Call to action: Boycott and divest from G4S!

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Image: BDS Vancouver - Coast Salish Territories facebook page

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Editor's note: On Monday August 17 at 9:00 p.m. PST, Vancouver solidarity activists began fasting in solidarity with and to raise consciousness and awareness about Palestinian prisoners.

The 24 Hour Fast and Day of Action in Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners is organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network, Canada Palestine Association and the Alliance for People's Health.

For more information, read here.

BDS Vancouver - Coast Salish Territories is joining the global campaign to Stop G4S. In response to the broad Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against institutions complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners whose human rights are regularly violated in G4S contracted Israeli prisons, we will actively participate in an international boycott of the company.

In joining the boycott, we also raise our opposition to the role of G4S within the borders of Canada where their Canadian subsidiary provides security to pipeline and mining projects on stolen Indigenous lands, environmentally destructive tar sands mega-projects and the racist mass incarceration of migrant people.

British-based G4S, which operates in 125 countries, is the largest security company in the world and the third largest private sector employer globally. In Canada, G4S claims over 1,000 customers including a $400 million contract for security at 20 airports through the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority (CATSA).

In 2007, G4S was awarded a contract by the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems and services to all Israeli prisons. Since then, G4S has profited and participated in prisons which are directly implicated in torture of Palestinian prisoners, 'administrative detention' of Palestinian activists and political leaders, and maintaining the whole rotten system of occupation and Apartheid through providing security at occupation checkpoints and at the Apartheid Wall. (Addameer fact sheet here) This includes the imprisonment of hundreds of Palestinian children who are also subject to torture and other violations of their human rights.

In 2012, while thousands of Palestinian prisoners were on a hunger strike, Palestinian organizations called for actions to hold G4S accountable for its complicity in Israeli war crimes and occupation. This was the beginning of an international grassroots campaign that has had considerable success in pressuring a wide variety of institutions to boycott and divest from G4S:

  • In June 2014, the Gates Foundation divested its entire $170 million holding in the company as a result of an international campaign.

  • Universities in Oslo and Bergen refused to give G4S contracts over its role in Israel's prison system following student campaigns. In the UK, at least five student unions voted to cancel contracts with G4S, and students successfully pressured two other universities not to renew contracts with the company.

  • Major charities in South Africa, the Netherlands and elsewhere terminated contracts with G4S.

  • The U.S. Methodist Church, the largest Protestant church in the U.S., divested from G4S after coalition campaigning brought the issue to a vote.

  • The Scottish Trade Union Congress, and the Dutch trade union Abuvakabo have voted to support the campaign for boycott and divestment from G4S

Read more about these international campaigns here.

While G4S has felt the pressure, even suggesting they might not renew their contract with the Israeli Prison Authority in 2017, they continue to collaborate with the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, and to operate profitably around the world.

It is important to intensify the boycott and to expose and oppose G4S's profiteering from occupation, exploitation and oppression.

In Canada, G4S's wholly owned subsidiary provides 'security services' to some of the most environmentally and socially destructive projects in the country:

  • Security for tar sands oil production with 120 employees at the Shell/Chevron Albia facility and 150 at the Imperial Oil Kearl facility.

  • Contracts from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to run migrant detention facilities in Ontario including a $22 million contract to run the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre and a separate $14 million contract to run the Immigration Holding Centre in Rexdale. In effect G4S secures Canada's temporary foreign workers programs and other immigration policies that drive the super-exploitation of immigrant and migrant workers for the benefit of big business.

  • Active pursuit of the 'emerging opportunity' to provide security to new pipeline projects which cross stolen and occupied Indigenous territories.

  • Claiming to be 'Canada's leader in mining security' G4S provides security at mining sites around the world many of which are targets of popular resistance because of their violations of people's environmental, economic and human rights, for example the Tampakan mine in the Philippines which has been vigorously resisted by local Indigenous peoples.

G4S profits daily from the Israeli occupation, war crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians. Globally, the G4S business model is based on increasing inequality and exploitation, necessitating the securitization of every aspect of the economy and social life -- from campuses to hospitals and from pipelines to prisons.

More specifically G4S specializes in 'securing' the plunder of the natural resources of the world for the benefit of a few rich corporations, nations and individuals.

Within Canada G4S is profiting from the most socially and environmentally destructive projects -- tar sands, pipelines and mass incarceration of migrants. We therefore call for a complete boycott of G4S and for all institutions -- unions, student and faculty associations, religious, faith based organizations, pension funds and government bodies -- to divest from G4S!

To support the campaign:

  1. Contact BDS Vancouver - Coast Salish Territories to endorse the call: [email protected]

  2. Let us know about G4S operations in your city, community, university campus or any other institution you belong to. We need more information about G4S operations in Canada to organize effective actions.

  3. Organize educational activities and actions to expose and oppose G4S's anti-people practices in Palestine, Canada and around the world.

  4. Bring a motion for boycott and divestment from G4S in your union, student association or faith organization.

  5. If you are currently employed by G4S we urge you to join the campaign! We also recognize that the call for solidarity and justice for Palestine is linked to a broader vision of just and liberated world that doesn't create 'jobs' based on occupying, containing and oppressing other people. This is a future worth fighting for!

This call to carry and intensify the campaign for boycott and divestment from G4S within Canada is initiated by BDS Vancouver - Coast Salish Territories, a committee of the Canada Palestine Association.


Image: BDS Vancouver - Coast Salish Territories facebook page

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