23 October 2009
On October 26 – 29, 2009 two women will be put on trial in the United Kingdom for taking part in a blockade of Carmel Agrexco’s produce warehouse during the Bloody Valentine Week of Action. They are accused of obstructing police officers and assaulting a police officer during the women only action. This is only the second time that people have been brought to court for actions against Carmel Agrexco in over 5 years of sustained direct action at the London depot.
The action was taken in solidarity with the Palestinian people on whose land the flowers, fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested. The action came in the aftermath of the 3-week Israeli invasion of Gaza in which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Carmel-Agrexco is the Israeli national exporter of fruit and vegetables and imports large quantities of goods from illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. As feminists and as Palestinian solidarity activists, the women blockading Agrexco aimed to challenge the oppression of Palestinians by targeting a tool of the occupation.
According to a statement the activists released prior to their trial:
Carmel Agrexco directly profits from the Israeli occupation, which colonises Palestine. These goods are grown in the rich soils of the Jordan Valley where the indigenous people are prevented from building houses, schools, accessing water. Palestinians, including many children, work and are exploited in Agrexco-owned settlement packing houses. The sale and distribution of goods produced in settlements must be resisted in the countries which receive them as exports. The UK is the most important export market for Agrexco and so we think that challenging and disrupting their business here is important.
During previous direct actions the police have been reluctant to arrest any protestors – even when they have invaded the warehouses, destroyed goods and locked on to the gates for over 10 hours. Evidence strongly suggests that this is a result of collusion between Agrexco and the local police. In the first (and until now, only) trial of direct action activists at the depot in 2006, the case collapsed after evidence of Carmel-Agrexco’s dealings with illegal settlements was disclosed. The charges were dropped and subsequent actions no longer lead to court cases.
This action, undeniably feminist in spirit, has resulted in the first people being brought to trial for activities against Agrexco since 2006. The systematic and entrenched sexism we know exists within the police force was clearly reflected in the misogynistic comments and treatment these women received during the action. In this gendered context, we ask ourselves why the police and CPS have decided to try this case, rather than the 30+ others preceding it.
This case is crucial in the continuing campaign against Carmel Agrexco. Please spread the word about the trial, post the defendants’ statement widely and take action against Carmel Agrexco.
For more information about Carmel Agrexco see: