BBC to evict the ‘Gaza illegal land occupiers’
On Wednesday, a campaign group calling itself “Bristol Friends of Gaza” occupied the front lawn of the BBC headquarters on Whiteladies Road in the city of 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.
Alice, 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 told AWMWC by email that they are planning a number of events on Monday including the following:-
1) Arranging a meeting with Neil Bennett, TV Editor at the BBC in Bristol to present a dossier of their complaints of media 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) They will make plans to resist the eviction and to shame the BBC
Shelia, 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.”
Mark, another protester added “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 protesters confirmed they have very good relationship with the staff working in the BBC. One of the protesters claimed “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
Every evening they run a pop-up cinema. Organisers say “It’s ironic that we’re here at the BBC showing films about Palestine that the BBC won’t show.”
The group “Bristol Friends of Gaza” is formed from independent campaigners who base themselves around the Palestine Museum on Broad Street in Bristol. The museum was opened last June by the Lord Mayor of Bristol and the Palestine Ambassador from London. It is possibly the only free 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.
Eddy Clarke, from the Palestine Museum in Bristol said “We, volunteers sat 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!”
Ed Hill, a media specialist from the Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign says “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.“
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.
AWMWC received the contact numbers of the organisers of this campaign, and has permission to forward their mobile numbers by email to any media for interviews and media coverage.