Palestine Action activists arrested after defacing Lord Balfour statue in Parliament
Two women have been arrested by police after entering the House of Commons to deface a memorial statue of former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour.
The Palestine Action activists, reportedly pretending to be tourists, squirted tomato ketchup onto the statue in the Houses of Parliament earlier today.
The activists used tourist passes to enter the Members’ Lobby of the House of Commons before targeting a memorial statue of former prime minister Lord Arthur Balfour, signatory of the Balfour Declaration – a 1917 document pledging the formation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
WATCH | Activists deface Balfour Statue in House of Commons:
The controversial agreement is viewed by human rights groups as the beginning of the “ethnic cleansing of Palestine” and its 105th anniversary has been marked by protests in the UK.
While spraying the statue with what the group described as “fake blood”, one of the demonstrators shouted: “Palestinians have suffered for 105 years because of this man, Lord Balfour, he gave away their homeland and it wasn’t his to give.”
The two protesters then glued themselves to the statue and unfurled a small Palestinian flag while shouting “Free Palestine”.
According to a statement from Palestine Action, the stunt was held to raise awareness of the legacy of the Balfour agreement.
“After the Declaration, until 1948, the British burnt down indigenous villages to prepare the way; with this came arbitrary killings, arrests, torture, sexual violence including rape against women and men, the use of human shields and the introduction of home demolitions as collective punishment to repress Palestinian resistance,” the group said.
“The British were initiating the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, fulfilling the Zionist aim to build their ‘home’ over the top of what were Palestinian communities, towns, villages, farms and ancestral land, rich in heritage, culture and ancient archeological history.
Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals taking direct action against companies and institutions it describes as facilitating “the colonisation of Palestine”. In the West Midlands, the organisation has targeted factories with ties to Elbit Systems.
“The Palestinians refer to this time as the Nakba — which translates into the great catastrophe. In 1948, the Zionist militia, trained by the British, forced over 750,000 Palestinians into exile, destroyed over 500 villages and forced those who remained to live under a brutal reign of occupation.”
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police were alerted at 11.20am on Saturday November 12 to two women who had entered the Parliamentary Estate with tourist tickets.
“They had glued themselves to a statue in the Member’s Lobby in the House of Commons and had thrown ketchup over the statue and a wall.”
The two women were arrested for criminal damage and taken to a London police station, where they remained on Saturday (12 November) evening.
The memorial statue of the Earl of Balfour was unveiled in the House of Commons members’ lobby in 9 May 1962. Commissioned in July 1959, the limestone statue was created by sculptor David McFall as a tribute to Arthur Balfour, Conservative Prime Minister between 1902 and 1905.