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pro-palestine protest at BT-sponsored olympic ball

rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com (rikki) | 25.09.2010 16:13 | London

last night, a star-studded BT-sponsored 'british olympic ball" was targeted for protest by pro-palestinian activists to highlight BT's partnership with israeli telecommunications firm "bezeq international" who provide military telecommunication infrastructure throughout the occupied west bank and golan heights. here are some pics and a very short film of the night.

the british olympic ball took place last night at the grosvenor house hotel in park lane, with a full red carpet champagne reception, amanda holden hosting the evening, and dj mark ronson and the sugababes among the lavish entertainment.

olympic champions, future medal contenders, celebrated stars from sport and entertainment, and a few very fat rich people were among the exclusive guests, each paying at least £500 for the night, or up to £12000 per table.

for BT it was a premier publicity event to show off their partnership with the 2012 olympics. every detail was in place, even down to paying cab drivers to sit outside the venue in specially olympic logo-ed cabs.

as guests arrived at the gates of the hotel on park street, they were ushered along a red carpet past a throng of media photographers, and a backdrop of BT and olympic logos.

then a long pink stretch limo arrived at the gates, and out stepped a couple of men in suits and shades, but these weren't any ordinary celebrities or sportsmen - no, they were 'space hijackers', and they were followed out of the huge pink car by a small but perfectly formed 'rhythms of resistance' samba band, along with various banners and placards.

as it dawned on the besuited security guards what was going on, some of them radically exceeded their powers and started pushing people around, even attempting to snatch banners. one particularly nasty 'usher', named 'andrew raymond' violently marched an activist across the road. once the guards realised their actions were being photographed and filmed the word went out to calm down, and they also began hiding their name badges and their SIA license IDs.

the guards then formed a line, and guests had to squeeze behind them to enter the hotel. lots of guests took fliers explaining what the action was about. the noise was chaotic and joyously loud, with the samba augmented by some quite funky operatic singing from a young woman in fine voice wandering around with a megaphone!

the police arrived and at first took over what the security guards had been doing, forming a line so that the protestors could stay in front of the gates but guests could walk through unobstructed behind them, but after a few minutes they decided to facilitate the publicity of a major company directly partnered with war crimes rather than facilitate lawful protest, and started forcefully pushing the protestors away and to the side of the gate, trampling on banners, and knocking over drummers while doing so.

special mention must go out to constable andrew scott, who really should get some anger management classes, and who looked like he was about to seriously lose his rag and attack people until sergeant brookes intervened. there were no arrests.

at 7pm the main hotel gate was locked shut, and the police swiftly disappeared into the night, hopefully to do something less damaging to society than uphold war crimes.

the samba band carried on playing loudly outside the venue, and someone inside tweeted that the protest was the most exciting bit of the evening so far.

then the monthly (last friday of every month) 'critical mass' cycling crowd arrived, with probably a couple of hundred cyclists shouting and belling and horning in the street for a few minutes.

the whole protest was designed to unofficially kick-off a campaign of 'boycott, divestment and sanctions' (BDS) against israel. a forthcoming part of the campaign is due to be announced against british telecom (BT) because of its "alliance programme" which in january announced 'israeli telecom firm 'bezeq international' a "gold partner". the 'alliance programme' partners other companies globally to support 'BT global services' in selling, distribution and support of BT products and services.

'bezeq' provides telecom services to all the illegal israeli settlements, army bases and checkpoints. meanwhile the UN, our government, and the international court of justice all agree that the israeli settlements are illegal and that their establishment is a war crime. the settlements are built on palestinian land and this means that the israeli military confines palestinians to several densely populated built up areas. this is very effectively a form of unlawful imprisonment and apartheid.

BT's partnership with 'bezeq' even goes against its own code of 'corporate social responsibility', and the soon to be announced activist campaign, well organised, led by a number of british charities, and including extensive letter writing, lobbying and media work, is asking BT to honour the BDS ideal and to divest its partnership with 'bezeq'.

more info on the BDS movement can be found at

images and film ©2010 rikkiindymedia - all rights reserved, except free to copy for non-commercial credited usage

rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com (rikki)
- Original article on IMC London: