Friday, 29 August 2014

Newry Palestine Support Group Take Direct Action Against Marks & Spencer

Below we publish a statement from the Newry Palestine Support Group, The Newry Palestine Support Group is a recently formed group of activists and is not aligned to any specific political group or party. Their aim is simply to raise awareness, show support and solidarity to the people of Palestine using various means. Following this highly successful protest the NPSG received a substantial amount of media coverage locally, nationally and internationally. They featured in The Mirror, Sunday Life, The Examiner, Newry Reporter, Newry Democrat, Sabbah News and the website of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP].

Several dozen pro-Palestinian activists descended on the, high profile Zionist linked, Marks & Spencer store in Newry’s Buttercrane shopping centre on Saturday August 23, in a robust protest organised by the recently formed Newry Palestine Support Group.

The protesters made their way to the city centre supermarket carrying flags, banners and placards depicting images and slogans calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. Air horns also echoed around the busy shopping centre as the protesters chanting slogans in support of the people of Palestine. The participants then cleared the shelves of goods before leaving the full trolleys at the checkouts. Posters and stickers were also plastered on the goods, during the protest which drew a lot of attention from the many Saturday shoppers and passers-by.

The peaceful, but noisy, protest was organised in response to the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza which, in recent weeks, has caused outrage around the world with horrific images of innocent civilians, most of whom are children. As a result we have seen people taking to the streets in their hundreds and thousands in various countries, including Ireland. We were also joined on the protest with a comrade from Palestine who is staying in Ireland.

In a disturbing twist a number of peaceful protesters were manhandled and physically assaulted by M&S staff and security staff. This heavy handed response by staff is in stark contrast to other protests that have taken place in Belfast.

Commenting on the highly successful protest, a spokesperson from the Newry Palestine Support Group said “Today’s protest has been a huge success and we have raised some much needed awareness to the situation in Gaza.

“The reason we chose to protest at this location is due to the fact that Marks & Spencer are very much complicit in the genocide of the Palestinian people and are assisting in the funding of Israel’s war machine. From it’s birth M&S has been inextricably linked to Zionism. In fact Lord Marcus Sieff - long time Chairman of M&S - stated that one of the fundamental objectives of M&S is to aid the economic development of Israel.”

The spokesperson continued “ It has also been reported that M&S are profiteering from the illegal occupation of Palestine by selling goods purportedly produced in the State of Israel and exported internationally by the Zionist regime, which are actually produced in the Occupied Territories and sold under 'Made in Israel' labels. Products imported from Israel in the West are produced in Israeli settlements within the Occupied Territories, often by the hands of exploited Palestinian labourers. The actions are illegal according to international law and are in violation of EU trade agreements. By importing goods produced in the Occupied Territories, M&S demonstrates its support for the regime's illegal and brutal colonisation of Palestine through expanding settlement activity, and thereby its complicity in Israeli war crimes.”

"It's very worrying that M&S staff and security staff resorted to violence by assaulting and man-handling several peaceful protesters. We take this opportunity to commend our activists for remaining calm and peaceful despite such bully-boy tactics"

Concluding the representative, of the Newry Palestine Support Group, outlined the groups future intentions “This is not a one off token protest, we are currently looking at other initiatives to partake in to support the besieged Palestinians in Gaza. Our members are made up of seasoned activists who have plenty of experience in campaigning on various humanitarian issues of concern over the years.

Today’s event is simply the first of many.

Video of M&S staff man-handling peaceful protesters

A message of support from the PFLP

 "Thank you for this excellent report and this direct action in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We salute you and your comrades, and your own struggle against British colonialism. We salute the comrades in Ireland who took up this action, to the Newry Palestine Support Group, and to all of the solidarity organizations and movements around the world who are escalating the struggle for Palestine through demonstrations, mobilizations, boycott, and direct action and confrontation around the world. We also stand in solidarity with our Irish comrades in their own long struggle to defeat British colonialism."

A selection of photographs of the protest

Just some media coverage the NPSG secured

Monday, 4 August 2014

éirígí Newry - PSNI Normalisation Stunts in Newry Must Cease

The latest from éirígí Newry

In the past few days residents of a Newry housing estate have approached the socialist republican party éirígí with serious concerns about the inclusion of the PSNI in a community based fun day which took part in the Barcroft estate.
A number of PSNI vehicles and armed personnel complete with flak jackets, guns and batons were present in what can only be described as an attempt to normalise British state forces in the Newry area.
The residents said that they had received no prior notice that the PSNI would be taking part in the events.
éirígí's Newry representative Stephen Murney said “A number of residents from the Barcroft estate contacted our party regarding the PSNI's presence at this event. Those residents said that their families felt unable to participate in the event due to the PSNI presence. That presence, they said, effectively meant that the fun-day was not the inclusive or welcoming event it should have been for all residents of the estate.  

"While the community group in question should be commended for organising a very successful community festival, it's unfortunate that they felt the need to invite members of the British state forces to take part."
“It should also be mentioned that a number of families in the Barcroft estate have in the past been subjected to early morning house raids by this same force, and young children have also had to go through the ordeal of watching their fathers being arrested and dragged to an interrogation centre, coupled with local residents having to endure hundreds of stop and searches at the hands of this force with their children present.
“In fact,  a number of residents of the Barcroft area have had incidents of PSNI harassment and brutality logged and documented with the independent human rights organisation CAJ and their legal representatives.”
Stephen continued “What we have here is a situation where some local community associations seem to ignore the reality of the adverse impact that the PSNI is having within our communities, particularly in relation to young children. 

"They ignore the harassment, house raids and arrests and pursue a strategy of providing fig-leaf cover for the force by including them in events such as this.
“On another more serious note, it’s quite alarming that these PSNI gunmen and women were carrying firearms in the vicinity of children. All right-thinking persons would agree that loaded weapons should not be permitted to be anywhere near young children.”
Murney concluded “Given the fact that other services such as the fire brigade were present would suggest that this was a meek attempt to portray the PSNI along the same lines as genuine emergency services. The PSNI is anything but a normal emergency service. 
“We would urge local community groups to reconsider such attempts to normalise an abnormal police force. If they insist on inviting the PSNI to participate in such events then they should have the courtesy of giving residents prior notice to ensure that young children with previous traumatic experiences at the hands of the PSNI won’t have to endure further trauma.”

Below we list just some examples of the major issues relating to the PSNI which have been publicly  criticised by victims' groups and by human rights organisations:

·         The PSNI continues to prevent effective investigations into the deaths of Irish citizens at the hands of British controlled death squads.

·         The PSNI continues to obstruct and unnecessarily delay inquests into many of those same deaths as a matter of routine.

·         The PSNI continues to withhold information, documentation and intelligence files from the families of those who died as a result of British state terrorism.

·         The PSNI has re-employed huge numbers of ex-RUC Special Branch personnel, many of whom are implicated in the murders of Irish citizens and other serious human rights abuses.

·         Large numbers of PSNI personnel routinely operate under MI5 control. A report by the Committee on the Administration of Justice in 2012 suggests the actual figure could be as high as 2,500 personnel – one third of the PSNI’s total manpower. This clearly indicates the formal establishment of an unaccountable ‘a force within a force’, rather than the existence of a small ‘cabal’ of rogue cops.

·         The PSNI regularly calls upon Britain’s shadowy military force, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, to conduct undercover operations on its behalf.

·         The PSNI ignored rulings of the European Court of Human Rights by continuing to conduct thousands of unlawful ‘stop and searches’, almost exclusively against republicans. Evidence shows that MI5 directs the usage of stop and search powers by the PSNI.

·         The PSNI has engaged in evidence tampering in a number of cases against republicans.

·         The PSNI has fired large number of plastic bullets at unarmed civilians and stockpiled many thousands of those lethal projectiles.

·         The PSNI has approved use of child informers.

·         The British state has introduced 28 day detention for those under arrest.

·         The PSNI and the British courts routinely use ‘internment by remand’ to imprison political opponents for periods of up three years.

·         The PSNI and the British courts impose a draconian form of internal exile upon political opponents within the Six Counties. Such measures have not been used in the Six Counties since the abolition of the old Special Powers Act.

·         The PSNI and the British courts have flouted European court rulings by retaining DNA samples and fingerprints of thousands of innocent people, including children.

·         Facilitated illegal unionist demonstrations and co-operated with unionist paramilitaries in a manner that echoes the behaviour of the RUC.

·         Suppressed legitimate peaceful political protests by nationalists, republicans and other progressives.

·         Introduced and used Taser stun guns.

·         Introduced and used CS gas spray.

·         Updated its vast arsenal of weapons including automatic assault rifles and heavily armoured vehicles. 

·   Expanded the already extensive network of ‘big brother’ style cameras and other surveillance equipment.