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Palestine billboard case being heard in court

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Pro-Palestinian activists are picketing outside the Johannesburg South Gauteng High Court on Monday in support of the right of freedom of expression. The protest is in support of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) who are in court against the billboard advertising company, Continental Outdoor Media. This court matter previously began on the 19th of May 2014 but was moved to today 01 September 2014.

A trailer with a large over five meter high banner will be parked outside of the court house in support of BDS South Africa and the PSA in their court case – the trailer has been sponsored courtesy of a supporter of BDS South Africa. The banner has an image of a bird perched on barb wire with the well-known Harry Belafonte words: “You can cage the singer but not the song”.

In 2012 Continental Outdoor Media, after coming under pressure from the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, SA Zionist Federation and the Israeli lobby, removed several Palestine solidarity billboards put up around South Africa by BDS South Africa and the PSA. The Palestine solidarity billboards graphically explained the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. In particular, the billboards which were removed, in a series of maps, depicted a shrinking Palestinian territory by an increasing Israeli Occupation over the years. Under the maps, “Palestinian Loss of Land – 1946 to 2010” was printed in large letters.

“This court matter is important because of its consequences for freedom of expression and we are hope that Continental Outdoor Media realizes that it did the wrong thing by removing our billboards and succumbing to pressures of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, SA Zionist Federation and the Israeli lobby,” the two groups jointly stated.

Mthunzi Mbuli of BDS South Africa commented: “To the Israeli lobby including organizations like the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation we would like to say that we peace and justice loving peoples will fight for the hard won freedoms that our parents laid their lives down for, including the freedom of expression. We do not take the attempts by the Israeli lobby to censor free speech lightly.”

BDS South Africa is represented pro bono by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), one of South Africa’s largest and most prominent pub¬lic inter¬est and human rights law clinics. VOC

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