Court hearing against Swiss anti-apartheid activists turns into further show of solidarity
A group of activists who interrupted an Israel-Switzerland World Cup qualifier with a protest against Israeli apartheid today used their court appearance in Basle to publicly denounce the occupation again.
On September 3, 2005 the four activists ran onto the field with banners demanding “Free Palestine – Boycott Apartheid”. The protest was witnessed by thousands of football fans in the stadium and many more watching the game on television. (For more click here.)
At today’s court hearing, around 30 supporters gathered in front of the court carrying banners to demonstrate their solidarity with the activists. Half of the supporters were not allowed into the courtroom although the hearing had been declared public.
Inside the court, as the judge began reading the facts of the case, spectators in the gallery spontaneously started to applaud. The defendants declined to present a case for their defense, instead turning their backs to the judge and reading a declaration to the public gallery about the illegitimacy of the court hearing and about the action in the stadium.
One of the defendants told the court:
“We will not accept the policies of apartheid on the part of the state of Israel, nor do we want to look on the Swiss Government directly or indirectly giving these policies its support. We will continue to fight together with the Palestinians until Palestine is free and the world has become a place without exploitation and oppression!”
The activists were charges with breach of domestic peace and fined, while a second charge of necessitation was dropped,
As the sentence was read out, activists in the courtroom unfurled courtroom banners declaring "Free Palestine -- Boycott Apartheid" and "Our Solidarity cannot be outlawed -- Free Palestine".
The activists full statement is given below.
Declaration for the court-hearing in Basel of the 30th of October, 2007
Today we stand accused in a court of law because we took sides in a political conflict.
On Saturday September 3rd 2005 we used the occasion of the football qualifying match of Switzerland against Israel in the St. Jakob stadium of Basel for a protest action. In the 53rd minute we ran onto the playground with two banners demanding “Free Palestine – Boycott Apartheid”. We did this to call attention on the situation in Palestine. We wished to show solidarity with the Palestinian people who have been oppressed, banished, tortured and killed by the police and the Israeli army for a very long time – all as part of Israeli Government policies. The year 2007 is the mournful anniversary of four decades of occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Highs.
With our action, we wanted to demonstrate clearly our solidarity with the civilian people of Palestine and the progressive forces struggling against oppression in the Middle East. Furthermore we called for a boycott of Israeli products. We are still absolutely committed to this stance.
We are now faced with a situation, in which a Swiss court of justice can decide on sanctions against us, because we expressed our opinion in an action with banners on a football field. This situation emerges out of a relation of power which is not in our favor at this present time. This is why we do not acknowledge this court of law. As a result this court of law does not have the legitimation to judge our declaration. We do not need nor acknowledge anyone who wants to interfere in our lives and in our political activities in such a way. The numerous statements of solidarity following our action encourage us in our attitude and we want to thank everyone for their solidarity and support in our political struggles; especially those who are on our side in a situation like today.
To this very day the people in the Palestinian territories are forced to live under horrible conditions. The Israeli State has fragmented and mostly enclosed the Palestinian territories by building fences and walls. The lives of the Palestinians are becoming more and more like life in prison. Limited freedom of movement, controls on roadblocks, fear and the constant threat of death are part of everyday life for the people of Palestine. In this era of imperialist warfare in the Middle East there seems to be no self-determined solution on the horizon for the Palestinians. Far from it: the people will continue to suffer under this perpetual state of war.
At this very moment the Palestinians are being attacked in new ways unlike the military war of aggression against Lebanon in July of 2006, which meant to increase the pressure on the civilian population: since Sunday the Israeli government is limiting the petrol supply into the Gaza Strip and has reserved the right to cut power supplies temporarily for the future. Through such measures the war of oppression and intimidation has also become a war of economic attrition aimed at hitting hard the one and a half million people living in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Israel and its confederates increasingly appear to prepare to wreak havoc on even more people: witness the continual threats issued against Syria and Iran.
The world population continues watching these crimes and carefully avoids getting involved. Not only this: Switzerland is one of the countries actively supporting Israel by supplying arms as well as importing Israeli products, mostly fruits and vegetables, as we can see in Swiss supermarkets.
We continue to believe that every war must be resisted by all means and that the people in the affected territories have to be granted the right of self determination.
We will not accept the policies of apartheid on the part of the state of Israel, nor do we want to look on the Swiss Government directly or indirectly giving these policies its support. We will continue to fight together with the Palestinians until Palestine is free and the world has become a place without exploitation and oppression!
Tear down the apartheid wall!
For a society without exploitation and oppression!