whether one would like
to see it replaced by an ISIS regime given there is no alternative and the FSA
is little more than a flag of convenience for al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda group.  The only saving grace of the Assad regime is
that it is a secular regime whereas an ISIS regime would be one in which
genocide could and would occur. 
Placard of Palestinian prisoner outside Labour Party conference
5.  The Palestine solidarity organisations should
make our position clear that we reject the proscription of either Hamas or Hezbollah. 
There is no record of either group having engaged in terrorist activities in
this country or abroad.  The war fought in 2006 and in the successive
attacks on Gaza were terrorist wars by Israel.  Israel is the terrorist
state.  The victims are not
terrorists.  We should therefore challenge these proscriptions as being
arbitrary and not based on any actual or real activity.
6.  In any event  the political wing of
Hezbollah is not proscribed and so the flag itself should not be seen as
support for a terrorist organisation though obviously this is something that
counsel for the accused will present in court.
7.  The activists arrested are supporters of the
Palestinians and Palestinian prisoners in particular.  The Police have, as
we would expect, imposed conditions of bail which prevents their engaging in
this activity.  This is not what PSC should be lending its name to. 
Anti-terrorist legislation is not concerned with preventing actual terrorism
but in preventing political activities that is deemed to be supportive of
terrorism. 
8.  We should be clear as to who the actual
terrorists are and not aid the state in its definition of who is an ‘extremist’
or indeed have anything to do with the Prevent agenda.
The incident at about 1.13.20 on the film. 

Open
Letter to PSC and others

We the undersigned are deeply concerned about events
at last Saturday’s demonstration called by yourselves.
It is reported that two long-time activists were
harassed by other protestors, and ultimately arrested after being told by the
police that the organisers and others had complained to them about the flag
they were carrying. This came after:
•   organisers had called from the stage for
all flags other than Palestinian flags to be lowered;
•   various persons were sent on behalf of
the organisers to ask the activists to remove the flag;
•   and some protestors it would seem,
emboldened by the organisers’ call, harassed both activists in a manner
bordering on violence (one protestor was seen shouting abuse and breaking the
flagpole used by one of the men eventually arrested).
The flag in question was the Hizbullah flag. At the
time of writing we know that both of the protestors have been bailed pending a
decision by the CPS on whether to charge them with supporting a proscribed
organisation and encouraging others to support a proscribed organisation. 
When arrested they were questioned upon arrest by SO15 (the Counter Terrorism
Command).
It has also been reported that police were asked by
PSC to ask one of the men to remove banners in support of Palestinian prisoners
from a previous demonstration.
As you are aware the anti-terrorism laws and regime are
not only unjust, they have been used to target Muslims, and demonise some
liberation movements, including some associated with the Palestinian
struggle.  This vicious curtailment of civil liberties, the removal of
Muslims from equality before the law and the demonisation of political causes
that run counter to UK foreign policy, are all surely things that PSC should at
the very least eschew and at most actively oppose.
If these arrests have come as a result of the
organisers’ request to the police, it is a matter of great shame for PSC. 
Those involved in making those calls from the platform and contacting the
police should resign their positions forthwith.
As a note, it is worth recognising that the two men
arrested have spent every other week over the last three years holding vigils
for Palestinan prisoners.  The conditions of their bail – of extraordinary
disproportionality – prevent them from contacting each other, forbid them from
going to demonstrations and require them to sign at a police station three
times a week.  It is truly disgusting that such committed pro-Palestinian
activists and their activities have been stopped in their tracks.  Whilst
there is no legal case to charge and convict them under anti-terorrism laws,
the threat that hangs over them is a form of harassment that has already had
the effect of closing down regular pro-Palestinian protests organised by one of
these men.  As you are doubtless aware one of these men was one of the
pioneers of BDS some fifteen years ago, and has suffered many threats and abuse
from pro-Israel groups and indviduals.
Both these men should have been supported in their
work by the organisers, not targeted.  This sorry state of affairs has
come through some level of instigtaion by the organisers.  At the very
least PSC must campaign for these two men.  Please advise as to how you
will be proceeding.
With deep regret,
–       Ilan Pappe
https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif
An e-mail sent out by
Inminds 23 October 2015
I am one of the activists mentioned in the open
letter. Unfortunately I cannot elaborate in detail as the case is on-going and
I have a hearing on 20th Nov (I have been told that if things don’t work out I
could face 5 years imprisonment).

The flag pole in question can be seen in this photo (unfortunately my own
photos, cameras, videos including the flagcam have all been taken by the
police). The flagpole had two large 8ft Palestinian flags and one small 3ft
Hizbullah flag flying on it.

We were part of the main demonstration until one of the protestors attacked us
after PSC had hounded us from the podium and in person several times to remove
the flag. The attack resulted in a section of the flag pole being broken
–  the photo Tapash has selectively shared was taken just after the flag
pole had been ripped from the hands of one of us and he is seen trying to
retrieve it. After that incident we moved away from the ‘PSC protest’, across
the road to the other side. This did not however stop PSC from continuing to
hound us from the podium to remove the flag. The police used this along with
complaints from the organisers and others as excuse to arrest us. I explained
to the police that we had every right to our flags be they Palestinian,
Hizbullah or Inminds as did the PSC to their flags be they Palestinian, PSC,
FOA, or any other factions they supported. We had moved away from ‘their’
protest and had an equal right to protest against Israeli war crimes as they
did. If our location was a problem then they should find us another spot to
protest. But the police weren’t interested and arrested us (initially for
breach of the peace as we had refused the organisers’ instructions to remove
the flag – this they said would likely lead to a breach of the peace, and later
followed by terror related charges).


On the RT video you can clearly see the police stop talking to us and push us
into the car park grabbing our flag and arresting us in direct response to them
hearing PSC podium demand other flags be lowered (the policeman mentions this
in the video):

Salim’s claim that stewards were instructed not to ask police to intervene is
at odds with the police’s account. Normally I would not put any weight to
police claims but this is not the first time the PSC has sought police help to
silence other activists voices. Just last month at the demonstration outside
Downing street protesting against Netanyahu’s visit the PSC tried to get the
police to remove our banners. We had reached Downing Street about 45mins before
the main protest was kicking off and started setting up. I attached our ‘For justice
in Palestine boycott Israel’ Palestinian flag banner to the railing and was
about to start attaching sticks to our placards when a member of the PSC
executive MK demanded I remove our ‘crappy banner’ from ‘their railing’. I
explained that it was a public railing and besides there was plenty of free
railing for their banners – well over 10 metres of empty railing and wall! But
PSC still insisted on us removing our banners, this time the PSC director also
joining in. They said it was their protest as they had paid for it and spent
months organising it and that they will call the police if we dont remove our
banner (PSC executive MK said this). I was bewildered as to what they had paid
for.. in any case I refused to remove the banner and PSC called the police
liaison officer to get us to remove it. The police told us that the organisers
are asking us to remove the banner so we must remove it. In reply I asked if we
were legally obliged to remove our banner from a public railing to which they
admitted that they were not ordering us but requesting us to remove the banner.
So the banner stayed (that banner can also be seen in the photo above – its
basically a Palestinian flag with writing on it taken from the Irish PSC
campaign stickers).

Another recent example of PSC colluding with higher powers against activists is
what happened at the Labour Party conference in Brighton a few weeks ago. There
is an ongoing campaign to persuade the Labour Party to stop hiring G4S to
provide security at their conferences due to G4S’s complicity in torture and
caging of Palestinian prisoners. As part of our prisoners campaign we organised
a protest outside the conference :

There was a PSC stall inside the conference where Brighton PSC had planned to
ask delegates to sign a petition asking the Labour party to end its G4S
contracts. But at the last minute PSC central office did a u-turn, apparently
due to pressure from their funders, and refused to allow the petition against
G4S on their stall. The petition which they had initially created was no longer
welcome. This lead to the bizarre situation of members from Brighton PSC
asking  us if we could include the PSC petition on our table outside the
conference entrance as they were prevented by PSC from displaying it on the PSC
stall inside the conference. We of course welcomed the petition.

Inminds has organised 27 protests so far this year, the main focus being
Palestinian political prisoners but also protests for cultural boycott and many
others. The draconian bail conditions stipulate that we cannot participate in
any demos until the next hearing on 20th Nov when depending on the outcome the
conditions could continue until trial. The SO15 counter terror officer insisted
on it, saying to the custody sergeant, who was still deciding if it was too
harsh, that he should take into consideration that the situation in Palestine
is currently inflamed and that could spill over into the streets of London so
he didn’t want me doing any more protests. The police also raided our homes and
took all Inminds PCs / servers / backups – everything – about 18 years worth of
campaigning – all the research and files on individual prisoners and material
provided by their families to help our campaign to free them, 18 years of
photos and videos from hundreds of demos and other functions.. all gone. It’s
shameful that our work has been severely jeopardised not by zionists whose
attacks we take in our stride, but at the instigation of fellow campaigners for
Palestine. Whilst as activists we will disagree with each other on the tactics
of the struggle, but what is unacceptable is for one group to use the police to
criminalise another group.

Abbas Ali
Inminds.com

Two
arrested after refusing to take down Hezbollah flag at Palestine demo

Posted by 5Pillars

Two
men were arrested at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of the Israeli
embassy in London on Saturday after they refused to take down a Hezbollah flag
they had hoisted on a pole.
Abbas
Ali and Antonio Maniscalco were warned by the Palestine
Solidarity Campaign
(which was one of the
organisers of the demonstration against Israeli brutality in the occupied
territories) that only Palestinian national flags would be welcome at the
protest.
Police
arrested the pair after they refused to take down the Hezbollah flag for
disrupting the peace and for supporting a proscribed terrorist organisation.
The
pair spent around 15 hours in custody at Belgravia police station where they
say they were questioned by counter-terrorism officers before being released
without charge
They
are now on police bail and are not allowed to associate with each other or
attend any further demonstrations until November 20th when they must report to
the police again.
Abbas
Ali is a veteran pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel campaigner who runs the Inminds
website. He told 5Pillars that he had hoisted the
Hezbollah flag because he supports a political party that campaigns for justice
in Palestine. He added that he had been asked to move other anti-Israel banners
at a previous protest organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
“There
were other flags at the demonstration such as pro-Morsi and Hamas symbols and
someone actually broke our flagpole but the police didn’t do anything to them,”

he said.
“After
we were initially told to take down the flag by people on the podium and by
someone at the demonstration we moved across the road. We also told the police
that we were in a public place so we saw no reason to take down the flag – we
had as much right to protest as anyone else but the police kept hounding us.”

Ali
said that the police had also raided his house and taken PCs, laptops and
memory cards. Mr Maniscalco’s residence was also raided.
He
added: “I think we were targeted by people in the crowd who had a sectarian
agenda or who were upset because of the situation in Syria. I’m not saying they
were from the PSC but I do believe we were targeted. But if the PSC called the
police on us they should recognise they should not have done that. A broad
range of people support the Palestinian cause and they have the right to
express themselves.”

Hezbollah
Hezbollah
has historically been viewed in the Middle East as a Lebanese resistance group
which has fought Israeli aggression on several occasions. It even succeeded in
driving Israel out of the vast majority of Lebanon in 2000 and again fought a
war with it in 2006.
However,
Hezbollah – which adheres to the Shia branch of Islam – has played a
controversial role in the current Syrian conflict where it has supported
President Bashar al Assad.
Those
who support Hezbollah say they are fighting an existential war against
sectarian terrorists and their Gulf/Western backers who would destroy the
region, but the group’s detractors say that it is propping up a murderous
tyrant who is killing and oppressing the Syrian people.
In
Britain, the military wing of Hezbollah is proscribed but there is some doubt
as to whether the Hezbollah flag represents the military or political wing
(which isn’t proscribed) or both.
Meanwhile,
on social media Mr Maniscalco said he had a “right to freedom of expression and
speech.” He acknowledged that the organisers had the right to administer their
own protest but they did not have the right to tell people what to do on a
public street.
He
said: “I believe we all have the right to protest against occupation and
Zionists in every way we all feel necessary… as activists for Palestine and
human rights we all have different opinions in several matters but the bottom
line is to respect each and everyone wish to express themselves.”

Palestine
Solidarity Campaign
Saturday’s
protest, which was attended by around 2,000 people, was organised by Friends of
Al-Aqsa, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain,
Islamic Forum of Europe, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, FOSIS and the Stop
the War Coalition.
The
PSC’s Sarah Colborne told 5Pillars that the organisers of the event had clearly
made a request before the demonstration for only Palestinian flags to be
raised. This was also made a number of times from the platform during the
protest.
However,
she did not conform or deny if any of the organisers had alerted the police to
Mr Ali and Mr Maniscalco’s actions.
She
also sent 5Pillars a pre-event statement which read: “We have come together to
unite for Palestine. We have come together to unite for peace, freedom, and
justice. To unite against hatred, intolerance and racism…
We
welcome all who stand with us in our opposition to all forms of racism,
including antisemitism and Islamophobia. Supporters of Palestinian rights
encompass all faiths and none. Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Atheist, religious
and non-religious people all stand together on this protest.
“We
condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism. Palestinians have
seen their lives destroyed by the horrific scourge of Israeli racism, colonialism
and apartheid. We stand with Palestinians in their struggle for a future free
of racism, colonialism and apartheid. There is no place for racism in a
progressive movement fighting for justice and human rights.

“The
organisers ask that those present respect the Palestinian national flag, and
use only this flag, showing our steadfastness, unity and solidarity with
Palestine.”

 

 

 

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