ACRI Condemns Efforts to Suppress Tent City Protesters

Photo by Hagai El-Ad

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) condemns recent efforts by the police and authorities to violate freedom of expression and protest of the ‘tent city’ protestors: “The suppression is dangerous and illegal.”
I. Evacuation of protest tent pitched in the south Tel Aviv Levinsky Park
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) contacted the authorities regarding the evacuation of a protest tent pitched on Sunday night (24 July 2011) in Levinsky Park, located in southern Tel Aviv. The tent, which was pitched by veteran residents of the neighborhood, was demolished with force in the middle of the night by National Parks Authority officers who had no legal permit to do so. This constitutes a direct violation of the protestors’ freedom to protest.
The tent organizer, Shula Keshet, a resident of the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood and Executive Director of the “Achoti” (Sister) movement for Women in Israel, reported that 4 officers in uniform, accompanied by more than 10 men in civilian clothing with no name tags, demolished the tent and confiscated the equipment, claiming that “you brought Sudanese here,” since refugees who live in the neighborhood joined the protest. The “Green Police” commander told ACRI that the police had no connection to this incident, and that these officers work for the Tel Aviv Municipality.
According to Attorney Avner Pinchuk, coordinator of freedom of expression issues at ACRI, “The officers’ capricious and irresponsible behavior raises suspicion that this act was intended to quell the legitimate and important social protest taking place in Israel. The officers’ remarks are especially disconcerting, as if cooperation between veteran Israeli residents and refugees is a pretense for evacuation. The residents of Neve Sha’anan have every right to protest the housing crisis and are authorized to do so in their neighborhood in south Tel Aviv, not only on Rothschild Boulevard.”
II. Arrested Tel Aviv protest activists released under draconian conditions
On Saturday night, several of the protestors that were arrested during the large rally in central Tel Aviv were released under draconian conditions, effectively barring them from continuing to participate in the protests. In an urgent appeal, submitted by ACRI to the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, ACRI Attorney Anne Suciu demanded the restrictions be rescinded since they violate the protestors’ freedom of protest. According to Suciu, “expelling the activists is an extreme move that has no place in a democratic country. These activists do not pose a threat to the public order and there is no reason to ban them from the tent city protest taking place on Rothschild Boulevard.”
ACRI will continue to act in order to ensure that the police, the municipality, and all other public authorities do not violate the freedom of expression of protestors across Israel. ACRI has produced “rights pamphlets” on the rights of protestors taking part in the tent city movement that will distributed widely in the coming days.

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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Housing Rights, Social and Economic Rights, Tent Protest

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