Independent journalist and documentary filmmaker Abby Martin has filed a free speech lawsuit in a federal court in the United States against the State of Georgia and Georgia Southern University over the State’s anti-BDS law. BDS or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is a global movement that seeks to make Israel accountable for the atrocities it commits against the people of Occupied Palestine.
Martin, who was supposed to speak at an event at Georgia Southern University, was asked to first sign a pledge against the boycott of Israel. The event was cancelled after Martin refused to sign the pledge as it infringed upon her right to free speech and expression.
Georgia passed the anti-BDS law in 2016 that makes it mandatory for individuals and businesses to sign a form pledging to not advocate a boycott of Israel if their work involves a transaction of USD 1,000 or above. The move was an attempt to scuffle the growing BDS movement.
Martin was invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference on February 28, and was supposed to be paid USD 1,000 as compensation.
Martin announced her intent to take on the legal battle in a press conference on January 10, where she was joined in by the representatives of the Council for American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR) and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). The case was filed at the US District Court for Georgia’s Northern District, in Atlanta.
Martin, along with others, has argued that the case is essentially a civil rights lawsuit to fight for the constitutionally mandated right to free speech. “I think this case really exemplifies what is wrong with the system at-large,” said Martin in the press conference.
“When we are violating the constitutional rights of American citizens to not only have the right to peacefully engage in political activity but also have the right to free speech,” she added.
Martin has been a long time advocate of the BDS movement. As a journalist she has extensively covered and reported on the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the atrocities inflicted upon Palestinians. She recently produced a documentary titled ‘Gaza fights for Freedom’ detailing the struggle of the Palestinians in Gaza who have been fighting against an illegal blockade imposed by Israel since 2006.