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Two arrested after protest in Perth - Police Violence

Independent Northern Media Cell | 30.07.2006 07:15 | Lebanon War 2006 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Repression | World

WA Police arrested two men today, after police attacked protesters as Prime Minister John Howard left a Liberal Party conference. Mr Howard left the Hyatt hotel after delivering his keynote address to the WA Liberals' state conference.

Hezbollah Rally 2006
Hezbollah Rally 2006

Hezbollah Rally 2006
Hezbollah Rally 2006

Hezbollah Rally 2006
Hezbollah Rally 2006

Hezbollah Rally 2006
Hezbollah Rally 2006

AUSTRALIA: PERTH" Mr Howard used the speech to attack Hezbollah, which is fighting Israel in southern Lebanon. "It's not some kind of inspirational liberation organisation, it's a terrorist organisation," he said.

As the prime minister departed the hotel, his car turned towards the group. Protesters moved towards his car, demanding an end to the war which has killed hundreds of innocent civilians.

The group milled around Howard's car as police struggled to stop the few who blocked the car. After a disgusting display of police brutality, and "over-zelous" tactics, Howard's entourage then sped from the scene as burly police grabbed and threw more people to the ground...

Around 200 people protesting against the Middle East conflict tried to block Mr Howard's car as he left the conference bound for the airport. After much police violence, the group were kept at bay, clearing an exit route for Mr Howard.

One person managed to break the flag on the PM's car.

Howard was leaving the WA Liberal Party state conference when protesters, many with Lebanese flags chanting: "we want peace", gathered around his vehicle. A number of scuffles broke out when police arrested two men for disorderly conduct.

One of the protesters accused Mr Howard of supporting Israel at Lebanon's expense: "The whole world is supporting Israel, the whole world is watching innocent people dying today as we speak," he said.

Rally attendee, Mar Bucknell, criticised Israel for bombing Lebanon's infrastructure: "These last two weeks have seen an all out assault on civil society in Lebanon, which seems to me to have nothing to do with Hezbollah," he said. "So far Israel's attacks have been deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure."

Several protesters complained that police were being aggressive, heavy handed and threatened to lodge official complaints.

Protesters later continued their rally along one of Perth's main streets calling for peace in the middle east.

Protester Muhammad El Khatib has family in Lebanon. He said the Australian government is not doing enough to broker peace in the region.

"There are mothers watching their children die," El Khatib said. "There should be aid, they say there is aid getting through to Lebanon, there isn't," he said. "There are people hiding from bombs, we just want peace. Hezbollah is protecting Lebanon, they are freedom fighters, not terrorists," he said.

People in cars with Lebanese and Palestinian flags attached circled the protesters and police, honking their horns in support. Members of the group carried pamphlets saying: "Cluster bombs are used by Israel to burn our families in Lebanon. Is this fair?"

Two men were arrested and thrown into a police van before being taken to Perth Central, where some protesters gathered. A police spokesman said two men had been charged with disorderly conduct.

"I believe a gentleman tried to throw himself on a car, but that was dealt with quickly by Protective Services," a police officer said. "We were surprised by the approach. It was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration."

One protester said the Australian Government should be doing all it could to end the bloodshed in Lebanon. "We want a ceasefire," he said. "We are trying to get a message through to the Prime Minister that this is not right."

"We are all Australian citizens and all have feelings and love for all those dying across the world. They have been left with no food, no power, just because they do not have the military power of the US and the Jewish people."

The prime minister said this week he backs Israel's decision to carry out its devastating military offensive against Lebanon

Independent Northern Media Cell