Gardai break up peaceful protest outside Israeli Embassy sponsored film festival
A protest outside the Israeli Embassy sponsored “Israeli Film Days” in Temple Bar turned acrimonious this evening when Gardai broke up a peaceful demonstration by pro-Palestinian activists outside the venue. Citing Section 21 of the Public Order Act, Gardai forcibly removed around sixty activists from the area outside the venue, Filmbase, on Curved Street in Temple Bar, while others were removed from inside the venue. [Images below]
Prior to the removal, the protestors had gathered to chant slogans and hand out leaflets explaining why they were opposed to the event. Between 5.30 and 6.40pm the activists held a loud, colourful, vibrant and entirely peaceful protest outside. By this time the majority of those attending the event had entered without incident – including the Tanaiste and Foreign Minister, Eamon Gilmore, and Justice Minister Alan Shatter, and it was at this time – after everyone inside had gone downstairs into the cinema area – that Gardai began to forcibly remove the protest from the street. After being forced off Curved Street, the protest found itself split into two crowds, on Temple Lane Street and Eustace Street.
Those on Temple Lane Street were pushed further down the street by a Garda ‘security line’, at which pointed they marched around Temple Bar and linked up with their colleagues on Eustace Street. At this point, they were again pushed back by the Gardai, and a megaphone was seized from Dr. Fintan Lane of the Irish Ship To Gaza campaign while he was making a speech. After this the protest dispersed, while the megaphone remains in Garda custody.
A lawyer present on the scene, Gary Daly, said: “I am very unhappy with the way the Gardai made the decision to forcibly move the protestors away from the venue, in the process manhandling them, when it was clearly a peaceful protest where there was no hint of trouble, and protestors had complied with any previous request made of them by the Gardai”.
Mr. Daly continued: “A particularly disturbing incident was the way in which a megaphone was seized by a senior Garda from Dr. Fintan Lane while he was in the process of making a speech to the assembled protestors, regarding his violent and illegal kidnapping in international waters and subsequent detention, along with 13 other Irish citizens, by Israeli forces two weeks ago”.
Meanwhile, inside the venue, several pro-Palestinian activists attempted to highlight the fact that this film festival was an exercise in propaganda and whitewashing of Israeli human rights abuses and Apartheid practices. According to those inside, when the organisers called for silence the demonstration was clearly audible outside, and was being furiously discussed by those in attendance.
After people inside descended into the cinema area, where the demonstration was no longer audible or visible, the Israeli Ambassador, Boaz Modai, began his address to the audience. At this point a young man unfurled a Palestinian flag and began chanting “Free, Free, Gaza!” He was manhandled by security and ejected from the building. Immediately afterwards a female protestor began chanting and was also removed from the premises. Following this, another female protestor began making a speech, and was then removed along with three of her companions. At this point, the Ambassador said to the crowd that “now that the riff raff have gone” there was more free seating.
This comment was met with a round of applause, only to have it followed by another interruption from a senior member of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign who declared: “Israel is an Apartheid state that should be boycotted. Israel represses Palestinian culture, yet uses culture to whitewash its own crimes. I ask people here to leave this event, which is a fig leaf for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people”. This protestor was then carried out by security while continuing his speech.
IPSC Chairperson Martin O’Quigley said: “I am appalled that both the Tanaiste, and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter attended this whitewashing of Israeli apartheid. I am also appalled at the treatment of entirely peaceful protestors by the Gardai who are supposed to uphold civil liberties such as the right to protest – not act to limit this right.”
Mr. O’Quigley continued: “As bad as what we saw tonight was, it is as nothing when compared to the daily treatment of the Palestinian people living under Israel’s Apartheid system. Despite the heavy-handedness of the Gardai, we think our protest tonight was a very important showing of solidarity with the people of Palestinian whose human, national and democratic rights are denied them by the Israeli state. Both the protest itself – inside and outside – and the heavy police presence helped to de-normalise this event, which was our aim – to show that there is nothing normal or acceptable about Israeli Apartheid”.
Dr. Raymond Deane, Cultural Boycott Officer of the IPSC stated: “Over the weekend, the IPSC aims to continue our protests outside this Israeli Embassy sponsored festival, which is nothing more that the abuse of culture as cover for the crimes and breaches of international law committed by the Israeli state on a daily basis.” [Note: See here for full schedule of planned protests]
Photos courtesy and copyright of Paul Reynolds