MEDIA RELEASE – 28 May 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Sixteen international organisations condemn the travel restrictions on BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti
- World-wide academic boycott organisations write protest letter to their Foreign Ministers
- Organisations from the American, Asian and European continents demand freedom for Barghouti to travel
Sixteen organisations from around the world, all supporting the academic and cultural boycott of Israel, have written a letter condemning the Israeli government’s harassment of the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement Omar Barghouti. The letter is being sent to the Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States.
The letter says that the effective ban on Barghouti’s travel, and the threats to his right to Israeli residency and even his life constitute harassment and intimidation against a prominent spokesperson for the entirely non-violent BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.
All the organisations signing the letter have been established to promote the academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions. Their number and geographical spread dramatically illustrate the world-wide take-up of the Palestinian call for this boycott.
The letter calls on the Foreign Ministers “to impress on the Israeli government the absolute necessity of ceasing its repressive measures against Palestine’s civil leaders, and in particular to permit Omar Barghouti to play his full role, both inside Israel and without, in representing the aspirations of the Palestinian people”.
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair of BRICUP, and spokesperson for the signatories, said: “Israel’s increasingly desperate attempts to counter the academic and cultural boycott, and the whole BDS movement, indicate just how serious a challenge it now presents to Israel’s sense of impunity. For too long it has continued to violate Palestinian rights with the shameful support of our governments. But civil society is saying to Israel that its actions have consequences.”
Professor Ahmed Abbes, Secretary of AURDIP, who contributed to the preparation of the letter said: “The effective travel ban imposed on Omar Barghouti by the Israeli government and the direct and indirect threats made by Israeli government ministers against him must be seen in the context of an unprecedented level of impunity that pervades the Israeli establishment today.”
Omar Barghouti said: “Israel’s desperate, mafia-like threats against Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders who are active in the BDS movement for Palestinian rights only prove its utter failure to stop the growth of the movement in the mainstream in recent years. Just as in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, the darkest moments of Israel’s colonial repression may well be those that precede the dawn of freedom, justice and equality.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
For more information contact:
Jonathan Rosenhead & David Palumbo-Liu
I. The text of the letter is available at this address: http://www.aurdip.fr/letter-to-the-ministers-of-foreign.html
II. The sixteen organisations signing the letter are
- Academic BDS, Argentina
- Sydney Staff for BDS, Australia
- Belgian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BACBI), Belgium
- Faculty for Palestine, Canada
- College and University Workers United (CUWU), Canada
- Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP), France
- Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (InCACBI), India
- Academics for Palestine, Ireland
- Stop Technion Campaign, Italy
- Akademisk og Kulturell Boikott av Staten Israel (AKULBI), Norway
- Pakistanis for Palestine, Pakistan
- Action Group at KTH för Boycott of Israel (PSABI), Sweden
- British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), UK
- Artists for Palestine, UK
- Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, UK
- US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), USA
III. Omar Barghouti is a Palestinian human rights defender. He is a co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, NY, and a master’s in Philosophy (ethics) from Tel Aviv University. He is the author of, BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Haymarket: 2011). His commentaries and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Politico, and on Bloomberg TV, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, among others.
IV. Barghouti has been a permanent resident of Israel for 22 years (since 1994), and he lives with his family in Acre. On 19 April 2016, the Israeli Ministry of Interior refused to renew his travel document, thus effectively imposing a travel ban on him. In an official statement given to AFP, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Ministry of Interior said that the minister is considering revoking his permanent residency status partially because of his “BDS activities.”