Pictures from Bristol Protest
Lloyds in Bristol was closed on for an hour on 16 January in protest about how a bailed-out bank acted unethically against a respected charity.
See the Press Release giving full details.
We plan to do something similar in Lewisham at 1200 on Saturday 31 January. See the pictures below for the kind of thing that was done in Bristol. Please bring any additional dolls you can.
Friday 16th January 2009
Bank forced to close in Bristol today
There were scenes of chaos on Corn Street today as police and security guards failed to hold back a surge of chanting protesters reaching the doors of Lloyds-TSB Bank. The Bank hurriedly closed its doors and remained shut for the rest of the afternoon.
A crowd of over sixty Gaza campaigners assembled on Corn Street at 2pm this afternoon and sent a message into the Bank to ask to see the manager. They wanted to discuss the “Early Day Motion” which is being circulated in Parliament accusing Lloyds Bank of blocking charity money reaching Gaza (see end of press release).
When no reply was received they laid out boxes of dolls wrapped in blood-stained shrouds on the steps of the Bank. These represented the extra deaths which will have occurred in Gaza due to Lloyds-TSB action.
The leafleted, held banners & placards, and shouted slogans through a megaphone.
LLOYDS LLOYDS SHAME ON YOU
WE ARE ALL PALESTINIANS
Security guards stood at the entrance of the bank and the police were called. As the crowd grew larger and more vociferous they retreated inside the entrance and pulled the doors closed – to cheers and chanting from the crowd.
Lloyds TSB recently ordered the Islamic Bank of Britain which it owns, to close the accounts of Interpal, a highly respected international humanitarian relief charity – working in Occupied Palestine
Interpal is a respected UK charity which helps alleviate the agony of Gaza. It has been thoroughly investigated by the Charities Commission (following malicious complaints by US Government) and had been given the all clear!
By doing so, Lloyds TSB is on the verge of ending humanitarian aid for up to five million Palestinian refugees in desperate need. It will only serve to escalate the horrific suffering of innocent people.
At first Lloyds TSB denied any hand in the affair however it has now transpired that Lloyds TSB (acting as a clearing bank) to Islamic Bank of Britain (with whom Interpal bank), wrote to the IBB on 8th October 2008 stating: “We are writing to you to give you notice that…we do not wish you to transfer, receive, process or in any way deal with any funds, or in any way whatsoever (acting either as banker or agent on behalf of the Customer) be involved with any type of banking arrangements for Interpal”
Even for a Goliath like Lloyds TSB, which has itself recently received billions of pounds in bailout funds from the British taxpayer, this is indeed uncharacteristic behaviour. Why would the bank take such a callous action? Remarkably no official reason has been given.
The Muslim community in Bristol were also supporting this event.
Imam Assad Ali Shah, Imam of St Marks Road Mosque said “The people of Gaza are suffering now - women, children, and the elderly. They have shortages of food, medicine, and all the basic necessities of life. The people of the world, for humanitarian reasons, are reaching out to help them. How can it be, that charities working on the ground like Interpal, have their work obstructed by Lloyds-TSB closing their accounts. This is a moral crime. This extra suffering far the people in Gaza will be on the shoulders of those who made these callous decisions.”
Jo Benfield of the RESPECT Party said “We contacted the union beforehand to send a message to the staff we had no argument with them. Our protest is aimed at the bosses of Lloyds-TSB Bank who are cow-towing to American pressure to cut off donations to Gaza at a time that it’s so desperately needed.”
Jeremy Clarke of Bristol Stop-The-War-Coalition, says “Interpal is amongst only a handful of charities able and daring to work in such a politically sensitive area. By denying them banking facilities, Lloyds TSB have played a part in preventing humanitarian aid reaching people who are in the grip of a catastrophe through no other fault than being born Palestinian.
Cliff Hanley, of Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign says “As most are aware, the beleaguered Palestinians have been the victims of sixty years of human rights violations at the hands of the Israeli Government - condemned by 69 United Nations resolutions and almost every country in the world. This suffering has been described by former US President Jimmy Carter as “one of the greatest human rights crimes on earth” and the great Nelson Mandela as “apartheid”.
Ed Hill, local film-maker “At a time like this, when people across the country want to help, and many of them are busy raising money. Anything that gets in the way of the money getting through to where it is desperately needed, is an outrage”
Campaigners are planning more protests in Bristol. On Saturday they will be organising information stalls and boycott actions against Israeli products in Broadmead shopping centre.
Early Day Motion
LLOYDS TSB PLC AND BRITISH CHARITIES
That this House notes the excellent work of the British charity Interpal in helping the Palestinians with £40 million worth of humanitarian aid development since 1994; acknowledges that Lloyds TSB Group Plc has served notice to the Islamic Bank of Britain to discontinue its services to Interpal or subsequently to face closure itself without offering any reason; further notes the wide distress that this has the potential to cause, in both the local Muslim community and the wider Arab world, since both hold the charity in particularly high regard; further notes that Interpal has withstood three previous investigations by the Charity Commission; and calls upon the Government to note the precedent this will lay down regarding any other charities Lloyds may choose to target and to ensure that this bank which is in receipt of enormous state benefit be pressurised to behave in a socially responsible manner.
Hi-Res pictures available from Freelances:-
Cliff Hanley, chair of Bristol Palestine Solidarity Campaign 963-4180/0790-450-3264
Jeremy Clarke, for Bristol Stop The War Coalition 0117 9423435
Jo Benefield, Bristol RESPECT party 0117-944-1481
Ed Hill, Palestine film-maker 0117-951-2157/07711-214-168
Imam Assad Ali Shah, Imam of St Marks Road Mosque Tel 07737285165