Islamic Human Rights Commission
11 June 2009
PRESS RELEASE: Palestine/Iran – IHRC welcomes Veolia’s plan to abandon light rail project connecting illegal Israeli settlements to Jerusalem
The Islamic Human Rights Commission welcomes Veolia’s reported plans to abandon the Jerusalem Light Rail project amidst enormous pressure on the company from BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns in several countries. The reports come a little over a week after Tehran’s mayor scrapped plans for Veolia to have a key role in the city’s urban transport system.
Veolia’s decision, as reported in Haaretz, is a culmination of years of sustained and focused multinational campaigning against the company and its project linking the illegal settlements to Jerusalem. With significant backing from Palestine solidarity groups in France, UK, Sweden, Holland and Iran cost the company an estimated $7 billion in lost contracts.
About a week before the reports of Veolia’s decision surfaced, IHRC had been busy in Iran rallying students to write to Tehran’s Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, pressurising him over Veolia’s role in developing the city’s transport system. IHRC also contacted Ghalibaf directly over the matter, who required a week to look into Veolia’s projects in Israel. After such time, Ghalibaf announced the city’s decision to cancel Veolia’s involvement in the Tehran transport project.
IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh commented:
“This is not only a massive win for the global BDS movement against Israel, but a deafening message to all those self-interested corporations involved in oppressing the Palestinians via their support for, or direct participation in, Israel’s racist and murderous policies. It is also a message Alstom should pay particular heed to, given that with Veolia’s decision, their role in the Jerusalem Light Rail project now has the undivided attention of campaign groups worldwide.”
Likewise, Omar Barghouti, of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said:
“Alstom will feel lonely now as the remaining French company that is still complicit in the colonising project of the Jerusalem Light Rail. But they will not withdraw unless, like Veolia, they are made to pay a heavy price that their shareholders cannot swallow,” he added.
Also, the Palestinian Authority (PA), who backed lawsuits in France against Veolia and Alstom, has been mounting pressure on the Saudi authorities over Alstom winning the tender to build the Haramain Express Railway, linking Makkah to Madinah. At 20%, Alstom has a significantly larger stake in Jerusalem’s City Pass consortium than Veolia’s 5%. PA is referring the Saudi government to the March 2006 Arab League resolution forbidding Arab countries from dealing with companies involved in the Jerusalem light railway.
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The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
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