Press release: #BoycottWoolworths activists, released without charge, after being arrested on instruction by Woolworths for peacefully protesting
26 October 2014
Over 60 #BoycottWoolworths activists, including children, have been released without charge after being arrested yesterday after peacefully protesting in Woolworths in Killarney Mall in Johannesburg. Woolworths has confirmed that it called the police and claims the activists were intimidating shoppers. However the retailer has failed to produce evidence of any intimidation or violence.
The Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa welcomes the police releasing all the activists without charge. Woolworths is fast gaining a reputation among the public, in the media and on social media, of protest, boycotts and using force to suppress freedom of expression.
Bizarrely, police had arrested the activists after the activists had carried out the successful #BoycottWoolworths “die-in” flashmob and after they had peacefully left the Killarney Mall branch of Woolworths and in fact had even walked out of the doors of the mall and were in their transport vehicles. Woolworths it would seem wanted to punish the activists.
A large solidarity vigil was held outside the Hillbrow Police station yesterday with members of the public demanding the #BDS60 activists be released without charge. Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty also attended the impromptu mini-rally to support the activists.
Amongst those detained included Obakeng Chikane, the son of anti-apartheid activist and stalwart, Reverend Frank Chikane. Obakeng Chikane is also a leader of the ANC Youth League in the Johannesburg region. Several children were also amongst those arrested.
In Benoni on the East Rand, Woolworths management called SAPS, CMS security and Lakeside Mall security to remove peaceful protesters this morning from the store at Lakeside Mall.
13 activists were also detained at Woolworths Blue Route Mall in Cape Town, yesterday Woolworth’s management demanded that the activists give up their footage before the police arrested them. This intimidation by Woolworths is shameful. For Cape Town information call: 082 870 2025
Woolworths continues to act in an arrogant and high handed way. The retailer refuses to negotiate with concerned consumers, political parties, trade unions and human rights organisations. Instead of ending trade relations with Israel, it resorts to using force to clamp down on non-violent protests. Woolworths can easily find alternative local suppliers for the products it is currently sourcing from Apartheid Israel
The increased use of force by Woolworths towards peaceful activists will not intimidate us, BDS South Africa along with concerned consumers and member of the public will intensify our actions in the coming weeks demanding Woolworths end ties with Israel. We are committed to the cause of universal freedom and justice. Violence and intimidation will not stop our campaign as it continues to grow and gain support.
ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SOUTH AFRICA
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