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Activists deliver boat to Downing Street to protest Israeli impunity

ISM London | 10.06.2010 11:27 | Flotilla to Gaza | Anti-militarism | Palestine

A group of activists dropped a 12 foot dingy outside Downing Street at around 8.30am this morning to protest against the British government’s continued support for Israel in the wake of its deadly raid on the Gaza Freedom flotilla on Monday May 31st.

The activists drew attention to the influence of the Zionist lobby over many MPs and the media, an influence that reinforces the impunity enjoyed by Israel even when it commits murderous crimes in breach of international law. The demonstrators made an explicit link between the Zionist lobby and the UK government’s proposed changes to universal jurisdiction, which are due to be introduced this month.

Message to Number 10
Message to Number 10

Taken To Parliament
Taken To Parliament

The boat was positioned directly in front of the gates of Downing Street and flew a sail reading ‘SOS! Israeli Pirates Sinking Our Laws! Rescue Universal Jurisdiction’. Protesters gathered around the boat chanting pro-Palestine slogans as well as ‘End Israeli piracy, no more impunity!’

There were no serious confrontations with the police, who seemed wary about engaging with the demonstrators in front of the video cameras and photographers present. After 20 minutes the activists decided to take the protest into the decision-making heart of the UK, and headed with the boat for parliament itself.

Police at parliament were shocked at the sight of a boat heading towards them and only reacted when the activists attempted to enter the grounds, pushing them back outside and shutting the gates. The boat was left in front of the Commons while the chants about Israeli impunity continued. Eventually the activists carried the boat over the road and left it with the Democracy Village camp in Parliament Square. Everyone dispersed peacefully around 9.45am.

While there has been much publicity surrounding Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the UK government has managed to keep its plans for changes to universal jurisdiction very quiet. Following the political embarrassment caused by the issuing of an arrest warrant for war crimes against former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni last December, for her active role in the atrocities committed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, the government (both Labour and the coalition) has sought, under pressure from the Zionist lobby, to abolish private prosecution in universal jurisdiction and international cases.

This amounts to a gross politicisation of the British judicial system, placing the power to prosecute war criminals solely in the hands of the government. Strategic and diplomatic partners will thus enjoy even greater freedom to commit crimes against humanity safe in the knowledge that their friends in Westminster will not prosecute them should they come to the UK.

This is an issue that will have massive repercussions for those seeking justice not only for the Israeli crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories, but also for those people whose lives have been devastated in conflicts such as in Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Former Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Colombia and Sri Lanka, to name just a few. It is up to civil society to oppose the government’s proposed changes. British judicial tradition dictates that one is innocent until proven guilty. If the politicians and leaders of countries like Israel have nothing to hide, let them prove it before a court of law. The proposed changes will only make justice an even more distant possibility for those fighting for the rights of the dispossessed and destroyed in these conflicts.

ISM London
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Display the following 2 comments

  1. Love the boat! — Captain Birdseye
  2. Video of the action — Abu Asad