LALIT sent a letter to IBL, requesting them to stop the importation of Caterpillar vehicles and machinery as they are being used by the Israel regime to perpetuate its illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestine. Hereunder, is copy of the letter.
The Chief Executive Officer
Ireland Blyth Ltd
We are writing to you in relation to your company’s importing of Caterpillar vehicles and machinery. Our concern is that these bulldozers are of the same brand as that being used by Israel to perpetuate its illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestine.
We would like to inform you, that there is a growing international campaign of boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. This campaign launched in 2005 by 170 organisations in Palestine and inspired by the anti-aparteid struggle in South Africa, calls for the boycott of all Israeli products and also of all international companies profiting from Israeli occupation of Palestine, companies such as Caterpillar. Since Israel’s military aggression on Gaza in 2009 that killed some 1,400 Palestinians and specially after the attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla last year, the campaign has gained momentum in many countries around the world, and is gaining increasing support from within Israel. Now there is also academic and cultural boycott of Israel by university professors, writers, performers, artists and musicians like Carlos Santana, Elvis Costello, Faithless and the Pixies, who all refuse to support the Israeli aggression.
Since 1967 the Israeli army has occupied the West Bank, the Gaza strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Three and a half million Palestinians in these occupied territories live under a severe military regime, devoid of basic civil rights and subject daily to arbitrary repressive violence by the Israeli security forces. They are repeatedly stopped by army check-points. In the West Bank, over two million Palestinians are divided into dozens of fragmented enclaves, separated and surrounded by a system of roadblocks, fences, walls, barriers, checkpoints and also by Israeli settlements (colonies).
Palestinians are faced with collective punishments in the form of house demolitions, destruction of olive trees, confiscation of land, curfews, mass arrests or “administrative detention” (i.e without having been charged, tried or sentenced by the judiciary). Israel has refused to abide by over 75 United Nations resolutions, and takes no notice of the 4th Geneva Convention and the International Court of Justice ruling against the Wall.
Five families have actually highlighted the criminal role of Caterpillar in Palestine by putting court cases against Caterpillar for killing their family members. They included the family of 23-year old Rachel Corrie, now world-renowned for her bravery in trying to protect a Palestinian family from having their house demolished by the Israeli armed forces while the family was still inside the house. Four Palestinian families – the Al Sho’bis, the Abu Husseins, the Fayeds, and the Khalafallahs – were part of the same case, as their houses were demolished and family members killed by the Israeli Defence Force.
An important Tribunal has also found the Caterpillar company guilty. The respected “Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine” of November 2010 examined corporate complicity in Israeli violations of International law, and exposed the criminal role played in Israel by companies including Caterpillar. In its findings the Russell Tribunal states that “Caterpillar, based in the US, supply specifically modified military D9 bulldozers to Israel, which are used in: (i) the demolition of Palestinian homes;(ii) the construction of settlements and the Wall; and(iii) in urban warfare in the Gaza conflict; in all cases causing civilian deaths and injuries, and extensive property damage not justified by military necessity”. Furthermore it mentioned that evidence showed that Caterpillar bosses “acknowledge and actively boast in their promotional material about the use of their equipment during the Gaza conflict, which unlawfully inflicted loss of life and extensive and serious damage on Palestinian civilians and their property.”
Last year the UN Human Rights Committee in its report concluded that Israel is violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee specifically mentioned the illegallity of the blocade of Gaza, of the construction of the Apartheid Wall and the settlements in the occupied territories. Israel is clearly acting as a rogue state. And the firm Catterpillar is aiding and abetting it.
It is mainly international pressure that can force the Israeli regime to comply with international law and respect the right of the Palestinian people to their land. The BDS campaign forms part of that kind of pressure. LALIT is actively supporting this campaign. There are already campaigns by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Solidarity Movement to boycott Caterpillar. Through this letter we are adding our voice to this international campaign which aims at justice and peace in Palestine and the Middle East.
Your company imports Caterpillar vehicles and Caterpillar vehicles are being used by the Israeli army to maintain the illegal occupation and the colonisation of Palestine.
So, we are requesting that IBL and its subsidiary that imports Caterpillar at once announce that you intend to stop importing Caterpillar vehicles. We request that when you make your announcement that you also publish an “open letter” to the manufacturers of Caterpillar explaining the reason for your refusal to import these vehicles, and committing your firm in public to maintaining this stand. We are sure some market research will enable you to find alternatives to this brand of earth-moving and derocking equipment, alternatives not used in the murderous Israeli regime’s occupation of Palestine.
Failing this, we will have no alternative than to launch a boycott against your company in Mauritius and in the region.
Alain Ah-Vee, Ragini Kistnasamy
cc: Press, Associations, BDS Co-ordinating Committees in Palestine, France, UK and USA.