The Victoria police have viciously attacked a peaceful pro- Palestine demonstration in Melbourne's CBD this evening. In the largest political arrest in a decade, twenty protesters were arrested during the action against Israeli-owned Max Brenner store. The chocolateria in the Queen Victoria mall is owned by the Israeli conglomerate 'Strauss group'; a company that provides "care rations" for one of the most brutal sections of the Israeli military, the Golani brigades. The protest occurred as part of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the apartheid Israeli state. The peaceful picket was 'kettled' before leading activists were individually targeted, in what seems to be a new tactic from Ballieu's riot squad.
Civil liberties lawyer Rob Stary said "Tonight's arrests show the new Victorian government is prepared to criminalise legitimate dissent."
Demonstrators maintain that the offensive by the police was entirely unprovoked. Melbourne University student Abdul Aziz described the scene: "I was horrified by the police's unprovoked behaviour. All we were doing was speaking out against a corporation which boasts about their support for one of the most brutal militaries in the world. Then they just started grabbing people around the neck and dragging them away."
Coalition against Israeli Apartheid member Omar Hassan, one of the arrestees, remains defiant. "The aim of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is to draw attention to the racist and militaristic policies of the apartheid state of Israel. It came as no surprise to me that the Police would use violence against critics of Israel. Pro-Palestine activists face serious repression around the world, just last year the Israeli navy murdered nine activists on the Mavi Mamara peace ship."