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Wednesday January 26, 2011 12:04 by IPSC Media Team - IPSC
An Garda Síochána facilitate harrassment of Irish activist by Israeli security official
On International Womens Day (March 8th) 2010 on a public street in Dublin a leading Irish Palestine solidarity activist was harrassed by a member of the Israeli embassy security team while photographing street art.
In this bizarre incident, Freda Hughes, a prominent member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was aggressively questioned about her name and movements by an Israeli embassy staff member and a member of An Garda Síochána while walking on Northumberland Road in Dublin 4.
Street Art by CANVAS on Northumberland Road
Over ten months later on January 24th 2011 Ms. Hughes was informed that, “ no criminal offence was disclosed”, and that the Garda on protection duty at the embassy had, “intervened and diffused the situation”. The letter also stated that the incident took place at the Israeli Embassy which it did not.
According to Ms Hughes, “While out walking on March 8th 2010, I passed the Israeli embassy at around 5.30pm with a friend of mine. I approached from Pembroke Road and rounded the bend onto Northumberland Road. A member of the embassy staff and a Garda were outside the embassy on the Pembroke Road side. I didn’t engage with them in any way whatsoever and simply walked past while chatting to my friend.”
She continued, “Further up the road, I stopped at the disused petrol station on Northumberland Road to take a photograph of a piece of street art because I have been photographing street art for years and compile free albums of Irish Street Art. At this point, I was amazed to discover that I had been followed by both the Israeli security man and the Garda. This was adjacent to the embassy building and, to be honest, I hadn’t realised that they’d paid any attention to me, so I was rather taken aback.”
“The two men approached me together and the Garda asked where I had come from and where I was going. Then, to my surprise, the Israeli embassy staff member, who I think is himself Israeli, questioned me about my name and movements, and then demanded to see my camera. I refused to answer his questions or show him my camera.”
Ms Hughes, who lodged a formal complaint with the Garda authorities and the Department of Foreign Affairs about the behaviour of the Israeli security staff member and the Garda on patrol is not satisfied with the outcome of this investigation. She said: “This member of the Israeli embassy security team questioned me about my name and movements outside the grounds of his embassy. He had no right to do so and I believe that this constitutes harassment. I intend to take this complaint to the Garda Ombudsman in an attempt to ensure that this kind of harrassment of activists from our, and other movements, is never again carried out or facilitated by An Garda Síochána.”
Freda Hughes is a teacher and educational researcher in the National University of Ireland. She is well known as an advocate of Palestinian human rights and is currently the National Chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Last December, she and a colleague from Trinity College, Dublin tried to attend a conference on migrants’ rights organised by the Israeli embassy and were refused entry at the door because both are associated with the IPSC. At that time, the same Israeli security man who questioned her in March on Northumberland Road attempted to search her bag, allegedly for weapons, in a disgraceful effort to embarrass her in front of other academics.
During the incident that took place on March 8th 2010 the Israeli security man told Ms. Hughes that he recognised her and had spoken to the Gardaí about her to ensure that she would be arrested should she ever attempt to attend a conference on migrants' rights again. Ms. Hughes said, “This, of course, is a nonsensical threat, but it is outrageous that I should be threatened in this way by an Israeli security man on a public street in Ireland. Moreover, it is both shocking and disappointing that the Garda present allowed this to occur.”
The Israeli Officer in question has since left the country.
Ms. Hughes with William Parry author of Against the Wall, The Art of Resistance in Palestine
Street Art by CANVAS on Northumberland Road