NEWS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE …..Sent Tuesday 29July 2014
Palestine campaigners who have occupied the front lawn of the BBC building in Bristol for the last week are receiving messages of support
Quote from Mark Thomas
“The BBC reporting of the Israeli military assault on Gaza has failed time and time again to contextualise the violence refusing to explain the occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza. Ironically the occupation of the BBC in Bristol seems likely to be the only time an occupation is commented on.
Felicity Arbuthnot(writer and commentator on the Middle East) from her home in Oxfordshire says:-
“Well done to the Bristol BBC Occupation for Gaza – I’m there with you all in spirit”!
Local film-maker Ken Loach (via his agent Ann Cattrall [email protected]) has said:
‘In its day to day reporting of what it terms the conflict, the BBC fails to report that Israel holds the civilian population of Gaza under occupation and siege, and it fails to report on the daily violence and oppression visited on the Palestinians of Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem by the occupier, Israel. This allows the BBC to present Israel as being under threat from the Palestinians, while completely omitting the Palestinian perspective.’
Recently Ken Loach has also made a statement:-
“Everyone must be devastated by the sight of the maimed and the dead in Gaza. It’s disgraceful that our government is arming the state of Israel to continue its slaughter of civilians, of women and children.
This statement is very significant as Bristol has a massive arms industry and commercial companies clustering around the Filton-Abbywood MOD site north of the city.
Messages are also coming from local supporters:-
Sue Parifitt, Anglican Priest in Bristol says “Few can be untouched by the horror of what is unfolding in Gaza hour by hour. Christians are joining with thousands of those of other faiths and of many political opinions to cry out against the massacre of God’s children in Gaza. For seven years they have suffered from the most inhumane deprivation of the necessities of life by a land and sea blockade imposed by the Israelis. A fact the BBC chooses to omit. Now they are trapped with nowhere to escape from the Israeli bombardment. It is a fearfully one-sided conflict, again a point the BBC ignores. And Christians are called to follow Jesus in being on the side of the oppressed and those who are being so appallingly brutalised. In particular, we stand in solidarity with our fellow Christians in the Holy Land who have issued a Kairos call for our support in their terrible hour of need. We seek to respond.
David Mowat, Bristol Quaker, says “To take sides with the oppressed Palestinian people gives the opportunity offering the Israeli oppressor from their trapped corner too.
It has just been reported that Bristol band Massive Attack are giving a concert in the Lebanon to raise funds to support Palestinian refugees. Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Massive-Attack-stage-benefit-gig-Lebanon/story-22013428-detail/story.html#ixzz38txlqgGY
Campaigners in Bristol are also organising a second Bristol Peace March for Gaza:-
This Saturday 2nd August Assemble 12.00 noon outside Shah Jahal Mosque, Stapleton Road, Bristol BS5 6PE.
March to College Green for rally
Organisers anticipate this will be the biggest demonstration in Bristol for the last decade.
The Bristol BBC Occupation for Gaza:-
Last Wednesday a campaign group calling itself “Bristol Friends of Gaza” occupied the front lawn in front of the BBC headquarters on Whiteladies Road in Bristol. They started with a rally of about a hundred people around a massive sixty-foot long banner in the colours of the Palestine flag. They then set up a tented village and declared they would occupy the area “Until the BBC tells the real truth on Palestine”. To their knowledge they are the only land-based occupation for Palestine in the world and certainly the only one against the BBC in the UK so far.
On Friday, the BBC issued “notice to quit” letters to the protests and sello-taped them to the walls of their own building. The letters informed the protesters they were occupying the land illegally and that legal proceedings would ensue.
One of the Gaza solidarity campaigners said
“It’s ironic they are calling us an illegal occupation when they won’t say that about Israel!”
Campaigners fear the BBC will try to evict them as soon as possible. The likely timescale will be the protests will be issued with summons on Monday. There will likely be a court hearing as soon as Tuesday. If the BBC is able to obtain an eviction notice they may call in bailiffs to clear the camp on Wednesday.
The Campaigners are planning a number of events this week:-
1) They will be arranging a meeting with Neil Bennett, TV Editor at the BBC in Bristol to present a “damning dossier” of their complaints of BBC bias on the reporting of Palestine and demanding time on live news to argue their case.
2) They will arrange a public burning of the court summons and TV Licenses (Time to be arranged)
3) Finally they will make plans to resist the eviction and to shame the BBC
One of the protesters says “we’ve prepared a thick dossier which has been carefully researched and details the multitude of examples of the BBC biased reporting on Palestine and the current attacks on Gaza.”
One of the protesters says “People are supposed to pay their TV License to fund the BBC. Yet the BBC is covering up the Israeli genocide and war crimes committed against the people of Palestine. We’re asking everyone to bring their TV license on Monday and burn them to express their disgust!”
The protester say they have a very good relationship with the Police and with the staff who work in the BBC. One of the protesters says “we leaflet their staff entrance and almost everyone is very friendly to us. Staff tell us under their breath – we’re so glad you’re here, you won’t believe what a debate you’ve started inside the BBC. We would like to improve our contacts and meet the union reps for the staff. It’s their chance to organise pressure on the management to stop this censorship”
Since occupying the grass in front of the BBC building the protesters have set up a tented village,
an information stall, display boards for the public, issued their own “pop-tune” at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152664261973140&set=vb.715658139&type=2&theater
Every evening they run a pop-up cinema. Organisers say
“It’s ironic we’re here at the BBC showing films about Palestine that the BBC won’t show.”
Copyright-free picture on “Bristol Psc” facebook
The group “Bristol Friends of Gaza” has formed from independent campaigners who base themselves around the PalestineMuseum on Broad Street in Bristol. This museum was opened last June by the Lord Mayor of Bristol and the Palestine Ambassador from London. It is possibly the only permanent Palestine museum of its kind in the Western World. It is open three days every week (Thursday, Friday & Saturday 11am-6pm) and welcomes thousands of visitors every year. It is free and is staffed by volunteers.
Eddy Clarke from the Palestine Museum in Bristol said “We set up this Palestine museum in Bristol just over a year ago. It tells the true history of what’s been happening in Palestine. Since 1948 the indigenous population of Palestinians have been drive out of most of their homeland by ethnic-cleansing, the West Bank has been illegally occupied since 1967, it’s brutally suppressed, Gaza has been under total siege for most of the last decade with only the minimum amount of medicine, power, and food to just keep people alive at starvation level. When I know all this, and I can check it all by my own research, how can I accept the outrageous bias of the news reporting from the BBC. That’s why I’m here now standing up for the truth to be told.”
He goes on to say “Bristol has a habit of being first! Our Palestine museum is the first in the UK and possibly anywhere in the Western World! To our knowledge this may be the first current occupation for Palestine. We say to everyone, if you live in Bristol come and join us. And if you live anywhere else then follow our example – get out there and OCCUPY!”
Rita Cangialosi from the PalestineMuseum in Bristol said “A child has been dying every hour for the last few days in Gaza. The death toll is now over a thousand Palestinian men, women and children. When I heard that I cried. It must be so awful for those people there living in terror thinking all the time that this could be their last breath in this world. I asked myself, how can I or any human-being stand by and not do something to help?”
Ed Hill from the Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign “Bristol has a long history of links with Palestine. From peace campaigners to faith groups, from football teams to circus performers to Banksy, many Bristolians have visited Palestine – they know the truth about what’s really happening in Palestine and that’s why people are turning out in such numbers to support this occupation and to accuse the BBC of lies and cover-up.”
He goes on to say “We’re familiar with the university research of the Glasgow Media Group who have studied the media bias of the reporting on Palestine extensively. Fundamental research also goes back to the work of Noam Chomsky in the 1980’s. Media bias is a given. But the BBC goes way beyond this doing the bidding of our Government and it’s wholesale support for what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.“
BACKGROUND NOTES: Bristol has a long history of links with Palestine. From peace campaigners to faith groups, from football teams to circus performers to Banksy, many Bristolians have visited Palestine. Following the attacks on Gaza in winter 2008/9 a group Bristol-Gaza-Link was formed, with all party support from the City Council. It organised several aid convoys to Gaza including an ambulance and a giant articulated truck decorated with images of Wallace and Grommit which was waved off from the City Centre. In May 2010, two Bristol citizens were within inches of death on-board the aid ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was attacked by Israeli commandos. Bristol was also the first local council in the country passing a motion condemning these attacks and calling for boycott and divestment of Israel. Following a student occupation in 2009, UWE now has a “Conflict Zone Bursary” which has already funded two students from Gaza. Local campaigners build awareness of Palestine issues through meetings, boycott actions, and cultural events. Bristol also hosts a Palestine Film Festival at the Watershed every year. Bristol also has the only permanent Palestine exhibition in the Western World at the Palestine Museum Centre on Broad Street between the Centre and St Nicholas Market which was opened by the Lord Mayor of Bristol and the Palestine Ambassador in June 2013.
Copyright-free picture on “Bristol Psc” facebook