Friday, June 29, 2012

"Christmas Carol Criminals" walk free

The prosecution case against two activists dubbed the ``Christmas Carol Criminals'' collapsed when a Perth magistrate dismissed all charges on June 29.

Alex Bainbridge and Miranda Wood from the Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) had been charged with trespass in relation to a December protest outside Israeli cosmetics company Seacret. Seacret benefits from the illegal occupation of Palestine by stealing resources from the Dead Sea to use in its products.

The company has been targeted by FOPWA and other campaigners around Australia as part of the BDS (boycott, divestment & sanctions) campaign against Apartheid Israel.

"This [acquittal] is a tremendous victory for freedom of speech and the right to protest," Bainbridge told Green Left Weekly.

"The court action against the Max Brenner 19 in Melbourne and recent attempts by NSW police to prevent a pro-Palestine demonstration from taking place in Sydney demonstrate that there is a notable pattern of legal harassment against the BDS movement," he said.

"In the current climate, Palestine activists have to fight not only for justice for Palestine, but also for the very right to protest," he said.

These FOPWA arrests were part of the same pattern. Evidence presented in court demonstrated that the arresting officer was targeting individual activists and that he did not given them any time to comply with a direction to leave the shopping centre. The latter point was explicitly endorsed by the magistrate in his summation and was one of two reasons the prosecution failed.

More than 40 activists joined Father Christmas in attending a support action for the "Christmas Carol Criminals" as their court case began on June 28.

[Friends of Palestine meets fortnightly at the CitiPlace Community Centre. For more information visit]

Photos by Zeb Parkes